Today is the day

...that I am going to start working on my novel again.  I may not be able to catch up, but I'm going to at least hold myself accountable to trying!

I've been wading through a lot of work the last few days.  I had a few things I'd intended to do over the weekend, but I got caught up reading, and got a little behind.  I'm finally about caught up, though, so I plan to sit down with my novel this evening.

I did the math, and with just over 17,000 words, I would have to write 2,358 words every day in order finish on time.  I think for now I will set my daily goal at 2,000, and try to get a couple of 5,000-word days in.  I did one 8,000-word day my first year (or was it 10,000 words?), and talk about burnout — but I think I could handle a couple of 5,000-word days.  Maybe, if I can get ahead on my client work, I can actually devote an entire day or two to my novel!

I've said before that my main goal is really to finish my novel this time around, so that I can finally revise it and start on the next one, but it would be really nice to have a 2010 NaNoWriMo winner badge to go with the completion of my own private goals.  I haven't "won" NaNoWriMo since the first year I did it, in 2006, and it would be awfully nice to change my "losing" trend.

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By Katharine Swan On Wednesday, November 17, 2010 At 2:04 PM 2 comments

Published NaNoWriMo novels you might have heard of

Things are not all fine in NaNoWriMo land.  I added to my word count later Friday night, after blogging about my few bad days, getting to 17,109 words.  And there I have stalled.  The problem was the weekend — we were busy, and I read with most of my spare time, not to mention I've had lots of paying writing to attend to.  Hopefully I can start working daily on my novel again, starting tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is a link to a wonderful little list of published NaNoWriMo authors.  How many of these writers or authors have you heard of?  Here is my (short) list of the ones I recognize:

* Amelia Atwater-Rhodes - I read her first novel in my YA lit class in college.  I could tell she was very young when she wrote it, though, so I wonder if her writing has matured any.  Her published NaNo novel was Persistence of Memory.

* Sara Gruen - Her NaNo novels, Flying Changes and Water for Elephants, are both really popular.  I've had a friend at the barn recommending both to me (as well as a third one, Riding Lessons) for almost a year now.  I'll definitely have to read them now that I know they are NaNo novels!

There are a few others on the list that seem vaguely familiar, but I don't know where I recognize them from.  What names or books on the list do you recognize?  Any surprises?

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 16, 2010 At 5:27 PM 0 comments

A few bad days

I've fallen a little behind on my novel the last few days.  It has nothing to do with my novel — no writer's block or anything — and everything to do with my time (or lack thereof).

On Wednesday, I had a very full day, very little of which involved working.  I spent an hour in the morning driving back and forth to the barn and taking Panama's blanket off.  Then I had lunch with my mom and sister, and spent the rest of the afternoon with my mom.  By the time evening rolled around, I hadn't gotten any of my regular work done, let alone my novel!  And while that is one of the things I love about freelancing — being able to change my schedule around when needed — it did mean that I had to spend my evening working on client projects rather than my own.

Yesterday was supposed to be my catch-up day, but it didn't turn out that way, for reasons I don't quite understand.  It was the perfect day for it — it was supposed to snow (it didn't, or at least not very much), so I planned to stay inside all day and work.  Ha!  It took me all day to get done what should have taken a few short hours.  I just don't know what happened!

I did get a little done on my novel last night — but, I'm afraid, only a little.  As in, 700 words, putting me at a grand total of 15,785 for the month — just over 4,000 words shy of where I should be at the end of tonight.

Unfortunately, I don't see today turning out much better.  I was at the barn for most of the day, and while I did take my laptop and get a little work done while I was there, I didn't get done nearly as much as I should have.  Therefore I still have some work to do this evening... which means, once again, not much time for working on my novel!

I hate falling behind, because there comes a point when you just know you are too far behind to catch up, and I am afraid I will reach that point within another day or two if I am not careful.  How is everyone else doing?  Are you meeting your goals — even if those goals aren't 1,667 words a day?

