NaNoWriMo – Ten Years, Ten Wins

This post is a few days early considering it’s not quite the end of November yet, but I have the exciting news already so let’s go! As we approach the end of the yearly madness, let’s have a look at how I did.

First up – I won! Woo hoo! Ten years in a row doing NaNoWriMo and ten wins. I’m very happy with that! Feels weird to think that I’ve done this every year for almost a third of my life but I also couldn’t imagine my year without it. I look forward to it every year and always appreciate the challenge and inspiration that it brings me. Even in the hardest years (2021 being a prime example), I’ve still managed to get myself writing thanks to this event. So, to the NaNoWriMo team, thank you.

Yellow banner with drawn floral designs with the text: "Spoonwood for perseverence. WINNER. NaNoWriMo2022"

I anticipated this being a tough year but it actually went very smoothly, despite petering out a bit towards the end of the 50k. I was writing a story, The Maggie Celeste, that I had thought about a lot for several years and I was very hyped for my ten-year anniversary. Things slowed down around the middle of the month, partly because my ridiculous October meant that I didn’t have time to plan more than the first third of the book properly and partly because of Game Freak’s notorious habit of releasing new Pokemon games in the middle of November. That said, I made my way to the 50k mark fairly comfortably, which is nice since after That October I really didn’t want to burn myself out all through November.

A graph showing the date from the start of November to the end of November on the x axis, and word count on the y axis. A grey line shows the linear "on track" word count per day and a blue wiggly line shows my actual progress. The blue starts high above the grey and rising, until around mid November when it gets very close to 50k and becomes almost flat.

As for the story, I’m pretty happy with the start but as soon as I ran out of my plan it all started coming off the rails a bit. Still, I have a good thirty thousand words of it that I’m happy with and now I have the time to sit and plot out the rest. At the very least, I got some nice scenes and character development out of the latter half as well so even if I scrap a lot of it, it shouldn’t feel like time wasted.

What comes next?

Well after my last couple of years which have been rough, I’ve made some big decisions which I’ll talk about later but for now my priorities are as follows:

  • Finish getting The Halfway House beta ready. Pretty close to this one, just on the line edit stage for it.
  • Get The Fairy Godfather beta ready. Again, this one got close to done but I got disillusioned with the series a while back thanks to where my head was at. I’m in a better place now and I refuse to let this trilogy disappear into the depths of draft hell.
  • Do some Through the Black touch ups. Speaking of the Twyned Earth trilogy, there are a couple of things I want to tweak in this manuscript that I’ve noticed which I’d like to get sorted.

There’s a few things I’m working on that aren’t novel related too that I’ll be tinkering with in the background, the main one being giving my website a nice overhaul! It’s been quite stagnant around here since I set up shop in 2012 (oh my god, really?) and a lot of the pages need a refresh. This includes adding in some art galleries! I was originally planning on using InkBlot for this, which I still will, but I didn’t realise that unlike some other art hosting sites you need to have an account to view. Now that I’ve figured out how to make a gallery here without it looking terrible, I think it will be nice to be able to have everything all together.

And that’s it from me! I hope you’ve all had an excellent November. 

Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? How did you do? Remember – any words at all is more than you had, and that’s a win.

Halfway There, NaNoWriMo 2022

Wooooaaahhh, we’re half way there!

Uh, I mean, here we are at the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo 2022! How’s it going you ask? Well, on paper, very good so far. It’s exactly halfway through and I am at 38,814 words out of the end goal of 50,000. Nice. I even got around to setting up my project’s page, though it needs some love when the month is done. However, there are two major challenges up ahead.

Challenge number one: I’ve run out of plan. Yup, not a good one for me. I’m not so good without a plan but thanks to how awful my October was I never got further than section two, which means a few days ago I ran out. Now all I’ve got is three sentences describing what happens in the last three sections of the book. It’s going to be rough from here. Oh boy, it is going to be rough.

So what’s the other issue? GameFreak, my old friend, is back at its usual tricks of releasing a new Pokemon game right in the middle of November. They really do make a habit of this though. It seems almost malicious at this point.

