Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Saturday, November 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 30 (and final day)


  • 50, 485 words written in November
  • 69,896 total words written
  •  20,104 words to write to finish first draft

When I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2013, I hoped I could finish. There were times along the way that I doubted it. I was discouraged and the words wouldn't come. I had days on which I didn't write at all. I wanted to toss the whole thing. Forget I ever even thought I could be a fiction writer.

It's true.

About reporting for work even when you don't feel like working.

About writing even when you don't feel like writing.

In his NaNo pep talk on Nov. 26, Ralph Peters spoke to where I was when he wrote:

"But if you need inspiration, try perspiration. If you’re meant to write, you’ll write. Sure, we’re all stymied from time to time, struggling over how best to shape a character or how to bring a crucial scene to life. But the best way to confront such problems is to sit down and start typing. Things happen when you make them happen. . . . 

"Better to type up slop, throw it away, and start again the next morning, than to duck your daily battle with the keyboard. . . .

"Writing is wretched, discouraging, physically unhealthy, infinitely frustrating work. And when it all comes together it’s utterly glorious.

"In these last days of NaNoWriMo, get to work "

I did. And it did (came together).

At this point, the plot is cooking pretty good. Boiling, in fact. My husband advises me to "finish it. You're on a roll."

And so I will.

See you on the other side of "The End."

Keep writing,


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 20

Ten days left in National Novel Writing Month.

Ten days to reach 50,000 words.

As you can see from progress meter above, I'm running a bit behind. 21,781 words to go. 10 days. I could let myself feel overwhelmed, pressured. I spent a couple of NaNo days plotting. I'd come to a place where I couldn't go forward unless I had some idea of which way that forward was supposed to go.

Ten days. 21,781 words. Gulp.

I can do this.

I can write 2,200 words a day.

Even on Sunday.

Even on Thanksgiving Day.

Ten days. 21,781 words.

The mountain doesn't look so big when you climb it one step at a time.

Keep writing,


PS. Rachel Hauck posted an EXCELLENT blog today on Novel Rocket: "5 Novel Crunches For Tightening Your Middle." It's exactly what I need at this point. Check it out (click on the title)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 13

Pushing through NaNoWriMo, I'm learning that the more I write, the more I write.

Yes, I've wrestled with words, with the "What comes next?" I've struggled with characters and scenes better suited for Act 3 than Act 2. I've let the internal editor out to help me with some problems - not with mechanics, such as grammar, spelling, punctuation - but with those characters and scenes that niggled at me after I shut the computer down for the day.

The mind never shuts down, even when you're sleeping. So while doing laundry, preparing supper, cleaning the kitchen, running the vacuum, "redding up" (western Pennsylvania speak for "straightening up" the house), and doing the countless daily tasks that must be done, NaNo or no NaNo, the muse was mulling, analyzing, asking questions and searching for the answers.

"Follow your gut" - I kept telling myself. "Stop thinking so much. Just write."

But there is a phase where forward movement grinds to a stop and you just have to think. The editor and the muse work together. That's also following your instinct. Instinct tells you if you continue the plot in this vein, you're going to write yourself into a corner.

So I figured out what I had to to and went back and fixed it, rewriting two chapters (but saving the old ones in case I needed something from them).

Writing is a learning process at every level, from novice to best-selling author. Writing is a gut-wrenching, ego-slamming, doubt-fertilizing profession. And I write "profession" whether you are just getting started, grind out those words whenever and wherever you can while juggling a full-time life, or are writing full-time and getting paid.

We all go through periods of doubt, disappointment, and discouragement. You've received the umpteenth rejection, your current work-in-progress has stalled out, someone you care about told you you'll never be a writer. Maybe more than one person "advised" you to give it up, it's a waste of time.

Do you have a dream to be a writer?

Whether you get published or not, you are a writer. You're writing. You're wrestling with words. You're talking to your characters - and they're talking back. You're living in the fiction world you have created while going through the motions in the real world. Your family has to live with a zoned-out person who was once someone they knew. But they've gotten used to it, and they know as soon as you've typed "The End," you'll return to them.

DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR DREAM! Ban the naysayers from your life. They have no clue. Be pleasant to them, but surround yourself with people who believe in you. Fill your mind and heart and spirit with whatever motivates you.

For me, when I get down on my writing self, I whip out the words of James Scott Bell. May they motivate you as they do me:

"I wasted ten years of prime writing life because of the Big Lie. In my twenties I gave up the dream of becoming a writer because I had been told that writing could not be taught. Writers are born, people said. You either have what it takes or you don't, and if you don't you'll never get it. . . . I thought I was doomed. . . . So I did other stuff like go to law school. Like join a law firm. Like give up my dream. But the itch to write wouldn't go away."

Then he read about an interview with a lawyer who'd had a novel published after he'd been in an accident and realized he really wanted to write, even if he never got published.

"Well, I want it, too," Bell writes. "I went out and bought my first book on fiction writing. . . . And I discovered the most incredible thing. The Big Lie was a LIE. A person COULD learn how to write because I was learning."

Google James Scott Bell and you'll see how successful a writer he is. He also has the best (and funniest) writing tips video clips, especially the one on "Writing Through Frustration."  (For a list of of his video clips, click here.) 

All writers, even the published bestsellers (like James Scott Bell and Stephen King) feel like failures at times. More frequently than you'd think. Bell hits what he calls "The Wall" about 30,000 words into his novel:

"I get there and suddenly think all the worst things about my novel: the idea stinks and is beyond redemption; my writing is lame, the characters uninteresting, and the plot virtually nonexistent. I can't possibly go on. Career over."

Then he gives a list of things he prescribes for breaking through The Wall.

The above quotes are taken from his book, Plot and Structure, which I highly recommend, as I do all his books, both his "how-to-write" books and his fiction. It's always a good idea to be reading good writing. Your mind is absorbing the technique, and you're learning while enjoying a good read. 

If you're doing NaNo and you're behind where the graph on the NaNo page indicates you should be, don't fret about it. Just write and . . .

Keep writing!


TOTAL NaNo words: 17,158 words written in WIP this month

TOTAL words in novel to date:  39,487  (43%) almost to the mid-point, the "Dark Moment"


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 6

Adding sensory details is an ongoing learning process. Some writers don't include them until the revision/rewrite phase. As I push through National Novel Writing Month,  I'm not concerned about sensory details at this point because I'm getting the skeleton put together. But I will add them in  during the revision phase as I put muscles and skin on the skeleton and give it a heart.

A writing student I mentor told me that while she was working on a lesson, she "shut down." I, too, (and I suspect all writers do) shut down at times. I plowed through a shutdown on the second day of NaNoWriMo. The words didn't want to come. The characters were in a vegetative state. The plot stalled. The internal editor broke out of where I'd locked her in and bound the muse. But I pushed through, knowing even if what I was writing at the time stunk, I could always revise it.

Writing is like drawing water from a well with a hand pump. When you first start pumping, nothing comes. It's like the well is dry. But if you pour in a little water and keep pumping, the water will come. It starts out as a trickle, then as you keep pumping, the flow becomes stronger and stronger until the water is gushing out.

Keep writing,