NaNoWriMo 2013: Writing Playlist

We’re ending the first full week of NaNoWriMo, so to get things moving, I wanted to share the playlist I’m using to motivate myself this year. Every time I do NaNoWriMo (or Script Frenzy or Camp NaNo), I make a playlist I can listen to that inspires the work either in terms of setting, character, or what have you.

This year, I tried to stick with songs from the late 90’s up to 2006, since my project takes place between August 2005 and May 2006. A couple later songs snuck in, but most of the songs fit those criteria.

  1. A New Beginning – Good Charlotte
  2. Bring It (Snakes on a Plane) – Cobra Starship
  3. Where Is The Love – The Black Eyed Peas
  4. I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift
  5. The Great Escape – Boys Like Girls
  6. Mobile – Avril Lavigne
  7. Holiday – Green Day
  8. Secret Valentine – We The Kings
  9. Nobody’s Fool – Avril Lavigne
  10. The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage – Panic! at the Disco
  11. Pressure – Paramore
  12. Pump It – The Black Eyed Peas
  13. Take Me Out (live) – Franz Ferdinand
  14. Born For This – Paramore
  15. You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid – The Offspring
  16. Sweetness – Jimmy Eat World

My word count progress the morning of Saturday, November 9 is 5,430. What’s your current NaNoWriMo word count? What music is driving you this year?

Welcome to NaNoWriMo 2013!

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileAnother year means another NaNoWriMo project – and that’s always a ton of fun!  This year, I’ll do a little bit of explaining throughout the month to show precisely what I’ll be up to and different things I’m doing to encourage myself.  I hope it encourages you, too!

This year, I’m doing things differently than normal: instead of a 50,000-word novel, I plan to work on a graphic novel script with a personal word count goal of 25,000.  The project is actually a rewrite and adaptation of a project I did a few years ago for Script Frenzy – except this time, it’s not a movie script but one for a graphic novel.

This year’s NaNoWriMo theme seems to be retro video games, which makes my superhero-themed graphic novel script project even more appropriate than usual!  This month, I plan to have a few fun posts for everyone:

  • This year’s NaNoWriMo playlist
  • Halfpoint Progress
  • Influences and ideas for reworking and revamping
  • Final Update

This year’s manuscript is currently titled Project Ex: Welcome to the Academy and is the first volume in a four-part graphic novel series.  Welcome to the Academy follows six new students at an academy for supersoldiers as they are assigned to the same bottom-ranked team and strive for the top spot.  I’m not sure how long the graphic novel will actually be, and I’ve never tried a graphic novel script before – so we’ll see what happens!

What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?  What do you think is the most exciting thing about NaNoWriMo?  More importantly, what music will you be listening to for NaNoWriMo this year?

Prepare Yourself! NaNoWriMo 2013

It’s that time of year again: NaNoWriMo is almost upon us.  Writing and literacy are some of my most passionate topics, and NaNoWriMo (hosted by the nonprofit Office of Letters and Light) brings those things together to make something bigger and brighter.

In my five years participating in NaNoWriMo and its siblings, Camp NaNoWriMo and the now-defunct Script Frenzy, I’ve picked up on a few lessons that helped make each event more fun, more engaging, and overall a better experience, and I think it’s time to share those.

#1: Write What You Can

As a graduate student (and a person who has been in school every single year of NaNo, Camp NaNo, and Script Frenzy participation), I can say that one of the most important parts of NaNoWriMo is to write what you can and not to neglect the rest of your life. It’s so tempting to ignore that homework or call out a day from your job to fit in more time to write – but putting off real-world things like your education and earning money probably won’t help you in the long run.

The first lesson for NaNoWriMo I’ve learned over the years is to write what you can, when you can.  If that means only 250 words fit into half an hour before you head to work in the morning, that’s what it means.  If it means alternating between that horrendous term paper and your novel, that’s what it means.

