NaNoWriMo-Week 1

by limebirdkate

How’s everyone doing so far? Week one is usually the most energetic week of NaNo. Writers are still riding high on the idea of pummeling their notebooks or computer screens with word after word. We’re not really tired yet, and we probably haven’t yet reached a point where we’ve gotten stuck.

Let’s keep it that way.

Pantsers: Don’t get in Muse’s way. Let Muse take your story in any direction she sees fit. Muse will offer possibilities you aren’t prepared for. Even if it’s something that doesn’t quite work in the story as it stands now, you might find it works after you’ve structured and outlined and figured out how the story is going to end.

I don’t take the time to organize all of Muse’s ideas during these 30 days.  But so I don’t lose track of all possibilities, I jot them down directly in my rough draft. On any other occasion, I would use a scrap folder to store the overflow of ideas, but not during NaNo. Bouncing between files can be a time sucker and a distraction. Just put them right into your rough draft. I always highlight or asterisk them. That way, when I go back and re-read (when NaNo is over) the fact they’re highlighted or asterisked reminds me that they are extra ideas that I might be able to work in the story.

Planners: Even the best plan will have a plot hole. It’s okay. Steer around it. Highlight it or asterisk it and make yourself a quick note to remind yourself that this particular area is problematic.

Don’t stop the writing and re-plan. It will be hard for planners to ignore the plot hole. After all, that’s why they planned in the first place—to avoid demonic plot holes. But if you can put up a little construction sign at that point—Detour, Road Work Ahead—then you won’t lose time (or word count) on your novel.

Again, I will reiterate that the point of NaNo is just to get words down. Don’t worry about quality, just write your story.

Oh, and have fun, too.

How did your first week go? Share in the comments.

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66 Responses to “NaNoWriMo-Week 1”

  1. Ohh Kate I am behindy behindy behind! Don’t you worry.. I’m going to catch up! How’s yours going? x

    • Hey Beth, don’t fret about being behind. There is plenty of time to get cracking. Is it because you’re not enjoying the story? Or are the ideas not coming? Or is it lack of time?

      Mine’s going pretty well, but in a different direction than what I orignally thought. I now have a pirate in my story, and I’m trying to decide if he belongs there or if he just got lost and needs to be in a different story of mine… 😉

  2. I’m doing fine at the moment but it’s early days! I am most definitely a planner and full of admiration for anyone who is brave enough to wing it. Having said that I have already scrapped some planned scenes as they no longer seem necessary and have come to moments when I really need more research etc. I have just written “fill in details later” and highlighted it then moved on. I didn’t do that last year and wasted a lot of time and worry on things that could have waited. Now I know it can be sorted later on and I just get on with the writing. I read through what I’ve written the previous day each time I start again and I can see things I want to change and improve but I don’t. I know all that’s for another time. For now I’m just powering through with the first draft. Much easier second time around! Good luck to all NaNo-ers out there 🙂

    • I think ‘doing fine’ is a bit of an understatement Sharon! 😛 I’m a complete pantser!

    • Hi Sharon, I wanted to plan my story but I ran out of time. So, I kicked off with a general idea and went from there. I’m a pantser generally speaking, so I’m okay with it. You’re smart to know to not get stuck on those problem areas and to keep going forward. Yes, I think NaNo newbies can be overwhelmed with the idea of writing junk and letting it go, so the second time is easier once we realize that NaNo is all about quantity, not quality. Wishing you continued success!

  3. I’ve written 11,850 words which is not too bad for day 8. If I write a lot today, I might be able to catch up. Trouble is, the story is forging ahead and I’m not sure I have 38,150 left to write.

    • Hi Miriam,

      That can be stressful, when you don’t know if you have enough story to write! To that I suggest putting in events that might help take the story into a different direction, twists that will help give you some more yardage. Extra details are good too. Good luck.

    • Miriam I’ve got 10,000 and am near to you in that. I’m behind too! Don’t stop now, just think, <i.you wrote 11, 000+ words! Keep it going, don’t think, just keep going.

