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Week Three Pep Talk

Today’s guest is a long time Nanoer and a dear friend, known lovingly by the ToNano community as Tabs. Though she hasn’t actually lived in Toronto for the last many years, she is just as much a part of my Nano family as all the people who do. Please give her a warm welcome.

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It’s ironic that this year has been the hardest year for me with NaNoWriMo and yet here I am, writing a pep talk. But the thing with NaNo is that not every year is going to be your golden year. We’re rounding into the last week, which I always find is my toughest. I get frantic, I get upset, and as I look at my word count goal, I find myself feeling like I’m just not going to make it.

The last week is always tough. That’s why there are two things that you should focus on to get you through.

1) No matter what you finish at, even if it’s not the goal you set, you’ve likely been more productive on one novel in a single month than 90% of writers will be in a full year. That’s a lot to be proud of.

2) If you fall short of your NaNo word count goal, it’s not over. Sure, you’re not going to be pounding out 1667 words a day for the rest of the year, but the project doesn’t have to end on Nov. 30.

This is the point in the month where you need to look back at what you have accomplished and remind yourself of the great work you’ve done. To look at it and realize that you have done fantastic this far, and that, as much as reaching that 50k, 100k or whatever your goal is would be awesome, you’ve already done awesome. The last week isn’t the time to panic. It’s the time to focus your energy on finishing up the story as much as you can. It’s the time to breathe and cheer yourself on, because you have done something awesome. This is the week to make sure that, if you haven’t done so already, you have fun with it. Because really, when it comes down to it, that’s a major part of what NaNoWriMo is about — having fun.

So don’t give up, and certainly don’t give in. Keep on going, and focus on doing what you want to do with that story this week. It might just surprise you how much more you end up writing.

What Makes You Ecstatic About Nanowrimo?

Today’s guest is also the main admin of the Toronto Nanowrimo website, Errol–who is also already a winner with over 50, 000 words!

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Back in the day, I learned about NaNoWriMo from a Fan Fiction site. It was the most awesome challenge ever and even though I was horribly late, I signed up immediately.

It changed how I did things. It changed how I approached creative projects.

However I am not here to talk about that. I am here to tell you to grasp joy.

Do you remember when you first heard about NaNoWriMo? Do you remember the trepidation, the elation, the first time experiences that brought about the determination to continue doing NaNoWriMo?

Or are you going through it now?

I utterly love NaNoWriMo. I do it every year, and there are so many aspects that I enjoy that I am willing to write songs, craft pep talks, socialize in chats, draw cartoons, anything because it’s a crazy time that I want to celebrate!

And I hope there is some aspect of Nano that gives you that same joy. Or at least did. And if you have ever experienced that elation, grab hold! Remember it! Don’t take it for granted!

If you are having problems, if you are losing motivation, if you’ve lost your drive, remember the encouragement. Remember why you are doing this. Remember the joy you have when writing.

Not that this means it can’t be frustrating. Not that this means it’s not hard work.

But there is something that keeps us doing this. Hold on to that. Never take the good things you enjoy for granted. Celebrate it! Rejoice in it!

Remember that quote from Simon Pegg about geeks?

“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. … It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”

I am a geek about NaNoWriMo. I will talk to my friends about how awesome it is and not be ashamed of my excitement.

Find those things that make you ecstatic about NaNoWriMo.

And then go finish that novel. 🙂

Bio: Errol Elumir has done NaNoWriMo for 7 years. He is the co-creator of
Nanotoons, he is the co-writer of the
NaNoMusical and he has written 50 thousand
words in 24 hours.

When not fanboying about NaNoWrimo he writes geeky songs
and eats rice.

Welcome to Week Three!

Week one is–usually–the easiest part of the quest to write a novel in a month. It’s when your idea is fresh and new and exciting, it’s when you’re pumped up and ready to go. Week two is often the hardest part of this noble quest, the week when you look at your novel every day and go ‘wow, this is crap’, the week where you feel uninspired and slow.

Week three is when things get a bit smoother. The finish line, really, is just around a bend and down a hill, relatively easy to get to except they forgot to pave the road so you’ll have to worry about plot holes tripping you up. Some of us have gotten ahead of the race and are walking to the finish line. Some of us are jogging towards the finish line, trying desperately to keep up and somehow barely managing. And some of us are way behind and running at top speed to catch up and make the finish line.

It doesn’t matter what group you are in right now. We’re just about halfway through the month, but there are still 16 days. You can do almost anything (except get a university degree) in sixteen days. All of us are capable of rising to the challenge of writing a 50, 000 word novel in a month. Chris Baty has always believed in the untapped novelling power of all human beings, and I personally think he’s right: we can all write a novel, if we really put our minds to it.

If you are ahead, well done. Don’t forget to cheer on your fellow writers. You have room to relax, but be careful, you don’t want to relax too much or you’ll never make it to the finish line. If you’re a superstar and you’ve already finished your 50, 000 words–which, by the way, I did last night–then dance around your room a few times, relax for a couple days, and if you still have any story left, keep writing.

