Last month, I posted round 1 of my NaNo Mini Series interviews. The entire post can he found here: http://wp.me/p35Mk4-fa
One of the things I was most impressed with was everyone’s different approach to NaNoWrimo. All eight participants are NaNo Veterans, so each one of them has been there, and done that. Speaking for myself, I learn something new about planning with every NaNo I do. This year marks my fourth consecutive NaNoWriMo.
Today NaNo-ers will give us some insight into their writing lives, now that NaNoWriMo 2014 is in full force. I wonder how things are going?
Let’s find out!
Susan Nystoriak: First of all, let’s talk about your progress so far. NaNoWriMo says that an average of 1667 words per day will get you to the 50k mark on day thirty. How is your word count going? Are you following the NaNo word count guideline?
Diana Pinguicha: I never follow their guidelines, although I try to write at least their minimum every day. I usually go for 2k every day, because I know some days I’ll come home exhausted from work, and I’ll just have a bite and go straight to bed, so my extra most of the days compensates for when that happens.
Ali Carey Billedeaux: Well, I WAS doing pretty well until yesterday. I am terrible about using work as an excuse not to write. I’m always like “I worked a lot today, I think I deserve to watch TV instead.” Which is, of course, a trap. I fell for it yesterday.
Don’t worry, I’m back on the horse today, word count all caught up and everything!
Margarita Montimore: I was trying to exceed them, and started off great, doing 2K words a day, but then fell behind. As of 11/8 I’m a little over 13K words. Hoping to put in some 2K+ word count days to catch up.
Mary Ann Nicholson: I don’t follow Nano’s word count guidelines. Some days I write more, some days less. But I plan for it. I planned for 0 words both days of Pitch Wars because I knew I’d be too distracted. But I wrote twice as much the first 2 days of Nano in anticipation. I typically go over the Nano goal by a lot, so I don’t worry about it too much.
Alexis Larkin: I am having so much fun writing this book, but failing miserably according to NaNo’s word count guidelines. I’m planning nightly sprints this week to make up some ground. Should be caught up mid-November.
Shawn Thomas Anderson: I’m keeping my head above water. Started strong, I’ve been shooting for 2000 words a day, knowing that work days and family obligations could result in lower counts over the weekends. I have had a couple days where I’ve dipped below 1500, but I have a buffer with the 2000 words from other days. I keep my laptop plugged in and charging all the time, so that I can jump in and bang out some words whenever possible. Make the most of every minute!
Susan Nystoriak: In the Round One interview, you all mapped out a plan for attacking this crazy writing month. Have you been able to stick to your plan?
Diana Pinguicha: I had a crazy first week of November, so I’m lagging a bit behind than I’d planned—nothing unmanageable, but still, behind. I went to the UK on the first weekend, and wrote a lot on the plane, but between that, work, and studying for an exam on the 8th, it’s been hard.
Ali Carey Billedeaux: I normally try to stick with the progress bar that NaNo gives you. I find that, even if I don’t match the word count perfectly, it’s a close enough estimate to let me swing back and forth a little and still get where I’m going.
If you mean plot-wise, than it’s too soon to tell. So far, things are going to plan, but this is still solidly in the getting-to-know-you part of the book (for the readers and for me!) so my characters are just starting to settle down.
Alessa Hinlo: Alas. I overestimated my ability to write during the first week of November with Pitch Wars going on. But that’s come to a close. My plan will need readjusting, though, given the lost week. I’ll probably drop the short stories and start on the novel straight-on.
Margarita Montimore: Kind of. I prepared detailed notes, character sketches, a 29-chapter outline and even turned the wall of my office into a giant collage to prepare for my Nano novel. I find that I don’t refer to the notes and outline as much as I expected, at least not yet. I completed six chapters of the novel, which vaguely correspond with two in the outline. I have no problem with that; I expect I’ll veer from the outline even more as I keep writing.
Mary Ann Nicholson: I have my spreadsheet with how much I have to write on it based on how much time I expect to have. And I’ve adjusted it down because I need to slow it down. Nano is slowing me down! Ha. I’m adding onto a pre-existing WIP. I’ll probably hit 50K on that one in the next week, but to write 50K new words will be a challenge.
