Why I’m Not Participating in NaNo 2016

A long time ago, I felt that I had to participate in every writing marathon that existed to prove I “really was a writer.” I suppose I’m not really any closer to answering that question than I was in 2005 but I started toying with the idea of sitting this one out when I opened my word pricessor app and saw the long, overwhelming pile of unfinished manuscripts alongside finished manuscripts in dire need of editing before I could ever dream of doing anything productive or public with any of them. I asked a writer friend if it would be too weird for me to skip this year, even perhaps extending the no marathon time until JuNoWriMo 2017 if I haven’t cleaned up my mess by then. (Even if my mess is still looming by JuNo, I’ll do June anyway because thus particular marathon has my heart and I’ll always do it, just because it’s that special…) Because she’s sensible and efficient, the kind of person who wisely manages her time and uses common sense where many of us (and by us, I’m referring to myself) do not. After our conversation, I felt a lot clearer and determined regarding my decision. I will dedicate the time that I would normally use to create just one more unfinished project that will languish in my word processor to finishing and editing the pieces I have already started. I’m definitely cheering for everyone who does undertake the challenge, though. It is a beautiful, frustrating and transformative month. Once you start, you will amaze yourself and never be the same kind of writer. Best wishes to all!


Happy 2016! 

Okay, so it’s a couple of days since New Year’s, but since I’ve not blogged since 2015, I still want to wish you all a very happy 2016! I hope this is the year you find all the happiness and joy in the world! 

I’ve started editing my November 2015 NaNoWriMo novella, still undecided if I should keep its original title of Freedom. That, as some of you may know, is the title of the flash fiction series I wrote here on my blog in August that became the inspiration from the novella. Maybe one of my resolutions should be to learn how to title novels better. It’s never come naturally to me to find a title very early in the process. Only after spending some time with the characters and plot does something evolve in my imagination. My favorite part of the novella is the couple at the center of the action, once married spies Aidan and Tasha. I love to write about them, so I wouldn’t rule out any additional projects involving them. 

I like to let my goals develop as the year progresses, so I don’t have a list of ten resolutions, but one thing I do plan to do in 2016 is finish the mystery novel I started last June at JuNoWriMo. I had to put it aside, unfinished for other things, and I miss it. Once again, the characters are calling!

Today is a special day here in the U.S. because it’s the Masterpiece Theatre premiere of Downton Abbey! My favorite show is in its last season, but I’ll just say I know things about the finale that make parting much easier. Thanks to overseas friends, I know what an international feed is, but I won’t give any spoilers all season long! The best part about the domestic airing is my season pass to iTunes, which will allow me to download each weekly episode the following day and enjoy on my iPad. It makes me very grateful to the person who gave me an iTunes card for Christmas! 

I wish everyone a great day!

NaNo Tips For Week 4 (Or Anytime)

Hello, all, from the other side of my NaNoWriMo 2015 win! With much discipline and more planning than to which I’m accustomed, I have written the 50,000 words and finished my story! 

Over the month, I put together some writing tips that I hope will help those who are still heading to the finish line as well as those who plan another wrimo excursion in 2016 with April camp, June’s fabulous JuNoWriMo or camp in July. 

1. Know your golden hour and use it. 

For me, this means waking up early, pouring a cup of coffee and packing away the excuses that keep me from writing. Just jump in! Perhaps this hour strikes as midnight arrives for some of you. Whatever time your inspiration is running high, use it as often and well as you can. There’s nothing like being in the zone and seeing your results from acclimating to your personal golden hour. 

2. But First Get Centered

This tip may seem counterintuitive considering my first one, but they work together nicely. As you transition into your golden hour, make it easy to get in the frame of mind to write. I like to get up early, but it really centers me to have my prayer and reading time first. This habit is familiar, routine and it centers me before I take on my day. If your golden hour falls later in the day, this might be even more necessary to do something grounding to help you transition from a busy day to that quiet place where your muse thrives. 

