Things got weird. And I 100% expected it.
I’m writing this on November 15th, the official halfway mark of NaNoWriMo….What’s my word count you ask? Uhm. Well, I’m starting over. Yeah, I’m most likely not officially “winning” (reaching 50k by midnight of the 30th) NaNo this year, but it’s an experience, and the fact that I haven’t given up on the second day like I usually have is a personal win for me!
So let’s get into what led me to this decision.
I started on November 1st with a plan. I had a general plot outline and an excitement to get started writing. I had no ending in mind because I never do – endings are the bane of my existence – and that’s mostly because I have a bit of a fear of commitment when it comes to plots. I’m always thinking of plots I’d rather be writing, which is exactly what happened this year. So I’ve decided instead of working on a novel with one linear narrative, I’m going to work on a book of short stories that are tied together by a theme.
Most of my recent writing experience is in short stories. I wrote them for workshops in college, so I’m not sure if my brain is ready to focus on a novel length piece yet. But I want to build up to that. So I think the best way to do that is to start with this short story anthology and continue it through the rest of November and however long it takes to finish, and then see if there’s a story I wrote that wants to be continued. It’ll be hard, these ideas I have are things I’ve never tried writing before and I’m really excited to try my hand at this genre (magical realism).
My experience during this years NaNoWriMo is, in my eyes, a testament to how there is no one way to write. I know that there are people who can sit down every day and crank out 1,667 words for 30 days and walk away with a 50,000 word manuscript by the end, and that’s great! But there are other people who can’t do that and that’s okay. You can’t force it. Forcing yourself to write things will make you frustrated and not want to keep going. So take time off. Maybe binge watching your favorite show or reading a book on your TBR list might push you through that writers block.
It doesn’t matter how much or in what way you write during NaNo, if you’re writing, you’re winning.
But let’s get into some fun stuff: things I use while writing! Everyone has a different writing ritual, so here are a few of the things I use in mine!
I got this app fall semester of my last year in college. It’s an anti-distraction app where you can set a time for however long you need to focus, and as the app counts down the time, a tree grows. So whenever you try to text someone or check social media during your time, your tree will die. I love this one because it has a phone app as well as a Google Chrome extension (last time I checked there wasn’t a FireFox extension, but that might have changed)! So I can set the timer on my computer as well and get some writing done within say, an hour. This app is super fun because the more you use it the more coins you get and you can get some fancy trees!
If you use it on Google Chrome, you have the ability to “black list” and “white list” websites – black list Facebook so it won’t let you get on there, white list Google and Google Docs so you can still get to things you need for writing/research – however, the phone app doesn’t have that capability.
A website that has saved me on multiple occasions. If you’re like me, music or sound in general is important to your writing, but sometimes songs distract you. Ambient-mixer gives you the ability to listen and create soundscapes to keep in the background while you work. The best part? There are fandom ones. I’ve written to the sounds of the Ravenclaw common room as well as Cabeswater from The Raven Cycle. It’s a really cool website that also has an app!
I love candles. And I love the fall and holiday scents from Bath and Body Works. My favorite is definitely Flannel, and I actually used it so much that I – for the first time ever – finished the 3 wick candle in about five days. Specific scents get me in the mood to write specific things, which is why more than one candle is on this list! But since my story is magical realism, the woodsy scent of Flannel really gets me in the spirit of my theme.
My favorite character from one of my favorite series! The Adam Parrish candle smells like vanilla coke, and is also a gentle reminder that hard work gets you places. Reverie Library candles are amazing. I also have a Gansey one, but my Adam candle currently holds my heart.
I got this pack of cards for Christmas a few years back and oh my god it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever had. The pack gives you 26 prompts – 26 cards with an illustration and a sentence blurb, and another card with more details on that prompt and questions to answer to write – to get your story going. I have this stack of cards with me whenever I start writing, when I’m stuck I pull a card at random and write based off that prompt for a few minutes to get my ideas flowing again. Even though some of the prompts don’t seem to fit the narrative I’m writing, they’re fun and interesting scenarios to put my characters through.
That’s my NaNoWriMo update! I’ll be giving you another one at the end of the month! Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How are you doing? Let me know!