While I’ve been participating in different events every year since 2008, I sometimes drop out in the middle of the month or set a low word count goal for myself in order to do what needs to be done.  And that’s okay.  NaNoWriMo is about creating better writing habits and making new friends – and that’s something I always manage to do.

#2: Push Yourself

Of course, by “write what you can,” I don’t mean “write only in your comfort zone.”

NaNoWriMo is itself about breaking free of your comfort zone: it’s a special person indeed who can say they’re COMFORTABLE writing 50,000 words in a single month. But NaNoWriMo isn’t just about writing lots of words: it’s about pushing yourself as a writer and as a creative individual.

Sometimes that means creating an annoying, despicable protagonist or a misguided-good-guy antagonist. Maybe it means writing a genre you’re not familiar with, or experimenting with formats outside the standard prose novel: a novel in verse, an epistolary novel, or maybe a transition to a script for a graphic novel.

Don’t forget to go beyond the boundaries you set for yourself this year during NaNoWriMo.  What are you doing different this year?

#3: Find a Community

You can make some fantastic friends and connections by engaging with the NaNoWriMo community, which has grown bigger over time. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo since 2008 and am going on my 5th year – since then, I’ve been able to meet some really cool people, like Mike and Elizabeth.

There are a few ways to join the community. First is the community on the NaNoWriMo forums. While there are more than enough forums to occupy all of your November, try and focus on the communities you appreciate best. Sometimes that’s your Home Region’s forums; other times, it may work better for you to get involved in discussions for your age group or in the genre you’re writing in.

Another great way to join a NaNo community is to check out physical locations or location-based groups near you hosting write-ins or other events. Several colleges and universities host events, and many a Barnes & Noble has write-ins. Other times, you can find indie bookstores or coffee shops that sponsor events. (Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find NaNo groups outside major cities at times.)

If you have your own circle of local NaNo friends, that’s fine, too! You can always host your own write-in or kickoff party, and if you’re interested in other events, you could even host your own Night of Writing Dangerously.

What events will you be hosting, organizing, or attending this year? Have you made any friends through NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo 2012 Launches

Dear Readers,

Welcome to my second year hosting NaNoWriMo articles and advice!  You can check out last year’s NaNo posts to give you a taste of what may be coming up this month.

National Novel Writing Month is a 30-day challenge to write a 50,000-word novel.  Participants often enjoy get-togethers in their region, healthy and friendly competition with friends, and plenty of coffee.  Winners, on the other hand, enjoy other perks – not the least of which being the satisfaction of completing a novel.

I plan to participate this year, but I may have to quit midway through due to the whole graduate school thing.  (I love NaNoWriMo, but I also love not failing classes.)  Along the way, I’ll be posting links and advice from myself and others.

To start off, here’s a list of character archetypes to play with:

  • The Femme Fatale.  Though the idea of a femme fatale is a little – how do I put it – sexist, there are plenty of ways to change the femme fatale as a character archetype to make her more interesting.  What if the femme fatale in your noir-style novel isn’t a secondary character but the narrator?
  • The strong, dark, silent type.  Overdone.  A million times overdone.  Find a way to save it or make it fresh, and I’ll give you a cookie.
  • The damsel in distress.  Also along the lines of sexist – but what if the damsel in question is a man being saved by a woman?  A man being saved by a man?  A man being saved by his trusty dog?

If you’ve got your own suggestions, leave them in the comments – I’m sure it would help all of us.  And if you’re doing a new twist on an old character, be sure to tell us what it is and how you’re making it new.

Remember: you need to write 1,667 words per day to reach that 50,000-word goal.  With new twists on old character types or stereotyped settings, I’m sure you’ll be able to reach 50,000!

Happy writing!


[Guest Post] NaNoPlaMo

That’s right, folks, it’s October, aka National Novel Planning Month. For the common Nanoer that is, not for me – I’ve had a chapter-by-chapter outline done for this year’s Nano since the end of September.

