#Nanowrimo: Day 0 – The title of my novel, what it’s about, and how I prepped

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Woot! Super excited to take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, NaNoWriMo is an annual writing event hosted in November that encourages aspiring novelists and writers to write a novel in 30 days. I first heard about NaNoWriMo in December 2013. I was a month too late, but I liked the idea of completing a book and found their challenge to be doable.

Fast-forward to last year when I completed an entire 50,000+ word novel. You can read all about that here.

Today on Day 0, while everyone is out trick-or-treating or getting wasted in their best scary or sexy getups, I’m hammering away on my laptop putting the finishing touches on my outline. What’s the novel called you ask? Loyalty is Fiction. I started writing this story years ago but never finished. The title back then was She Said. I wrote up to 70 pages on a laptop I no longer have and the disk I saved it too has gone missing like bobby pins I once owned. Crushing right? Not really. I never had an outline for the story and wrote it off the top of my head. I never finished because I got stuck trying to figure out what should happen next. While that process may work for others, this sister needs an outline.

What is Loyalty is Fiction?

Here is the synopsis of Loyalty is Fiction straight from my MissWriteItAll page on the NaNoWriMo website:

Loyalty is Fiction is a story of three women who learn that happiness and loyalty while in love is what you make it and not what’s owed.

Meet Madison – a “happily” married woman who is expecting her first child, Courtney – a virgin engaged to her first love, and Laila – the very single friend in love with a married man. Their lives are different but they all have one thing in common and that’s trying to find out who they are independent of the men in their lives.

Madison is living the picture perfect life that everyone dotes on but she’ll discover that there’s no such thing as perfect. Courtney will learn that the man she loves and is about to marry isn’t who she thought he was. And Laila will discover that her married boyfriend isn’t as loyal to her as she’d like to think he is. They’ve all got pressures coming from all angles of their lives, influencing their decisions that will ultimately make them happy or hate themselves. They’ll soon learn that loyalty, in love, can be fiction.

The synopsis is a work in progress but I believe it’s a good start.

Although my last novel was a romance meets spirituality story, I’m going women’s fiction with this one. I want my characters to connect more with women since their situations are crazy but definitely not unique to them. And the scenarios presented here are so not romantic. But I assure you, it will be a good read!

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What I’m doing to prepare

During last year’s NaNoWriMo, I used Scrivener and I’m using it again this year. It’s a writing software you download off their website and it’s AMAZING! I’m not affiliated with them but I just love how effective using it makes my writing and it helps to turn your dream of typing The End a reality. You can either choose to write under their blank project, or you can write under the novel project. I chose the latter since it gave me more options and it looks organized.

I started by creating character templates for my main characters and the characters they interact with the most. Their names, careers, personalities, what they look like, their internal and external conflicts, the works. I’ve also created setting templates to create a clearer picture of the locations they frequent throughout the story. This just helps prevent confusion and me writing “so and so” is arguing with her mother in chapter 15 but her mother died in chapter 3. This might work for a different type of novel though! I’ve also mapped out my scenes, what’s supposed to happen in each scene and in what chapters the scenes belong. I haven’t finished with this part yet but I’m hoping to complete it by tonight.

How I’m planning to get to 50,000 words

Consistency! With everything you want to achieve, consistency is key. I also plan to participate in their writer sprints that they have on Twitter and to use the Pomodoro method (writing for 25 minutes, taking 5 minute breaks, rinse and repeat until I get to my daily word count which is 1668 words), which is similar to their writer sprints. Eat right, dress warm, drink lots of water, and treat myself whenever I’ve written a certain amount. I will be popping champagne, god willing, and doing a Drake “Hotline Bling” dance when I get to the end.

My NaNoWriMo writing schedule

I’m a freelance writer in my “day job” and I’m a stay-at-home mother to a toddler who I’m also a teacher to, so as you can imagine time will be of the essence. I want, no I NEED, to write when I have little to no distractions so it must either be early in the morning before anyone wakes up or late at night when everyone is asleep. It might be in the morning, but I have to see how everything works with my workout schedule because this girl’s got to work on her fitness no matter what. You’ll be able to follow my journey to 50,000 words as I’ll be updating my blog 3 days a week (maybe even more than that) about my progress, woes, and possible emotional breakdowns during the challenge.

Oh! And if you want to download Scrivener and use it during NaNoWriMo, they are offering a special trial edition where you can download it for free and use it throughout the 30 days of the challenge *clapping emoji hands.* After the 30 days, you must buy it but if you win the challenge, they are one of the many sponsors. This means you’ll get the program at a 50% discount which amounts to about $20. And if you don’t win, you can still get a 20% discount. Aren’t you glad you read to the end? Lol. Here’s a link to download both the Mac or Windows versions.

