I wrote a novel.

I did it. I wrote a novel.

It’s a sloppy first draft that needs a lot of revision. There are sections that need to be totally rewritten. It’s not ready to submit for publication yet. It needs a lot of love. But… I wrote it.

Right now, it’s just shy of 54,000 words.

23 chapters.

100 single spaced typed pages.

There are developed characters. There is a consistent storyline. It feels amazing, honestly. I’m quite proud of myself today. Continue reading

Another NanoWrimo Update

Back in November, I started writing a brand new novel from scratch. At the time, I had a few different writing on-going projects that I was working on, but I decided to follow the NanoWrimo Rules (National Novel Writing Month) and I just started writing. I aimed for 1,500 words a day and usually came up short. By the end of the month instead of being at 50,000 words, I lingered just above 25,000. So, I made it halfway. Even though I didn’t hit the 50,000 word mark, I didn’t write this off as a failure. I was proud of myself for composing 50 single spaced pages of original fiction.

After November was over, I kept working on the same story that I’d started. I hoped to maintain a 1,000 words a day goal, but, as expected, fell short. It’s not that I wasn’t able to write 1,000 words a day, it’s just that I’d either write 1,000 words or 0 words a day. I was only actually writing for 1-2 days a week, not 5-7 as I’d hoped. And so, come December, I checked in and set a new ambitious timeline:

  • 50,000 words by the end of January,
  • First round of edits by the end of March,
  • Second round of edits by the end of June (we’re moving in there so I’m giving myself some extra time)
  • Query letter written by July 31
  • All materials/agent contacts formulated in excel sheet by August 31
  • Submit my manuscript by September 30

I was convinced that I would have a complete draft by the end of January, a complete edited draft by now, and that I’d be ready to write my query letter by the end of this month. Well, I’m not there. In fact, I’m still under the 50,000 word mark, but I’m close!

As of today, July 17, I’m at 47,240 words or 88 single spaced typed pages. I’m not where I wanted to be, and I’m beginning to think it’s going to take more than 50,000 words to wrap up the plot, but I’m SO CLOSE to a complete draft. I have a rough outline to carry me through, and now I’m just filling in. It’s no where near perfect, but it’s something. I’m writing. And I want to keep writing.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all of this is something Bret told me from the very beginning. Don’t aim to write 1,000 words a day, aim to write something. If I just say, okay, I’m going to open up my laptop and write a paragraph, that usually ends up being a page or two, or more. And one paragraph a day would really add up if I would just do it consistently.It’s so true. For the past week or so I’ve been back on track: waking up early, working on my novel for about an hour, and then I’ve even come over here and written a blog post. It’s such a good routine!

I took a peak at the timeline I built in January this morning, knowing that I’d need to revise my goals. I still want to get my manuscript in before this next round of NanoWrimo starts, so I’m revising my goals a bit:

  • 50,000 words by July 31,
  • First round of edits by August 30,
  • Second round of edits by September 30,
  • Query letter written by October 1,
  • All materials/agent contacts formulated in excel sheet by October 15, and
  • Submit my manuscript by October 30.

It’s ambitious. But I still think it’s do-able. I may fall short, but I still want to try.

In addition to making a point to write even the smallest bit every day, the other take-away I’ve learned during this process is how important it is to be proud of what I’ve accomplished instead of focusing on how I fell short. No, I didn’t write 50,000 words in a month. I’m still proud of myself. I was proud of myself for writing 3,709 words in two days, and I’m proud of myself for writing 47,240 words in 8 months. It’s a slower pace than I’d hoped for, but it’s progress, and quite frankly, I’ve wanted to write a novel since I was 8, and I’ve made more progress in the past 8 months than I made in 20 years.

Here’s hoping I can finish this draft by the end of the month!


NanoWrimo Update

At the beginning of November, I wrote about my NanoWrimo project where I planned to write an entire novel (50,000 words) in one month. I knew it was ambitious, but I knew I wanted to try. I started from scratch and aimed to write 2,000 words a day.

After a whole month, I made it halfway there:


You can see that I was right on par for the first few days, my work trip to Chicago threw off my progress, but I picked it up again for a week or two, and then gave up and flat-lined for a week before giving it a decent (pretty pathetic, actually) effort at the end of my Thanksgiving holiday.

What I’m saying is I really didn’t try THAT hard, and, still, I wrote half a novel!