(Don’t feel bad. It’s only because I finished a second draft of this novel in June and spent all summer brainstorming the plot-holes out of it until I had a workable plot line.)

But I still have some planning ahead of me, because I am the official-unofficial Nano Planner for the University of Toledo Writer’s Guild. Admittedly, that doesn’t require as much work as would befall, say, a regional ML (municipal liaison), but still: Between five classes, three jobs, a boatload of homework, and this being my first year as any sort of coordinator for Nano events, I’m swamped.

What is a Nano event, you ask? Well, the primary event would be a write-in, but in all there are three basic things that happen around Nanowrimo:

  1. Kick-off parties
  2. Write-ins
  3. End parties, aka “thank God it’s over” parties

Kick-off parties might take place before November, to let everyone touch base, meet, and hang out before their month of shared insanity, or they might take place right at the beginning of November. The Toledo-area kick-off, for example, was a week ago, whereas the Writer’s Guild kick-off will be on the first Friday of November.

Because our UTWG kick-off will be after NaNo has started, it will really be a big write-in. “Big” in our case meaning “this is the first write-in of the month, so come in and kick-start your novel before school, work, and those annoying people you live with start to bog you down,” not meaning “a lot of people will be there.” Considering we’ve had an average meeting attendance of about four students, I’m guessing a lot of people will not be there, but it’ll be fun and it’ll be productive, and if a couple of new people happen to come join us, awesome.

Our write-in will actually be a write-in, in that we’ll while away the hours by sitting at a table with our laptops or notebooks and write with that burst of speed that always accompanies the beginning of the month.

In contrast, Toledo-area write-ins are really fun, but they’re not very productive. When someone asks what we do at a write-in, I say, “Well, supposedly we’re writing all together, but really it’s more like we’re helping each other procrastinate.” Not to cast disparagement on these write-ins – I love going to them. It’s how I made friends in Toledo last year. But the only time I got any real writing done was the day before Thanksgiving: I arrived late, after work, to find that the few people who had showed up were gone. Sitting alone at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble, I managed to get 2500 words written in just a couple of hours.

But normally I just talked to people.

At the end of the month is the traditional “thank God it’s over party,” at which you congratulate the people who won and celebrate the fact that you can stop freaking out about word-count, start spending more time with your significant other and less with your cat (who was your only company for the month, as he, unlike your boyfriend, simply slept on the table while you typed away, rather than complaining about your lack of attention), and otherwise return to a state of sanity.

I have our kick-off party and write-ins worked out for the month, but I’m not sure about our end-party. November 30th falls on a Friday, which would be perfect since that’s UTWG’s normal meeting day…but I don’t want to alienate anyone who’s still racing the clock, desperately trying to get to that fifty-thousandth word before the laptop strikes midnight.

Maybe the following Monday at Biggby. We’ll see.

Happy Nanoing to all, and to all a good novel!

Elizabeth Anderson is an education major at the University of Toledo. She works at the Learning Club of Toledo, the Toledo Botanical Gardens, and Lane Bryant and writes the UTWG newsletter. Her blog, Inkwell, can be found here, or follow her on Twitter.

The University of Toledo Writer’s Guild is open to all UT students and alumni as well as high-school students who would like to be honorary members. Any high-school or college-aged students from any schools in the Toledo area are welcome at UTWG’s Nano events.

Kick-off party: UT Student Union, room 1507 on Friday, November 2, from 3-5p.m. and 7-9p.m.

Meetings: Every Friday in UT SU 1507 from 5-7p.m.

Write-ins: Every Monday at Biggby Coffee on W. Central Ave. from 7-9p.m.

The UTWG blog can be found here. You can also check out the UTWG Nano thread.

Toledo-area write-ins are on Thursdays at the Barnes & Noble on Monroe St. from 6-10p.m. or whenever you get there. There will be no write-in on Thanksgiving.