Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

The Benefits of WriMoing

I met Charlotte on Twitter. She and I decided to exchange blog posts about NaNoWriMo. Charlotte’s post is below, as you can see, she is a very enthusiastic Wrimo. My position is quite different, but you’ll have to check out her blog tomorrow to see what it is 😉

On the Benefits of WriMoing

 You may have heard about NaNoWriMo. The internet gets to buzzing about it around this time of year, and that strange, nonsensical word pops up everywhere.

If you haven’t, though, here’s a breakdown of the name. It stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. It’s a time when writers the world over chain themselves to their desks and frantically pound their way through the composition of fifty thousand words in thirty days. It starts on November 1st and ends on November 30th. In order to “win” (that is, to meet the target), one has to write an average of 1,666 words a day, every day for the whole month. Including weekends.

It can seem like a daunting proposition. How curious, then, that so many thousands of people volunteer for it every year and proceed to write those 1,666 words per day around their usual jobs, family commitments and social lives. Why in the world would one burden oneself so, it might be reasonable to ask?

The truth is, NaNoWriMo is a blast. Here’s why.

One of the most difficult things about writing is getting into the flow of it. It’s daunting, staring at a blank page and trying to decide how to begin. Every day this happens, because every day one loses much of the momentum one built up during the last writing session. Ordinary life gets in the way, and the mind must first discard such questions as what to make for dinner, and what time it’s necessary to leave in order to get to work/make it to that appointment/pick up the kids/etc. All this must be waded through before it is possible to get into the serious business of Making Stuff Up. Proper, absorbed focus can be an elusive beast.

But having deadlines – even self-imposed ones – can be an invaluable way of giving oneself a kick up the rear. Never mind the little issues and the worries: you have a target to aim for. Just write!

This is also effective because many writers suffer from a degree of perfectionism. It took me some time to develop the ability to finish writing projects, because I was always crippled with worries about how good my work was – or might be, if I ever got to the end. I didn’t want to write badly. Of course, the only way to learn to write well is to get through the bad stuff first. NaNoWriMo is purely about getting words down. The principle is: it doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you produce your fifty thousand words!

And it’s liberating to think that way. The exciting thing is, once one gives oneself licence to write crap if that’s what comes out, it’s possible to be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the work that emerges. Some if it will be poor; some of it, however, will be great. You never know what your mind can do once you let it go.

Given that I am so wholly in favour of NaNoWriMo, then, it’s perhaps odd that I’ve never yet “won” at it. Somehow I always miss the month of November; it’s never been convenient for me. It’s the middle of the first term of the educational year, so for a few years I was too busy at that time to do it. This year I’ll miss it again. That’s because I’ve been writing in the spirit of NaNoWriMo for the last two months anyway; come November I’ll be deep into the editing phase.

But I don’t think it matters when you do it. I’m sure it’s much more fun – and easier to complete the challenge – if you do so alongside many others all cheering each other on. But it’s quite possible to simply adopt the principles and apply them to private work. It’s surprisingly possible to write fifty thousand words in a month; you just have to be prepared to give it a serious try. It’s a challenge I recommend to anybody who likes to write, no matter what it is that you’re doing.


Miss Charlotte E. English writes fantasy novels with a twist of mystery. Her first novel, Draykon, was published in September of 2011; her second (produced under the benign and helpful spirit of NaNoWriMo) is scheduled for December. She blogs at www.charlotteenglish.com.

Just Keep Swimming… Just Keep Swimming…

Ever feel like Dory? I don’t usually post videos here but I’ve had Dory stuck in my brain an awful lot so far this month, so I thought I’d share the expirience.

I feel rather a lot more like I’m drowning than swimming these days.

I’ve fallen behind on my psych course and frankly, I don’t know what I was thinking taking it in the first place. It’s a history of psych course which requires more memorization without context than my brain is used to handling. I read things, I understand them, I move on, I forget them. It’s horrible. So it’s taking me far longer to wade through than it should, but I’m still trying.

