Tag: nanowrimo

NaNoWriMo Is Over… Now What?

With the month of November drawn to a close, so too does NaNoWriMo end. NaNoWriMo, for those who might not be familiar, is the month-long writing challenge that pushes writers to write 50,000 words in thirty days. For some, this is a good way to help crank out first drafts of projects. For others, the act of writing so much is exhausting and it will only end in burnout. This challenge is not made simpler by the fact that November is by no means an easy month. For students, this month means working on final papers for class or preparing for exams. For folks working in retail or any position that is holiday sensitive, this is an extremely stressful time of year as well. If you are both a student and an employee, it gets even more difficult. If you happen to be a parent, a student, an employee, and anything else, NaNoWriMo becomes a serious task and commitment to take on.

 

 

All the same, that doesn’t mean that NaNos can’t keep pushing onward and continue working on their projects.

 

So where do NaNos go from here?

 

Well, there are several directions that NaNos can take after November ends. NaNoWriMo was originally meant to help writers create first drafts for projects that they would like to pursue for the remainder of the year. For the writers who completed their drafts, the months following NaNoWriMo are meant typically intended for rewriting, revising, and reworking their current projects. The hardest part for some writers, after all, is getting words onto the page, and that is why NaNoWriMo encourages the idea of writing with abandon. So now that these writers have made it to 50,000 and completed their stories, now is the time to review and revise and decide where to go from there.

 

 

BUt what about the writers who didn’t finish their drafts?

 

Image via yale herald

 

Just because a NaNo didn’t complete her project doesn’t mean that she can’t opt to start a new draft or begin to edit what she already has. It isn’t uncommon for a draft to not be completed prior to a writer beginning another. It also isn’t uncommon to edit as one works on their story either. Writer Zadie Smith edits as she works on her stories, so it isn’t unheard of to take what one currently has and edit it as it is. For some NaNos, that might be exactly what they need to do. One of my dear friends started a project this past November, and she decided that she didn’t like the direction that the story was going. She knows that now, and she can now begin the process of reworking her draft when she feels ready. She can either edit what she has, or she can start anew. Regardless, she knows what things to avoid when she begins her new draft.

 

 

Regardless, this is a time to consider where your story is going and if any changes need to take place

 

Image via hbs digital initiative – harvard business school

 

The end of November is the prime time to review what one has written and consider the direction that one would like to take from there. Do you like where your story went? Or would you rather the plot go another way? Maybe you found out that a character that you thought would be extremely insignificant would make an amazing protagonist and a new point of view to follow. Based on that, you can choose to restructure your story in a way that appeals to you more than it may have originally. Perhaps these decisions will lend a new level of complexity to your narrative, and in doing so, it will help you craft a story that is more well-rounded. This is the ideal time to sit back and ruminate on your story and make a plan of action (if you are a planner when it comes to writing).

 

 

Remember: it is okay to set a story aside

 

image via youworkforthem

 

NaNoWriMo is really good for writers (like me) who have a hard time finishing the projects that they start. We have a clear goal in mind and a month-long window set to complete it. However, I will be the person to say that you, as a writer, will probably not finish every story you start. And that is okay. You might get halfway through your idea and realize that it has no foreseeable end. You might realize that this project doesn’t make you happy. You might have another more promising idea grab you by the wrists.

That’s okay.

Just because you opt to not complete a project doesn’t mean that you have failed. In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, writer Elizabeth Gilbert tells her readers that there are going to be stories and projects that they start that will never be finished, and that is okay. 

Does this mean that you, as a writer, should abandon every project you start? Absolutely not. This also doesn’t mean that you can’t take these early ideas and incorporate them into another story later on. What it does mean is that you have permission to put an idea on hold or, again, recognize when a story isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

The most important thing is to keep writing

 

image via Scripps college

 

Your work is important. Your ideas are important. You may have no plans of ever sharing either with another soul. You might want to get it published. What matters is that you keep writing. The NaNoWriMo website isn’t only available during November, after all: you can create a new goal and use the same interface to work towards it in the coming months. Ultimately, you should take what you learned from this last month and make something of it. That doesn’t mean take the same project that you had for this year and run with it, especially if you realized that you didn’t enjoy working on it, but it does mean sit back and consider what you liked about the process and what you disliked. What would you change? What worked best for you? Now that you have a better feel of things: keep writing.

