It’s That Time of The Year Again – NaNoWriMo

Nano 2019.jpgI can’t believe it’s the end of October. Didn’t it just start? Here we are, October 30th, Halloween is tomorrow, and November starts Friday.

That’s the real spooky thing about October – that it passes so quickly and suddenly it’s time to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

This post is going to basically be a quick rundown of how I handle the stress and fun that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), what my project is going to be, and the items that I always have with me, whether I’m home or out. So, let’s jump into that first.

Must Have Items:

  1. Mac
  2. Journal
  3. Planner
  4. Sketch Book
  5. Phone (inspo pics are on there)
  6. Coffee

If I’m out writing I also need:

  1. Charger
  2. Wallet
  3. Coffee (again)
  4. A snack

I also like getting myself a treat, like some kind of candy or chocolate I don’t normally eat year-round as a reward for hitting daily word goals. Last year it was Hershey’s Cookies n’ Cream Drops – and I kind of got carried away. Instead of eating them at word goals, I kind of went through bags of them as I was writing. I legit haven’t had them since.

I do have an entire post dedicated to what I have with me when I write – you can check out that here – my NaNo needs don’t vary much from my standard writing needs.

This year I’m planning on doing a YA Beach Contemporary. It’s definitely more on the fluffy side and I’m excited to work on it! I feel like I know the characters pretty well, it’ll just be a matter of seeing if they do what I want them to do. Who knows? It’s going to be set in Topsail, North Carolina, a place I know and love and I’m so ready for it to be Friday. It’s taking every ounce of control to NOT start writing it. While I am excited to start this book (I’ve been really wanting to write it for a while now, but I’m back into revising my SF WIP so I haven’t touched it) there is some anxiety and stress that comes along with it. If you’re interested, I did a post where I created the core group of characters in this YA Contemp, as Sims! You can check them out here!

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Which leads me into my next part – How I handle NaNoWriMo.

This will be my 9th year in a row (I started as a Senior in High School) but only my 2nd year in a row where I don’t really have to worry about much else and can focus more on writing. You can check out my NaNo journey here. I’ve probably talked about this before,  but my biggest fear and stressor is falling behind. Every year without fail, I hit a lull, around the 1.5-week mark and words become a struggle. It often leads to me skipping days and then having to make them up. It sucks, not gonna lie. Missing a day here or there, it happens, life happens. But I’m talking about big roadblocks, writer’s block, the days where words legit refuse to form – those days screw me every time. I end up super behind and rushing to finish thousands of words in the final days.

So, here are a few tips that I apply to myself every year –

  1. If you’re on a writing roll, you’ve met your daily word count (and time permits) keep writing. Rack up an extra 100, 200, 500 words. That way if you miss a day, or don’t have the time, energy, etc to write, you’re not as far behind.
  2. If you do fall behind, it’s not the end of the world. I know it feels like it is, and stress and anxiety enter into your life and makes you feel like crap.
  3. Just breathe.
  4. NaNo is supposed to be fun, and a way to get your butt in a chair to write. It’s fun to ‘win’ and hit that 50k mark, but it’s not a necessity! Any words you do write in November, is that many more than you had prior and that is always a good thing!
  5. Try not and get discouraged if you see other people with much higher word counts. It’s not a race against them.
  6. Remember this is only a first draft! (if it’s not, remember you’re trying to write 50k in 30 days) your story isn’t going to be perfect.
  7. If you hit writer’s block, just write. I know that probably sounds contrived, but just write. Whether you skip ahead to the next scene, or just write anything – even if it’s out of character – writing is the best way to push past.
    1. Though, if that isn’t working, and you can’t even get 100 – 250 words on the page, it’s always a good thing to take a break and come back. It’s better to do that, than stare uselessly at a computer screen for hours not accomplishing anything.
  8. Take a walk. Listen to some music. Read a book. Watch a movie. Cuddle your pet. Do something to give yourself a break. NaNo is a very easy way to burn yourself out. (I know I take most of December off and just relax. Creatively I’m often pretty burned out)
  9. Having people cheering you on is always a benefit. Have a few people, a person in your corner, IRL friends or online – someone you can talk to/at if you hit a point in your story.
  10. Do a bit of planning – I’m not a plotter, more of a plantser (I’m mainly a pantser). I usually have a vauge idea of where I want my story to go, some key moments I want my characters to hit. If you’re a full-on plotter/outliner – I envy you. If you’re not, we’re in the same boat and that’s okay! Go full creative outlet mode!

