Surviving the Crash and Burn: NaNoWriMo Wrapup.

And that's it. The end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for 2016. The aim: to write fifty thousand words in 31 days - a short novel from start to finish. For more information on NaNoWriMo click HERE.  Those who 'win' gain glory and prizes - including discounts for writing software and editing, free eBook creation, and a free masterclass by James Patterson. Mostly it's for the glory - the satisfaction of finishing the first draft of a novel. This year my project was the third journal in Viola Stewart's adventures - The Illusioneer & Other Tales.

Did I win? No. I managed just over 17,200 words. Technically I crashed and burned on day sixteen. november Did I fail? No. "But you only managed half the word count goal?", you say. "So what," say I. And here's why:

There is more than one way to win in NaNo. Just participating - getting off my butt, putting pen to paper, cajoling my brain into production and not giving into procrastination is a huge win.

The week before NaNo, I had given into anxiety (What if I haven't got another book in me? What if it's crap?) and devoured chocolate in an effort to feel better. NaNo loomed. Two days to go and I wasn't ready! Out came the notebooks. I dove into the internet, researching nineteen century illusionists, Victorian beach holidays and the Loch Ness monster (amongst other things).

November started with promise. I had a goal. I had a deadline. I was going to make it! Then real life happened. Doubts crept in. By day sixteen I was exhausted. The migraines started and I still had Supanova (convention) to content with. I tried to push through. I got frustrated, annoyed, anxious.

Then I remembered writing is like an iceberg. The reader glimpses but a fraction, the final product. There's a lot more to a novel than just the final words on paper. The foundation is the important thing.

Once I gave myself permission to 'fail' at NaNo, I managed to relax. My migraine faded. The anxiety abated. I could think more clearly. My health improved. I wrote notes. Lots of notes. Clues required later in the story; plot threads to be gathered and finalised. I drew a map, vital to follow the action and make my life easier when I returned to work on the first draft.

If I hadn't had those NaNoWriMo statistics staring back at me,  I may have continued to wallow. I didn't moan that I had a block  or I was going to fail. Instead, I asked myself: what else can I do to help achieve my final goal?

NaNo was just one of many tools in my writing box. A way to get closer to my final goal. By the end of the month, I had completed more than one-third of my final goal - the third installment to Viola's adventures. In turn, this encouraged me to start looking at the final book cover. I even got out of my chair and got some gardening done (yeah for exercise and endorphins).

So, how did I really do for NaNoWriMo? If you only look at the numbers on my dashboard then, yes, technically I did crash and burn. But in my heart, I beat this bout of anxiety. In my heart, I won.

And that's what really matters.

The State of Affairs.

Why is it that the last few months of the year seem to be the busiest? And that's not contemplating Christmas shopping. Not only have I been soul-searching and kicking myself up the butt this week, but I have also found a new burst of enthusiasm. The daily task of producing a new piece of artwork has notched my creative brain up a gear.  Over the past week I have:

  • ordered some new bookmarks (giveaways for Supanova - mid November) They should arrive next week
  • almost finished another octoarm scarf for this weekend's Adelaide Mini Comic Con
  • packed up my books and bits to sell this weekend
  • helped my daughter to finish off a costume
  • proof read an ebook short story anthology (more on that in a later post)...
  • finalised the theme for an event (like a mini gallery) to showcase my books and artwork in Mad March next year (more when things are confirmed)
  • started a new set of inks to  sell at said event
  • Set to work and almost completed the cover for The Department of Curiosities
  • and finished another chapter in the same manuscript first draft.

And just when I get back into the heads of The Department's characters, NaNoWriMo looms: 50000 words on a new project, in one month. Thirty days. That's 1666 words a day, if I don't take break days. I have started outlining (that sounds like a planning thing! This pantser is slowly learning) a new set of adventures for Viola Stewart.

Last year I completed over 27000 words - over half the 50000 word target. My record is 33000 words in one month (without any pre-preparation). The first journal of Viola's adventures was approximately 44000 words. This is my goal - to get the first draft down for journal two.

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Inktober has been great for me - a very welcome, but unexpected, boost of creativity and enthusiasm. I just hope I can keep up the pace for next month: NaNoWriMo, a mini convention and my first booth at Supanova. Come and find me in The Alley. Just look for the posters. I'll be the one writing furiously.

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How to Win at NaNoWriMo, While Not Winning

November was chocka-block with writing posts - as I am sure many blogs were. For those following my NaNo updates - you brave reader! To those oblivious to the tribulations of we band of NaNoWriMo sadists (on some days it does feel like that), you will be glad my NaNo posts end with this week's offering. Last Sunday was the final day of hairpulling and frantic scribblings.

However I must admit, I feel like a bit of a fraud. While others have managed to produce NaNo winning tales (of at least 50,000 words) others have produced epics of well over 100,000! I am in awe. How did they do it? I have just past the half way milestone.

But am I bovvered? (As in the words of Catherine Tate) No. In fact, I feel like a winner.

I had decided to attempt my first full NaNoWriMo to give myself a kick in the writing pants. After seven months, I had hit the dreaded middle of my story. I was determined to push past it, to finish the first draft of the manuscript of The Department of Curiosities. Unfortunately, life hit a very unexpected turn at the end of October. I gathered my courage and made some difficult decisions, then threw myself into writing as a means of distraction.

My original goals were achievable - finish my first draft manuscript (about 37,000 words), blitz my monthly word maximum of 15,000, try freewriting to get through the soggy middle of the story and find an ending.

I managed three of these goals. The bonus? I got back into the habit of daily writing (I need to treat this as a job for at least three months) and discovered my maximum achievable daily word count (without effecting my health).

So, NaNoWriMo is over. - It was my first foray into the full NaNo. - I did not expect to reach the 50,000 word winning goal. - I had too many real life and health issues going on. - I had about 11 days where I could not write due to family commitments and health issues; I am happy with the 27,000 in (effectively) 19 days. - My new monthly maximum word count is 27,000 words. - My goal was to finish my manuscript (about 37-38,000 words). I finished over half way to the lofty goal of 50,000 and within sight of finishing my manuscript. This is not officially a NaNo win but I have progressed from 50% to 86% of my first draft completed! I consider I have won on this one.

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