Alexis Larkin: My plan was to use any free time I could find to work on NaNo. I have strayed from that plan to take advantage of a couple of wonderful writing opportunities and to deal with a household issue. On the bright side, I planned to use a visual outline and semi-pants it from there. This plan has worked out really well. I have a few photos set out for each chapter and have had a great time using them as a launching point when I start to write each evening. The pantsing is fun too. Whenever something doesn’t make sense, I just keep writing with a promise to myself to fix it later instead of worrying about fixing the outline right away.
Shawn Thomas Anderson: I’m wildly off my plan! I’m in full-on panster mode—and loving it! We’ll see where it takes me. That internal editor is urging me to go back in an start revising section, but I’ve been successful at fighting him off. FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!
Susan Nystoriak: What can you tell us about your 2014 NaNo project? Give us as much detail as you can at this point. Do you have characters fleshed out? Where is your plot headed? Does your NaNo havae a title yet?
Diana Pinguicha: Sightless was my first novel back in 2011, and it sucked. Since then, I had the opportunity to make a Point&Click game centered on its main theme (see through other people’s eyes, and how the world changes according to the person), and I had to rewrite the story for that. So now, I’m working with the novel to match our prototype.
Ali Carey Billedeaux: It does have a title! Right now, I’m calling it “Drowning City” because it’s about Venice in the late 16th century. I’m having sooo much fun with this, as I’ve never done historical fiction before, but I can safely say that my word count is down because of the amount of surprise research that takes place writing something like this. I did a lot of work before, I swear, but sometimes it feels like I’m starting from scratch!
Alessa Hinlo: I don’t actually like talking about my projects while I’m working on them. You can call it superstition, or you can call it part of my method. I will say that it’s a psychological thriller and tentatively titled THE CORNER GAME.
Margarita Montimore: AVIRA is the name of my novel. I set out to write my take on a haunted house story, set at a remote island resort. Two women end up at Avira, one to work there after a suicide attempt, the other in search of her missing brother. The women begin to unravel the mysteries of the hotel as each also deals with their own personal struggles. As of writing this, one just arrived at the hotel and the other is on her way, so I have a lot of story development ahead of me.
Mary Ann Nicholson: My WIP has a working title, which is Flirting Near Disaster. Not a day goes by I don’t try to think up something better. I think up something better, then check Amazon and curse whoever got to my idea first.
My story is a steamy romance based on a lot of baseless assumptions my MFC makes. Her company is working on something akin to a pheromone perfume, but more scientific, more bio-chemical warfare. Testing it out on herself, she meets my MC, who she assumes is a struggling musician, and the attraction is mutual, powerful and immediate. She only later discovers he’s a newly famous rock star with all the “I’m not worthy” angst that comes with that. Worried he could only like her because of the chemical attraction, she struggles with the ethical dilemma of keeping him through deception or coming clean and possibly losing him.
Alexis Larkin: My romance is (very) tentatively titled THROW OFF THE BOW LINES. I had very broad descriptions for my main characters when I got started—more like job descriptions really—but I’m finding that they’re more complex, well-rounded people the more I write. That probably sounds crazy because I am the one writing them, but I feel these characters are revealing themselves to me in a more organic way compared to my past work. As for the plot, I’m working toward a “happily ever after” ending. Just a matter of figuring out how to get there.
Shawn Thomas Anderson: It’s YA ‘80s magical realism—completely new territory for me. I had my jaw broken and realigned the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. It was a time when I was forced to shut up and listen to the world around me, because my jaw was wired shut. This is a fictionalized account of that summer. I graduated high school at the end of the ‘80s, but I chose 1985 for this story.
The MC prides himself in being invisible all the way through high school. No dating. Kind of quiet. Always there in the background. When he has his surgery and his jaw is wired shut, suddenly people take interest in him and he learns things about his friends and family that have been there all along. Everything is changing with the onset of college. He’s learning about his life in the last ten seconds of the game, because he’s leaving in August. There are pain-killer-induced hallucinations, MTV-themed fantasies, pop-culture meltdowns, and narwhals in the swimming pool.
