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 bedroom 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



NaNo Day 26: Thank You

Hey there and HAPPY THANKSGIVING (if you’re American and celebrate)!!

It’s been a long day (but a very, very good one). I forgot to turn off my alarms for school, so one woke me up at nine o’clock this morning, after I ended up staying up until like two chopping sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner and reading Emma for homework.

Despite how tired I was though, I was Very Awake at that point, so I grabbed my laptop and managed to get in 2.5k before heading downstairs for a late breakfast.

Watched the end of the Detroit Thanksgiving parade with my family. Ate lots of carbs. Did a grocery run, showered, and made a Rice Krispie turkey. (All in a day’s work for Julia the Vegetarian Girl.)

Then, it was off to my grandparents’ house for more cooking. Made mac and cheese (my specialty, obvs). Aaand finally, in the late afternoon, sat down to dinner. At which point I ate so much I felt like I was going to explode. (My mom and I spent some time after dessert conjugating different ways of saying that in Spanish: Voy a explotar. Exploto. Estoy explotando. Exploté.)

During the Rest & Digest period between dinner and dessert, I played cell phone games with my dad with football on in the background and somehow managed to get in another 1.5k.

Around nine, everyone said goodbye, we packed up all of the leftovers, and my family headed home. And now I’m finishing up my writing for the day, with another 500 words, which brings me to 41,552 words overall currently.

I’m going to try to get in one last 500 in an effort to reach my goal for the day of 42k, but I’m really sleepy from all that food, so we’ll see.

In the meantime, a few of the things I’m thankful for today:

  1. Family and friends I wouldn’t trade for the world (including a chubby little beagle curled up on the chair beside me).
  2. All the amazing people involved in Ch1Con these days. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would grow into what it’s becoming. I’m so overjoyed to see my little baby conference all growed up.
  3. My amazing critique partners, who always know exactly what to say (whether it’s to threaten me with increasingly cruel and unusual punishments until I fix something in a MS or to reassure me my writing really isn’t That Bad when something doesn’t work out the way I want it to).
  4. Also, my non-critique partner writing friends, who are so supportive and smart and sarcastic and kind and lovely and exactly the sort of people who prove the true reason you shouldn’t make friends on the internet is because friends on the internet live far too far away.
  5. Pumpkin pie.
  6. I know I say it every year, but: You. I don’t know what I would do without you and your beautiful face, dear reader. This blog is going on four years old now (today’s post is my 476th one published on here) and that is absolutely mind-boggling. I started this blog when I was a senior in high school; now I’m a senior in college. And through all the changes, through all the ups and downs, you (at least metaphorically–because let’s be real, this could be the first post you’ve ever read–but NO MATTER) have been there.

Thank you. So much.

Love you. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Goal for Today: 2,000 + 1,000 (from yesterday) + 3,000 (from Monday)
Overall Goal: 42,000
Current Word Count: 41,552


PS. I know you’re wondering about that Rice Krispie turkey. It fell apart a bit on the car ride over the river and through the woods to my grandparents’ house, but this is basically what it looked like. (I say “looked,” because you had better bet we demolished this thing.)


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


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


NaNo Day 27: Happy Thanksgiving!

There are a lot of hard and terrible things going on all over the place right now, which is why it’s nice to have this excuse to spend a day remembering that there are good things too.

I’m thankful for my family and friends and the wonderful writing community, especially those involved in Teens Can Write, Too! and the Chapter One Young Writers Conference. I’m thankful for the critique partners currently working away at critiquing one of my MSs and those who’ll be getting it at the end of the year. (You are my heroes, each and every one of you.)

I’m thankful for my roommates and professors and the fact that I am able to go to a school I love, and thankful for everyone at Oxford (and elsewhere in Europe) who made my summer the most amazing of my life.

I’m so, so, SO thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had this year. I’m thankful for all the books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen and plays I’ve loved and music I’ve listened to on repeat for weeks on end. (Still not over 1989.)

