NaNo Day 29: Hello, 50K, It’s Me

I WON NANOWRIMO 2015.

Also just almost had an asthma attack for the first time since middle school, thanks to accidentally going off my allergy meds for the first time since June. (PSA: Do not accidentally go off your allergy meds.)

This NaNoWriMo has been a roller coaster way more than any other year. I think I spent more time this month behind on my word goals than actually keeping up with them.

However, I’m also doing more this year than I have other years. (Way more.) And I somehow managed to get through this month without neglecting sleep or personal hygiene too much. So I’m proud of myself.

And, despite spending most of the month behind, I somehow finished on time today. So, like, yay?

I am now going to go finish the homework I have due tomorrow and go to bed early, because almost-semi-heading-in-the-direction-of-near-death experiences and hitting 50,000 words on NaNoWriMo for the eighth year in a row deserve a reward like sleep.

(Also, possibly, a slice of pie.)

Goal for Today: 3,000
Overall Goal: 50,000
Current Word Count: 50,278

~Julia

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NaNo Day 28: Forever Go Blue

I spent today at the last football game of my senior year.

We lost. (By a lot.) And it was COOOLD. But I also had fun with my friends and participating in all the weird traditions of the student section and just finding myself surrounded by that many of my fellow Wolverines.

This was my first year getting season tickets for football. Actually, before this the only time I’d actually attended a regular game was junior year, because I was singing at halftime with the university choirs.

I don’t like football. It’s probably my least favorite mainstream sport. (Even in high school, I generally only attended homecoming every year.) So with that in mind, I don’t really regret not going to more games before this season. It was always really nice getting a break from everyone in the dorms on game day to write and watch TV in peace.

But I am surprisingly glad that I got the season tickets this year.

Because going to the football games every couple weeks was a reminder that I’m part of something bigger, here. There are so many students at this university, and we all are studying different things, and most of us will never have a chance to meet, let alone get to know one another. But when we’re all crushed together in the student section, cheering or singing (or booing) together, we do at least have that in common.

  
And now I’m back at the apartment and I just ate a crapload of carbs and Hannah and I are watching Dirty Dancing on TV. (So, one might say that with this season’s football games I’ve had the time of my life.) (Eh? Eh?) (I’ll see myself out.)

Anyway: No writing scheduled for today, because of the game. But I might slip in a couple hundred words, since I’m running a virtual write-in for Ch1Con right now. (Come join us, if you’re a young writer and see this before 10 PM EST!)

Goal for Today: 0
Overall Goal: 47,000
Current Word Count: 47,352

~Julia

NaNo Day 27: Focus

I’m back at school! Tomorrow’s the last football game of senior year, so my family dropped me off at my apartment on their way to another Thanksgiving celebration out of state.

I’ve spent the day trying to get caught up on things: Christmas shopping (all online, mind you; no Black Friday madness today, thank God), answering emails, working on my honors thesis, cleaning my room, cleaning the ancient icky food out of the refrigerator, etc., etc.

What this has meant is less time spent on NaNoWriMo today than I had planned. (Really, I had planned to spend the entire day on it.) But real life was stressing me out and I knew I had to get stuff done before I’d ever be able to focus.

Despite getting all that work done ahead of writing, I still was having a lot of trouble focusing tonight, though. All I wanted to do was watch Netflix or work out or even do more homework. (Really: anything but write.) And that lack of ability to focus was stressing me out all over again.

Normally when this has happened in years past, I’ve turned to my critique partners for help. That group of writers is all about the word wars. (Last year we got to the point where if you weren’t writing at least 1,000 words every fifteen minutes, there wasn’t even a point in competing.)

But this year none of my critique partners are doing traditional NaNoWriMo. And not being able to get my brain to let me write, sitting alone in my dorm room in an empty apartment with my family off having fun in another state–it all felt very isolating.

So I turned to the NaNoWriMo forums for the first time this year for help, and they reminded me that @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter exists, so I decided to check that out. And after doing endless word sprints from a little after eight until now, a little before eleven, I managed to not only focus on writing, but to beat my goal of 5.5k for the day.

I wrote 5,800 words in under three hours today. They are all pretty terrible (I was aware of how terrible they are as I was writing them), but I’m proud of them just because they’re there. On the page. And I am caught up and a little ahead and SO CLOSE to being done with NaNoWriMo 2015.

The main reason I love NaNoWriMo so much is that it’s such a community affair. For one month out of the year, writers stop writing alone and start writing alone-but-together. We attend write-ins, do writing sprints and word wars, compare word counts, and more than anything we cheer one another on.

I’ve been missing that aspect a lot this year, because of the no-critique-partners-competing thing. It’s hard to focus when you feel all alone. But tonight reminded me that I’m not doing this alone.