Still, I have set myself in good stead for the rest of the month. I’m at the point where I need less than 800 words per day to finish. This is certainly doable, provided I don’t run into too many problems with the story. The problem is that if I can do, it could really stall me out. This is year ten though, I am determined to make it and this head start has just got me even more encouraged.

I hope all my fellow NaNoWriMo-ers out there are having a good month! And the regular reminder that, even though I am determined to hit this goal, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. It’s just about getting yourself kickstarted. 

Got some words done this month? That’s a success right there.

Happy writing, everyone! 

(P.S. I’m going for the fire starter…)

The Ten Year Streak

This year marks my 10th year doing NaNoWriMo and, if I do well, it will end with a 10 year win streak. While exciting, I’m coming into it with challenges. October 2022 was unbelievably difficult for a multitude of reasons. It was just one of those months where EVERYTHING went wrong and there was no rest from the disasters. I’m really, really hoping that November eases up on me. God knows I need it.

Not only that, but this will be my first ever year without Twitter. As a platform, I could leave it any moment. The issue is I’ve made some great writing friends on there from the very first year, people who I’ve met in real life now, people who I’ve stuck with for 10 years. It’s going to be strange doing NaNoWriMo without those who were there at the start, cheering on my progress and sharing theirs with me. Of course I have other ways of contact but it’s not quite the same as having a live feed of everyone sharing their highs and lows, their WIPLines and their story teases. 

Still, I’m determined that nothing will stop me. This year, I’m working on a sci-fi for the first time in a long time! I’m also off to a strong start, which will hopefully give me the momentum to keep pushing through if things do get tough. I’ll make a proper page for my story at some point but, for now, you can follow my progress and read a (very hastily written blurb) here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/celuth/projects/the-maggie-celeste

For anyone who’s on there, I’ve also joined Mastodon to try and fill the void of similarly afflicted writers shrieking about their novels! You can find me at @CMSchofield@writing.exchange

Good writing, everyone!

NaNo Update and Next Steps

I never posted an update from NaNoWriMo! For no other reason than I was distracted and forgot, so apologies! 

NaNoWriMo went well and despite having a tough time through the month, I hit my goal of 25K words. Not only that, but I’ve hit some big milestones on this manuscript which is inching it ever closer to a completed draft. Now, this raises some important questions about said manuscript. 

Throughout the time I’ve been working on this project (The Halfway House), I’ve been keeping it in my Fluff Project folder and treating it exactly like any other personal project, written purely for my eyes only without any concern over what would and would not make it commercially acceptable. This has been fantastic for stoking my adoration of writing back to a roaring fire and my productivity has shot through the roof. Not only am I doing loads of work on the manuscript but I’m also producing accompanying art and other creative ventures. It’s all very fun and exciting.

However, if I keep up the pace that I’ve been going, I’m probably going to have a beta ready manuscript before the end of the year (which was always the goal but I wasn’t particularly confident I would be achieving it with this particular brand new story). I know one person who is very keen to read, but it has made me acutely aware that this story wasn’t written for going through the whole process. It was really supposed to end once I had written it to a point that I liked it. The idea of cleaning it up properly through multiple rounds of edits has certainly been playing through my head, as well as the idea that I may not want this story to exist only on my hard drive forever.

I think for this one, I’m going to wait until I’ve heard back from this one reader (though if I have additional friends interested in reading about my disaster demons, let me know!). That way, I’ll get an idea of whether or not there might be other people out there who this story appeals to. If there is, I might consider upgrading this one from a personal project. If not, then that’s fine too. I wrote this one for me. I refuse to let that go. I think it’s important for creators to create for themselves as much as they can, and I’ll stick by that opinion for as long as I create.

NaNoWriMo 2020 Post Mortem

So, how did NaNoWriMo 2020 go? Well, I’ll have you know that I actually wrote a (very brief) post to put up midway through the month but I was so caught up in writing my novel that I completely forgot, despite the post already being written. This year I had my best NaNoWriMo ever. I wrote over seventy thousand words and, for the first time since the very first time I did NaNoWriMo eight years ago, I completely finished the rough draft of my story. This has been the fastest ever that I’ve made it to 50k (made it on the 15th!) and all it took was stubbornness, a story I’ve completely fallen in love with, and bribery by food. 