I’m thankful for the places I’ve been and people I’ve met and really, just, like: this life. I am so incredibly thankful for this life.

A lot of stuff sucks right now. I’m not going to go into details, because I’m going to assume you’ve been keeping up with the news, and the stuff that isn’t on the news isn’t mine to share either. And I get that I am privileged to be able to stop for a day and be thankful for the good things despite the bad. But the least I can do is be grateful.

If you are lucky enough to have good things in your life, don’t throw them away. Even if they’re teeny, tiny good things. (Actually: especially then. Those are the most important to hang onto. They can so easily slip between the cracks.)

Eat too much turkey. Stuff yourself with pie. Hug whoever you’re celebrating with. And let’s make this a Thanksgiving worth being thankful for.

Happy Turkey Day!


Wordy Wednesday: Afternoon with You


After taking Monday off, yesterday I shoved through the last 2.5K to hit 50,000 words and won at 8:58 PM. Which means I somehow finished three days ahead of schedule, despite all my setbacks.

The Awful Novel still isn’t anywhere close to finished, so I’ve got a lot more writing to do. But that can wait until after finals. (Or at least after the twelve page term paper due Tuesday.)

This makes seven years in a row of winning National Novel Writing Month. I can’t believe I’ve been competing for so long, but I also can’t imagine my November without it.

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a song I wrote back in May.


[G, C, Am, D]
We have a little time
With the sunshine
It’s cold outside
But warm in here

Blue skies with puffy clouds
Playing our music too loud
Legs stretched out
On the couch

Let’s make
A movie of today
It won’t make a good film,
But we’ll have a lot to say

There won’t be conflict
To get the rave reviews
But I would trade a thousand Oscars
For this afternoon with you

We go for an adventure
Around the backyard pond
Climb a tree and don’t come down
’til the shadows are long

We pick some clovers
Make wishes on dandelions
Dance to the sound of the breeze and
Laugh until we’re crying

[Repeat CHORUS]

BRIDGE [Am, G, C, D]
Tomorrow you’ll be on
A train away
But we’ll have the videos
Of this May day

ENDING [G, C, Am, D]
I’m so glad
We made a movie of today
It’s a beautiful film
It has just enough to say

It has no conflict,
But we don’t need the rave reviews
I would trade a million Oscars
For another afternoon with you


Thanks for reading, and good luck if you’re still trudging through the trenches! You can do it!

Goal for today: 0.

Overall goal: 47,000.

Current word count: 50,127.


NaNo Day 25: Interview with Aisha Al-Amin

Last day of classes before Thanksgiving! I’m so excited to go home and see my friends and family. And I’m going to Chicago in a couple days to celebrate with some relatives out there, so I’m obviously excited for that too. Now it’s just a matter of getting through these last few hours and assignments so I’ll have enough time to relax over break before I need to kick it into high gear on final projects.

Like last year, 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.) In addition, all of this year’s interviewees are Ch1Con team members!

Today’s interview is with Aisha Al-Amin, one of Ch1Con’s new Creative Consultants. She’s hilarious and brilliant and she seems to be the only team member Google+ actually likes during our monthly Ch1Con Chats (so obviously Google agrees that she’s awesome). Take it away, Aisha.


Q: In one sentence, what is your novel about? 

A: In the year 2050 for the first time in history humans discover another world with intelligent life.

Q: What is your favorite part of Nanowrimo?

A: I would have to say the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of the month, even if you haven’t won, it’s still amazing.

Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals you follow? 

A: Yes, yes I do! I have to have a cup of my Grandma’s hot chocolate with creamer, and a sweater that goes to my fingers.

Q: What’s your secret to juggling life and Nano at the same time? 

A: I always make sure to write extra when I have the time, because I know some days I just won’t have the energy -so the days that I do have the energy I make sure to put in extra work.

Q: Any advice for the troops?

A: I would say don’t be discouraged because someone else has written more than you! It’s all about you this month and challenging yourself.