Over half a million people are competing in NaNoWriMo this year, from what I’ve heard. More than ever before.

If you’re feeling alone this NaNoWriMo as well, go out and find a few of those writers. Do a word sprint. Cheer one another on.

It’s incredible how much a little interaction with someone else spending the month with the same goal as you can help you focus.

Goal for Today: 5,000 + 500 (from yesterday)
Overall Goal: 47,000
Current Word Count: 47,352

~Julia

 

Wordy Wednesday: Tomorrow

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a writing process post. About, err, not writing.

Another short post today, because it’s after 11:00 PM and I ended up getting exactly zero writing done on NaNo, for the third day in a row.

I had a paper due this evening that shouldn’t have been a big deal to write (it was only supposed to be like three pages), but I ended up spending the entire day on it because, you know, day before Thanksgiving and all. But I did manage to get it done and in on time, so I’m now officially on break, thank God. Hopefully I’ll be finally have a little time to write now.

This evening my family wanted to do stuff together, so I made dinner (pasta with homemade sauce and fresh mozzarella, garlic bread, and fried red-skin potatoes) and now we’re watching Flight. (By the way, if you haven’t seen it, much more depressing than expected. Happy holidays.)

My mom has promised me a couple hours to spend on NaNo in the morning, before Thanksgiving stuff starts, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to catching up then.

Tonight: I’m finishing this movie and going to bed.

In the morning: Writing Warrior Mode activates.

Goal for Today: 1,000 + 3,000 (from Monday)
Overall Goal: 40,000
Current Word Count: 37,027

~Julia

NaNo Day 24: Home for the Holiday

Hey there! Just popping in today to say I’m now on break for Thanksgiving (although I still have a paper due tomorrow) and I am exhausted and I am about to go curl up with my dog and go to sleep early.

Clearly, no writing today. But once the work I need to get done tomorrow is, you know, done, hopefully I’ll get a chance to log a few thousand words.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

Goal for Today: 0 + 3,000 (from yesterday)

Overall Goal: 39,000

Current Word Count: 37,027


~Julia

NaNo Day 22: Home Stretch

Another day, another excuse for not putting up my Mockingjay – Part 2 gush-rant. I’m not getting to start this post today until close to 11:30 PM and I want to make sure it goes up before midnight, so my movie reaction post will have to wait, once again, for tomorrow.

In the meantime, though, my (shorter and more organized) review of the movie is now up on [art]seen! Check it out here.

After the play last night (it was a murder mystery dinner theatre; very fun), I ended up getting a little over 1k in on NaNo, which actually did ultimately bring me up to my goal for the day of 36,000 words, thanks to my binge-writing on Wednesday. I meant to write a bunch today to get ahead again, but homework and work-work and life in general got in the way, so I only got like another 1k in. (Totally not a problem, since I didn’t have any writing scheduled for today anyway. But yeah. I had been hoping to push ahead to 40k.)

We’re in the home stretch of NaNoWriMo now, with only eight days to go. I have 13,000 words left to write. Fingers crossed, but as long as nothing comes up, I should be able to finish by Sunday as planned (leaving Monday–the last day of November–as my contingency writing day).

NaNoWriMo so far this year has been a lesson in being a human mule (as in: it takes a lot of stubborn determination to slowly jog towards a goal over time, rather than sprint for it all at once).

Here’s to the last week. Let’s make it a good (aka productive) one.

Goal for Today: 0 + 5,000 (from yesterday)
Overall Goal: 36,000
Current Word Count: 37,027

~Julia

NaNo Day 21: #Lyfe, Part 2

So I only ended up getting in a little under 500 words written yesterday. Not really a problem, considering my goal for the day was only 1,000 and that means I’m still several thousand words ahead of schedule. Buuut my goal for today, on the other hand, is 5,000. And, after a last minute change to my plan for the weekend, it turns out that there’s no way I have time to do that.

Which means I’m going to be back to being behind by the end of the day, more than likely.

Hooray.

On the upside: the reason I’m not getting much writing done this weekend is because I’ve had fun things going on. Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Undergraduate English Association’s annual Write-a-Thon at Espresso Royale (where I got very little actual writing done, because I got distracted working on Ch1Con stuff). Then, in the evening, my roommates and I hosted our second annual Friendsgiving (and it was really lovely getting to see friends and eat so much good food, because I basically cut myself off from all social events during November).

And now I’m at my family’s house for the rest of the weekend, because I’m going to a play tonight with my mom and a family friend (and also I will never pass up an opportunity to see Sammy).

All this to say: I’m okay with falling a little behind in NaNoWriMo this weekend, because it’s for a good reason. I don’t know where I’m going to be this time next year. I want to take advantage of this time with my family and friends while I know I have it.