3. Reward Yourself!

Never underestimate th  power of incentive. Look for things you really want to do when you’re done with your writing for that day and allow yourself to indulge as a reward. It might be a television show you’ve DVRed or taking a walk, calling a friend, anything that gives you the sense of satisfaction of a job well done. 

4. No Perfectionism!

NaNo is creates for us to write a first draft, not a bookstore ready finished product. If you’re not always pleased with everything you write, keep writing. If you know you’ll have to do a lot editing later, keep writing. If you don’t feel that your work is up to par, keep writing. The point of this NaNo is to continue writing through adversity and a lack of perfection. 

5. Write A Little If You Can’t Write A Lot…

One of the most powerful lessons I learned this November was from a friend and fellow writer who told me that when I don’t have the time for my usual quota of words, write whatever I can. She suggested 1,000 words because it’s something and wouldn’t put my schedule that far behind. It’s much better than seeing a busy day on the calendar and throwing in the towel for the entire day! I wrote my thousand words, got through my busy day and was back at my three thousand word goal the next day. This really eased my perfectionism and kept my momentum going to stay strong on my journey. 

6. But Write A Lot When You Can

Every now and then, the opposite of the busy day wanders into your life and you have the opportunity to go further than your daily goal. I used these times to the max in order to get ahead, as one never knows when another busy day might show up. Carpe idem. 
7. The Power Of Spare Time

Got ten minutes? How many words can you generate in that time? I’m all for word sprints on Twitter but you can also do your own if you find yourself with dead time between other things. Part of breaking away from the perfectionism is deciding that even if you don’t have the amount of time to which you’re accustomed for a typical writing session, your spare minutes can also produce some pretty good material. In fact, making writing time between other things may open you up to other forms of inspiration. You might be waiting on a meeting or appointment and be in a completely different place than your usual writing spot, and the change of scenery and variety of people around you might give you ideas you’d never have found if not for harnessing the power of those spare minutes. If you don’t like to write in such short times, keep paper and pen with you at all times and use the moment to jot down ideas for your next writing session. 

8. Alternative Activities, Because You’re Not Locked In!

Even though the month of November is set aside for writing, no one can dedicate every minute to the project. You’ll obviously have obligatory commitments, but you’ll have other nonwriting times in addition. Use these times to give your brain a break from constantly feeling pressured to write. It’s good to give yourself a rest from typing away and refresh yourself with something else. Just because you signed up for NaNo, it really is okay to get away from it from time to time. I always feel recharged after an alternative activity such as knitting, walking around, doing laundry or other chores when I feel overwhelmed with writing. I call my favorite activities during this time “nonverbal thinking.” Each of the activities I listed above are great examples of a task that doesn’t require the constant stream of words we have racing through our minds that occurs during a writing session. Once I return to my writing session, I’m ready to write more with energy generated from the necessary time away. Use November to serve yourself and your creative needs, don’t let it run you ragged!

I wish all of you wrimos the very best of the rest of the session! Always be aware of tips that gave helped you this time that can make your next session even stronger! Every time you climb the mountain, it gets a little easier and mire manageable. Just tell yourself that you’ve got this because you do! I have faith in you all. 

NaNoWriMos Celebrate One Third Victory!

I can’t believe that over a third of the month has passed. I’m very sorry for not blogging more often, as had been my intention at the beginning of the month. This year has been a little different for me because of various things coming up that have prevented me from attacking my word count with quite as voracious an appetite as usual. 

But the most important lesson I’ve learned is this: don’t freak out and simply write on. 

It’s hard to believe that the perfectionist in me accepts this lesson, but it’s been the most liberating thing that’s happened to me in nine wrimos. Two days ago, I knew I simply would not have the time for my 3000 daily words, and a friend suggested that I write 1000 words. It would create some progress and not put me too far behind, making it fairly easy to catch up. The next day, I logged an embarrassing 300 words. However, today I wrote with purpose, calm and confidence and added nearly 3000 words to my novel! I didn’t chastise myself for the past two days. I merely picked up where I had left off and moved boldly into a new day. I’m probably the most pleased with my progress than I have been in many sessions. 