And don’t forget: Camp NaNo takes place twice a year (during the months of April and July). So if your November was hectic, maybe Camp NaNo will be a better alternative? After all, you get to choose your writing goal during these months, so you aren’t beholden to the 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo challenges you to reach.

It doesn’t matter if you another month or if you another five years to complete a project: keep writing.

 

Featured Image Via the Irish Times

 


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5 Quotes To Help You Kick Your NaNoWriMo Slump

With the month winding down and NaNoWriMo writers working to reach their respective 50,000 word goals, it should come as no surprise that many of these NaNo participants are experiencing a writer’s slump. Some of these individuals might be dealing with deadlines that relate to school, or perhaps work is taking its toll as the holidays fast approach. Or maybe it’s just good old fashioned writer’s block — the scourge of all writers.

Regardless, this is the time of the month where NaNo writers are confronted by their exhaustion, and they have to make the choice to keep working towards their goals or to call it good for the year. To keep you going, here are five quotes from writers to encourage you to keep working on your NaNo project.

1. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Image via Film at Lincoln center

Toni Morrison, author of Beloved and The Bluest Eye, is a Nobel Prize recipient and the writer of more than ten books.

 

2. “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Sir Terry Pratchett

Image via Britannica.com

While alive, Terry Pratchett wrote over 40 books. His impressive bibliography includes titles like Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman) and the Discworld series.

 

3. “Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.” – Annie dillard

image via the Nation

Annie Dillard is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the writer of books like The Writing Life and Living By Fiction. She has dabbled in multiple literary styles– everything from poetry to prose, and from fiction to nonfiction.

 

4. “It’s such a confidence trick, writing a novel. The main person you have to trick into confidence is yourself.” – Zadie Smith

image via Brain Pickings

Zadie Smith has been listed on Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists on two separate occasions. She is a recipient of the Orange Prize for Fiction award and a member of the Royal Society of Literature. She wrote the novels White Teeth and On Beauty.

 

5. “Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

image via Nbc News

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been rewarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy award, and the Orange Prize. She wrote the novels Americanah and Half of A Yellow Sun

Featured Image Via Pinterest

 

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nanowrimo

The Best Apps for Every Step of NaNoWriMo

So it’s the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, and you only have time to do things like go to school for eight hours, sleep for an inconvenient five or so, and occasionally eat. Writing does take time, but you have more time than you probably think (unless you thought you had twenty-four hours in a day, which is technically accurate but unlikely for a functioning person). While there are some circumstances where you can’t whip out your laptop, there are far fewer cases where it’s unusual to take out your phone. So instead of lamenting your wasted time, use the moments you do have to chip away at that 50k on iPhone or Android… with some (all free!) apps to help you with every step of the process.

 

1. The research process 

 

 

Charlie Kelly from 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Image Via Imgur.com

 

Evernote, free for iPhone and Android, is perfect for keeping track of all your research and inspirational quotations. Its Web Clipper feature allows you to incorporate your source material directly into your notes, so you don’t crash your computer (again) with your 22 dubiously-useful open tabs.

 

2. The outline 

 

 

Millie Bobby Brown Gif

Gif Via Tumblr.com

 

Go Writer Lite for iPhone incorporates note-taking into the writing process with the draft board feature, a temporary storage space for text fragments (like that one sentence you just can’t figure out). As a bonus, the app will read your text aloud to you, so you can hear for yourself what sounds the way you imagined it.

 

Workflowy for Android is perfect for complicated outlines, allowing users to see any heading and its subheadings in isolation to prevent distraction (to the extent that it can). The app also includes searchable hashtags, so you can mark problem areas you want to remember for later—and then actually remember them.

 

3. The first draft

 

 

'Tom and Jerry' Gif

Gif Via Github.com

 

Writer for iPhone is more powerful than your typical word processor, saving all drafts of your product so that you never lose any material. In addition to your usual built-in spell check, this app also comes with a built in thesaurus to help you find the right (write?) word. On top of that, the app has simple yet varied table of contents formatting to help you and (and your eventual readers!) stay organized.

 

4. The editing process 

 

 

Frantic Typing Gif

Gif Via Gfycat.com

 

Unlike your typical sticky note phone app, Jotterpad for Android keeps track of your word count, paragraph count, character count, AND reading time. With a built in dictionary and thesaurus, this app is already better than many word processing computer programs. Jotterpad is especially good for your second and third drafts, as its snapshot feature allows you to revert to earlier versions of your story.