I promise I will do my Mockingjay Part 2 reaction post very, very soon. But I currently need to get some homework done before the play tonight, or I’m going to drown. (Funny how these “responsibility” things creep up on ya, eh?)

I hope you’re having a good weekend, whether you’re getting your words in or not! Only a little over a week left of NaNoWriMo. (I know I ask this every year, but: HOW IS THIS MONTH GOING SO FAST?)

Goal for Today: 5,000 + 500 (from yesterday)
Overall Goal: 36,000
Current Word Count: 35,014

~Julia

PS. Seriously, who would ever pass up seeing this face.

 

NaNo Day 20: What Katniss Taught Me [TWNP Blog Chain]

Normally I ramble about big YA film adaptations the day after I see them, but today I’m holding off on my Mockingjay – Part 2 post for a couple reasons:

  1. I promised the lovely Kate Gold that I would participate in her Today’s Word Nerd Ponderings blog chain today.
  2. I owe a review of the movie for [art]seen (the blog I write for here at U of M) and I should probably get that shorter and more organized post up before I write my gushy/ranty/super unorganized one for here. (Hopefully I’ll get a chance to spew my feelings all over you tomorrow, though?)

What I will say though is that–as pretty much always–this movie left me a bundle of mixed feelings. I have such a love/hate relationship with this series of adaptations. But overall Mockingjay Part 2 is very good and you should very much go see it.

Still, in the meantime: TWNP blog chain! This month’s prompt is:

This prompt centers around the theme of valuable lessons, especially that we have taken away from books. You might answer:
What is the coolest thing you have taken away from a book you have read? What sorts of things have your characters learned, as embedded in a story you have written? Or, what sort of message do you want to share with others, either in writing or through your own life?

All three options for this prompt are really good questions, but I think I’m going to answer the first one. About, well, The Hunger Games*.

I’m not sure if it qualifies as like the “coolest” thing I’ve ever taken away from a book, but one of my favorite parts of the Hunger Games trilogy is the fact that life DESTROYS Katniss. Repeatedly. And she somehow always finds a way to keep going.

Katniss is a really interesting example of the traditional “strong female protagonist.” I adore her. She’s one of my favorite characters ever. But this is less because of her physical strength as much as the way she deals with things emotionally. Katniss endures SO MUCH, yet she keeps going. Even after she falls apart, she finds the strength to keep going.

Katniss taught me that even someone who is broken can pick up the pieces and find the strength to continue on.

I’ve heard so many complaints about how Katniss reacts to things in Mockingjay, and I HATE THAT. People are convinced that to be a Strong Female Protagonist, characters aren’t allowed to break. This POV is harmful. Katniss isn’t strong because she physically survives the Hunger Games. She’s strong because she mentally and emotionally does.

Yes, she breaks. Yes, she’s selfish and hysterical and numb and HURT. But she finds her way back to being human again. And THAT is what makes Katniss so amazing.

A strong female protagonist is someone who tries her best despite her circumstances and flaws. Being strong isn’t about being invincible; it’s about moving forward, doing your best, while knowing you’re not.

It’s about looking at a world as screwed up as the one the Hunger Games series takes place in, and not losing hope for a better one.

Goal for Today: 1,000
Overall Goal: 31,000
Current Word Count: 34,514

~Julia

PS. For anyone who has seen Mockingjay Part 2: WHAT IS WITH THE ASIAN BABY?

*If this looks familiar, it’s because I’m essentially plagiarizing myself off a rant I did on Twitter back in June. #Oops

NaNo Day 19: Interview with Brett Jonas

Sorry for writing two days’ posts within twelve hours of one another, but I have a busy day ahead of me (class, work, dress rehearsal, choir concert–then MOCKINGJAY PART 2 OHMYGOSH IT IS FINALLY HERE I CANNOT HANDLE IT).

With that in mind, I don’t have any NaNoing planned for the day. (The current goal is just to stay awake and on my feet until the end of it, to be honest.)

So: seems like a good time to share an interview!

Like the past couple years, throughout November I’m sharing interviews with other writers competing in NaNoWriMo in order to give a broader perspective of the event. (Also to just let you meet these fantastic humans, because I adore them.)

Today’s interview is with Brett Jonas, my favorite goat milk enthusiast and one of this year’s creative consultants for Ch1Con. Here we go!

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1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a writer, reader, Christian, and chocolate lover. After being homeschooled my whole life, I’m currently taking classes at my local community college and working in my family’s business, Goat Milk Stuff, with my seven younger siblings. I also spend way too much time procrastinating on Twitter.

2. Have you done NaNoWriMo before, or is this your first time? What are your thoughts so far?

I have done NaNoWriMo several times, but I’ve never gone for the full 50k during the month of November. I’ll do 50k during the camps in the summer months, but with November being the busiest time of year at work, I generally go for 25k. Right now, I’m just hoping I can make the 25k this year – I’m farther behind than I’ve ever been.