For those of you who are right on track, congratulations. Slow and steady does win the race, but really, there’s nothing slow about writing 1, 667 words a day. You are a superstar too, and I have full faith that you can reach the finish line. Just keep up the good work. Remember that you’re awesome and that you deserve chocolate for meeting all of your word goals.

And for those of you that are behind, never fear. You can still catch up. Remember that anyone can do anything for fifteen minutes, and that if you can manage to squeeze in an extra fifteen minutes of writing time, that’s an extra few hundred words you’re adding daily, a few hundred extra words which will carry you over the finish line. And remember that there are two weekends left in the month, weekends which can be spent ignoring boyfriends, friends and family members and writing until your fingers hurt.

For all of you, keep writing. Congratulations on making it this far; you really are awesome. And this novel inside of you that you are working so hard to get down on the page? I can’t promise that it will be the next bestseller, or even that it will get published, but I can promise that you will be proud that you finished it and that Createspace will send you a free copy of your novel.

Come on, Wrimos. Show the world what you’ve got by writing a novel in a month. You can do it.

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Week Two

Today is the beginning of the second week of National Novel Writing Month. This is usually the part of the month when you start to question your sanity and hate your novel. For many people the second week of Nanowrimo is when they begin to question the quality of their writing and the point of their book. Some years I myself run into this brick wall of self-doubt. Other years, I don’t.

There are a few ways you can handle these feelings of being stuck. If you’ve got a lead already, you can stop for a day and think about what you’re going to do next more carefully. You can try doing something completely different to get you inspired. There is a story in you that needs to come out, and that story deserves to come out. Like any creation process it isn’t easy and it isn’t clean. It is, however, entirely worth it, if only for the sheer enjoyment of holding the final product in your hand.

When you hit that brick wall, stop and ask yourself why. Ask yourself how you can make writing this novel again, or how you can make it make sense again. Ask yourself what you can do to mix up your routine and get inspired. Remind yourself that you have a story worth telling, if only to your computer. That story needs to get out of you. It needs to exist, somewhere. In order for that to happen, you need to write your novel.

Remember that you can write a book in a month, or at least most of a book, and that something is better than nothing. Don’t give up your race to 50, 000. Even if you can only write a couple of paragraphs today, don’t stop working on your novel. Keep trying to write in the small spaces in your day, keep trekking towards the 50, 000 word finish line. It’s not impossible. We all underestimate ourselves sometimes. And it’s not unrealistic to think that the words you are writing aren’t that great. But the essence of the thing, the act of creating a novel, is a beautiful thing. It’s hard and tiring and sometimes bloody, but every novel is a work of art.

And you know what the great thing about a messy first draft is? You have all the time in the world to turn it into a beautiful masterpiece.

So this week, try to dodge the brick wall by reminding yourself that you are awesome. And if you hit the brick wall, remind yourself that you’re awesome again and that nobody said writing a novel wouldn’t hurt, pick yourself back up off the ground, walk around the brick wall, and keep moving towards the finish line. We’re all cheering for you, especially those of us huffing along the path with you.

Now get writing!

The First Day

Hello everyone and welcome to November first! Today marks the beginning of Nanowrimo, the epic novel writing challenge that goes on all over the world, thanks in large part to a wonderful thing called the internet. Many of you readers, much like me, will be going on a crazy novel writing adventure this month. Some of you are aiming for 50, 000. Some of you (and me) are aiming for 100, 000. One or two of you might be aiming for 200, 000 or more. A lot of you are probably aiming for somewhere in between those numbers.

Whatever your goal for this month is, today is a good chance to get a head start. With all the novel-writing momentum of thousands of writers all over the world, you’re sure to be inspired. Go into the forums or into a chat room and find yourself some word wars. Try to write a few hundred words more than you have to today–you’ll be thankful for it later when you get stuck.

If you haven’t already, today is a good day to stock up on chocolate and coffee or tea or whatever your preferred noveling beverage is. Do it on your way home from work or school so that you’re ready to start writing almost the moment you get in the door. Believe in quick meals and quick kisses for the loved ones. Read your outline one last time, flip through your notes–pages and pages of world-building notes if you’re me–to make sure you’re familiar with it, and then get on your computer and write like the wind.

You can hit your word goal, no matter what that word goal is. You will have to make some sacrifices, especially if you’re aiming for more than 50, 000 words. But you can accomplish it–and even if you don’t, you’ll accomplish more than you would if you weren’t attempting this crazy adventure with me and thousands of other writers. No matter how many words you write this month, you will walk away from Nanowrimo with something valuable, whether it be a finished first draft, the first half of a first draft, or just a few good friends.

There is a novel inside you just waiting to get out, so put your butt in a chair and write. We’re all cheering for you.

Happy Nanowrimo everyone!

What is your official word goal for the month?

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Pep Talk: RedParrot

RedParrot is one of the most loyal readers of Fictional Worlds and is also a good friend of mine from the ToNano group. I’m thrilled to be hosting her pep talk here today.

This is the end of week 3 and time to take the Epic Nano Superhero Quiz.