Now, I know there are many of these types of posts out there, and a million different ways of making it through the next month. As much as I wrote this post for the newbie NaNo-er, it’s also serving as a reminder to me that NaNo isn’t make or break. It’s supposed to be a fun activity to get people to write and tell the stories that they have swirling around inside of their heads. I’ve always enjoyed NaNoWriMo – stress and all. It’s my excuse to try and write one of the shiny new ideas that have been floating around in my head all year.

If you’re doing NaNo and want to be buddies on the site – I’m [ lexacourtney ] on there, the image above shows my icon and name. I need more buddies and I want to be buddies with you! Anyone who follows me, will get a follow back! I hope you all have a wonderful and successful NaNo (whatever your projects and goals might be)!

I’ll also being doing Weekly Updates each Friday start to finish! That means the first one, will be this Friday! During these posts I’ll be sharing word counts, the occasional sneak peek and most likely a checklist of any important plot elements. Check back in and if you want, feel free to share your current word counts on that post so we can cheer each other on!

Writing Update #4

Still working on my SF WIP.

Sometimes I feel like I’ll forever be working on it.

I started today, with every intention of finally finishing the chapter that has been the chapter from hell. It’s not that it’s a hard chapter, it’s just taken me forever to get the feeling right for it. It took me a forever to get the opening right. A week or so ago, I did. I loved it, it captured the feeling I wanted, and guess what?

You can probably guess.

You might even be screaming internally like I am.

My mac decided to crash? Or something. The screen was being all funky, and I had to do a hard shut down – something I hate doing, because it’s not good for the mac/computer. Turns out, even though I saved, I lost the entire half chapter I’ve been steadily working on for the last two weeks. Luckily, I remember what happens – I do have outlines, but I can’t seem to get that feeling back.

Which makes me so incredibly sad.

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I’m trying to be positive and telling myself that I could create something even better, but here, in this moment, I’m not feeling that.

I’m feeling a bit dejected quite honestly. I had plans to actually finish this chapter today, so I can finally move on to the next chapter to revise it. I had pulled ahead and had fixed my glaring plot issue, and now it feels like starting from scratch. That feeling of – I felt like I had the first part of the chapter perfect, I had spent an absurd amount of time getting it just right, and now, I have to redo it all – it’s a kind of a mental block.

So, instead of chugging ahead tonight and finish this chapter, I’ll come back tomorrow with fresh eyes, a new perspective, a new day, and some coffee, and I’ll finish it then.

Right now, I don’t think anything I’ll write will be worth keeping, because I’ll just be grasping for what I lost. Yes, I’ve searched for it, in the hopes that it autosaved or something, and no luck.

There is a tiny silver lining – I took a photo for my Insta story earlier, and while it’s blocked out in my stories, I took the photo with my phone camera, and not in Instagram…which means, I have the unedited, un-blocked out last few lines of where I left off!

I fully know that this could have been so much worse than just losing half of a chapter. I’m normally so good at saving every 10ish minutes, that way if something like this happens, I’ve lost very little work.

Whatever overcame my mac, the hard shut down and reboot just wiped it, I guess.

Okay, I’m done whining, it’s happened, just got to sit my ass in a chair tomorrow and fix it. I had planned for this update to be a victorious one – I finished the chapter and can finally move on!

I’m going to go eat some mini starbursts and watch something, probably Roswell (the new one). It’s on Netflix and I need something new, since I finished Lucifer. Watch it if you haven’t already, it’s amazing.

Hope your writing journeys are going better than mine is right now!

