November, novels, no sleep #Authortoolboxbloghop

Here is the next article as part of the #Authortoolboxbloghop organised by author Raimey Gallant.

The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join.

Although I’m not a great astrology fan, there is a grain of truth in the archetypes. For example, when I read the description of Gemini, I got the uneasy feeling that somebody was stalking me when writing up the characteristics. I’m all that is written there: curious, enthusiastic, talkative. I also have the attention span of a goldfish. There are just too many things in the world to write about… and I want to do it all and at the same time. I have at least five-six novels in my head and I spend so much time running to and fro among them that I don’t have energy to actually write them.

I set out to participate in the Nano 2013 knowing that it would be one of the biggest challenges I had ever faced. 50 000 words from the same story seemed an unattainable amount but, as with my high school crushes, I was inspired by things out of reach. What is more, the promised glory was so alluring it eclipsed all my fears. The prizes, the Facebook cover picture I could use to show off my great achievements, but most importantly the opportunity to prove to myself that there is hope for me. If I kicked myself in the butt, I could squeeze out enough words to make up a novel.

To make things slightly more difficult, I started my first real, full-time job on the 28th of October. I was to bite into two big pies at the same time. I had the idea for the novel and I had some sketches already but I just didn’t have the strength to sit down and write a story from beginning to end. My novel writing methodology is the following: I have a vague synopsis in my head and I write random scenes from random points of the timeline. More often than not, the end is ready before the middle. I feel imprisoned by linearity and that’s how I’m rebelling.

I rolled up my sleeves and accepted the challenge. If I want to have kickass characters who can battle the whole world and come over every conflict I send in their way, I should start with triumphing over myself. I wrote everywhere. I wrote on the suburban train, I wrote on the tram typing hysterically into my phone. I blanked out in work drawing up plotlines and exchanged pep talks with my sisters in arms.

It was difficult at first but when I saw that it was not impossible to write regularly, it got better and better. Writing is like working-out: it takes an awful lot of determination to begin, your subconscious tries to convince you that it’s tiring and painful. But if you tie your hair up in a ponytail and listen to the Eye of the tiger long enough, you’ll be surprised to find the strength within. After regular practice it feels like a piece of cake and you feel that you could move mountains with your energy.

Sadly, as soon as I braved through the 30 days of writing and managed to finish the wished word count, all the other stories I’d been neglecting sniffed out my weakness and jumped on me with all their might. They all demanded to be written now and at once. I spent most of the following year running from story to story and praying for November to come and help me to settle with one.

In November, 2014 I started to write an alternative history Young Adult story and I had no idea whatsoever where I was going with it. Sometimes I was taken over by panic and felt sure that I wouldn’t be able to finish. That year I discovered the power of write-ins and meeting other brave writers. I didn’t talk a lot with them but just the fact that we were writing in the same coffee shop working towards the same goal helped me a lot. My advice for everyone is that if there is a Nano community somewhere near you, try to meet them and let them inspire you.

In 2015 I failed Nano because I changed country and I had a new job again and there was just too much stress. But I tried. I typed in my phone on the nightmarish rush-hour train, I tried to re-animate myself when I got home sometimes around nine and tried to squeeze out some more words. After a while I realised it was not going to happen. It was difficult to let the project go but Nano is as much about fun as much it’s about work and if it doesn’t give you joy any more, you should consider putting it aside.

In 2016, I failed again. I didn’t have a new job this time, but I had troubles in the one I already had that was also the time when my wisdom tooth first decided that it wanted my attention all the time. It wasn’t a good year, but I still went out to Nano meetings and I tried to do my best. I didn’t finish my project, but I made progress and that’s what counts.

