Friday, November 11, 2011

NaNoWriMoSoFar: 10 days in...

So what I SAID was that I'd try my best to keep up blogging during National Novel Writing Month...

But what I MEANT was that I had no idea how much my fingers would feel like they were about to fall off if I continued typing and working on blog stuff after the hundreds of story words needed every day.

At a third of the way through the month - ten days - I'm about a day and a half behind at 14,000 words.  While being behind is a little discouraging, I keep reminding myself that I'm on page 53 after a week and a half.  That's the fastest I've ever drafted anything!  NaNo might be driving me a little nutso, but it is certainly keeping me going.

For anyone participating in NaNoWriMo (or considering drafting a novel in the foreseeable future), here are a couple of tools and tricks that have helped me keep moving: This site is an online tool that tracks your writing progress over a set period of time; you select the number of minutes, the number of words you'd like to finish, and the strictness of the system.  Once you hit "go," you had better keep typing, because if you don't the site will GET YOU.  The typing screen starts to turn red in "gentle mode,"  and makes annoying sounds in "normal mode"... and in "kamikaze" mode, if you take too long to keep typing, it starts to DELETE what you've written!  So far, "gentle" has been enough of a motivator for me.  If I get brave enough to try "kamikaze," I'll let you know.

Spotify: This is a free music player that has a HUMONGOUS database of music, basically anything you can think of!  I made a bunch of playlists, but I made one specifically for The Real Friend - a mix of happy-sounding songs and Pixar movie scores.  I turn it on while I'm working, and it provides the perfect background inspiration.

Outlining on the Bus: This is the first time I've drafted straight to computer rather than writing in longhand first. I knew going into NaNo that it wouldn't be feasible for me to write everything out AND get it all typed.  It's actually been an easier transition than I expected, and I'm feeling more confident in the flow of my writing since I can do such longer pieces at a time.  However, I have to stick to my handwriting roots enough to keep some kind of journal for this project, so I have a slim notebook that I can keep with me on the bus to jot down any thoughts or ideas pertaining to the story.  I've used it especially for brainstorming imaginary friends and minor characters, which is really helpful when I'm drafting quickly and need to put a developed character right into the middle of a scene.

Also, coffee.  Lots and LOTS of coffee. =)

Do YOU have any writing tips/tricks/tools that keep you going?  If so, please feel free to share below!

Anyway, I'm headed into a weekend at home in Columbus with the family, so I'm not sure how well I'm going to keep up for the next few days.  Overall, though, NaNo has been great so far.  I highly recommend it.

And I'll blog about something else soon... both for your entertainment and for my sanity.

In the meantime, here's another excerpt, from Chapter 4 of the (rough) draft!


Things began to change when it stopped snowing and the trees started to turn green again.  Daddy was working all the time, it seemed, and more often than not it would be Mommy, Ricky, and me at the dinner table.  Sometimes Daddy would come home and work more in his office, and we could hear the clicking of the typewriter keys from upstairs in Ricky’s room, until we fell asleep.
One particular day Daddy came home right on time and didn’t go into his office.  He came and sat on the couch with Mommy, and they called Ricky over to them.  Mommy’s eyes were a little bit red, but she smiled as she scooped Ricky into her lap.
“Daddy and I have some exciting news,” she said.  “A big adventure.”
My ears perked up, and Ricky craned his neck to look between Mommy and Daddy.
“Daddy’s been doing such a good job at work that he got a promotion,” Mommy said.
“That means I’ll get to do more important work, and the boss will pay me more money,” Daddy explained.  “It also means that the company wants to move me to a bigger office.”
“Okay,” Ricky said.  “Will you still have to miss dinner?”
I saw Mommy and Daddy exchange looks.  “No,” Daddy answered, “I’ll be home earlier every day, sport.  Isn’t that great?”
“And the new office is in a different city,” Mommy said, “so we’re going to be moving this summer.”
Ricky grabbed my hand.  “Wait, when will we come back?”
Mommy hugged him closer, and her eyes looked redder all of a sudden.  “Baby, we’re moving for good.  We’ll get a new house and move all of our things and all of your toys into it, and we’ll be very happy there.”
Ricky gripped my hand tighter, and his lips started to tremble.  “But what about our house?” he asked.  “What about Samby?”
“We’ll sell it to another family,” Mommy explained gently, “and they’ll get to live here from then on.  We’ll have a new home, Ricky, and of course it will be Samby’s home, too.”
Tears started to roll down Ricky’s cheeks.  “I don’t want to move!” he cried.  “I like school here, and me and Samby’s friends are all here, and the pool, and the beach…”
Daddy laid his hands on Ricky’s shoulders.  “Listen, sport, you’re going to start kindergarten next year, so you’ll have a new school no matter where we are.  Everybody will be new, and you’ll make new friends.  And we can always take a vacation to the beach, or find a new pool for swimming.”
“I don’t want any new stuff,” Ricky said stubbornly.  “I just want our stuff.”
“But it will be our new stuff,” Mommy pointed out, “and we’ll all be together.”
Ricky sniffed as more tears splashed onto his chest.  “I don’t want to talk anymore,” he said, letting go of my hand.  He climbed down from Mommy’s lap and ran to his room.  I followed him, leaving Mommy and Daddy on the couch.
Ricky lay curled up on his bed, and I could see his shoulders shuddering as he wept.
“It will be all right,” I said, flopping over next to him.  “You’ll see.  Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t do it if it weren’t.  We have adventures wherever we go, Ricky.  As long as we’re together, we’ll be just fine.”
He looked at me, and I hoped he couldn’t see the way I felt.  Ricky was the dearest friend in the entire world, but I had also grown quite fond of Ada, Francis, and Carolina North, not to mention Maggie and Drew and the rest of our class, and the thought of leaving them all behind made me want to cry, too.
But Ricky could read my mind, like always.  “What about our friends, though?” he said.  “We’ll never see them again.”
“Maybe we will,” I said feebly.  I sat up and squared my shoulders.  “But you’re my best friend,” I added, “and I go where you go.”
Ricky smiled and wiped his face on the pillowcase.  “I know,” he said.


  1. These are great suggestions! I actually hadn't heard of Spotify, or if I had, I didn't know exactly what it was. I'll have to check it out since I'm always looking for new music especially for November. :)

  2. Hi Holly - it's great! I somehow even found tracks from my friend's old band that he was in years ago. And it's free! :)