Antagonists, Traitors & Villains, Oh My!

I passed the 40,000 word mark today and am nearing the All is Lost moment–that’s the point in the story when your main character is devastated and everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.

It wasn’t until today that I realized I didn’t have my villain nailed down well enough to do him justice in the story. I’ve had to take a step back and work out some of the nitty gritty.

Now I’ve got a villain that is much more fleshed out with a backstory, motivations and character arc all his own. It should make writing his character much easier!

This is the last week of NaNo. Everyday is a struggle to get all my words, but I just keep pushing, and scene by scene, I work it out.

A War of Words

Two weeks in to this challenge, and I just hit 25,000 words. The first week was exhilarating, the second week was grueling, but I am right on schedule. On Saturday my region had a large “Midway Write-In” event. It was fun to write alongside others on the same journey.

I experienced my first “Word Wars” at the event. Basically they last anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes, and you write as fast and furious as you can. It’s all stream of consciousness writing. It’s messy and creative and ensures that your inner editor can’t come out to play.

Since you can’t stop to think or consider how you want a scene to play out, you just jump in. Sometimes I would change my mind part way in, and instead of going back I would just start again, right where I was. The whole focus is on your total number of words written.

It did help me get words down, but honestly, I wasn’t sure how helpful it was for me overall. I don’t want to just write 50,000 words, I want a coherent first draft at the end of this. To do this, I need to strategize and weigh options as I write.

I realized today, though, that it had been a helpful exercise. While I still prefer to take things a bit slower and imagine each scene before writing it, the after effects of the weekend’s Word Wars helped me shove many of my editing urges aside and embrace a more creative approach. Today I am grateful that the words flowed freely. Now I just need to get my snacking under control!

Breaking through the Barriers

I was really struggling getting all my words written today. Since it’s my first attempt at writing a novel, doubts come at me all the time that I can even accomplish this goal. This morning I told my husband that maybe I just know how to spin out the beginning of a story, not bring all the threads back in and weave it into something satisfying. He reminded me that I felt the same way when I only had the first two chapters done, and now I’m on chapter ten.

It was just the reminder I needed. If I can bust through the wall of self-doubt at the 2 chapter mark, then I could do it again on the tenth.

And you know what? I did. And I’m pretty proud of my work, too. So take that brick wall. 🙂

Blazing by 10,000 words today!

It’s the 6th day of NaNoWriMo, and I am getting the hang of this daily writing gig! I just blew by the 10,000 word mark without even noticing. It is exhilarating to be able to keep the story in my head enough that I can just jump right back in the next day.

I’m 1/5 the way to winning my first NaNo, and I know I can do this. So much of accomplishing things is determination. When you find ways to leave yourself no choice, somehow you find a way.

NaNo – day 1

Yesterday was the first day of NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write 50,000 new words in a month. I woke up with a terrible head cold, but I didn’t let it stop me! My pace remained slow and methodical, but I have hopes that I will get faster and faster.

It is fun to “discover” the details of the story more quickly as I sit down to write large chunks. At the end of the day I was proud of the 2,550 new words in my story! Some authors can write that in a much shorter amount of time, but I am okay with learning the ropes and going at my own pace. My project is a middle grade sci-fi novel, so I am doing a lot of world-building and character development as I go. It just takes time.

When I finally emerged from my office to join my family for the evening, I found they had posted this NaNo chart on the fridge, so they could cheer on my progress. Each square represents 500 words. How did I get so lucky to have such a supportive crew?

Will I Have to Wash My Husband’s Car? —3 days ’till NaNoWriMo

Most people look at me like I’m speaking a different language when I mention NaNoWriMo. In a way, I guess I am—the language of writers, novelists in particular.

It stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s basically a month-long marathon of writing. To “win” you have to write 50,000 new words in the month of November. You don’t actually win anything other than digital “pins” and bragging rights. It is a non-profit, after all. But the idea is to get a complete rough draft version of a novel fleshed out.

Switching between creative writing mode and editing mode is difficult and time-consuming. I read somewhere that editing while writing is procrastination, and I agree. There’s no doubt about it, harnessing our creative energies into the written word is hard. So, rather than push forward, we go back and re-read, we edit, we move things around, we edit some more, until finally we’re satisfied. Then we have to work hard to get back into our creative mode and work out more of the story. It’s a slow process, which I have struggled with.

Many writers have successfully drafted their first novel with NaNoWriMo (or “NaNo” for short). You simply don’t have time to edit. You need WORDS on the page! If it can work for them, then it can work for me. This will be my first NaNo, and I have much fear and anticipation.

To further hinder my inner editor, I have signed a contract with myself that includes rewards and a looming punishment. You may have guessed from the title of this post what my self-inflicted punishment is. Yes, if I fail to win NaNo, I will have to wash my husband’s car inside and out! So, now I have to do it, right?

If I do win, I have promised my family that I will take them out for ice skating and dinner at a favorite BBQ restaurant. Now they are all onboard and ready to help out so I can achieve this.

This weekend I went to my region’s NaNo Kick-off Potluck Party. I won a coveted “marble” plate for my humble pumpkin bars. If that’s not a good omen, then I don’t know what is!

The Courage to Reach

Creative endeavors are often intimidating and scary, full of highs and lows. Although I’ve always been a writer, I’ve never had the courage and perseverance to complete a novel.

That is, until now.

Over the course of this last year, as I’ve devoured fiction writing how-to books like a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms, I have learned so much and come far in developing my craft. It’s time to reach for my dreams. I encourage you to follow along as I spread my wings.

I believe the first step to achieving a goal is to to visualize that you are already there.

My name is Sarah Lynne John. I am an author.