 

With any luck, these apps will help you put your (relatively few) moments of down time to work writing the novel of your dreams (or occasionally your nightmares).

 

Featured Image Via WeScreeplay

'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green

The 6 Steps to NaNoWriMo Success, as Told by Your Favorite Authors

It’s time for National Novel Writing Month, a hellish and delightful month-long exercise for writers of all skill levels and prior experience. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words of fiction by the end of November, creating a bit more every day (1,667 words, to be exact). The outcome of NaNoWriMo is often a mix of joy and incredible frustration. Here are six pieces of serious advice from famous classic and contemporary authors to help get you through every step of the NaNoWriMo process.

 

1. Let your favorite books inspire you.

 

Horror novels by Stephen King

Image Via sheknows.com

 

Superstar horror novelist Stephen King, author of hits like It and The Shining, considers the relationship between writing and reading to be quite serious: “if you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” In fact, reading does make you a better writer— not necessarily because it makes you ‘more educated.’ In fact, many famous novelists never earned a college degree. By understanding the things you like best in your favorite stories (a richly realized setting, efficient pacing, possibly dragons), you can seek to recreate those elements in your own work. It’s not plagiarism to love in-depth character development.

 

2. Research your topic.

 

Research

Image Via oregoncenterfornursing.org

 

Few authors ever write the proverbial ‘Great American Novel,’ but many believe that classic writer and humorist Mark Twain is one of these few. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn author advises: “get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” While you don’t need to, say, drop everything and move to London to write your WWII period piece, you should also know more about WWII than to say for sure it happened. Make sure you have insight into the small details of the places, times, and circumstances you address— even if you feel familiar with them already! Others may share your experiences but feel differently about them. You may also find that immersing yourself in the mood and tone of a topic can make your work more atmospheric. 

 

3. Ignore your self-doubt.

 

Ignoring self-doubt to write your novel

Image Via npr.org

 

Sylvia Plath, literary icon and author of The Bell Jar, cautions against the self-doubt that can spell the sad ending of a writer’s dreams: “everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” No matter the scope of your project (sweeping epic fantasy) or the difficulty of the subject matter (devastating political crisis), there’s only one thing that determines whether your novel gets written. Spoiler alert! It’s you. Bonus: if you write with self-confidence, your novel will have a stronger and clearer narrative voice. Take control of your feelings and your work— they both belong to you.

 

4. Accept that you might need ‘warm-up’ time.

 

Writer writing

Image Via videoblocks.com

 

If J.K. Rowling, international celebrity author of the Harry Potter series, needs to warm up… don’t feel bad about needing the same thing! She writes:

 

 

“You have to resign yourself to the fact that you waste a lot of trees before you write anything you really like, and that’s just the way it is. It’s like learning an instrument, you’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot, ‘cause I wrote an awful lot before I wrote anything I was really happy with.”

 

First drafts are more than just mistakes to be rewritten— they’re actually a necessary part of the process. If you’re a new writer just starting out, every sentence you despise is just the next step towards a sentence that you love. The only way out of the self-hate spiral is through it!

 

5. Consider your words.

 

Notebook and other writing supplies

Image via independent.co.uk

 

So you’ve gotten to the most important part of writing your novel— writing it. Conveniently, this part is usually also the hardest. It’s a challenge to be objective about your own work, and while it’s easy to tell whether or not you’re meeting the word count, it can be substantially less easy to tell whether or not the words are what you hoped they would be. George Orwell, classic author of 1984 and Animal Farm, has a series of blunt but helpful questions:

 

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 

1. What am I trying to say? 
2. What words will express it? 
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 
4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? 

And he will probably ask himself two more: 
1. Could I put it more shortly? 
2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? 

 

6. Finish the story.

 

Writer with laptop and coffee

Image Via pixabay.com

 

While the Internet is full of awesome writers’ resources, too much of a good thing can turn into a thing that distracts the absolute !@#$ out of you. The purpose of something like a character sheet isn’t to help you end up with a filled-out character sheet. The point is to end up with a complete character… who then lives inside a complete story. As John Green, celebrity author of heart-wrenching novels Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, so eloquently puts it: “go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.” You can find this wisdom and the rest of his NaNoWriMo pep talk here for advice, inspiration, and blatant common sense.

 

One last piece of blatant common sense: always save your drafts!

 

 

Featured Image Via bustle.com