3. Can you tell us about your novel?

This is my first time ever writing contemporary, so I’m really nervous about it, but also pretty excited. It’s these two nerds who fall in love with each other and I’m having so much fun slipping in ALL THE FANDOM references. LOL (You can find a summary on my Nano page, because I can’t for the life of me come up with a short pitch yet. http://nanowrimo.org/participants/booksquirt/novels/hanover)

4. In addition to doing NaNoWriMo this year, you’re also a college student, working at your family’s super cool business (www.goatmilkstuff.com), volunteering as one of Ch1Con’s creative consultants, and more. How do you balance so much at once?

Balance? Hah. What’s that? But seriously, I’m not quite sure how I manage to do it all. I had two manuscripts land in my inbox this week that needed to be beta read and returned within a week, in addition to my homework and regular work. Nano got dropped in the process. But, since I’m only going for 25k, I’m only 5k behind schedule and I’m hoping I can catch back up – after I catch up on the homework that I abandoned to get these novels back to their authors. Oops? (Erica Cameron and Breeana Puttroff are brilliant, by the way, and I will drop everything to read their books any time. LOL)
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6539315
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5170812.Breeana_Puttroff

5. Any tips for fast drafting a novel?

My biggest tip for fast drafting is to run word sprints. Find a buddy – whether online or in real life – and set a timer. Race the clock, and at the end, report your word counts to each other. Whether you sprint for 15 minutes or an hour, if you sit down and focus on writing as fast as you can for a pre-determined amount of time, you’re bound to get a fair amount of words. And, it’s fun!

6. Quick: what is your #1, go-to snack food for when the writing (or revisions) get tough?

Chocolate. My family makes some pretty amazing chocolate covered goat milk caramels and they are the best. Popcorn is a good writing snack too, if I’m in a salty mood instead of sweet.

7. And last but not least, where can we find you online?

You can find me at brettjonas.com, on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Instagram. I’m most active on Twitter, but I have some pretty awesome writing inspiration boards on Pinterest, and in the next few months there will be baby goats galore on my Instagram. You know, if cute baby animals are your thing. 😉

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6548838-brett-jonas
twitter.com/booksquirt
pinterest.com/booksquirt
instagram.com/booksquirt

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Thanks so much for letting me interview you, Brett!

Goal for Today: 0
Overall Goal: 30,000
Current Word Count: 34,514

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday: November Eighteenth

So, um… I accidentally wrote 8.3k today.

Isn’t it funny how that happens? Like I started out the day 3,000 words behind. I’ve been putting off writing since Sunday. And that extra time I had this morning to write? I spent it catching up on The Flash.

But I was sick of being behind, and so disgusted with myself for letting it happen AGAIN–so after my morning class I headed to a coffee shop, plopped myself down at a table with a medium hot caramel apple cider, and wrote for three hours. Went to my next two classes, then trooped over to Noodles & Co. to grab dinner and write for another few hours.

And now here we are, at 9:00 PM, and instead of being 3,000 words behind, I am now 4,500 words ahead.

What I’ve been writing all day is crap (really, what I’ve been writing all month is crap), but I keep reminding myself that that’s okay. That I just need to get this terrible first draft out, then I can make the novel actually halfway decent in rewrites. That I need to write this terrible first draft in order to even have a chance at writing a decent second one someday.

I’m falling in love with these characters, with this world. I am slowly but surely figuring out what makes it all tick. It’s the most exhilarating feeling, right?

And because of that, I am itching to keep going. I want to finish this thing so I can go back and make it shine.

But I also know it’s time to close the Word doc for the night. I don’t want to burn myself out, especially this late in the month.

But still: I’m really grateful for days like today. It’s days like today, when the words fly from your fingertips (even if they’re crappy words), that make all the other days spent trudging through them instead worthwhile.

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a poem.

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The rain coats my lungs
like a protective skin—
breathe it in, the mist
and the damp—
let it drown me one delicious
drop at a time

With every ragged, rushing breath,
off to somewhere else oh-so-important,
please let the world slow down,
slowly, slowly,
a drop at a time,
until it’s turning slow enough
to make sense
of everything that has been happening
and everything that is coming
for once, for once, for once

A stop for something warm to drink,
and a stop for a lecture I cannot pay attention to,
and a stop for a world I need to build,
my own private world to build—
I get to decide how fast it spins

Life is a story of letting go,
but this is one time
I get to hold on

**********

Thanks for reading!

Goal for Today: 1,000 + 3,000 (from Monday)
Overall Goal: 30,000
Current Word Count: 34,514

~Julia