I can’t stop laughing!

Supposed to be doing my daily wordcount for NaNoWriMo and got distracted on NPR…



NaNoWriMo Week 4 – Woo-hoo!

After Week 3’s utter disaster of near-non-writing, I had a lot of ground to make up in Week 4 if I wanted it hit my 50,000-word target by November 30. The key issue was a poor plot. I’d written myself into a boring corner and had run out of ideas to escape it.

What got me started again? Ego.

I knew I normally could only handle about 3000 words at a time before my average words per hour dropped into single digits. When I reached the critical calculation that it would take 3500 words/day for a solid week to win NaNoWriMo, I knew I couldn’t delay any longer. My ultra-competitive, Type-A genes kicked in. I was determined to finish this sucker—good, bad, or horrible.

And horrible it was. But it is done.

It’s time for a sports analogy

When I was in high school, my family went on a summer bicycling “vacation.” We weren’t alone. This was the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), which consisted of 10,000 riders making their way from the Missouri River to the Mississippi. Did I bother to train? Nah. I rode around town, maybe did one 17-mile ride. How hard could riding a bike be? You can always coast, right?

Well, RAGBRAI averages about 70 miles per day for 7 days. And there are hills.

By the first day I was sore. By the second day I was in pain. And by the fifth day, I was sick. Couldn’t finish the ride.

I like to think I’ve gained a little wisdom with age.  In my 30s I began running. As many runners do, I found that races kept me motivated to train. I did 5Ks, 10K, 10-milers, even a half marathon. While training for the half-marathon, I did a long run of 18 miles. Holy cow! I thought. If I can do 18 miles, I can do 26.2! But I’d better get a training plan in place to make sure I’m ready.

So I talked to my runner friends who could recommend training regimens, and I started training. I executed my plan and successfully completed my (one and only) marathon: the California International Marathon (CIM).

Despite the fact that I finished, NaNoWriMo felt a lot more like RAGBRAI than CIM.

The obligatory “Lessons Learned”

  • It’s possible to write a novel with a bad plot. The video course on story structure that I mentioned in Week 3’s post helped me create some structure—even with a marginal plot. I made some arbitrary decisions, made some changes that might require significant revisions, and then charged forward.
  • I need to learn more about the writing craft. I’ve been reading for a long time. I know when something is good and I know when something is bad. Sometimes I can even say why. But I haven’t spent time analyzing or studying how to write compelling characters or complex worlds.
  • I can write more than I thought. I wasn’t sure if I could write a novel. Now I know I can. Just think what could happen if I had a decent plot and and developed characters. 🙂

Thanks for all the comments and likes on my NaNoWriMo posts—it helps to know there are supporters (and commiserators) out there. Thanks to my friends who sent me creative thoughts during the month, and especially to my writing buds Linda and Wendy. Last but not least, thanks to my husband for enthusiastic cheerleading (you look great in that skirt, George!).

I’ll see you at the next marathon–oops, I mean NaNoWriMo–with training plan in hand…

NaNoWriMo Week 3 – A Near Bust!

After the ups and downs of Week 2, Week 3 was nearly all down. 😦

I got stuck. Really, really stuck.

I thought “I will give my muse a rest for a couple days; THEN I will be ready to write again!”

Not so much.

Procrastination. Blocks. Dinking online…(Oooh, I’m not supposed to do that!)

To get myself re-motivated I watched more of my ModPo class on Coursera (will cover in a post soon–it’s fabulous!). I ordered a Kelly Writers House (hosts of ModPo) coffee mug. I decorated a Christmas tree–with multi-color lights for the first time in I don’t know how many years (there’s a post in there somewhere, too).

Then I decided I had to do something that might actually HELP with my novel dilemma–where is this frickin’ plot going???

One of the perks of NaNoWriMo is the pep talk that shows up in your inbox every couple days (thank you, writing gods!). Another is the ability to tap into heretofore unknown resources. One resource that showed up (after making a very small donation to the non-profit organization that supports NaNoWriMo) was a free StoryWonk video class on STRUCTURE. (Structure? Hunh? You mean I can’t just write in circles and hope to end up somewhere?)

I already knew I had structure problems–I just didn’t know exactly what they were.