Part of me wishes that I had pushed through, write 5,000 words/day on weekends, gone to write in coffee shop “write-ins” with other NanoWrimo-ers in Tallahassee, and made it to 50,000 words. That certainly would have felt victorious, but I am proud of the progress I made.

In one month, I composed nearly 50 single spaced typed pages – that’s huge! I’m really impressed with what I was able to accomplish and I haven’t stopped writing just because November is over. The biggest takeaway from this project is that little changes over time can make a BIG difference. I didn’t write for the first 8 days of December because I was feeling like the “big push” was over, but if I had written only 1,000 words a day, I would be up to 35,000 by now. I’ve made myself get up at 5:30 to squeeze in some writing time the past two mornings, and now I’m already up to 27,717 words.

I could easily hit 50,000 by the end of December if I average just over 1,000 words/day. I probably will not do this because I’ll be spending some holiday time with family, but I’ve set a personal goal to hit 50,000 by the end of January. This feels like an awesome way to kick off a new year! I really like the storyline that I’m working on, and if I have a complete draft by the beginning of January, I should absolutely have time to edit extensively and finally submit my first manuscript for publication in 2015.

I’ve learned that putting goals in writing is really helpful (and, in fact, the only way that works for me) so I’m writing it down:

  • 50,000 words by the end of January,
  • First round of edits by the end of March,
  • Second round of edits by the end of June (we’re moving in there so I’m giving myself some extra time)
  • Query letter written by July 31
  • All materials/agent contacts formulated in excel sheet by August 31
  • Submit my manuscript by September 30

And that gives me a whole month of wiggle room until I start my next novel. I know it’s ambitious, but I also think it’s very doable. I’m pretty excited about it.

Here’s to making 2015 the year of the novel.

NaNo WriMo

Inspired my one of my best friends, Tiffany, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. …See?

  • National
  • Novel
  • Writing
  • Month

Here’s how it works: You start a novel from scratch. You write. A lot. Every day for the month of November. It’s intense, but at the end of the month, you have a solid complete draft of an entire novel.

It’s probably not going to be a very good novel because, well, it’s a first draft written in 30 days. But it’s going to be a whole complete novel.

This will be a first for me. I try to write for an hour a day, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t happen every day. I’ve been working on the same novel and the same story line for well over five years now. And while this is not uncommon, and this piece may very well become a real masterpiece in time, (let’s hope…), it’s not there yet. Without a solid plan with goals and deadlines, this is how writing tends to go.

I was tempted to “cheat” and use this month to work on the same piece I’ve been working on forever… but I decided to follow the rules and start flat from scratch. I think that’s better.

So far it’s going pretty well.

I just started writing yesterday. I made up the name for three characters. Underneath each name, I wrote a list of 2-3 people I know who have basically nothing in common, and then I pulled personality traits and experiences out of each of them to build the skeleton for each of my three characters. Then I fluffed them out by adding a few key details that connect them to the same storyline.

And then I just started writing.

I slapped a title on because I had to – Surpassing Clevenger. For now, I’m calling this an “Adventure” genre, but it’s really a Young Adult Adventure. I’m writing on my own computer and not sharing my work with anyone (right now), but I love the community pages because if I want to go meet up at Panera and write with other Tallahassee writers, I can.

I enter my updated word count every day so I can see how close I am to reaching my goal of completing a novel by November 30th. You can keep track of my progress here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/nicolejmu09/novels/surpassing-clevenger/stats

Today it says:

  • Your Average Per Day: 1,854
  • Words Written Today: 2,594
  • Target Word Count: 50,000
  • Target Average Words Per Day: 1,667
  • Total Words Written: 3,709
  • Words Remaining: 46,291
  • Current Day: 2
  • Days Remaining: 29
  • At This Rate You Will Finish On: November 27, 2014
  • Words Per Day To Finish On Time: 1,597

As you can see, I’ve written 3,709 words so far. It’s 10:30AM on the second day. I’m aiming for 2,000 words/day because I know there are going to be days when I can’t do that (like when I’m in Chicago for work for four days…) but I’m going to try my best to squeeze out a paragraph or two even on the busiest most inconvenient days. If I miss a day, so what, you just keep going.

I just love the concept of ticking away a little bit at a time and making small steps toward a large goal. Bret is doing it with his dissertation. Since there’s a lot of writing going on in this household already, I’m happy to jump on board with a project of my own.

I’m excited to see how it goes. Wish me luck!