Where Do We Go From Here?

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash.

I’ve had a bit over a week of resting up after the NaNoWriMo marathon, and now my mind is turning toward the future. I’m always making plans and setting goals and working on projects and thinking of next new projects, but this time of year really brings that out in me. 

Right now I’m mostly focused (yeah, focused, not obsessing over, just focused a lot all the time) on two things. Thing one–what stories do I want to work on in the coming year? Thing two–what non-writing creative projects do I want to do next year? Tied into these is the overall question of how I can keep myself moving forward. Consistency has always been a problem for me, and I’m brainstorming ways to make that better.

Over the next two weeks I want to continue doing writing practice, not working on any stories, just writing to let thoughts out. I want to set up supplies for doing a vision board and for setting up my planner for 2019. I want to get all of the stories I’m thinking about onto one drive, and then I want to read bits and pieces, fine my old notes if I can, just play with them to see if one of them really jumps out at me as something I want to spend a lot of time with. 

And then it will be winter break, and I can spend time working on my planner and vision board and looking at the story and doing some jigsaw puzzles and generally recharging so I can maybe calm down from the really stressful and hectic months I’m coming off of, and hopefully I’ll have good, clear goals and a plan for how to reach them when it’s time to start Round 1 of ROW80 for 2019. 

NaNoWriMo 2018

I wasn’t really sure I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I told myself I shouldn’t–I had so much going on! I jumped into a rather strange teaching position this year (cooking and marketing classes, neither of which are my actual subject area), and I’m spending a lot of time reading and finding materials and making lesson plans, just trying to stay one step ahead of my classes. Doing NaNo wasn’t really a good idea.

But the call of NaNo was strong. I really wanted to do it whether I should or not. I do it almost every year (the exceptions being the year my mom died and the year we were renovating our new house and moving in during late October and all of November). In the midst of all of the completely unfamiliar territory of the new teaching job, I think I also wanted that familiarity of the NaNo experience.

So I did it. But I didn’t have time to do planning. I tried. I got a couple of character names and a basic idea of where they would be and what would be going on (paranormal explorers investigating a deserted island once occupied by a mystical cult and said to be haunted). So I decided to be a pantser this year.

As you can see by the graph of my day-to-day word counts, I had a hard start to the month. Parent conferences, trying to work with a bunch of kids who are behind on work, the general constant planning I’m doing to create lesson plans since I’m starting from scratch for each unit.

On day 22, I had less than half of the 50K goal. I tried to tell myself it was okay to not make it to 50K. I actually really do believe that! Except I couldn’t accept it for myself. I said I wasn’t going to make it; I wasn’t going to win this year. I couldn’t accept that. So I pretty much ran myself into the ground the last ten days of November, and I dragged myself over that finish line with about six hours to spare.

I do not recommend this.

This NaNo experience has left me thinking about my capabilities, though. I can clearly put in the hours and do the work. So why do I only do it during November? I do some writing throughout the rest of the year, of course, and I do other creative things. But there’s no regularity to it (I’ve talked about this problem before). I don’t actually know how to change myself, even though I help other people learn new ways to get things done and reach their goals.

Of course, they have me to check in with, to encourage them, to remind them of deadlines. That’s the part I keep trying to do for myself, but I think I might need an external motivator. This coach needs a coach!

Still, I’m pretty proud of myself for the NaNo win. And I know I am capable of doing a lot when I can find the energy and focus. Maybe I just need to start looking for that focus in new places.

Round 4!

I can’t believe we’re already in the last round. This year swooshed by me! But here we are, time for the final round of ROW80 for 2018. At least goal setting for this round is always easy. It’s NaNoWriMo season! The goals practically set themselves.

The only hard part about goals for this round is what to do about December. I have so far never done a good job of keeping things rolling after NaNo, and this year I’d really like to change that.

I am mulling over how to make December not feel like a flop this time around. I’m thinking that separating my goals out by month might be useful, so I’m going to try that out.

So, here they are! My Round 4 Goals:

October:

  • Work on NaNo planning at least 4 times each week
  • Continue writing practice at least 3 times a week
  • Blog at least 3 times

November:

  • Work on my NaNo story at least 4 days a week
  • Run a weekly online write-in
  • Go to or host at least two in-person write-ins
  • Blog at least 2 times

December: 

  • On December 1, write a blog post with more precise December goals
  • Include some sort of work related to my NaNo story
  • Blog at least 3 times

Pretty Close

I came close to my goal of having a name for my character. I’m not quite there yet. I have it narrowed down to two, and I’m hoping that as I do a little work getting to know her I’ll figure out what her name is supposed to be.

This part, figuring out whose story I’m telling, always gets the excitement building in me. I can feel that buzz in my stomach, and I’m starting to see images of scenes. I can’t wait to start the planning on this one!

I still have some work to do on my NaNo planning class, but I am far enough along that I can say it will be ready to start on the 24th. And I will have a registration page tomorrow. So that goal is pretty close to met, too.

I didn’t have as much time as I expected for working on all of this because I got a three-week sub job! I was not expecting that so early in the school year, but I’m really happy it came along. I may have to readjust my schedule a bit, but it’s so worth it. I am so glad to be back in the classroom!

For now, though, I’m going to go out and enjoy this sunny and warm-but-not-hot beautiful late summer day. Happy writing everyone!