MORAL OF THIS STORY – SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! And make sure you have up to date copies, or duplicates and save in multiple places.

Shiny New Ideas

They happen when you least expect them to – those pesky, brilliant, wonderful, torturous shiny new story ideas. They usually pop into existence when you absolutely have no time to work on them and you’re neck deep into another project. They don’t leave you alone, pounding around inside your head until you write them down. Sounds familiar? I bet it does.

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If you write, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. They’re usually the opposite genre – in my experience – or sometimes just different than your current project. Some insist that you write them right now and others are good with just a quick jot down of ideas…mine are often the former. I have journals and files full of shiny new ideas and since it’s been awhile since I’ve talked “writing journey” on this blog, I’m going to tell you how I handle them.

I categorize them into two different groups – genre doesn’t matter. They are either “500” or “10k”.

“500 (words)”

These are basically just kind of basic synopsis’s for whatever idea. These are the ideas that kind of just pop into existence without having a solid idea for the entire story. So, I quickly write out everything that’s swirling around in my head. I try and keep these roughly around 500 words. Yes, they sometimes run a little over, but this exercise is supposed to be quick. Sometimes it’s just a quick scene, or a rough outline, and getting those few thoughts on paper achieves two things – 1: the shiny new idea is recorded and I can go back to it on a later date, and 2: it’s no longer beating around inside my head begging for my attention.

But you might ask – what if that doesn’t work? What if after giving yourself 500 words, the idea is still beating around inside your head?

Well, my answer to that is 10k.

“10k (words)”

Meaning, I put aside whatever currently project I’m working on, and I sit down and pump out 10k of whatever is going on in my mind. Usually it’s a scene or two between whatever the characters are doing or feeling. I’ve found that just giving myself 10 thousand words and dedicating a few days to just word vomit the story out of me, fully kicks it from my head.

I don’t always reach 10k before the pressing urge dissipates, sometimes it only takes 2, or 3 thousand. I cap it at 10k, because I would continue writing if I didn’t and would completely ignore the initial project I was working on. It’s shiny with a new world and new characters to explore and learn and that’s enticing to any writer. As much as we love our characters, sometimes we just need a break and that’s where it becomes dangerous – at least for me.

I often get plagued with shiny new book ideas – I remember a lot of my vivid dreams, which always somehow make for pretty interesting story ideas. Actually, most of my shiny new ideas are story idea. Like I mentioned earlier, I have so many journals and files pertaining to new ideas that I’ll likely never be able to write them all, especially when new one’s pop into my head all of the time. Some of them are like half-baked chicken, they might look good from far away, but they are utterly raw underneath, and honestly, are probably subjected to forever being ideas versus an actual story. These ones are usually just little scenes that have no story behind them, and I probably just wanted to write that kind of scene.

Others come to me as fully-fledged ideas with a conflict and resolution. I can see the world, the characters, everything about the story, and then I hope one day I can write it and it just doesn’t sit there collecting dust. Other ideas come from music or a writing exercise, and the creativity just starts flowing.

If you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo – I usually try and tackle one of these shiny new ideas that I’ve accumulated over the year(s). I normally take November off from whatever project I’m working on to work on something else. In a time of the year where it’s usually pretty hectic, I use it as a chance to be creative.

Maybe I’m alone in this feeling, but I don’t feel truly creative in the revision process. Drafting is where I see the world come to life on the page. I get to create, rather than improve. I’m not knocking the revision stage – it’s important. So, I usually use November as a way to fall back in love with writing, and I get to work on a new story while I do it, and then it’s back to regular programming.

I’m currently working on my SF WIP, and occasionally working on a high fantasy. But I’ll give you a peek into what other ideas I want to work on. Now I’m not going to go into any specifics, because I do want to write these stories, so I’ll give you genres. I’m also not going to dig out my journals – there are so many of them, and it would take a year to go through them to find the ideas, so here are the ones on my mac.