I have two working titles that I’m playing around with: THE WHOLE WORLD WANTS TO KISS YOU WHEN YOUR JAW’S WIRED SHUT or simply, SMASH’D!
I must say, the characters really need further development. So far, my favorite character is the MC’s little sister Cadence (She goes by Cade). She’s bitter and rebellious, and never enters or exits the family home through the door—always through a window, like she’s sneaking out.
Where’s it headed? I’m not completely sure, but three truths are explored along the way: 1. The MC’s family is changing, because he witnesses his parents’ marriage is falling apart. 2. The MC is experiencing self-discovery and a sexual awakening, because everyone wants to (obsessively) be with him (a taste of what could have been). 3. An imminent dive into the great unknown—college!
Susan Nystoriak: I know that for me, life can sometimes get in the way of my writing plans. Have there been any struggles you have faced so far? If so, have you been able to push through?
Diana Pinguicha: Already mentioned that above. Plane trips, work, college, all bearing down on me like a 10 ton weight. Last week, I could barely write a word I was so tired every day. I’d get home, make dinner, take care of the kitties and the dragon, sit on the PC and stare at the screen, unable to put down any words. So I played The Cat Lady for 30 mins and fall asleep during the most wtfuckery scenes you could imagine on a video game.
Most of what I managed to write was during breaks at work, on paper, or during the commute, on my cell. It hasn’t been enough, but the wordcount only matters on day 30, and I’ll push through. I think.
Ali Carey Billedeaux: Life’s been pretty forgiving lately. The big pitfall is the usual one: I have to work up the will to sit down and write.
Luckily, I’m having a lot of fun with my story. So that’s something 🙂
Alessa Hinlo: As I said before, I underestimated just how distracted I would be by Pitch Wars. Don’t get me wrong! This is a good problem to have. But the showcases were very distracting, not just for keeping an eye on my own entry but on everyone else’s! At this point, I have to accept I lost the first week of NaNo and forge on.
Margarita Montimore: Yes and yes. I was fortunate to have the novel I wrote prior to this one selected for Pitch Wars and spent much of last week on a final round of manuscript edits. I tend to get immersed in one project at a time, so it was a challenge to switch between the two while being so damn intense about both. I also recently started querying that same novel, so I spent a lot of last week researching agents and sending them materials. I needed to take a day off from Nano to decompress from the contest and querying, but now I can give Nano my full attention again. A lot of words can be written in twenty-two days…
Mary Ann Nicholson: I work full time, have kids and recently had the distraction of Pitch Wars. I took vacation days off this month so I could focus on writing for entire stretches. One of the great things about Nano are those butt-in-chair days when you’ve written for 4 hours and don’t think you can do anymore. But you write some more and dip into that crazy place that you only get to after you’ve written past sanity. There’s a lot of magic in there. So that’s why I take time off.
Alexis Larkin: I’m solving this problem by making more realistic writing plans. Instead of trying to find lots of little stretches to write during the day, I’m working at night after baby bedtime and on the weekends. I have a lifetime to write and only this brief time to enjoy my daughter’s babyhood. For this very limited time, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. So far so good.
Thank you again, Susan! I enjoyed reading about everyone’s process so much in the first round of your mini-series. Can’t wait to see where everyone is at now. Good luck my fellow NaNos! Write like the wind!
Shawn Thomas Anderson: Oh yeah, big time! Again, keep that laptop charged and handy and just keep writing every moment you can. Now, you are going to think I’m nuts, but I’m also doing a weekly short-story challenge this month and revising on another manuscript. I use a dry erase board to plan and alter my daily writing schedules. I find that new words really make me feel good and propel me forward when I’m doing slow and methodical revisions.
It took me years to complete my first MS. I love the story. It’s a middle-grade fantasy adventure. I’ve been revising it for months. I did NaNoWriMo last year for the first time to prove to myself that I could write something fast and furious. I’m proud to say I did it. And now I’m doing it again!
And that’s it for now! Thank you all so much for your responses to the Round Two questions. We’ll be checking in with you one more time once NaNo14 is finished.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let us know! Please leave us a comment below, and follow us and our progress on Twitter.
Thanks for stopping by!