It’s also NaNoWriMo month and I’m embroiled in that again. Here’s the thing. The past few years NaNoWriMo has been a cake walk for me. I type pretty fast and if I turn off my inner editor it’s ridiculously easy for me to pump out 50,000 words in 30 days. However, I’m at a stage in my writing where I’m not interested in writing crap. I also no longer type my first drafts. Since the last NaNo I’ve switched to writing my first drafts out long hand. (I think I blogged about this before, I’m not going to go into detail about it again today). While I may be able to type a few thousand words an hour I can’t say the same for my writing. I have horrible handwriting and if I want to make it legible enough to be able to read it later, that takes time (and it’s still horrible). The process is also slower for mental reasons as well as physical — I think about what I’m writing more longhand. That makes for less crap, but more time.

Time is not something I have a lot of right now.

Danica and I have fallen behind on our poetry prompts, and I’ve only done one zombie poem since the month began.

Right now things aren’t looking good LOL

Not for NaNo, not for many of my November goals. School, obviously, has to take priority over NaNoWriMo or zombie poems (and to some extent even over my project with Dani), so I’ve been giving it most of my attention. Trying to fit other things in in between. It’s been an adventure.

I considered switching back to typing for November, but decided I’d rather keep working slowly toward having a reasonable first draft of this novel eventually than writing 50,000 words in November just to keep up a record or win a .pdf certificate I’m unlikely to even print.

Wow, I sound cynical.

I’m not… at least not as much as that sounded. I’m still hoping to cross the finish line, I’m working to re-arrange things and find some more writing time and get through this coursework too. I haven’t given up yet, but I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

But, I’m still swimming.

How about you?

NaNoWriMo Goals

Dude, where’s October gone?

It’s NaNoWriMo eve, and while I can’t get super hyped or whatever about it anymore, I’m doing it again this year, and that means I needed to set some goals. One of the best ways I find to accomplish my goals is to share them with the world — then there’s some external pressure (whether it’s real or not doesn’t matter, I feel like it’s there) and that is very motivating. If you’re me.

November Writing Goals

  • At least 50,000 words toward a first draft of my novel ‘Richter’. (I’m calling it a paranormal mystery for lack of a better genre. At least until it’s been written :))
  • 30 poems, one a day, based on prompts from the November Poem-a-Day challenge. All with zombie themes in order to give me the last pieces I need to put together a zombie poetry chapbook
  • Work with Danica on a poetry project. I’m not putting a specific poem goal here because the challenge in this will be learning to work together and have fun with it, not on the finished project.

Let’s see how it goes, shall we? 🙂

As for the picture, I just thought it looked ‘autumn-y’. I took it for a collaborative project I was doing.

We Have a Winner :)

Well, NaNo is over, and I’m so happy it is. I was not loving it this year. Okay, that is a huge understatement. I hated it. I resented every minute spent working on ‘NaNo’ stuff. What I really wanted to be doing was sitting and thinking, taking time to let my brain work through some of the details I need to know about the setting and society See The Sky Again is set in, and working on it. That doesn’t work as a NaNoWriMo project. So I started working on rewriting Shadows. Fantastic…until I hit a bump that again, required some time and quiet contemplation. Anyway, I won’t bore you with all the details, but I wrote 50,000 words, crossed the finish line and am seriously thinking about skipping NaNo next year. There was a time in my life I needed it, but I believe that time has passed.

There was, however, a contest 🙂

I promised a prize to the person who guessed the day I finished NaNo (or came closest). I wrote my 50,000th word on the 30th. There were a handful of entries, and everyone had more faith in me than they should have, it seems LOL Mindy came the closest, however, when she guessed the 27th. Thank you to everyone who entered, and Mindy, keep an eye on your email.

Lastly, for today. The new Niteblade Anthology, Nothing to Dread is finished and available as a paperback or a download. Yay!



So, for the second year in a row I have stopped trying to write See the Sky Again as a NaNo novel. This time for different reasons.

Last year when I started writing See the Sky Again there were still a lot of blank spots in my mind. I knew the setting, one of the characters and the ending. That was pretty much it. When I stopped writing it as a NaNo novel it was because I thought I should fan away a bit more of the fog and solidify some plot points in my brain before I worked on the project in earnest. Then I got distracted with other projects and See the Sky Again got put on the back burner for a while.