-Beach Contemporary Romance

-Summer Camp Contemporary

-High Fantasy

-High Fantasy: Light v. Dark

-Dystopian: disease

-Beauty and the Beast Fantasy Retelling

-Fantasy with a savior heroine

-Mermaid (inspired by TSwift Starlight)

-Fantasy: girl on an island

-Fantasy: Frozen Underworld


-Peter Pan Retelling

-Fantasy: Collide

-Dystopian: Lighting

There are quite a few, I know, and most of them are probably multiple books stories. My brain is an over achiever obviously. For me, I’ve learned that I can’t ignore the shiny new ideas. They tend to eat away at me until I acknowledge them and if I don’t, I can’t focus on whatever project I’m currently working on.

I will say this, and I can’t stress this enough – this two-category method works for me. It allows me to ultimately stay focused. I can’t guarantee it will work for you, but feel free to give it a try! It’s taken me a few years to get to this spot with my constant onslaught of shiny new ideas.

What are your methods of dealing with shiny new ideas?

Writer’s Block & Writing

It’s one of the most frustrating things I encounter while writing.

It used to be that if I got writers block, I would not write, and I found that, that wasn’t the way to push past it. Not writing meant that no writing was getting done, no words were getting on the page – which meant no progress.

I feel like everyone has probably struggled with and through writers block. Sure, I’m talking about writing stories, but I had my fair share of writer’s block while trying to write college papers and assignments. Sometimes my brain just wouldn’t let me get the proper words down on paper, and it’s frustrating. Not being able to figure out how to phrase and word sentences, what words to use to best describe what it is you are trying to write about. It can make a relatively easy assignment into a multi-hour or day ordeal which is just stressful.

My biggest times for writers block is normally in the month of November, and then December. You might be wondering why those two months. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – I do have a video coming out where I talk about NaNoWriMo and my experience with it so far, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here). The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, 30 days. It can be tough on top of school work and jobs, but I alway enjoy it every year.

The point of bringing up NaNo in this post is because in 2011 – my first year participating – I ended up with the WORST writer’s block ever, which lead me to finishing 25,000 words in the last five days – I finished with two minutes to spare. I physically couldn’t form words – nothing came out, my brain was incapable of english when it came to my story. I honestly don’t know why it was so bad, but for two weeks, I was unable to write anything creative for the story. I did finish, but the story was rubbish. Ultimately I ended up just spewing words, and I’m pretty sure that the majority of those 25,000 don’t make sense.

Then usually, after NaNoWriMo I’m creatively drained, so I usually don’t do writing in December, so I more or less take the month off and just read.

Now, when I encounter writer’s block, I force myself to push through it, even if the writing is terrible, if it sucks, if it doesn’t make any sense to the story I’m writing – because I can always go back and change it. I’m not going to lie. It took me a long time to realize that. For a long time I felt like anything I wrote had to be perfect, which isn’t realistic. No one writes a perfect first draft – well at least I’ve never met someone who has told me that whatever they write it perfect from the very beginning. I definitely believe that writing is a building process, that with each edit, each revision, each read through, the story gets better – that isn’t to say that all your time should be spent on editing and revising, because you can tweak something forever and convince yourself that you aren’t happy with it. I’m guilty of doing that, and still sometimes do that, but I’ve also come to terms with the fact that my stories aren’t going to be perfect the first time I put them down on paper. So when I do get writer’s block I just write whatever I can, and then I highlight it so I can find it later.

I find that, that is the great thing about writing – words change all of the time, and as the creator of my own worlds, I can tweak and change them until they are perfect pieces.

Writer’s block is a pain, I’m not going to lie about that. I hate when I get it, but I try my hardest to make sure it doesn’t keep me from putting words, even if they are crappy, on the page. If powering through it doesn’t help, sometimes going the old fashioned route with pen and paper helps me clear my head. There’s something about doing it long hand in a journal, and seeing the words form that helps me get through it and work out ideas.

I know that not everyone can just power through writer’s block, that everyone has their own ways of dealing with it.

Let me know how you all deal with writer’s block.