Tag Archives: November

The Unique Panic of NaNoWriMo

I always panic a little every Halloween. Not for the typical reasons of haunted houses, spooky costumes, or ghoulish frights. I am panicking because it is Nano Eve, the night before the crazy month-long novel-writing marathon kicks off. I am panicking because the challenge seems insurmountable. It seems that way every year.

This year my particular panic is related to time. Or perhaps that’s misleading – it’s really more of a question of energy. I am still recovering from a bout of bronchitis which zapped almost all of October for me. Being sick stole all the time and energy I had reserved for actually outlining my novel and putting together character sketches. Instead of creating, I spent most of the month sleeping. In addition, I started a part-time job that I’m still quite new at and I will be starting a full-time job within a week. So while time (or lack thereof) is definitely a valid factor, I have always been pretty good at squirreling away little pockets of time to get my writing done. But after what could be 60 hour work weeks, I’m afraid I won’t have much of a brain left to do the mentally taxing work of plotting, characterization, and ya know, putting words together in coherent sentences.

My First Nano

I still count my first Nanowrimo as my best – partly because the whole experience felt so new and liberating. It was a whole different attitude toward writing than I had previously held. I used to slave away quietly by myself, agonizing over word choices and plot points. Back then I was more prolific than I am now – maybe the world hadn’t beaten the spirit out of me yet. Writing was a very serious business to me, to be undertaken seriously and to have serious feelings about. I was introduced to Nanowrimo in college by my good friend Megan. She knew that I loved to write, yet I’d been experiencing a block for a long time. She encouraged me to try it. I protested that it was impossible. She said, “Just try it.”

It was the Nanowrimo of legends, I’m telling you:  I came up with a premise the night before, and I flew totally by the seat of my pants. I think it was the first time I had ever tried “pantsing” – the Nanowrimo term that refers to just making up the story as you go along with no outline to guide you. I can see why some people are die-hard pantsers – it’s pretty thrilling if you can pull it off. Somehow, by November 30, I had dragged myself through 50,000 words. I guess in some way, I am still chasing that thrill because I keep returning to Nanowrimo year after year, hoping to recapture some of that magic.

How I’m Going to Get Through This Month

I don’t think I could do this crazy month-long ride without the support of the writing community. Nanowrimo is, after all, the unifying force that brought our local group together all those years ago. I keep coming back to Nano because it’s so inspiring. I love to hear other author’s war stories, to see them emerge triumphant on the other side clutching all the words they cranked out. I love hearing that Nano has helped them to write more words than all the other months. I love being able to complain about parts of the noveling process with people who have been through the same emotional slog. If you have never been part of a writing group, it is a hard feeling to describe. It feels validating.

During my first Nano, the door to the online writing community really opened up to me. I had been reading some author blogs quite regularly, but it always felt like a rather small pool and the mode was experts (published authors) teaching the beginner (me). But Nano was different. There are forums and group chats. You could find a writing buddy halfway across the world – some nocturnal wrimos like being able to chat with someone in a different time zone. And everyone was in the same boat for the most part – we’re all just trying to write as much as we can in a short amount of time and not get discouraged along the way. I love that there is a different forum for each stage on the Nanowrimo website. Whether you are racing along with the Overachievers (we have a couple of those) or lamenting the first 10k (you know I have been there), there is always someone right alongside of you.

Of course our local in-person write-ins are always a fun time. There is something about having an excuse to get out of my house that really motivates me to get work done. It’s hard for me to write at home these days – too many distractions – so I look forward to our many write-ins at different libraries and local restaurants. Hearing the tippity-tap of everyone’s fingers flying across the keys also gives me a competitive streak – I feel like I am not doing enough if my fingers are not tippity-tapping too. All the official write-ins are on the calendar, but members can always propose unofficial meet-ups any time during the month and see if anybody is up to join.

I love how inclusive Nanowrimo is. There is no punishment if you don’t win. No one strips you of the title of “author” or flogs you for not meeting your word count. You can write about whatever you want. There’s no pressure to publish at the end. I feel that Peowrimos is especially inclusive, because we are just happy if you wrote more words this month – whether it’s fiction, poetry, whatever! The word count doesn’t actually matter. It’s the fact that you put forth the effort to do something that’s important to you.

With all that said, the only way I’m gonna get through Nano this year is to commit. To dig deep, grit my teeth, and discipline myself to write. Nanowrimo is like a crucible in that way – there’s no time to wallow in self-doubt when you have a deadline to hit. I have always been pretty motivated by deadlines, even if they are just self-imposed and made up. So I hereby announce with the publication of this blog post, I am going to try my hardest to win this year.

Are you committing to Nano?