Well, when I dusted it off to work on again I had a good idea of where it was going and how it was going to get there. Or, if not good, at least I had an idea, which was more than last year. Unfortunately, as I was writing on it for NaNo I just wasn’t feeling it. I love the story, and I’m excited to tell it, but I don’t think it’s destined to be written in this way. Which is too bad because I’d like to get the first draft done sometime soon LOL

However, like I said above, I’ve pushed it to the side again for a while (shorter term than last time I hope LOL). Now I’m working on the re-write of Shadows as my NaNoWriMo project.




I couldn’t help it. Shadows won’t leave me alone. It’s always on the edges of my brain, demanding my attention. After the critiques I got from Jim C. Hines and Deena Fisher I had some really great ideas on how to improve it – trying to make it wait its turn until after I got the first draft of See the Sky Again done was, apparently, a very bad idea. I couldn’t focus on StSA because I really wanted to be re-writing Shadows.

Now that’s what I’m working on for NaNo (Note to any rules lawyers out there: I know that’s technically against the rules and um…I don’t care) and it’s going well. I’m enthusiastic about writing again and I really feel like the story is being filled out more this time. (One of my goals was to add more description and fill out the middle which I felt was lacking.) Yay! I’m hoping to complete the ‘new first draft’ via NaNoWriMo and then, just to be novel, NOT workshop it to death.

My nano word count is 6,652 so far, and I haven’t written yet today. Soon, I hope.

I’m also still working on the Poem-A-Day challenge and still loving it. Wheee! I’ve got 4 zombie poems (that I Love) and 2 more mainstream ones. I haven’t even looked at today’s prompt yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be sure and share at least one of the zombie pieces in my newsletter this month.

So far, November is being good to me. I hope you can say the same thing 🙂

NaNo and Poems

It’s technically day two of NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t written anything for my project yet today, so I feel like I’m still on day one. I’m still lacking enthusiasm about NaNo, which is kind of odd because I like the novel I’m writing so you’d think that enthusiasm would bleed over. So far, not so much. Yeah. Weird. I told you.

In addition to doing NaNoWriMo this year, however, I’m also doing the PAD Chapbook Challenge. Times two, actually. My friend Beth Cato told me about it and I said I’d do it if she did. She accepted my challenge, so on top of the 50,000 words we need to write this month, we’ll also be writing 30 poems.

Actually, I’ll be writing up to 60 of them because I’ve decided to do the Chapbook Challenge times two. The first collection of poems will be mainstream and the second will be horror — zombies, to be specific. If a prompt doesn’t lend itself well to one of those genres I may only write one poem that day, but I’d really like to see two a day. We’ll see, I gues.

I hope to share some results in my newsletter, if there turns out to be anything worth reading just yet LOL There isn’t going to be much time for revision until December.

I’m pretty happy with the PAD challenge so far, in case you hadn’t guessed, and my word count for NaNo is still on track, so I’m counting day one as a victory.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time Again *sigh*

It’s almost November that around here that means NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a huge part of my life. Historically it’s important. Winning my first NaNo honestly changed my life. It showed me that I could write a novel, it infused me with confidence about my writing (which is odd because that novel was freaking terrible) and it was the beginning of NaNoLJers. It lead, directly or otherwise, to my leaving my former job and really making writing more than a hobby.

I’ve done NaNo every year since 2003, I’ve won every year since 2005. There is no challenge in it for me anymore.

I could just try for more words, but despite the whole quantity over quality thing, simply writing more for the sake of writing more doesn’t make sense to me. As it is I keep writing until the story is over, I don’t just stop at 50,000 but intentionally padding it wouldn’t really make NaNo more challenging, it would just make it take more time.

A couple years ago Danica did NaNo. That helped me stay engaged. I got one of her friends involved as well and saw it as my sub-mission to help herd the two of them toward the finish line. It worked. I wrote my 50k and helped Dani and her friend reach their goals through write-ins, pretzels and encouragement.

