Tornado Samurai

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Hiya, I'm Tornado Summer!

Just wanted to know, does anyone participate in the annual NaNoWriMo? (Write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days on November.) And if so, what's your history and do you plan to continue this year as well?

My story is that I heard of NaNoWriMo back in 2012. Originally, I wanted to enter the contest, but I was too discouraged by the fact that I believed that my writing wasn't as nearly as good as anyone else at the time. Not only that, I had low doubt I would write 50,000 words in 30 days, much less 10,000 in 10 days. In 2013, I began to learn more about it and watch videos of people who embarked on the imaginative journey and how they prepared for it and how their progress extended across the 30 days. Unfortunately, in 2013, I had passed it on once more, my procrastinating voice telling me, "Eh... You should do it next year."

Surprisingly, I did take on the journey in 2014, beginning the quest for my first novel in 30 days, even though I had a 2,000+ word head start prologue in which I had written on October 30th, but that doesn't really count as cheating, right? Anyway, the first days were great and exciting and full of promise and ideas as I was staying on track and achieving my daily word count goal and sometimes, surpassing it and receiving days off because I was ahead by a lot. However, the 10 days after those first set of days began to get a bit rough. What with real life things getting in the way and my motivation decreasing along with ideas falling apart, my daily goals were falling short, my writing itself was really beginning to look like the worst thing I had ever wrote, my planned days of words written were falling behind, I was beginning to lose interest in the story, and I was just about ready to give up and end it already. This journey was harder than it looked.

Not only that, I don't plan my stories beginning to end. I only plan the plot and characters only, and I just go from there. I don't particularly like planning because I have no patience for it. I just wish to begin the story and go from there and improve. I have a personal opinion that if I were to plan my stories on every excruciating detail beginning to end, it would be like giving my characters a set of instructions on what to do throughout the story; in other words, I would feel pretty emotionless writing the story if everything was planned out and already finalized. I wouldn't be able to branch from or get new ideas that way. I don't plan because I believe that my stories branch off and give me new ideas I wouldn't have thought about when I'm writing.

On the last day, I ended with 40,042 words, failing the NaNoWriMo goal. At first I thought I was going to feel disappointed but, in truth, I was actually proud of what I'd did. Even though I didn't achieve the goal, I still attempted and did my best and held on during the times where I just wanted to give it all up. All in all, it was a wonderful journey and I was happy that I embarked upon it. It helped me in many ways and improved my skills as a writer. I had written more words than I ever had in years... I plan to take on NaNoWriMo once more this year in NaNoWriMo 2015. I'm really excited to begin the next journey once more. New story, new characters, new plot, and new goals. I can't wait to begin the next journey! :D

So, that's my story, what's your NaNoWriMo history and current status?

- Tornado Summoner, Knight of Wind
 

Marsigne

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50,000 words? Imagining? I've wrote 1000 words and it felt like a lot lol xD and imagining is one of the parts that I'm slow in xD but I assume you learned a lot, right? writing 40k words definitely wasn't easy, I guess xD I guess it's easy/hard depending on how much imaginative guy you are, and for me, well, eh... *faints*

Good story though :D tips on how you did that awesomeness would be nice xD
 
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Tornado Samurai

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50,000 words? Imagining? I've wrote 1000 words and it felt like a lot lol xD and imagining is one of the parts that I'm slow in xD but I assume you learned a lot, right? writing 40k words definitely wasn't easy, I guess xD I guess it's easy/hard depending on how much imaginative guy you are, and for me, well, eh... *faints*

Good story though :D tips on how you did that awesomeness would be nice xD
Thanks for the comment! I absolutely believe anyone can take the journey of NaNoWriMo and accomplish it. You should try NaNoWrimo :) . Even if you don't win, like I did, the experience is all the worth it. ;)

Tips? Hmm, I'm not so good on giving advice, but one of the main things I did to improve as a writer was read a mass number of fiction books. Last year, I read lots and lots of books because I enjoyed reading new fantasy tales and more works from my favorite authors. This year, I spent the first half quarter re-reading books I had already read for the like the 3rd-4th time. Another main source is that I wrote many stories. Around that time, I couldn't stay committed to make a full story so I went for short but exceptionally long stories. Occasionally, I took on writing prompts and story starters and they've helped me as well. So, my tips are to read more books and to write stories more to improve writing. The more you do them, the more you excel and learn from it.

*Sorry if they're not good enough tips though...

- Tornado Summoner
 

Harmill

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Yes, there are a few of us on the forums that participated in NaNoWriMo 2014! We had a topic for it here: http://forums.rpgmakerweb.com/index.php?/topic/33564-alkorris-nanowrimo-motivator-machine/

Congratulations on reaching 40,000 words! It is a big undertaking, and don't feel down because you didn't make it to 50k. The point is that you wrote 40,000 words more than you might have written in November if you hadn't had NaNoWriMo as a motivator! I don't write much at all outside of November, something that I'd like to improve on -- but it certainly makes me look forward to November all the more.

As for your initial burst of productivity, I'd say that's a common occurrence. Many people get themselves pumped for the event and/or have a basic premise that gets them excited to write about. After a few days or maybe the first week, you start to lose that initial motivation, or you start to second-guess the "awesomeness" of your story, or you start to get inklings to play games or other distractions more and more.  For me, I've always denied myself video games completely during November, and if I DO start to get an urge to play them instead of writing, I use them as a reward system. "If I meet my 1666 day word quota, I will allow myself to play video games today. The sooner I reach that quota the more time I have to play video games!". I know it won't work for everyone, but I think it's worth trying.