How do you conquer your time crunches? Just stay confident and don’t stop writing!  

Everything In Moderation

Hey, everyone! It’s day two of NaNoWriMo and I’m up to 4500 words. My original goal for today was 6000 words, three a day, but I’ve learned how to be more flexible about the goals. I simply did not have as much time today and only got 1500 words in since yesterday, but I’m all right with that. I have faith that it will all balance out in the end and I find that it’s a more enjoyable experience when I’m easy on myself. No one has a perfect schedule, so we need to anticipate varied results per day. I hope all of your projects, writing and otherwise, are going well this month! 


This is my big coffee cup. 

I’m definitely going to need it, because…

NaNoWriMo is in roughly twenty five and a half hours! It’s so unbelievable! Where did the time go? Where did the urge to plan go? Thankfully I’m using a flash fiction series as a basis for the novel, so I don’t need as detailed of plans as I would if it were a regular project, but still…. Thinking about its imminence is a little freaky. 

Be Kind To Yourself

This November I’m embarking on the 50,000 word quest again. It will be my eleventh time of participating in either a form of NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo. That means that upon completing the marathon in November and next April’s Camp NaNo, I’ll have spent a whole year of my life participating in writing marathons. While I’m very excited for this accomplishment, I realize that I need to jerk my perfectionism in check. 

The inner editor is what many writers call that nagging feeling of perfectionism as one is writing. It’s especially counterproductive in a marathon because the goal is to get a high word count in a short amount of time. Editing can wait, there will be many idle months of the year even when one writes ever April, June, July and November. Two thirds of the year is open for editing.

This month I encourage everyone, writers and non writers alike, to be kind to yourselves and celebrate those small victories. We don’t write 50,000 words in a day; at least I don’t. One doesn’t conquer a whole semester of college or learn a new language, musical instrument or whatever creative pursuit is in your lifestyle in one day. Be as patient with yourself as you would be to your best friend. Encourage yourself as you would encourage them. We are all works in progress and will be for the rest of our lives. So celebrate and enjoy the process. 

April, Wattpad and The End Of Downton Abbey

I’m very excited for the next NaNoWriMo session that starts this coming Wednesday! I’ll write further on a story I actually began two years ago, in another NaNoWriMo session, which I’ve been outlining this week. My word count goal is a reasonable 25,000 words, not nearly enough to finish the storyline but certainly more than adequate to give me a good push in the right direction. 

Another project I have begun, thanks to my writer friend Guy Sigley, is the publication of a very early WIP on Wattpad. Reading Guy’s hilarious satire, The Chronicles of Barnia, centered around a socially awkward man and his adventures in daily life, has opened my eyes to the possibilities of gaining exposure on Wattpad. Please check out Guy’s story at http://www.wattpad.com/user/GuySigley and mine at http://www.wattpad.com/user/ElizabethConrad810. My story is called The Lonesome Road, centered around three jazz musicians in the 1940s onward. 

In other news, I read this morning that Downton Abbey will indeed end after series six. This saddens me as much as any other Downton fan. I will miss it tremendously, but am thankful that I own all of the DVDs and iTunes downloads. In my house, Downton will be alive forever! I do appreciate that the writers have promised to wrap up storylines and show us where the characters are past the end of the series. If given a choice between seeing the show struggle along for ten more years with beloved cast members and characters leaving one by one and a complete, satisfying ending, I’d rather see it end with closure. I hope the rumors of a post series movie becomes reality!


Short Update: Nano Finished!

This is just a quick update to let you know that I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth or anything drastic in that way. I spent the week completing my nanowrimo goal for my short story collection. I am pleased with how everything has turned out so far, but realize that I wish to add more to it before publication.

As much as I love nano, it is full of rules such as no previously written material can count toward the goal. I have a few pieces written before July 1 that I would love to include, so I’m working on that next.

Later in the week, I want to give you a sneak peek with one of the stories I wrote this week, all about being free and creative to carve your own path in life. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Until next time!

Have a great week!