This video class really helped. It confirmed I actually did know some of the problems–and it showed me others, then gave me solutions to address them. After mapping out some possibilities, I started writing again yesterday. And today I hunkered down and plunked out 5000+ words.

I’m still behind schedule, but I’m 3/5 done, and completion is still viable if I can generate about 3500 words/day. (By “completion” I mean a 50k-word draft that will need to be completely rewritten, but if I’m lucky will have some bones to start with.) Whew. It will make for a long week, but I think I can squeak through.

I welcome any creative energy you can spare!! 🙂


Target word count end of Day 25: 41,675

Actual word count end of Day 25: 32,403

NaNoWriMo Week 2 – Help!

Week 2 has been full of ups and downs. After week 1, I struggled to figure out where the plot was going. (Plot? What plot?) I took a day for a planning session, then again made progress, finally catching up on my target word count on Day 13.

And then I petered out again.

Yesterday I desperately emailed my husband at work for a pep talk. He dutifully called me and gave me a cheer.

Karin, Karin she’s our man! (Really??)

If she can’t do it, no one can!

Well, as nice as the sentiment is, I feel utterly at a loss as to where to go next. If I can figure that out, I’m confident I can catch up (again).

But that’s the problem! Aack!

I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.
I am an endless source of creativity. I am an endless source of creativity.

Is it working yet?



Target word count end of Day 15: 25,000

Actual word count end of Day 15: 24,013


It’s all downhill from here, Wrimos!

NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Lessons, Observations, Affirmations

After my first week of attempted novel-writing, I suspect I am in the same position as many first-time Wrimos—panicking!

My most profound lessons thus far…

  • Try not to get behind.
  • If you get behind, try not to get any further behind.
  • If all all possible, catch up!

I can’t speak for others, but I am finding 1667 words per day a challenge. It takes me a few hours to get there, and the sense of being behind—by even one day—makes the task even more daunting. If you write slowly (as I do), 1667*2 is a very big number. I fell behind Sunday and I have not quite caught up (only a few hundred words behind target though).

Interesting (or not) observations…

I’d started working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way before NaNoWriMo. Synchronicity is at work and many of her tools, concepts, and ideas have helped with this novel-writing exercise.

  • One of the regular tools in the book is Morning Pages, three hand-written pages of stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning. I’ve noticed a shift from filling up the pages with whatever crap falls out of my head to using the pages as a way to process what might happen next in my novel.
  • One key concept that I have found eases my writing is a mental shift from “thinking something up” to “just getting it down.” Listening to whatever might come and recording it rather than straining to create something from nothing.
  • A related concept: Trusting that the words will come. Saying to the universe: “You take care of quality, I’ll take care of the quantity!” In other words, get your butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard and something will manifest. Mostly this has worked for me, and I’ve found some interesting characters and plot points as a result. However, I think I’ve hit my limit on what I can do with my very sketchy plot idea. I feel like the context is set but the real story has not yet started. It’s time to map out a little more of an outline so I know what scenes to tackle next.

My two new favorite affirmations…

  • I am an endless source of creativity!
  • I write with ease, joy, focus, and flow!

Feel free to use with reckless abandon. 🙂



Target word count end of Day 8: 13,336

Actual word count end of Day 8: 12,615


Happy writing, Wrimos!

Time for a new challenge: NaNoWriMo!

September’s haiku challenge must have worn me out, because October has been mighty slow. Or perhaps just fallow. Time for some crop rotation…

November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1667 words per day. (Click on the logo at left for more details or to join the fun.)

I’m in.

I’ve never written a novel before. Never even attempted it, let alone attempted it in 30 days. Well, it won’t be a finished novel in 30 days, but how cool would it be to have a first draft in that amount of time?

I’m in!

Day 1 report: I am thanking my lucky stars (and my niece and husband and mother-in-law) that I got the germ of an idea while on vacation last week. I used my journaling time while traveling to play with the idea and expand it a bit. That being said, it is still inchoate. I spent part of today organizing the various scribbles from my notebook. Then, I started writing. Since I didn’t really know where to start, I started with…chickens! Yup. We’ll see if they stay, but I’m pretty sure my main character is meant to have a chicken sidekick. 🙂

Day 1 word count: 1728