#NaNoWriMo: How to write a book in one month and still have a life

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Writing a book in a month might sound like a dream or even a time consuming task but you’d be surprised. I’ve always wanted to write a book but could never finish. Either I’d start it, get to the middle and not know how to finish it or let life get in the way. That was until I discovered NaNoWriMo – an event that takes place in November (National Novel Writing Month) that helps you write a 50,000 word manuscript.

Before NaNoWriMo, the thought of writing a book in a month had me thinking that I’d have to be locked in a room all day and night just typing away on my computer. You can imagine how relieved I was when this wasn’t the case.

I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time last year and finally finished my romance novel! I haven’t buckled down to edit the damn thing, but that’s another story for another time. As to how to write a book in a month and still have a life, it’s very possible, and it all comes down to preparation.

So how did I do it? By planning out exactly how I wanted the book to begin and end, fleshing out my story so that I could see it clearly before writing. I began by writing what the purpose of the story was. Then I broke it down by scene, what events I wanted to happen in each scene and what conflict my main character would have to work resolve. Then I organized the scenes and settings into chapters.

It’s a good idea to start planning your book at least a month before you write it Click To Tweet. Give your characters personalities and your settings so much life that the characters seem like they could walk right off the page and your settings are described so perfectly that your readers see it when they close their eyes.

Next, decide on a daily word count (a certain amount of words to write per day) and never miss a day no matter what. CatchiFor me, this was difficult at times. I’m a mother and I am a freelancer with clients, so having to do client work and then commit to a word count every day was exhausting at first. But you get used to it. It becomes a habit, a healthy habit. And when you meet your daily word count you feel a sense of accomplishment.

So for me, I would commit to at least 1667 words a day. If sitting down and typing up 1667 words sounds like too much, split it up and do half in the morning before work and the other half at night right before bed. Make things easy for yourself so that you finish your novel. Click To Tweet I usually exceeded the word count because I’d get so deep in my story that I didn’t want to stop which was great. There were NaNoWriMo participants who wrote more than 50,000 words. I’m talking over 100,000 words – typical for fan fiction. If they can do it, so can you!

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For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I already have my story fleshed out. I’m just going to work a little more on my characters and their personalities. I’m also writing in another genre, I’ll talk more about that in another post.

If you’re planning on participating in this year’s NaNoWriiMo it’s best to find writing buddies from now. I had two writing buddies last year, and they were lifesavers. One suggested I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and that was the best advice I’d ever received. I didn’t get a chance to read his autobiography/writing how-to during the challenge, but I did after and it has changed the way I write fiction.

Writing a book in one month is very possible. Just plan out your story from beginning to end and commit to a word count every day. Tell everyone you talk to that you are writing a book in November so that you have people to hold you accountable. Get excited about your book and really fall in love with the plot and characters. And most importantly, make finishing your book a priority and you’ll get it done!

Btw, my name on NaNoWriMo’s website is Miss Write It All, let’s be buddies.

#DearMe: A letter to my new blogger self

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I wanted to put a twist on the “write a letter to your younger self” idea. So I wrote a letter to my new blogger self instead.

I made a TON of mistakes as a new blogger and sometimes lost focus of what I wanted to accomplish when I originally decided to blog.

But all of the moments both good and bad has helped me and made me a master learner…you should always keep learning! Hopefully this letter will resonate with someone, anyone looking to get into blogging either as a hobby or as a career.

Here’s the advice I gave to my new blogger self:

Dear Samantha:

Blogging is a lot harder than you may think and will get a bit overwhelming at times but you’ll enjoy yourself and will learn new things that will help in shaping who you are.

The design of your blog is important but what you say and how you say it matters even more.

Learn and be inspired by others but never feel like you need to be or sound like them.

You’ll read helpful advice from experienced bloggers but the real lesson will come from actually doing it yourself.

Focus more on connecting with readers and less about attracting traffic. Although having high traffic is great, It isn’t enough. Generating high traffic and knowing that readers have learned something from you and will want to return and continue to learn from you is even better!

You’re not being fancy by using big words when you blog. Most of the time your readers have no idea what they mean and will lose focus of what you have to say, because they’ll probably be distracted trying to figure out just what the heck you are trying to say.

Lastly, love to blog and be in love with what you are blogging about. The moment it isn’t a fun activity it will become a daunting task and your readers will notice and your writing will become uninteresting.

Write then edit, don’t do both at the same time.
Sincerely,

Samantha.