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November 15, 2017

Teenreaders + NaNoWriMo: Week 2 Check-In

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Each year during the month of November, aspiring and experienced authors worldwide participate in NaNoWriMo --- that's National Novel Writing Month for you newbies. Participants write a little each day and work towards the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30th. It may sound hectic and vaguely terrifying, but the NaNo community is always there to help --- there are forums and Twitter threads dedicated to participants and many develop lifelong bonds without ever leaving their homes. This year, we will be speaking to four writers who are participating in NaNoWriMo. We will check in with them each week to see how their novels are coming along and what obstacles or excitements they find along the way!

- Check out week's one post HERE


Now that we are halfway through the month, how are you feeling about NaNoWriMo?

Emily: Still feeling pretty good about it! I spent last weekend doing nothing but drinking tea and writing and got a lot accomplished! On the flip side, it is starting to wear on me a bit, and when that happens, I let myself off easy. As long as I write a little bit each day, I’m doing the work.

Jessica: I’m feeling good! The second week is always the hardest, because that’s when you start to lose steam a little bit. But I powered through it and have spent the last week working at a pretty steady pace, even though I managed to get sick right in the middle of NaNo (as always, it seems), but I pushed through my cold to see my word count through.

Marco: I have this strange, euphoric feeling; I have never gotten this far with any of my other projects, and I can’t help but have a sense of pride in myself because of that. At the same time, NaNoWriMo has been giving me lots of stress, but the good kind of stress. I’m also extremely tired from all the writing I’ve been doing, but I’m going to keep going until I hit that 50K like I planned! I can’t believe I’ve made it this far with NaNoWriMo!

Stephanie: I am actually feeling okay. But that’s only because I started to fall out of love with the project I was working on. And a previous story idea that was simmering was the only thing that was making me want to write. So, I switched gears and started writing that project. As soon as I started that on Monday night, I felt so much better. Now, I just have to play catch up!

Taylor:  I'm feeling really positive about NaNo at this point. I made it through the notorious second week and still have so much I want to do with my story. I hit 25k, which is what my initial goal for the month was. I feel great about my story. Actually, it's hard to believe we’re already halfway through the month. I feel like it's going by so fast and I'm just trying to savor every bit of it.

What is your current word count?

Emily: I just broke the ScriptFrenzy recommendation of 100 pages! I have a feeling the story is going to be double that. I’m still planning to have the whole script finished by the end of the month.

Jessica: I actually already hit 50K! I knew that November was going to be a busy month for me, so I found the time to participate in sprints/write-ins and get extra words down whenever the opportunity presented itself. So that turned out great and ended up paying off, and I crossed the threshold way earlier than I expected to. But hitting 50K doesn’t mean that my novel is done, so now I’m working on tying all the loose ends up nicely!

Marco: I just hit 26,451 words, making me ahead of my goal. I want to stay ahead of my goal, but I know I’ll end up falling back by the end of this week since I have so much homework to do. I’m not sure how long my first draft is going to be, but now that I’m actually writing, I know it will most likely be longer than 50K.

Stephanie:  I’m sadly only at 13K. But I know that by the time I’m checking in with you all next week, I should be caught up or ahead of the game. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I’m only 10k (ish) behind, right? Just need to have a 10k day today and then continue on with the daily word count goal! :) I’m trying to stay positive!

Taylor: I reached 28k last night and I'm hoping to hit 30k tonight. I'm going at a good pace and I expect this first draft to be around 67-70k. That's definitely doable to finish at the pace I'm going right now, which is so exciting. I love the idea of waking up on December 1 with a full draft. That's what's keeping me going.

Are there any struggles you’re dealing with this week?

Emily: This weekend I have a convention I’m going to and friends in town so I am going to have to figure out where to squeeze time in for writing. I may be writing at the artist alley table! I also have an art commission that I need to finish by the weekend on top of writing.

Jessica: I seem to have a terrible curse on me that always gets me super, super sick with the world’s worst cold every November. So that’s been killing my productivity a little bit, but I’m trying to power through it.

Marco: I was writing a scene this week where my main character, Raphi, has a flashback to the moment where he and his brother get into a car accident; however, I got frustrated when it wouldn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. Lucky for me, I’m writing my draft out of order so I decided to skip the rest of that scene for now and write a different one instead. I’ll most likely return to writing that scene sometime this weekend.

Stephanie: Usually I get sick in November just like Jessica. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened to me in the past 2 NaNo’s. And I’m praying that it doesn’t happen later this month. But my daily struggle this year is trying to keep up with housework and taking care of my 6 month old baby who is moving around like crazy all while trying to keep up with my words. If you couldn’t tell, it’s not the easiest. Especially when the story you thought you were going to be working on needs more simmer time, so about half way thru NaNo you switch projects…

Taylor: I'm in graduate school, which I think is all I have to say hahahaha. I have no idea how I'm juggling a full course load, working 27 hours a week and doing NaNo, but I'm making it work. Right now the two biggest challenges I have are finding the time to write and generating enough conflict and plot in my book to make it an interesting story. The second is definitely a common mid-draft problem so I'm not super worried.

Are there any problems you’ve been able to solve in your work so far, or any character arcs/plot points you’re really proud of?