  4. I managed 15,431 words in the first week, which is my best ever start.

    I have ditched a couple of planned scenes; one because it was superfluous – as the info. had come in during another scene, a couple of others because they were just colour (about Shara learning about life in Wintonceastre). I may go back and add something later, but the story was moving along. I have left the blank scenes there in Scrivener (another benefit of using the program, I feel).

    I did get side-tracked into research, specifically about whether Saxon ladies rode side-saddle and stuff on on Shetland ponies (which seem to be closest to what Shara would ride).

    This morning Shara left Wintonceastre with her party, so the next big scene will be a meeting with a mystic at the stān hencg by Ambresbyrig.

    Enjoying it so far…

    Miriam, I know what you mean, I had the same issue last year. If you do finish under 50k, perhaps register as a rebel and write two novellas? This one and a second one…

    • Hey Dennis,
      That is a great start. Congrats! I will need to do some research when I complete this draft. My story has surprised me with the appearance of a pirate. I suppose that is the consequence of pantsing–anything can happen so you have to adjust accordingly. I am currently talking things over with him to make sure he didn’t lose his way and accidentally end up in this story when he intended to be somewhere else. 😉

      Wishing you continued success and words, Dennis!

  5. I’m not doing it but I want to wish you all a great time and good luck – keeeeeeep writing.

  6. I’m happy. This is my first go at this and after day 7 (Haven’t started my Day 8 session yet) I’m on 12103 so about 400 words ahead of schedule. I need to get ahead because I’ve got some family events coming up and a couple of AGM’s to attend. Pantsing like I’ve never pantsed before! 🙂

    • Hey Richard,

      12,103 is a great start for week one. I know what you mean about trying to write ahead. There will be a few days over the course of November where I won’t be able to even touch my story. So, even though I’m at 19,000 words or so right now, it’s just padding for the days that I can’t write anything.

      I hear you about the pantsing. It’s fun but it can be taxing on the imagination! 🙂

  7. I love the idea that the pirate lost his way and meant to be in one of your future stories! Have you read any of Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” books? That type of story line would fit right in. 🙂

    I’m still slogging through revisions, although Meghan and the Muse have been conspiring, I can tell. But I need to jot down some notes and see if I can pull it off….

    Good luck to you and everyone as you head into week 2. This was a great reminder not to get bogged down in details. This is your time to just let the ideas flow. You can all do it!

    • Hey JM, no I don’t know Jasper Fforde. But now you’ve got me curious about what I might be into here! I really think the pirate is for another story because I was debating between two for NaNo. The one I decided against hadn’t been as developed (not that this one is developed) and figured I’d have a tougher time with it. This is what pantsing gets me.

      Revisions almost sound like heaven compared to what I’m up against, haha. I know you are really neck deep with your book and it always happens that something else comes along to interrupt. Meghan needs to wait her turn! I am drafting an email in reply to your latest, by the way. 🙂

      Details, shmetails. 🙂

      • Ha, I’m holding off on making changes until I hear both your ideas and Anne’s about my rambling email. 🙂 I’m thinking about them but not plunging into the file. That’s okay because guess who dropped a new mystery on me this morning. 😉 Let’s just say Meghan will be back very soon.

        In Fforde’s “Thursday Next” world, people take their literature VERY seriously. And characters really exist and can enter the human world. The possibilities are endless. And good sly British humor—there’s a “Rocky Horror Picture Show”-type live experience that goes with Shakespeare’s Richard the Third!

        Even if you don’t get one full novel out of NaNo, you might have a great start on two!

      • Wow, those books sound like a lot of fun to read! I might have to pick one up . Oh boy, that Megan is one determined lady, but I think that is because she knows a good author when she sees one. She doesn’t want to lose you. 🙂

  8. Hey Kate, love your post and I’m really impressed that you can find the time to write a while LimeBirds post whilst doing NaNo. It’s all I can do to get my work and my NaNo in a day without adding more writing!

    I’m a planner this year – all other years I’ve been a pantser (although I only found out what that means a few weeks ago). I’m finding, exactly as you suggest, that plot holes appear all over and I’ve been doing exactly as you suggest: marking them and ignoring them (for now!).