At the end of October I made the decision not to continue on with the story I was planning on and instead switch to a different project. Given the year 2020 has been, I decided to switch to a project that was going to be pure fun. Full of tropes and nonsense, just something that I was writing purely for myself with no intention of ever showing anyone. This was how I started writing and how Twyned Earth came about all those years ago. I completely let go and just wrote whatever I wanted. I created the project in my “Fluff Writing” folder, where I keep my stories which I have no intention of ever doing anything important with. It was freeing. The project is still living there and yet I already have a bunch of revision plans for it and ideas I want to squeeze in. I’ve even done art of the main character (and have plans to draw his love interest next)! 

I think that at some point, after I had the realisation that I would like to become a published writer, I became too worried about avoiding things that were too tropey or self indulgent. If we can’t be self indulgent in our writing then what is even the point? I need to re-embrace the sacred art of not giving a crap what other people think when I’m drafting again because after just 30 days I have ended up with a whole new, finished draft and let me tell you – I’m in love.

NaNoWriMo 2020

Like so many other people, my year started out on a strong note, creativity wise. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that had gone more or less out of the window by the time May rolled around and the rest of the year has been like wading through treacle. Looking back at my original goals for the year, a lot of them are going to go unmet. Given everything that’s happened, I’m trying not to let that bother me too much but it’s not always easy. It’s been A Year.

No matter how bad things get though, there always seems to be one event that kicks my brain back into overdrive. That’s right, it’s the 1st of November and NaNoWriMo is back, baby! Given the nature of the year, rather than carrying on with a project that I’d already started as I had planned, I’m instead going to be starting on something new. Why, you ask?

This year has been hard and, while Monarch Necrotic is a story very dear to my heart, writing something that has a character severely suffering from the mental illnesses I share with him might have been a bit heavy. I want to have fun this month and pour out words with gay abandon, rather than dissecting myself on a deep emotional level. I want to write something invigorating, not exhausting. So that’s what I’m going to be doing. 

Trashy? Possibly. Tropey? Definitely. Banter? 98% of my word count this November. And I can’t wait!

Be kind to yourself, even if that just means writing disaster monster friends causing chaos in some rich dude’s mansion.

A Very Brief April CampNaNo2020 Update

Trying to do NaNoWriMo in the middle of a pandemic has been an interesting experience, definitely. It wasn’t helped by my addictive personality and a wonderful gift from my partner for my birthday which devoured a lot of time. I’m not regretful of that at all, to be honest. If people ever needed a good distraction it’s now, and it is a great outlet for creative energy too – and probably one that I’ll talk about in another post. Working from home full time is difficult enough. Maintaining concentration past that to keep writing has been a huge struggle.

With five days left, I have a third of my word goal left to go. Uh oh. The actual numerical value is, on paper, something I’ve smashed out easily in normal times. These aren’t normal times though and I’m determined not to beat myself up about it if I don’t hit that goal. No matter what happens between now and the end of the month, I still have ten THOUSAND more words towards a full draft of this novel and that feels like a lot. 

I guess my point is, celebrate your successes and don’t sweat the small stuff. 

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2020

It’s quite amazing how much a person’s life can be turned upside down in the space of three weeks. It becomes an even stranger experience when you know everyone in the whole world is going through the same thing, maybe a few weeks sooner, maybe a few weeks later, but we’re all being effected by this one gargantuan event that has swept the world.

I’m a very introverted person and I’m also very happy staying at home with my various projects, hobbies and games. On that side of things, I’m pretty well set. The issue for me comes from my anxiety disorder(s, as I recently found out) and I’ve been struggling on and off. Mostly I’m fine, but I have off days every so often. I haven’t been doing much of my creative ventures which normally help keep me sane, but I’ve been lucky with the release of a couple of very mental health friendly games (Nintendo always has my back, I swear).