A lot of writers don’t like Nano because they feel constricted, pressured, or rushed. I see it as more of convenient shorthand – a quick way to say, “I’m making my writing a priority this month with a bunch of buddies.” It’s a quick way to let other writers know that you’re a little crazy, you may need a lot of support, and that you are choosing your writing first over all the other things you could be doing this month.

If you want to be my online buddy, you can find me on the NaNoWriMo.org website as natfee.

And if you’re wondering whether I’m going to use this blog post toward my word count:  you bet I am.

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Write-A-Thon

Need to know more about our write-a-thon? Keep reading!

Write-a-thon

November 22nd, 2014

9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Fondulac District Library, Civic Complex

Come write with us! We’ll have donuts and coffee and snacks to get you started and keep you going.

The Civic Complex in East Peoria. It’s adjacent to the library, in the same building. There’s plenty of space and places to plug in your noveling device. Wi-fi is available.

Come and go as you have time! While the library is open, (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), the doors are open and we’d love to have you for as little or as long as you can make it. After 5 p.m., we will move to the Conference Room inside the library, and we’ll finish out the Write-A-Thon lock-in style (participants may leave, but re-entry will not be allowed). Throughout the day, we’ll be hosting friendly word wars (fifteen minute spurts of writing frenzy) and ice-breaker style games to keep your energy levels up.

What about food? There are a ton of places to pick up lunch and dinner near the library in the new and growing Levee District. We also have a sign-up thread going on the official nanowrimo.org site for people who volunteer to bring easy-to-eat foods and snacks. At lunch and dinner times, we will also organize a meal order, so if you wish to participate please bring some cash and include tip for delivery.

Please join us! We’re keeping track of all the words we write—our word count poster will grow and grow and grow all day.

virtual write ins for november

Greetings, WriMos!

Our calendar is almost finalized (barring tornadoes, snowstorms, and the wayward zombie apocalypse). Tabby and I just added the virtual write ins for this upcoming month. Here’s a few things you ought to know about our virtual write ins.

What is a virtual write-in, exactly?

I’m so glad you asked! WriMos are invited to log into chatnano.net while you’re writing to chat with us–you know, cheer other WriMos on, commiserate about your plot bunnies, and in general remind yourself that you aren’t alone in this great big novelling challenge.

How do I register for chatnano.net?

Before you can actually get into our chatroom, you’ll need to register your NaNoWriMo name for the chatroom’s client. Instructions:

*****WRIMO REGISTRATION INSTRUCTIONS*****

WriMos who used the chat rooms last year should go to the login page. Newbies need to register first.

WriMos go to this URL: http://chatnano.net/IrcUsers/register_wrimo

  • Fill in Nick (same as here only with no spaces)
  • Choose region from drop-down menu
  • E-mail address
  • Password
  • Click Submit

​Once they are registered they ALWAYS login at http://chatnano.net/IrcUsers/login.

Put in the Nick and password they registered with.

If they prefer a client to Mibbit, they need to point their client at irc.kydance.net, port 6667, and login using the name they registered at the first URL given. If they are logging in using a client, they will need to enter their password when they do so. The command for this is /ns identify PASSWORD where they change PASSWORD to their actual password that they registered with.

What’s this Espresso Shot and why does it seem like Barb has a caffeine problem?

I plead the fifth, but I’m happy to tell you about Espresso Shots. On Friday mornings, I pledge to spend thirty minutes furiously writing. We’ll do some fun stuff, too, like weekly progress reports and the usual moral support.

What else is there to these virtual write-ins?

That’s it. A virtual write-in is us going into a chatroom. That’s really all there is to it. It may not sound like much, but writing can be a lonely venture, and writing a novel in a month even more so. A virtual space is important.

But if we’re chatting in a chatroom, we’re not really writing…

You got me there. That’s why no one is expected to spend the whole time yammering. Just sign in, say hello, and keep the chatroom running in the background so you can pop over to celebrate your victories and ask questions. Stay as long as you need, or just drop by to say hi if you like.

I hope to see you there!

Happy Writing!!

find your why

I still really, really can’t adjust to the idea that November 2014 is less than a week away. My son conveniently has a birthday on NaNoWriMo’s kickoff, so this time of year is always my reality check: time is flying.

Writing a novel in a month has become even more important to me, because the weeks and months go by so fast unless I commit to firm deadlines. I know December will be crazy busy with baking, revising another novel, and family. That leaves November as my last great sprint towards meeting my goals for this whole year.

That’s part terrifying, but also fairly exciting.

Last week at our Meet & Greet, I got to see a lot of familiar faces and some new ones. It was great. I love hearing about what other people are writing. I love that we’re writing together. This shared experience of ours makes writing even more fun.

This year, I’m writing the third novel in my modern-day fantasy series about clueless angels and sympathetic demons. And while that sounds like it’s not personal, it is. I’ve got some scenes planned that hit close to home–my own mistakes in faith and self-acceptance have to fuel the fire of this year’s NaNo novel.