The next year (last year) we created teams on NaNoLJers and I used that as my motivating factor — I wanted to win NaNo and lead my team to winning the NaNoLJers cup. It worked. I was engaged with the process, I finished my novel and helped my team win the cup. Yay!

This year… this year I don’t have any external motivation and I’m not feeling it. I’m detached. Danica is doing NaNo again, and we have teams on NaNoLJers. It’s my intention to help motivate both my child and my team toward victory, and of course I’ll write my 50,000 words (at least), but I’m very lethargic about it. I wish I were impatient for the month to start, or excited, or hell, even nervous, but really… mostly I’m bored.

And that sucks.

Especially since I talked the teacher I volunteer with into doing NaNoWriMo in her classroom this year.

Hopefully I’ll find some motivation somewhere, some driving force that will infuse me with some enthusiasm. The grade twos, maybe. If I don’t I’ll still do NaNo, I’ll still write 50,000 words (or more) on See The Sky Again, and I’ll still win, but it would sure be nice to enjoy it while I’m doing it.

How about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Are you excited about it? What are your goals?

October Newsletter

I just sent out the October newsletter a moment ago. This month it has a bit of my rambling (sorry) as well as a poem and a bit of flash from ‘back in the day’. I hope you enjoy it.

If you’re not subscribed and you’d like to be, check this out –> Newsletter

I plan to have a contest in November for all the people subscribed to my newsletter. The basic idea is that all subscribers will get to guess what day they think I will cross the 50,000 word finish line for NaNoWriMo and the winner will receive a prize. It should be fun 🙂 I’ll be mailing out the details and telling everyone how to join up in the next few days so if you want to play make sure and subscribe soon.


NaNoLJers Sponsors

I moderate a livejournal community called NaNoLJers. NaNoLJers began as a NaNoWriMo community but has grown to be active year round with writing prompts, exercises and challenges and our own month-long writing challenge Writo de Mayo in May. The community has gotten big. Right now we have 1432 members, with 948 of those members actually watching the community. That number tends to balloon in October and November, then settle back down to around what it is now shortly after.

That’s a lot of people. Many of them don’t post, but hopefully they draw inspiration from the group, just the same.

When NaNoLJers started there were only a handful of us and we were able to get to know one another and cheer each other on toward the finish line for NaNoWriMo. As we’ve grown that has become more and more difficult as names begin to blur into one another when you haven’t the time to get to know the personalities behind them. So last year I created teams on the community. The teams were optional, but the idea behind them was that with the community broken up into smaller chunks people would actually have a chance to get to know one another and that sense of being a part of a community, rather than a face in the crowd, would be preserved. In addition, the teams were competing against one another, and that sense of friendly competition seemed to help spur people on as well.

The teams last year were a rather impromptu thing and so I didn’t have much time to organise team-based events or prizes. We pulled some off, but it wasn’t nearly as organised as I’d like. We are going to have teams again this year (I’m also hoping to do something special for people who aren’t in the teams) and I’d like for it to be better organised than last year.

One thing I’m looking for is sponsors.

Last year we had a few fantastic sponsors who donated everything from books, to additional user pics or paid time on LJ. I’m looking for more people like that 🙂

If you would like to donate something to be used as prizes in some of the mini-competitions or part of the over-all prize package that the winning team will receive, please email me at rhonda@jofigure.com . Some of the competitions and prizes we had last year are listed here –> Partial List of Challenges and prizes There were also word wars and that sort of thing going on throughout the month.

What do you get if you sponsor the event? Well…gratitude. That would be the biggest thing, really. I will also link to you (or your chosen website) from the NaNoLJers page as well as the mirrored blog at http://www.poiseandpen.com . I will be sharing a list of sponsors here as well (http://www.rhondaparrish.com plus my LJ) and I promise to rave about you on the NaNoLJers community as much as I can. Truly.

I wish I could offer more, but the group will appreciate it (I promise).

If you are willing to donate anything email me, please. You can specify a challenge you want the prize to be used for, or let me put it where it’s most needed. It’s up to you.

If you can’t sponsor NaNoLJers events, for whatever reason, I still love you 🙂