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By Katharine Swan On Friday, November 12, 2010 At 8:02 PM 2 comments

Reading, writing, and arithmetic

I've spent my days lately reading, writing, and adding to my word count.  I'm barely on track for NaNoWriMo with 15,056 words so far, but that works for me.  I've decided to rewrite a few scenes as I've been going along, filling in some of the parts I skipped over previously, so I may just be able to squeak out 50,000 words this year.

I also have been reading — a lot!  I got hooked on another series of books, this time the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  The last time I was this addicted to a series of books, so much that it interfered with writing, riding my horse, and everything else in my life, was when I read the Sookie Stackhouse books over the summer.  I finished all ten in just over a week!

This time the series was shorter, with just four books out right now.  Unfortunately I will have to wait until January 18th for the fifth and final book.  It's too bad I can't make myself slow down so I can enjoy them for a little longer — I read the second, third, and fourth books in about two days!  The timing wasn't good, either — with NaNoWriMo on top of all my normal activities, getting hooked on a new series meant I didn't get much done.  Oh well — at least there were only four books this time!

What has everyone else been up to so far this month?

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 09, 2010 At 11:53 PM 0 comments

8,394 words and an unsuccessful write-in

I usually am the first one to tout the value of the write-in, but it didn't work so well for me this evening (Friday evening).  I went with my mom to a write-in at the all-night coffee shop and used bookstore in my area, and although we stayed for nearly 2 hours, I was only able to write a whopping 40 or so words.

I came home somewhat discouraged, and wondering if I should just give up for the day.  As my husband got ready for bed, though, I settled down on the couch with my laptop and one of my cats.  And just like that, my muse was back!  I wrote 1,530 words — enough to get me where I needed to be for today — in an astonishing 50 minutes.  Unfortunately, though, the last 200 words were added after it technically became Saturday, so my little box on the calender for Friday is yellow instead of green.  I'm going to ignore that, though, because I consider Friday to be a green day, rather than a yellow one.  After all, 8,394 words puts me right on track, if barely (I needed 8,333 at the end of today).

Maybe I'll be able to get ahead a little this weekend, but I'm not overly concerned about it.  I think being just barely on track each day keeps me writing every day.  If I quit after 1,667 words every day, then I never get that complacent feeling of being able to take a day off if I want because I am ahead.  It sounds like an odd way to think of it, I know, but we'll see — it feels like the kind of plan that just might work.

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By Katharine Swan On Saturday, November 06, 2010 At 1:36 AM 2 comments

Still on schedule with 6,864 words!

With every day that passes of NaNoWriMo, I am more and more thrilled to be staying on schedule.  Today we were supposed to reach 6,667 words, and although I struggled somewhat, I ended up adding 1,725 words for a grand total of 6,864.

As I mentioned last night, I am finishing an previous NaNoWriMo novel.  Last year my main characters all turned out to be plot ninjas, and kept falling in love with the wrong people, so I opted for a very different version of my original plot.  Because it took me by surprise, I decided to make some changes as I wrote, so this year one of the things I am doing is filling in the holes my changes left and rewriting scenes so that they fit a little better.  I also have a large chunk of writing to do to fill in the middle of the novel, which somehow got skipped last year (my characters were anxious to get together, and skipped ahead to the end... don't ask).

So far, this year is going quite well.  My revisions and scene rewrites are going as planned, and although I didn't have much of a plan for the missing middle chunk when I started NaNoWriMo, it is starting to take shape as I write.  I am feeling quite good about my chances of finishing my novel this year!

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By Katharine Swan On Thursday, November 04, 2010 At 11:56 PM 0 comments

5,139 words and my plans for NaNoWriMo

So far I'm on track for NaNoWriMo, with 5,139 words at the end of Wednesday — and I even wrote them before midnight, too!  I've been doing most of my novel writing after midnight each night (which is why the first two squares on my calender widget are yellow), and while that still feels like today in my book (it's not tomorrow until you've been to bed), I will have to finish my novel before midnight on the 30th.  Also, I've been sleeping quite late every morning as a result, and then not getting my regular work done until later in the day, forcing me to wait until later to work on my novel again — a very bad self-fulfilling pattern that I plan to break out of in the next couple of days.

