November 15, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 || Weeks 1 + 2

Two weeks have passed since NaNoWriMo started, and all I keep thinking is - what a whirlwind! This statement, of course, is accompanied by a shaking of my head, even as a small smile graces my lips. The spectrum of emotions that I've experienced so far range from extremely positive (Yes! Yes, this is exactly how I wanted this scene to go...) to extremely negative (It's horrible. It's terrible. I'm behind. I can't do this.), so I thought it would be a good idea for me to take a step back today and just share a little about how NaNo is going for me so far.

Week One

When NaNo started, it was smack dab in the middle of the time when New York City was reeling from the after effects of Hurricane Sandy. While I was very lucky to be living in an area where the power stayed on, I found that I was swept up in volunteer action and reaching out to help others for a few days... Obviously, I did not end up starting NaNo on time at all.

Nearly a week passed before I had time to think about NaNo again. By that time, I was worried and discouraged, since I had barely gotten started on my WIP and most of the other people I knew were thousands of words into theirs. To be honest, I nearly gave up on the idea of NaNo because I was so far behind and had so much ahead of me that it just seemed intimidating to even try to catch up.

I spent a couple of nights staring at the notes I had made, the chart that showed off my basic plot and just making excuses. There were still too many things I didn't know about my characters. I don't have time to write this week, since I'm volunteering, and planning this wedding, and work is being killer. I'm afraid I won't be able to tell this story right. The excuses lingered, filling my mind with doubt and killing my drive with fear.

A Realization

Then, one random moment, I realized the exact reason that NaNo works for me - I am not a quitter.

I'm one of those annoying people who is competitive with themselves; I can't stand to admit defeat when it comes to certain things. This, NaNoWriMo, is one of them. So even though I moaned and groaned and complained to a few people about all the writing I would need to do to catch up, I knew in my heart that I could not and would not give up - not on this event, not on my story and most of all, not on my writing.

Besides, the idea for this story has been brewing in my head for a while ever since Lena and I dreamed it up a few months ago. While there's still definitely a lot to be fleshed out (I've taken to using placeholder words for my character's names...), I think there's really good potential for this to be a great tale.

Week Two

And so the second week of NaNo began, and I was determined to do right by this story.

I started to participate in the awesome #NaNoWriMoBattle hosted by Susan Dennard & Sarah J. Maas (two very incredible authors who I absolutely love). This happens almost every day of the work week, some time in the afternoon, and I love it. I think the reason that it appeals to me so much is the fact that I feel like a whole community of people is writing together - a community made up of readers, fellow bloggers and authors who I admire. Plus, Susan and Sarah are so supportive and sincere and it always makes my day to be writing at the same time they do! (Also, Sarah's debut novel Throne of Glass was amazing. It was totally what inspired me to want to start writing again, and I'm forever grateful to her for that.)

I joined in on Anne & Kristilyn's #WeekendofAwesome during their writing day. Aside from getting to be part of something that was truly awesome, these girls definitely inspired me to write, write, write. They were enthusiastic, and cheerful, and totally amazing, and I managed to write quite a bit because of them.

Candice and I have (just two days ago) started to "reward" ourselves every time we hit our ideal word count for the day. This actually works really, really well for me because I really like prizes! Knowing that I get a "gift" at the end of struggling to reach my word count makes it so much easier to want to get there. The first day, Candice rewarded herself with a hot chocolate; my prize was a drink from Starbucks! I also started rewarding myself by getting to write romantic, kissy scenes whenever I hit my word count, since those are my favorite scense to write.

I've been getting support from friends old and new. My fiance is fantastic at cheering me on, even if he's halfway around the world and in a different time zone. My blogger friends and authors I admire have been cheering me on via Twitter, and I couldn't feel more encouraged. It's true: writers need their support system in place.

A Second Realization

Even with these things happening (and notice how I adore writing when I know I'm not the only one doing it?), I will tell you: writing this story is hard. I started out writing random scenes out of order, which was helpful (since I often imagined them beforehand) and not helpful at the same time. I made charts; I tried to think about my characters. But at first, writing every single day was a bit of a trial. I felt like I could only push my characters so far, and once I reached the end of a scene, that was it.

But yesterday, something shifted in my (writing) spirit (and I tweeted about it too!). Suffice it to say that I think I fell in love. I suddenly found a new, second wind when it came to writing - and that was all I wanted to be doing while I was stuck in my office. I was excited about these characters, their discoveries, their secrets and their moments. I was excited about the plot twists and the process of figuring out how to weave it all together.

I'm on par with my word count now, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and satisfies my competitive spirit. BUT I have realized that, whether or not I hit that 50K word count goal at the end of the month, NaNo has reminded me of something that I almost forgot - writing stories is what I want to do and I can do it.

There are 16 days left for NaNo, including this one. While I'm sure to maintain my regular writing schedule and my excitement for this story suddenly knows no bounds, it's still going to be a lot of work ahead. Wish me luck!

(If you're participating in NaNoWriMo this month too, please feel free to add me as a buddy on the site or to tweet @ me - I promise I'll cheer you on and offer you virtual hot chocolate and cookies!)


  1. Yay! This post makes me uber happy! Hopefully we will both keep at it and meet our word goals by the end of the month. And, if not, I say good for us for keeping at it anyway!

  2. I loved reading this post even though I'm not doing NaNo. It's very inspiring and I think that even with everything you have going on, you can rock NaNo and finish your book.

    YOU CAN DO IT!!! <3

  3. I've wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo for a few years now but have always found some excuse (I'm too busy to commit, I don't have a strong enough idea, etc) to bail out of it. Your post encourages me to maybe have my own personal NaNo moment and just do it whether it's November or not. You can only be a writer if you actually write.

    I'm really happy to see that you're pushing through and sticking with it, support and drive is key. I have faith that you'll create something amazing, something that you can be super proud of! And remember, even if you don't make 50k words, no matter how much you've written, it's still awesome and something to take pride in. You go girl!

  4. You are doing AWESOME, Alexa! I wish I could say the same. I've gotten so busy and just can't pick up momentum again. :(

    I am glad you joined in on Anne and my writing day!

  5. So happy that you were not without power, but so proud and inspired by you that you helped out in the area. TOTALLY a great excuse for not writing.

    You can do this. You will do this.



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