Thursday, December 6, 2012

What I Learned From NaNoWriMo 2012

I'm a WINNER! (Now if I can only figure out how to put the badge in that column to the right!)

Yes, I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days! Actually, to be technical, I did it in 22!!! Yeah, overachiever, you can say it.

This was the first year I've been able to take on this challenge since entering the writing world a few years ago. The fates had conspired to keep me out of it until this year.

Here's what I did to achieve success and learned along the way.

First, I committed and officially signed up! Nothing like motivation to keep your word count up by having a whole state of writers counting on you.

Second, I did something I've never done before. I OUTLINED! A couple of days before the November started I outlined my book. Nothing fancy. A simple spreadsheet in Excel with chapter numbers, a one sentence idea of what to cover in that chapter and the time period in days. Voila! Ring on Her Finger was born! (Well, actually I've had the idea and title for a few months now, but not planned out.) This step was very important! Normally I'm a write by the seat of my pants kind of girl. (In my personal life I'm a pretty organized always has a plan A, B & C kind of girl, but when it comes to writing I toss the book out the window so to speak.) Outlining saved me from having to figure out where I was going and what was going on from writing frenzy moment to moment. I can still be creative but with just the right amount of structure. It saved me brainstorming time each day and when you are trying to write that many words in that few days, every minute counts! I'm going to give a Thank You to Karen Hoover on this step. I didn't go to the level of outlining given in her class at LDStorymakers Midwest but she made me a believer!

Third, I divided out how many words I would have to write each day to make my goal. Now, I had less days to work with because I choose not to write on Sundays (God's day) and I knew I was leaving on the 28th and couldn't write after that. Also, I couldn't be sure how much writing time I could get done on Saturdays, so I worked with a Monday through Friday schedule and any writing done on Saturdays were bonus and got me just that much further in the word count. Words to write each day: 2200!

Fourth, write in smaller time increments. This was the biggest thing I learned! Normally my mode for writing is pound away for 2 1/2 hours straight while my son is in preschool. That doesn't work. I found that the longer I wrote the harder it was to keep my word count and my fingers going, so I started working in 45 min stretches throughout the day. I could blast out better words faster if I did it that way. This sometimes meant getting up at 6 am ish to get in a few hundred words before starting my regular day. (The laundry, shopping, cleaning, getting ready for school, cooking meals, etc. doesn't stop just because I'm trying to write a good chunk of novel in <30 days!) So, a chunk in the early am, mid am, early pm and late pm were how I got it all done.

Fifth, when I hit my word count for the day, I stopped writing. GASP! all the more experienced and even more overachieving NaNo's go. Think of all the words I could've written, they say. Think of how much higher my count could've been for the month, they say. This was important for me for two reasons: 1) it gave my brain a break so it could be creative for the next day and my family to see me, 2) my carpal tunnel just couldn't take much more daily pounding. Gotta know your own limits.

Sixth, I sprinted for the first time. This has nothing to do with running. I would get on Skype with a good friend and we would write as fast as we could for 15 minutes. I couldn't believe how fast I could type when adding in a little friendly competition.

Seventh, have writer friends support. I accounted for my words on both NaNo's site and the Author's Incognito site. I cheered on fellow authors for each word they wrote and danced when they hit the 50,000 mark even if they couldn't see it. Also, texts here and there helped immensely from write friends.

Eighth, some things will have to slide. It's okay. This sometimes meant a frantic cleaning sweep on Sat nights with my kids to be  ready for Sunday. Sometimes it was a pile of dirty dishes next to the sink for a whole day. Sometimes it meant my hubby didn't come home to a cooked meal because we'd opted to make it a mac and cheese/leftover night. I'm a pretty good wife and mom the other 11 months of the year, so I cut myself a little slack for Nov. But my family always had clean clothes. This kept complaints down. Although you may not get a Christmas card this year! ;)

Ninth, trim your nails. Not kidding. Sliding and skittering across the keys impedes word count time and damages your proper typing form adding to your carpal tunnel issues.

Tenth, if I didn't make 50,000 words it would be okay! This one is crucial! The world would keep spinning even if I didn't make it. Life happens, people get sick, travel comes up, as do true tragedies like death in the family, or hurricanes, etc. The words written would still be a great start to a hopefully great book. And besides, how many people who actually get brave enough to sit down and write a novel, complete it? How many do it in <30 days? How many go on to write a second or a third or more? I'm still happy to be counted in a brave group of people.

So cheers to all of you who wrote in November!

Ring on Her Finger is my third novel. (Yes, I know, I still have to complete the second one) Here is the idea for it.

It's been a great week in Las Vegas celebrating college graduation with her friends for Amanda St.Claire. But when she wakes up on the last morning with a terrible hangover she realizes she's also made a horrible mistake. She accidentally married rich playboy Blake Worthington, the one guy she cannot stand and has loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to get the marriage legally terminated and goes home as if it never happened,  But when Blake gets thrown out of his family and shows up on her doorstep Amanda must admit her mistake to her family. Thrown together for better or worse until the legalities are cleared Amanda must play along until she can escape to her new job as a nurse in Africa. The danger is she just may do the one thing she thought she never would...fall in love with Blake Worthington!

Does it sound like something you'd like to read?


  1. As excited I am that you've completed your goal--you still have me thinking about your 2nd book!!! ugh, every now and then it pops up in my brain and I am in agony all day.

  2. Awesome tips for writers--NaNo or not. Congratulations!

    And yes, I like the premise of your 2nd book. I'd want to read it!

  3. Much needed tips for any month & they are so doable! Thanks for sharing. Ring on her Finger does sound like something I'd like to read--very fun twists.

  4. Those are great tips! I like the premise of Ring on Her Finger and it definitely sounds like something I would read, too.