Thanks for letting me interview you, Aisha!

Want to learn more about Aisha? You can find her at the following links.

Goal for today: 1,000.

Overall goal: 47,000.

Current word count: 47,537.


NaNo Day 23: Friendsgiving, Etc.

Today I was an extra in a friend’s student film, wrote 1.2K in NaNo, started work on another writing project, then helped host a Friendsgiving in my apartment. (So much delicious Thanksgiving food and amazing people and we sang along to Frozen.) Then my parents picked me up to take me home-home because I’M GETTING MY STITCHES OUT TOMORROW, and I got to talk with them for a while and cuddle my puppy. Also there was a nap at some point in there.

So, today was all over the place in the best way possible. And now I am very, very sleepy despite my nap, so I’m going to call it a night. (Sorry about that. I was going to do a bookshelf tour today, but, ya know, not exactly near my bookshelves to take pictures now.)

Hope you had a great Sunday. 🙂 Thanksgiving’s so close! (I can never get enough pumpkin pie.)

Goal for today: 2,000.

Overall goal: 45,000.

Current word count: 47,537.


NaNo Day 29: Thank You

I have to work on my genetics term paper, then I’m doing a quick sprint to the mall for Back Friday Christmas gift shopping, followed by more family Thanksgiving stuff in the evening–so this is going to have to stay short and sweet. But I did want to talk a bit about what I’m thankful for this holiday season (even though, yes, it’s now the day AFTER Thanksgiving), because I am so, incredibly blessed.


First and foremost: My friends and family. My family has been so supportive of my decisions and is always there when I need them, and I have absolutely no clue what I would do without them. Likewise, thank you to my wonderful friends, for supporting and putting up with me through thick and thin (especially my writing friends, who get all the rants and disappointments and self-indulgent celebrating). You guys inspire me so much, every day. Thank you.

Everyone who has supported me in the publishing industry. Literary people are the very best people, no doubt about it. The amount of selfless support individuals have given me over these past few years never ceases to amaze me.

My education. As much as I complain about distribution requirements and homework (the syllabus for that term paper is staring at me right now), the opportunity to attend such a great university is something I will always be grateful for.

My dog Sammy. Because how can you not be thankful to see this face?

Sammy Is a Pretty PrincessThis is not a current picture of her. I tried taking one right now, but she was too busy licking her butt.

Last but not least: You. Oh, come on, you knew the cliche, thank-the-blog-reader thing was coming. Even if this is the first post you’re reading on here, thank you so much for taking the time to check it out. This little ol’ blog’s going on two years old now and I have met so many incredible people because of it. Thank you for reading this blog and making my life, in general, more magical because of it.


Now, off to tackle that genetics paper.



NaNo Day 28: We Are the Champions

After a hard day, yesterday, of procrastinating via means of pumpkin pie, Catching Fire in IMAX, and planning vacation trips, GUESS WHO HIT FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS IN NANOWRIMO, RIGHT ON SCHEDULE.



YOU MAY ALL NOW REVEL IN MY GLORY. (Just kidding. I’m just glad to be done.)

Fifty Thousand Words Baby

I hit 50k at around 12:05 AM. SO CLOSE to officially finishing on the 27th. I’m counting it.

I wrote just under 5k yesterday. I still need to complete the scene I’m in the middle of before I’m officially done-done for the month, because I’m banning myself from writing any more until after finals (and taking a week and a half off looks pretty much identical to me completely forgetting what I was doing)–but then I’m dooone! Despite all the struggle this year has been, I actually did it. That makes six years in a row of competing in NaNoWriMo, complete.

How’s your NaNo going? Do you think you’ll hit your word count goal by the end of the month? (If yes, GOOD FOR YOU. KICK IT INTO HIGH GEAR. YOU CAN DO IT. WHOOHOOOOO!) (If not, five points to you just for trying, because honestly, that’s half the struggle.)


day 28