I'm pleased with my progress on my novel so far, even though tonight I felt like I had to work for every one of the 1,767 words I added this evening.  I know I mentioned already that I am finishing last year's novel, but what I didn't talk about was the fact that I really don't have 50,000 words to add.  I'm thinking I'll run out of stuff to write around 30,000 at best.  At that point I am planning to add word count by rewriting some of the stuff I wrote the first time around that I wasn't happy with.  I may not make it to 50,000, but if I finish this novel this year, I'll be okay with that.

Another option, once I run out of stuff to write in this novel, is to start on the next novel idea floating around in my head.  I have several I really like, so I would have to decide which one to work on next.  It may be cheating a little, but I figure if I'm writing 1,667 new words every day, it's not breaking the rules by much!

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By Katharine Swan On At 12:27 AM 0 comments

NaNoWriMo, Day 1 - word count, 2,271

I don't know whether I should consider this the end of Day 1, or the beginning of Day 2, but I'm leaning towards the former.  With any luck, I will wake up at a decent time tomorrow and start working on my novel during the evenings, and maybe even will update before midnight (gasp!).

That's my goal, anyway.  I don't like making up my word count after midnight, because even though it's still Day 1 to me, technically it puts me a day behind.  I need to be able to get to 50,000 words before midnight on Day 30!

Anyway, I did manage to make some time to work on my novel tonight, even though I was beginning to think I wouldn't be able to — I spent too much time today updating my blogs and doing other administrative tasks, and still had client work to finish up before I could put on my fiction hat.

I added 1,282 words to my novel tonight, for a grand total so far of 2,271.  I will need to add about a thousand words tomorrow (before midnight!) if I want to stay on track, more if I want to get ahead (which I do).

How about the rest of you?  Was your first day successful?

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By Katharine Swan On Tuesday, November 02, 2010 At 2:56 AM 0 comments

NaNoWriMo... Go!

Last night I attended my first ever kickoff party for NaNoWriMo.  They have always been held at people's houses in the past, so I've never gone before.  It seems I may not have been the only one who felt that way, because holding the kickoff at an all-night coffee shop and used bookstore resulted in an unexpectedly large showing.  According to the MLs' "Play Doh count" (they passed out tiny cans of Play Doh to everyone), there were 64 people there by midnight!

I meant to take pictures of the kickoff party so that you could see how many people there were, but suffice it to say that there wasn't enough seating for everyone.  People brought pillows and blankets and camped out on the floor against the bookshelves.  The coffee shop owners (who knew in advance that we were going to take over the store for the night, and actually welcomed it) also brought in some extra chairs.  People were everywhere.  It was fun to watch the non-NaNo folks walk through the door, look at the crowded bookstore in confusion, and then after a few moments, uncertainly walk back out again.

The bookstore was pretty noisy until midnight, and then suddenly you could have heard a pin drop as everyone got started writing.  Around 1:00am, a lot of people cleared out, and then again around 2:00; and by 2:30, when I left, there was only a handful of people that remained behind.

This year I am using NaNoWriMo to finish last year's novel.  I know, I know — that's cheating.  But I am only counting new word count, so it won't give me a head start or anything.  However, that did mean that before I could start writing last night, I had to finish reading last year's work so I could get up to speed on where I was.  Because I found myself unable to read and take notes effectively with the noise of the pre-midnight party, it wasn't until about an hour into NaNo that I finally got started writing.

It ended up being a good start to the month, though.  As of 2:30, I had 989 words.  That's more than half of what I need for the first day (1,667), and if I can add a couple thousand this evening, that will allow me a comfortable lead.

I'll update here as the month goes on, of course, but you can also find my profile here.  (If it doesn't work for a few days, don't be surprised — the site is a bit overloaded right now.)  I'll also update my sidebar with a word count widget (hopefully the calendar one, if it works this year), and a participant badge with a link to my profile.

I'd love to hear from others who are doing NaNoWriMo this year.  Did you attend a kickoff party, or did you start writing right at midnight?  Is your word count off to a good start?

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By Katharine Swan On Monday, November 01, 2010 At 1:57 PM 0 comments

Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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