National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2015 is well under way. It’s day 5 and I’ve been keeping up with the word counts to stay where I should be each day. It’s easier when I don’t have to go to work! But after this one week of vacation, it’s back to the day job and 10-hour days on Monday. When that happens, the laptop will be traveling to the office with me each day. I’ll use every minute I can get to add words. It’s my 3rd year doing NaNo and I plan for this to be my third win.
Although I still haven’t finished the project I started last year, I decided to take a break from it and try something new. Last year’s project has quite an extensive plan and it’s been daunting. So, for the new project I went back to my roots. Just write. I had a general idea to start and then just jumped in. I’m pantsing for the most part this year since I started with the idea and a main character and that was all. It’s nice to just write without worrying if it’s reader-worthy. I started writing as a kid when I didn’t worry about whether anyone else was going to like my story. I wrote for myself. So I’m doing that again. If someone else likes the story, that’s great. But if not, that’s okay too. I’m having fun writing it.
The new story is also a departure from my usual genre of fantasy. It’s a sci-fi story about a young woman born and raised on a farming colony on a planet far from industrial society. Marauders attack the colony killing all of the adults and taking the children as captives. They leave her for dead. So that’s the beginning. Oriana is alone in the universe and feels responsible for her sister and brother since their parents are dead. As an oldest child, I’m very familiar with feeling responsible for one’s younger siblings. So I can relate to her on a deep level. My sisters and I weren’t orphaned like she was but, if we had been, I would have felt responsible for caring for them too.
The idea really came from a podcast I listen too, Stuff You Missed in History Class. They did an episode about Olive Oatman who was captured by Native Americans. My story is a huge departure from hers but it was the inspiration. The story struck a chord with me so I jotted down a few thoughts about it in my Evernote. I keep a notebook in Evernote for all things writing and then I tagged it as a story idea. There are quite a few ideas in there that stemmed from Stuff You Should Know podcasts. It’s surprising sometimes what triggers an idea. That’s why it’s so important to keep learning all of the time. New information triggers new “What if” questions that can be the beginning of something really fun.
I’m also using a new app for NaNo this year. It’s called Writeometer. I’m an Android user but I’m sure it’s available for iOS as well. When you start using it, create your project and set the target for word count, the deadline, and where you are now. It has a timer for setting your own writing sprints. When the time runs out, it asks you how many words you wrote. Then it keeps track of the total word count for you. You’re awarded with “guavas” when you complete a sprint. You can then “use” those guavas to give yourself awards like eating a cookie, taking the dog for a walk, or browsing Facebook.” You can also add your own rewards in the “Treats.” It also has other tools and gives inspirational quotes. The app has been useful for me when I’m writing alone.
Don’t forget NaNoWordSprints on Twitter. It’s like writing with friends instead of writing alone. It really helps to have someone cheering for you.
The one tool I lean on most for NaNo though, is Scrivener. If you don’t already have a favorite writing program, give this one a try. It has great organizational tools and can compile your entire project into a novel when it’s all done. You can get the free trial and a special NaNoWrimo template. Winning means you can get 50% off of the price of the software or 20% just for participating in NaNo.
If you’re working on NaNo, good luck to you! You can do it! It seems daunting and sometimes impossible but just keep writing and you’ll make it. When you hit your word count target each day, give yourself a pat on the back. Promise yourself something awesome at the end of November. Whatever that might be for you. I think I’ll be adding a new Barbie doll to my collection.