So here we are in 2017. Just to be true to myself, I have a new job 😀 It just seems to be a thing I do in October 😀 I teach part-time, so I should have time to write, but I have two novel translations to finish and also the English part of a board game Kickstarter project, so honestly I don’t have my hopes up. I have no idea which story I should continue, because I’m sure as hell not going to start yet another story I’m not going to finish. Although as I’ve typed this resolution, two new novel ideas came waving coquettishly, wanting me to write them. But no, I’m not giving in, be gone, temptations! My goal will be to finish one of my “almost ready” manuscripts. If I’m unstoppable, maybe even two. We will see. I’m not going to torture myself about it.

Good luck fellow writers. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Find my August #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.

Find my September #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.

A list of my WIPs and past Nanoprojects.

A former version of the post was published as a guest post on Lidy Wilk’s website in 2016.

14 thoughts on “November, novels, no sleep #Authortoolboxbloghop”

  1. Quote:
    “But if you tie your hair up in a ponytail and listen to the Eye of the tiger long enough, you’ll be surprised to find the strength within.”

    ;D;D;D ( I hope you can see it, I don’t know how to post a gif here).

    “Just to be true to myself, I have a new job It just seems to be a thing I do in October “.


    But this year you have a new cheerleader – will it make the difference? 😉

    “YES YOU CAN” 🙂

    1. Also…

      “My novel writing methodology is the following: I have a vague synopsis in my head and I write random scenes from random points of the timeline. More often than not, the end is ready before the middle”.

      A real Whovian ;D

    2. Yeeesss cheerleaders make all the difference :3 Also, this is going to be a novel very much fuelled by my adoration of David, (actually I named one of the characters after him :D) so having you with me will give super extra motivation 😀

  2. Great post! NaNo always falls on the worst month, doesn’t it? But I’m glad to hear that you’ve always gotten back up and tried year after year. And I’m the same way with wanting to work on a lot of projects at once, which is why I’m rebelling this year and doing a collection of short stories instead of a new novel draft 🙂 Good luck this year! And thanks for sharing!

  3. You sound like me: Too many novel ideas and a short attention span here too 🙂
    I’ve always worked with a vague synopsis and writing whatever scenes comes to mind before too. This time I’m planning, and boy is it a challenge!
    Good luck with NaNoWriMo 🙂

  4. I understand the feeling of so many novel ideas floating around in your head. I feel like that many times. I currently have four different manuscripts in various stages of completion. But I have decided to only work on one until it is ready for publication.
    It’s great that you don’t give up! Good luck with NaNo this year. 🙂

  5. Excellent post! I did my first Nano in 2015, too, and it was a game changer for getting my writing rhythm under control, and I look forward to it every fall now. Still, November is an exceptionally tough time to “schedule.” Aside from the holidays, the month holds four consecutive family birthdays, and it tends to be the time of year my kids start feeling burned out in school and their immune systems show it. *nervous smile*
    Good luck this year, but you do you! I don’t think of Nanowrimo as “succeed/fail” but more like “progress/stagnate.” If you’re moving that word count up steadily, there’s no reason to let that make you feel like a failure. There’s always CampNano, too, where you can set your own word count goal.

  6. One of the biggest flaws with Nanowrimo is the terminology surrounding winning and losing. Even if I don’t make 50K words this November, I don’t want to think of it as a fail…though I probably will feel that way knowing me. 🙂

  7. Just make a goal that you can keep. (Like write for 15 minutes every day) and don’t worry about the word count. Winning is more than reaching an arbitrary number. It’s about finding your voice and your story.

  8. I was writing books for years before I tried NaNo. I even wrote a book in 3 days with the 3daynovel contest before NaNo! It’s not for everyone. Just try something different every time you approach it – plot, then pants, then try short stories. Eventually it will click.

    And never punish yourself for what you can’t control, i.e. moving!

  9. I’ve found that doing sprints with other Wrimos is the best way to get past the sneaky voices of other stories trying to intrude. I take a scene I need to write and the 15 minutes of the sprint and only concentrate on that. If it works for this Gemini, it might work for you too 😉 Good luck!

  10. You are truly amazing! Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing so much. Go for completing a prior writing project. Unfortunately Nanowrimo isn’t for me. But I do admire those who do it. Enjoy your holiday!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.