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More than 35, 000 words

Keep up the great work! You are made of win and well on your way. You can
take a week off and still finish in good form. But if you have 20,000 already, why
not try to break 100,000? Plan to take one of Sat or Sun every week and get two
or three big writing sessions in.

If you want to get even more out of the Nano experience, find one or two people who are at about your
pace. Make friends and keep each other motivated. Or help someone you know who is struggling a bit.
Either way, sharing the journey with others makes everything multiplies the fun.

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You are completely on track for 50,000 by the 30th. You are the Tortoise
personified. Slow and steady wins your race.

If you want to stay on track, use Dr Wicked (also known as Write or Die)-
– to give you a boost in word count.

One of the best interval trainings you can do is 10 or 15 minutes of focused writing with only 3 minute breaks in between. Because you do them back to back to back, something happens in your head and you just get “used” to the drill and forget about all the distractions that are so often blocks to writing. You will be amazed at how prolific you can become.

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You are making a superb effort and things are still well within range. All you
need to do is stay focused. Try to steal an extra 15 minutes instead of a TV show. Or clear a weekend afternoon for some focused keyboarding. You can TOTALLY do this.

No Plot? Friction makes fiction. The plot only thickens when things happen. So start a fire. Shoot someone. Stall a car. Miss a plane. Have a fight. That should get the party started.

Hate the characters? You could kill them all off and bring in some new ones. If you know what you hate
about them, give yourself a Mulligan and write “from here on, Bob no longer is/does , then carry on.

Just keep writing. Something great is going to happen to you and the characters.

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The good news is you have made a start. Every word counts and remember that editing is for December. Don’t worry too much about continuity or writing about characters you no longer like. Start a house fire, burn the place down and then write about the carpenter who builds a house and falls in love with the pastry chef.

Remember, this is Nano. It’s 50,000 words in 30 days, not a Pulitzer novel. Nano is about training your writing muscles to write. Cut yourself some slack. Relax. Write for fun. Consider this an experiment. No
matter how bad it is, if you do it, you TOTALLY get to brag about it. Trust me, winning is a conversation stopper and something you keep forever.

Participate in the Nano Forums. Sign up for a region. Go to a meet-up and chat on-line. First time or veteran, high word count or just getting started – you will be welcomed and showered with the love of comrades in arms.

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0-10, 000

You, my friend, have a date with destiny. In less than a month, you can become a SuperHero of epic proportions.

If you do this thing, you will give yourself the ability to write under pressure
when there’s “nothing to write about” – when the characters are dull and the plot incomprehensible. By Dec 1, you will have a new super power: the ability to just to write – freely with abandon.

So seize the moment. Show up. Sit down. Start writing. It’s about focus, habit and honouring the page. You have 50,000 words and they don’t write themselves.

Take a few deep breaths. Maybe make yourself a hot cocoa and sit. Block out some 15 minute intervals. If you can write at about 22 words per minute, you need about 5 15-minute sessions to get the daily quota of 1,677 words.

I know you can do it.

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Pep Talk: Sunstreak

Sunstreak is a Toronto Nanoer who has already hit 50, 000 words in this, her second Nanowrimo. What makes Sunny special enough to do a pep talk here at Fictional Worlds? Well, first off, she’s an awesome person. Second off, she’s thirteen years old, and wrote her first successful Nanowrimo last year at the age of twelve. You may or may not be aware that I personally wrote my first successful Nanowrimo at eleven. Perhaps it’s not quite the same age, but something about a young wrimo like Sunny reminds me of myself, and it puts a smile on my face.

Without further ado, here is Sunny’s pep talk for you guys:

Dear fellow authors,

I am sure that by this point, you may be thinking something along the lines of, “Now, why in the name of the rubber duck king did I sign up for this?” Or perhaps, more accurately: “Why the flaming toads didn’t I sign up for this sooner? This is easy!” Both of those are perfectly okay.

However, if you are finding yourself relating more to Thought Numero Un (that would be “number one” for anyone who didn’t get that, or “број еден” if you speak Macedonian), then you may be in need of some reasons why you should reach 50,000 words.

– The rubber duck king will be proud of you
– You can brag to all the other platypuses and/or Earthlings that just aren’t as special as you are. You’ll have written more fiction in a month than most people will write in their lives!
– You will have written a novel! Let me just say that again. You will have written a novel! Polish it up and send it in to a publisher! (Of course, that’s not quite as easy as it sounds, but this is supposed to be motivational.)

Now, regardless of whether you plan on writing 25,000 words or 250,000, here’s one site that I use to help me focus on my writing instead of spending time doing other, less important stuff. It’s a wonderful thing called Write or Die. You put in the number of words you want to write in an amount of time of your choosing, and then you write. Depending on which mode you selected, your computer will either make a loud and annoying sound, a pop-up window will appear, or your words you’ve spent time writing will disappear. Hence the name, Write or Die.

Speaking of writing, how much possible writing time have you spent reading this? I can’t possibly be that interesting. And I know you would never, ever even dream of procrastinating. So, what are you waiting for? Go and write!

Best of luck,