Stirrings of Fall

I love fall. I think I’ve mentioned this a million or so times before. But this time of year hits, and I come alive. I have ideas, I’m ready to do things. And one of the things I do in the fall is NaNoWriMo. This year, I’m taking part in their fun Instagram challenge in September. Today’s prompt was “cover art,” so I made this for my horror story.

I’m also gearing up to teach my “Plan Your NaNo” class after a couple of years off, so most of my writing is centered around updating and touching up the materials for that. But I also made a cute graphic for it (apparently this week is for making graphics). I’ll share that below, because I’m kind of proud of it.

So not a lot of writing is happening, but there’s a lot of writing-adjacent activity. But after a really droopy summer, I’m feeling like things are moving again, and that feels very good.

I got a new idea for NaNo just over a week ago, so I need to get moving on fleshing it out. I’m going to set a goal of having a character name and some background on her by Sunday. See you then with an update!

Going Camping

Somewhere in the midst of trying to do revisions, I realized my best choice is to do a second draft of my story. So I’m jumping in on Camp NaNoWriMo in April.

I’ve signed up a few times and even set up a project once, but I’ve never been part of a cabin, so I feel like I haven’t really done Camp. This time, though, my local writing group is having a cabin, and I’m going to be doing this with them. I think that’s going to make it a lot more fun.

So far, I have ideas for a few new scenes, and right now I’m working on making scene cards and fleshing out ideas for some of the scenes I want to keep that feel too scant. The rest of March will be for planning out the rewrite, then on April 1 I’ll start Draft 2. I

I’m aiming for 20,000 words for Camp, which should be pretty easy. I’ll probably be sticking with my usual method of writing 4 or 5 days a week rather than every day. The every day experiment was interesting, but it’s not by best way to work.  So, writing more days than not, nice easy goals. That should about cover it. Where are the marshmallows? I think I’m ready for camp!

 

NaNo Wrap-up

I’ve started this post numerous times in my head. I have so much to say! It’s all still tumbling around excitedly inside my brain. This might call for a list!

  1. I won NaNoWriMo with 52,513 (52,527 in Google Docs) words.
  2. I finished the story! This one is huge. Immensely, amazingly huge! I have never done this before. Not just during NaNo, either. I have only ever finished short stories before. Every long work I’ve started up until now remains unfinished. But not this one. This one has an ending!
  3. I’m feeling niggling worries about whether or not I know how to do the next steps to add scenes, clean things up, do revisions. It’s all going to be my first try for my own work. I’ve helped other people do theirs, but I’ve never done this on my own. It feels completely different and like brand new territory. I have to remember that finishing a novel felt that way, and I did it by just figuring out and doing the next thing without knowing what I would do after that. I have to let go of wanting to know how every part of it will look before I get there (oh so hard for me!).
  4. I have a plan for what I’m doing next. During December I’m going to be reading through about 4 pages a day and making notes about things that need to have more info or different info, marking places where I need another scene, marking places where a scene needs to be removed or replaced. My plan is to be ready to do the writing and clean-up starting in January. I’m trying not to try to figure out how long that might take right now (oh my control issues!).

 

Slogging

I’m struggling to get to the writing today. I’m exhausted and headachey. But I am so close! Just under 3,000 words left to write to win NaNoWriMo. And I think that’s going to bring me to the end of my story, too, so it’s really exciting. Except I can’t get off this couch!

There are too many of these exhausted and not-quite-well days. But at least the fire is going again, I am not freezing like I was earlier, and I have a plan to put together a quick dinner and get it into the oven so we will have food. Things could be much worse, right? If only the motivation fairy would come and get me on my feet!

Heading Into the Final Stretch

November is almost over, and therefore so is NaNoWriMo. I’m still moving along. I’m no longer sure I’ll reach the end of the story by the end of November, though. An extra episode inserted itself into my story, so I’m not quite where I thought I would be at this point.

This afternoon, I’m going to take a little bit of time to do some planning for the next phases of the story and see if I might manage to still get to the end by November 30. I’ve never managed to do that during NaNo, and this year is the closest I’ve ever come, so I’m still holding out hope that I can make it work.

As soon as I post this, I’m going to take my stack of inspirational books and my story notebook and settle in with the fire going and music and the washer as background noise, and I’m going to get my writing done earlier today because I’ve been leaving it until too late at night all this past week. Things are nice and peaceful today, though, so it’s a good day to spend more time with my story.

I hope you’re having a great writing day!

NaNo Meets Thanksgiving

This week has been really hectic. I’m trying to clean things up for Thanksgiving, and that’s not going well, and I’m really behind. I’ve kept up with my word count–I’m even still a day ahead–but everything is kind of foggy. There’s too much going on in my head, and it’s keeping me from being fully engaged with anything I’m doing. I’m getting writing done, but the having fun part has slipped away.

I don’t know if I’m going to get back to really enjoying it until Thanksgiving is over. I’m really looking forward to not having to prep for a holiday! Thank goodness Christmas is at someone else’s house!

I’m going to set a pre-New Year’s resolution–next year I am *not* going to wait until November to start getting my house in order so that I can have people over. Now I just have to figure out how to actually get myself to get organized enough to not do this again.

Meanwhile, back to my haunted world. Things are easier there.