Emily: My main character, Hazel, started out as a victim of abuse and would run scared from anything related to her experience, but later on becomes emboldened to not only stand her ground, but take action against her abuser. She goes from fearing she has become a monster to being empowered by her surreal experience of having a stomach mouth.

Jessica: I had visualized the ending of my book way back when I started writing, so I was nervous about what I was going to come up with that would fill in the gaps until I got there, and how I actually planned on reaching that ending scene. But I’ve been finding little ways to connect the dots, and I think it’s finally ready and all set-up to work.

Marco: I think I’m finally understanding how I’m going to write the end of my project and the steps I’m going to take in order to get there. I always knew how I wanted to end my project, but the picture is clearer for me now.

Stephanie: Actually, the project I am now working on (a YA Fantasy about witches) was originally going to be 1st person with 1 POV and now that I’m working on it, it has changed to 3rd person with multiple POVs. And it’s so much better now!

Taylor: I love writing really fast during NaNo because it brings out all these subconscious, interesting things in my romance. I've been working on the slow burn romance in my book a lot this past week. I've also discovered some friction my MC has with her well-meaning friends this week, which is definitely something I want to explore. In general, a lot of the pieces are coming together and I'm starting to see the through-lines to the end.

Are you editing your work at all as you go?

Emily: I do a little editing as far as dialogue is concerned, but I’m waiting until the entire story is written before I go back and trim the fat.

Jessica: Minor misspellings only! One of the golden rules of NaNoWriMo is to lock away your inner editor during the month of November. She’s not coming back out until January, after I finish NaNoWriMo and give myself the time off to enjoy the holidays as a reward! All major plot points and big editorial changes can wait until then.

Marco: I’m only editing grammar errors, misspelled words, and some sentences if I strongly dislike them. I’m trying my best to not go into editing mode or else I’ll be stuck on the same paragraph forever.

Stephanie: Sometimes, but I’m doing a lot better with my inner perfectionism than I normally do. Take that inner editor!

Taylor: I do no editing during NaNo. This is a draft zero which means I don't even consider it to be a first draft. This is really just a space for me to work out getting from point A to point B and figuring out the details and the main parts of the character’s voice. In an official first draft, I work a lot more on coherence. Coherence of plot, coherence of voice and coherence of overall arcs. Right now it's just time to play and experiment.

What is your goal for next week?

Emily:  I’m going to try to be close to finished! 

Jessica: Tying up all of the loose ends and finally connecting the final pieces of my story together.

Marco: I want to be at least at 40K words by the end of Black Friday. I’ll have no school Thursday and Friday because of Thanksgiving, so I’m going to grind out as much as I can that weekend. That way, the rest of NaNoWriMo can go by smoothly.

Stephanie:  I really want to be either caught up or ahead of the game by this time next week. Which would roughly be at 36,666 words. So I’d like to be at at least 37K by the time you hear from me next!

Taylor: I want to be at 45k next week at this point, which is ambitious, but we’ll see. 

Are you giving yourself any rewards as you meet your goals?

Emily: I got Mario Odyssey so my rewards have been playing an hour of the game at a time.

Jessica: I don’t let myself read/blog for the day until I do my writing, which is a super great motivator since those are pretty much the only two things I’m ever doing.

Marco: I haven’t been giving myself rewards. The only reward I’ll get is being able to hang out with my friends again at the end of NaNoWriMo.  

Stephanie: I haven’t done any rewards for myself yet. Other than when I hit the 1k I wanted to last night, I let myself go to bed. Haha. But I’ve never really given myself any rewards for making word counts, because this is ultimately what I want to be doing with my life… and I feel like if I can get a first draft of a manuscript that will be reward enough.

Taylor: I haven't really been rewarding myself for goals because giving myself permission to work on this story has been my reward. It's what I do to unwind after a day of classes. It's what I do on the subway on the way home. It's what I get to do when I finish a tough reading for class.

How do you plan to keep up the momentum during the Thanksgiving holidays next week? Or will you be giving yourself a break?

Emily:  I usually stay in town for Thanksgiving, so I have the whole weekend to work. I will be taking Thanksgiving day off though. I’ve worked enough for a nice little break!

Jessica: Every year, I make sure I write a litte bit extra so I’ll be able to take off during the actual Thanksgiving holiday so I can spend time with my family, especially since I haven’t seen them in awhile. But this year I’ll definitely be taking off, because I should definitely be done by then.

Marco: My family doesn’t do Thanksgiving. In fact, most of my family lives in California or Mexico, meaning it’s just my parents, my older brother and my two little sisters during the holidays. We don’t do much; we maybe watch a movie or two if we’re all in the mood for it. We all prefer our alone time, so it’ll be easy to stay on track for NaNoWriMo.   

Stephanie:  I am hoping to be ahead enough to where I can take the day off. But even if I wanted to get some words in, I could. Our family doesn’t do anything until 1 or 2pm, so I’ll make sure that I get my words in during the morning so that I can enjoy family time when it’s time to head over to my inlaws for dinner and my grams for dessert.

Taylor: I'm home for Thanksgiving. I also think I'll be so close to done by Thanksgiving break that I'll be in that “final push” stage. Having the free time alone with the time to recharge will be really helpful and I look forward to some solid writing sessions and sprints.