It has made me call into question whether I want to attempt Camp NaNoWriMo next month. Do I want to put that pressure on myself? This is a question I’ve had to ask myself many times over the last few years and the answer has always been the same. I don’t like things beating me and stopping me from doing the things I love is beating me.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a good event to remind myself that I can always work on my projects because it lets you set your own goal. Even doing a tiny goal feels like participating and gives progress to one of my many beloved writing projects. A goal of 15,000 words will let me write the small number of 500 words per day which, on a good day, I can knock out in about 20 minutes. It also gives a sizeable chunk of a novel at the end of the month.

Due to the circumstances surrounding us, I’ll be continuing work on my very unmarketable passion project Monarch Necrotic, which still doesn’t have its own page on here yet. I’ll fix that, I promise. If there was ever a time to work on something just because you love it, now is certainly the time.

As I said at the beginning of the post, I’ve got my struggles like everyone but I am and will be okay. I cope with things by forcing myself to work on my creative projects, because that’s what I love and what I refuse to give up. If that isn’t your process, that’s okay. If you can’t create right now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Find your own way to survive and don’t let other peoples’ methods bring you down.

I hope the rest of you out there are hanging in there and if you’re not, reach out to people. We’re all in this together, and we won’t let it beat us.

A NaNoWriMo Confidence Boost

It’s over! November 2017 is done and dusted. THANK GOODNESS. With the 30th came my sixth consecutive win of the official NaNoWriMo. It was, by a long shot, the hardest year yet and I’m going to need a few days to recover. I never got that safety buffer and every day felt like a real struggle.

NaNo2017

Between my current situation and the addition of family visits, plumbing problems and a whole dental saga (really, wow) it has been an uphill battle from day one. But I have succeeded. It’s one of the few things I can cling to right now as an achievement. NaNoWriMo certainly isn’t for everyone, and even if it is something you try, if you write any words at all you’re still a winner really. The whole point is to get words on a page and not to discourage people for being unable to hit some arbitrary number within a month.

That said, after everything this year and everything else that’s happened this month, getting that 50k was a big boost for me. One thing after another has just been a defeat after defeat after defeat. I really needed a win on something. Anything. And I’ve got it. So now I’m going to cool it on the writing for the weekend and then, on Monday, Through the Black revisions begin.

It’s on. March 31st, here I come. I’m gonna be ready for you.

NaNo Reflections

winner

Another NaNo down! And I won (just) for my fifth consecutive year. This was the closest I’ve cut it that I recall but I made it in the end. And, as I was doing a rewrite of the very project that got me into writing again after my long, university induced hiatus, there was a lot of cringing along the way. Really.

On the positive side, it let me see that I’ve improved a huge amount at writing over the past five years. I already mentioned just how many words I was cutting in my progress post and that trend continued. At least six full scenes got completely binned, as well as others getting merged and whole paragraphs of absolutely nothing being skipped as well. There was so much superfluous, unnecessary and boring guff in there. There’s also the prose itself which is, in my opinion, miles better than the original even in its NaNo-form. If I ever get to the stage where I can edit this it might even become readable!

Practice really is the key to anything. I’m so much happier with my writing now than I ever have been – and I know there’s still massive space for improvement. I still don’t consider myself “good” (but will I ever?) but I’ve come leaps and bounds. It makes me so glad that I’ve stuck with it, even through the low moments. It’s like with art – I would love to improve at it but I always get disheartened when I try. Things never work out the way I’d like. I stumble and struggle and eventually end up taking long, substantial breaks from it and every time I do I end up back at square one. It needs a lot of time and a lot of practice. Unfortunately time isn’t something I have in abundance.

The only difference with writing is that I’ve stuck with it even through the hard times. From scenes I just couldn’t write, things that sounded awful, bad plots all the way to crushing beta feedback and rejections. Time and practice has brought me to where I am today. And I’m happy with where that is, even though I hope to keep improving as I go. If you love something and want to get good at it, stick with it. No matter the setbacks. Keep at it. Some people say you need to write every day but I don’t think that’s true. Just keep it regular and don’t let your skills slide.

Now if only I had more time for art too!