That’s my advice to you, in case you thought I could get through a whole NaNoWriMo post without doling out bits of writing encouragement (pro tip: I can’t). Find what makes your novel important this year. It doesn’t have to be memoir or propaganda to be intensely personal and extraordinarily passionate.

But it ought to be passionate and personal. Find the why in your story, why you need to write it, why those characters exist, why someone else needs to hear these words. Hold fast to that why–you’ll need it when the what, the when, the where, and the how have abandoned you. You’ll have the why, and you’ll have the way.

story prep workshop

I had a great time at yesterday’s workshop, WriMos!

In case you missed it, we talked about a lot of ways to plan and prep your story, because NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Here are some links we shared, plus a few more, because I love arming you with resources:

Candy Bar Scenes — Holly Lisle’s website is a treasure trove of writing inspiration and information.
Snowflake Method — Advancedfictionwriting.com has novel design down to a science, or close to it as you can get. This method is great for plotters.
Scene and Sequel, MRUs — Advancedfictionwriting.com has another great article for how to structure scenes, both large- and small-scale.
Story Engineering Beat Sheet — Storyfix.com has some great resources for story planning as well as this beat sheet.
Jami Gold’s Website — all the fill-in spreadsheets and plotting devices you could dream of, and then some.

NaNoWrimo YWP Novelist Handbook — ignore the fact that these are for kids. No, really. There is some great advice in these pages, as well as some awesome printouts.
Scrivener NaNoWriMO 2014 Free Trial — Scrivener is offering a free trial of their writing software for this year’s NaNo, from now until December 7th. If you win, you get a coupon for 50% off.
Sacred Cow of Publishing: Writing is Hard — deanwesleysmith.com tackles the myth that writing is hard.
Sacred Cow of Publishing: Writing Fast is Bad — deanwesleysmith.com tackles the myth that writing speed = writing quality.

We’re about to get very busy, WriMos. November is coming–we are ready with write-ins, workshops, and a write-a-thon. Check our calendar at nanowrimo.org or on the calendar button at the top of this page. I can’t wait to see you there.

Happy Writing!

nanowrimo goodies

In the past, Literature and Latte (creators of Scrivener) have offered NaNoWriMo winners a coupon code for 50% off.

This year, they’re doing the same, but if you want to try Scrivener during NaNoWriMo, they’re offering a free trial (larger than their regular trial) so you can Novel away until December 7th.

I really like this software. To be fair, it’s the only special noveling software I’ve ever tried, but I like it. So if you want to give it a try, now’s a great chance to check it out!

Link to Literature and Latte

Regional Newsletter

Here’s the latest news from PeoWriMos:

Dear Writer-Types,

We’re working hard to come up with some awesome events for PeoWriMos this year. The calendar isn’t blocked out completely yet, but as we get reservation confirmations from local businesses and libraries we’ll add them. What’s new this year: we’re partnering with libraries big time. I sent a spy in to Peoria Public Library’s North Branch location (and by sent a spy, I mean a WriMo works there), and she is setting up some great stuff for us, and for the young writer’s program! Oh, and we have another ‘spy’ at Fondulac Library (that would be me). Now that FDL has a nice big building, they have space and brainstorming ideas to make this NaNo the craziest ever. Check out our calendar at peowrimos@gmail.com to see the events we have so far! (link: https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=peowrimos%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Chicago  )

In other news, who’s this we I keep mentioning? I’m so pleased to announce that tabby-mattheessen has joined the dark side–er, I mean the volunteer team at PeoWriMos as an official ML. Make sure to welcome her the next time you see her (hopefully at this Sunday’s workshop!). I’m really happy to have her on board. She’s a hard-working writer (with a new book out and a blog) and she has some great ideas for events for us in the coming months. Say hello and send some novelling vibes!

It’s tempting to remind you how many weeks left until NaNoWriMo officially starts, but I’d rather not scare myself. So, let me just remind you about some of the great stuff we’ve got from now until November:

September 14th. Writing Workshop at Fondulac from 1-4. We’ll discuss antagonists.
October 12th. Writing Workshop at Fondulac from 1-4. We’ll discuss another aspect of storytelling craft.
October 22nd. Meet & Greet at North Branch McKenzie Room from 6-8. Meet us! Greet us! Get pumped for NaNoWriMo and make sure to get your sticker! Whee!

We’ll be in touch, writer-types. Stay tuned for another email when we get our calendar all official and full. I can’t wait to write with you.

Happy Writing,

Your ML Barb

planning for November

Don’t let me panic you, but we’d like to start planning some of our events for NaNoWriMo 2k14.

I know, I know. November is still a long ways away. Thing is, our favorite places often get booked months in advance, and we want to be the group that does the booking.

So let’s here it. Where and when do you want to have write-ins?