Not only that, I don't plan my stories beginning to end. I only plan the plot and characters only, and I just go from there. I don't particularly like planning because I have no patience for it. I just wish to begin the story and go from there and improve. I have a personal opinion that if I were to plan my stories on every excruciating detail beginning to end, it would be like giving my characters a set of instructions on what to do throughout the story; in other words, I would feel pretty emotionless writing the story if everything was planned out and already finalized. I wouldn't be able to branch from or get new ideas that way. I don't plan because I believe that my stories branch off and give me new ideas I wouldn't have thought about when I'm writing.
There's nothing wrong your method! I've heard George R. R. Martin describe the two major writing forms to be the Gardener and the Architect. You are simply a Gardener. You have a story idea, and instead of creating every detail before writing (as the Architect would), you prefer to plant your story seeds and see what grows out of it! For me, I lean a little more towards the Architect. I'm not particularly good at just writing away with no idea where I'm going. But I agree that it can sometimes be a detriment to plan literally every aspect of your story ahead of time. For many people, they start to get bored, because the fun part of creating the story was already done, and the act of writing it becomes tedious.

Now for my NaNoWriMo history... a friend introduced it to me around 2010. I wasn't fully into the event, and reached only 10,000 words around the mid-month mark. At that point, I was no longer interested in continuing and gave up.

I did not consider doing NaNoWriMo again until 2013, when around September, I asked the Narrative Designer on my project if he ever participated. As I should have expected, he was a long time participant, and 3 time winner. We talked about NaNoWriMo a lot, and got ourselves excited for November. I got back in touch with the same friend that introduced it to me back in 2010, and I found myself having a small group of people to talk to about writing and the event. That November was one of the most fun months in recent memory. I blazed through the 50k goal - I was highly motivated to write, and seeing your friends' word counts on the NaNoWriMo website was also a motivator. They told me that my quick pace also motivated them to write a bit more than they would have each day, so it was a mutual benefit.

NaNoWriMo 2014 was very similar. I had a bit smaller group this time, and I had a LOT of overtime at work to contest with. I would not get off work until 9pm most nights, and I'd refuse to go to bed until midnight, trying to get as many words written as possible in the day. I reached 50,000 half way through the month, and I was fully intent on continuing, but I was burnt out. Once I reached the 50,000, when I got home from work at 9:30pm, being able to just go to bed was too enticing, and I wound up not writing anything more for the rest of the month.

NaNoWriMo is a special event for me. It's amazing how productive I can be when I have that external motivator urging me to write. And for that, I appreciate the event and owe a lot to it.
 

wallacethepig

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November 2014 was my first, and I succeeded. There was actually a topic for NaNo '14 (Harmill posted it). It's kind of funny - I did nothing I expected I would do.

First, I spent all of the 1st just making a plan. Planning is something that I...don't do. Like, ever. But I did have a plan - write 20 2,500 word chapters, and write one a day. I also spent most of that day coming up with synopses for each chapter. Nothing long; 4 sentences tops. But it gave a mood for the chapter and something to write about for 2,500 words.

Second, I just kept writing. I made it my number one priority. Obviously, I didn't do a perfect job, but that's why I did the 20 chapter thing - I had 10 days of leeway.

Third, I posted it to my blog. That way, I had people that I could tell my story to. Not only that, but I could say "I've gotta get this done so I don't disappoint my readers."

Finally, I let the world around me inspire me even when writing. If I was feeling good, my writing was happy. If I was feeling down in the dumps, I wrote about sadder stuff. And I did stick to the chapter synopses...at first. Around 3/4 of the way through, the story changed a little bit. I added stuff in and took other stuff out. In other words, I let the characters in the story write their own.

I ended up getting to 50K on the 26th. It was mostly because of Thanksgiving stuff, though - I wrote three chapters in one day!

The most important thing is to not give up! I could've given up. But I didn't. Also, I won. I'm pretty sure the two are related somehow. Don't fret about how it's gonna get done, just write it. I would say let your characters drive the story. If you have no idea where to take it, don't wait for inspiration! Find an antagonist in your story and have him/her mess with the protagonist. Or just have the protagonist do something stupid so you can write about his/her blunder for three thousand words.

So yeah. Don't give up, don't wait for inspiration, give yourself minor goals to meet every day (and rewards for them, of course!), and, uh...type fast, I guess? I wish you all the best for this November!

-Wallace

also if you wanna read my story you can read it here :p
 

Tornado Samurai

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@Harmill: Thanks for your post. It really made my day. I always had this silent yet ominous thought that my writing as a non-planner was somewhat wrong in a sense, but thanks for reassuring me and giving me wonderful insight on continuing writing in the future. I never thought of non-planning and planning in those concepts. They really shine a new light on planning, non-planning and writing for me. Thanks a million. :D

@wallacethepig: That's a pretty amazing strategy and paradigm to execute for NaNoWriMo, wish I'd thought of that. I didn't get a lot of motivation and feedback  because I'm a bit too secretive about my writing sometimes: in other words: no one sees my writing but me. I hope that's not too strange. I will definitely use the rewards system for this years' NaNoWriMo as well, and I'll be sure to never give up. ;)

Thanks again for your amazing insight everyone,

- Tornado Summoner, Knight of Wind
 

captainproton

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I'd only ever really toyed with NaNo before last year, usually never getting more than about 10k words. Last year, though, I was only a little more than 4000 words short of the goal. It wasn't easy, filling every free moment with writing. (My video games were so neglected!) I found it oddly easier to write things out by hand and then type it up. I also used a Notepad app on my phone to write while on break at work. That was pretty helpful, because I could connect my phone to my computer and then copy-paste into my novel.
 

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