    However, one thing I’ve found really useful as a planner is to stop every now and then and spend just a couple of minutes adjusting my notes (I’m using Scrivener, so these are all on index cards). Doing this has two major benefits for me:
    1. It allows me to plan in my mind a few steps ahead, so I never run out of that “idea buffer” (if you think in terms of video buffering on YouTube..)
    2. It allows me to slightly adjust the plan incrementally, meaning I don’t get upset when I find myself off-track

    I agree with the sentiment of NaNoWriMo, which is basically; “Don’t think – Write!” However, I’m finding these micro-planning sessions (maybe just two or three minutes a day, out of a two-hour writing session) help immensely with my overall sanity.

    • Hi Lordscree,

      Well, you’ll notice that today’s post is much shorter than other posts I’ve written–so not too much time was stolen from my story. But it helped to put this post together as it serves to remind me what I need to be doing during NaNoWriMo.

      I’m glad you brought that up — adjusting notes and micro-planning. I think that’s a good idea as long as we don’t spend too much time wondering if things are working structurally. I tend to get entrenched in tasks like that and I’ll use it as an excuse to not write more words until I can make sure I have all my ducks in a row. Having said that, I can see how such a method would be useful to someone who is less OCD than I am!

      Thanks for adding a great tip!

  9. My best to all of you writing your hearts out in this amazing challenge!

  10. Your first line terrifies me because I’m already behind 🙂

    I’m definitely a pantser.

  11. Good luck, Kate! I remember trying a NaNo a few years back, and watching the expected word count climb while I was stuck way behind was stressful! Can’t wait to hear whether the pirate sticks it out or heads out for smoother waters. ; )

    • Thanks Anne!

      This pirate has been around for a few days, and he has inserted himself into several scenes. I am still writing with him in it but I definitely have a different story going. This will make for an interesting blog post at any rate. I may not get a novel out of this conundrum, but he is sure to provide me with great cocktail party conversation.

  12. It’s not healthy to envy…but I envy you, Kate, and everyone else so engaged with and loving their stories. I definitely felt that last year (I’m still in love with last year’s project!), but this year’s has not grabbed me, yet, if it ever will. I suppose I should take this as a challenge to write and finish a story even if I feel no passion for it, but my mind keeps going back to my novel-in-progress.

    Your suggestions are all good ones…I’m just not using them for my NaNo project! 😀

    Ah, well. C’est la vie.

    I love how your pirate is making himself a player!

    • I’m exactly the same as you Mayumi, my story really hasn’t grabbed me so I’m struggling. I’m hoping it will get better!

    • Hi Mayumi,

      Aww, I’m sorry to hear that about your NaNo story. It’s a real bummer when we can’t feel engaged or excited with our stories. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, but if I’m not feeling the love then I know I’m not supposed to be writing it. Maybe another time it would work and I put it in the wings for the future. But I am one of those writers who needs to be connected intimately with my work, or else I hate it and the story is awful.

      Do you have some idea of why this might be happening?

      My pirate. Yes, he has become my pirate. I’m actually starting to grow fond of him.

  13. You aren’t kidding, energetic! 18731 as of this morning!

  14. I don’t know why I let Beth talk me into this! I’m on 11,734 words but I’m not going to have any time to write over the next 3 days, apart from for the next 20 minutes, part of which I’m spending writing this comment! Though I shouldn’t complain, the story is going quite well!

    Say hi to your pirate for me, I love that he just turned up out of the blue!

    • Hey Ster,

      Beth has this way of making us do crazy things, doesn’t she. We’re going to have to do something about that. 😉 Nearly 12,000 words is great progress, I think. I know what you mean about worrying that you won’t have time to write here and there and how much that will affect you. But if the story is going well, then I think you’ll catch up without a problem.

      Yeah, my pirate has been an interesting part of my day, to say the least. I’m hoping that if I give him some page time that he’ll divulge his reasons for appearing in the middle of the Vietnam War. That’d be helpful.

    • Haha, stop your moaning! You’re a Limebird, pull it together! 😉

  15. As I mentioned before, I set my sights on 60,000 words, which is 2,000 words a day. I’m on around 12,000 words now, so I’m a couple of days behind, but hopefully I’ll get more done later this evening. I’m still aiming for the 60,000. I’m really glad I wrote myself a one line per chapter plan though. Some of the chapter plans just saying something like ‘They go to the police station to report what has been happening’. So it’s very basic, but it’s enough to give me the setting and it tells me in which direction the story is moving. My story so far is extremely dialogue heavy, which may or may not work in the end, but I’m just going with it because that’s what comes easiest to me.

    • Hi Vanessa,

      Dialogue is great filler. Sometimes my characters will talk about what they’re going to have for dinner, or about the weather, stupid stuff that real-life people really do talk about but has no place in a book! Eventually the dialogue will guide me to my next event or plot point. Or another pirate. Who knows.

      I love your topic sentences for each chapter plan. I think that’s a super idea! I can see how that would help you from losing track or panicking over what your people are doing.

      Keep up the good work!

  16. I’m having unprecedented success, currently at 24K (and ashamed to admit I JUST hit my plot…) and going strong. This is my first year actively participating with write-ins both online and in person, and while I expected all the chatting to be a hinderance to productivity I’ve found the Philly WriMos to be really inspiring. We’ve got a great system of word sprints and support. It turns out maybe I’ve been doing it wrong the last couple years by sequestering myself away from others! I also nutted up and posted my very first excerpt to my profile page (horror! excitement! anxiety!).

    • Hi fissionerror,

      That’s awesome that you’re getting so much out of the write-ins. I had thought about doing something like that, but my schedule is pretty tight. Maybe next time. Word sprints sounds exciting! I’m guessing that means a certain amount of words in a certain amount of time? Yeesh. Wishing you continued success!

      • a lot of our word sprints are in a chat on-line, so it’s easier to coordinate; they’re scheduled from 9-11, but people pop in from the end of the work day until the last of us trickle off to bed around 3am. As for the word sprints/word wars, sprint does kind of imply there’s a target, but we set a timer and it’s just a race against one another to see who can get the most words written in, say, 20 minutes. I heartily recommend it!

      • Oh wow! A race against other writers. That might be too much for this writer’s blood. 🙂 Glad that you found something that works for you!

  17. I’m about a week behind, yesterday was the first chance I had to write as I’d been away but I managed to pump out 3500 words yesterday so if I keep it at that pace I’ll be safe 🙂

    • Wow, Pete, 3,500 words in one day is a great start! I love days like that, even when I’m not trying to challenge myself. Keep it up! 🙂

  18. Honestly, I find myself most often to be no more than the Muse’s conduit. She writes the stories and I take the credit. It’s a wonderful bargain we have! 😉

  19. Too much life intervening in the first week. Let’s hope for less life in the second week.

    • Hi King,

      Yes, that happened to me last year. Pity we can’t tell life to wait 30 days, isn’t it. Good luck on your second week!

  20. I’m right on track and just about to get started for the evening. Thanks for the construction sign reminder. I’m impressed, too, with how you managed to write such a great post while keeping up with NaNo. Go, Kate!

    • Hi Darla,

      I’m psyched that your NaNo’ing is going so well. You’re welcome for the construction sign. It’d be fun to do a real one and put it up in my study, not just for NaNo but writer’s block in general. 🙂

      Thanks! The post was like killing two birds with one stone, actually. Writing it really helped me see that my unexpected visitor (the pirate I mentioned in the above comments) was not too much of a glitch. At first he stopped my writing in its tracks, but then this post showed me that I need to write around him. I didn’t know if he’d stay or go when I did that, but not stressing about him helped me forge onward.

      So far, the pirate has stayed…

  21. Got sidetracked into research again. Now wait for it…

    I am descended from Santa Claus!!!!!!

    I knew that I was descended from Odin (see my post on Keeping it in the Family) but here is what I have just discovered:

    Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions; these include Síðgrani, Síðskeggr, Langbarðr, (all meaning “long beard”) and Jólnir (“Yule figure”). According to Phyllis Siefker, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir’s food with gifts or candy. This practice, she claims, survived in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization and can be still seen in the modern practice of the hanging of stockings at the chimney in some homes.

    I want milk and cookies, from all of you, now.

    My new hashtag is #NaNoWriHoHoHo

    • You are! 🙂 Neat. Wait till I tell my kids I blog with Santa. 😉 I’ll be sending you their Christmas lists in a couple of weeks.

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