What is Nano Really About?

6:00 AM

As writers, we tend to get really attached to our books. I think all artists get attached to their works. A painter (probably) has a deep connection to their paintings, just like a musician finds meaning in all their pieces.

Since we are so deeply connected to our artistic works, it's easy to get 1) obsessed, 2) defensive/over-protective, 3) overly attached, 4) deeply emotionally invested, and lots of other similar things.

(Hey, it's the end of nano. My words are in short supply. Cut me some slack.) XP

So here a lot of us are, nearing the end of nano. And that big question looms.

Will I hit 50k?

It's the Big Question, after all. It's what we've all been working towards all month ... right?

If you haven't hit this number yet, you might be experiencing some doubts and fears that you won't reach it. And that will somehow make you ... a failure at writing.

After all, this goal has been set. When we don't reach a goal, we fail.


Guys, I hope you don't think this. I've probably said this before, but I'm going to say it again.

We are creating art here. And we're not all going to do it the same way.

The goal of this month, the goal of NaNoWriMo itself, is NOT TO HIT 50K.

The goal is to get you to write.

The goal is to get you to think about writing. To try to find time this month to dedicate to your novel. How you do that is up to you. How much time you spend is your choice personally. Some have more time to dedicate to writing than others.

And that's okay. That's just how life works.

If you're not at 50k yet, don't despair. You still have time to punch out the words and hit that mark. And even if you don't hit that 50k, even if you've only written 100 words this month, you still wrote.

And that makes you a winner. Because this month is not about 50k. This month is about working on our stories. Our art. What we love.

Don't let yourself get down in the dumps if you didn't write as much as everyone else did. Where would be the fun in that, if we all wrote the same?

So spent these last few days of November how you will. Write when you can, and write what you love. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Whether you write it all this month or not, if you put your mind to it this book will get written eventually. So keep writing, nano or not. Have confidence in who you are and what you do.

Do what you love, and do it boldly.

Have you hit 50k for nano? If not, do you have another goal in mind? Are you struggling with your word count, or are you feeling okay / good about it? If you need some encouragement, I'll try to respond to your comments on Sunday! (I'm gone all day today and for most of Sunday though, but I'd love to chat with you guys) 



The Monstrous Beast of Comparison

6:00 AM

How are you guys surviving? I'M NOT. HAHAHA. AHAAAA. Ehem.

Well, I mean ... I guess technically speaking I am? Because, um ... I hit 50k on Thursday. *sheepish grin* BUT I STILL FEEL LIKE I'M DYING. I had 3k to go on Thursday evening but was severely lacking in motivation for some odd reason, but Katie was amazing and word crawled me to 50k, even though she had a long day and was sleepy. *hugs the lovely Katie*

I was pleasantly going about my day on Friday when I realized I hadn't gotten a post ready. So here's what's left of my coherency XP

Today we're going to talk about a beast that lurks in many places. It hides within NaNo and other group projects, and other projects, period. It's a nasty beastie.

It is ... Comparison.

CONFESSION TIME. Some of you might remember that I switched my nano novel in the beginning of October. I took on a whole new project about dreams. I was so excited, I did my first Beautiful Books post about it.

And then I read two other Beautiful Books posts. You know what their books were about?


Immediately, I felt that warm glow of excitement, the rush of happiness as I plan a new creation, that love and passion for an idea ... I felt all of that fade. Like iron heated over the fire, I had been thrust into the water, and my warmth for The Dream Walkers, my excitement and passion for it fizzled.

Their books are better, a little voice whispered in my ear. Their ideas are cooler. You think this is such a good idea? You're stupid. A goose could write this book better than you. You should just give up now, before you embarrass yourself.

This was stupid. I knew it was stupid. For any book I choose to write, I'm going to find similar ideas out there, or at least stories with similar elements.

That's why comparison is such a dangerous beast. It's so easily accessible. All you have to do is poke in on a writer friend and be like, "Oh heyyy how's nano?" and then they'll say, "Oh, I'm super behind at only 181473298474897562523k words" to which you reply

i'm done

It's so easy to feel bad about yourself then. Why can't I be at 181473298474897562523k words like so-and-so? UGH I'M SUCH A FAILURE AT WRITING.

That is where I will address my first qualm with comparison.

Qualm #1: everyone has their own pace

I did a post on the woes of word warring a while back, and in it I talked a bit about pace. (not the pace of a story, but the speed at which one writes)

In a really good war, I can crank out 300 words in 5 minutes. That means in a 10 minute war, I will (on occasion - when I'm steaming and words are explosive) crank out 600ish words.

This is my pace.

It's my goal now that I've pinpointed it. Yes, I am capable of writing 300 words in 5 minutes. Yes, I can write 600 words in 10 minutes. That is my pace.

So when I word war someone, I am not aiming to beat them.

I'm aiming to beat myself.

And that perspective needs to be zoomed out to encompass all of NaNoWriMo. For some, it is possible for them to crank out 20k in a day. *pointedly looks at a few particular people* Some people can finish NaNo in THREE STINKIN' DAYS. Heck, Katie did hers in 10 (i know, she's a boss).

These people are all different. They all have their own paces, their own processes, and their own styles. Just because someone can crank out 20k in a day doesn't mean I'm a failure for not being able to do the same.

It doesn't work like that.

300 words in 5 minutes.

That's my pace.

That's MY pace.

It's not yours. You need to find your pace. And if you have a slow war, you can tell yourself, "I know I can write faster." Not, "So and so can write faster. Why can't I be like them?"

That's just not a fair outlook. We are all amazing, unique, talented people. Embrace your pace. Embrace your process and style.

Embrace yourself, for you are unique and special. No one can tell your story like you can, and no one can write quite like you. Take pride in that. Don't let yourself get down because of your differences.


(can you tell i'm passionate about this? sorry to rant. actually i'm not sorry.)

Qualm #2: everyone has their own ideas and ways of taking them

I can sum up my book in a single word: dreams.

But something happens when you do that. You lose ... just about everything that makes the book yours. So if you walk around thinking, "I'm writing a book about dreams and it's going to be the best thing ever!!!" that might not be the smartest mindset.

Think about your best friend. What do you love about them? I love my best friend's laugh, and her smile, and her corny jokes that are just so bad I can't help but double over laughing till I can't breathe and my face is red and tears are streaming.

Now imagine what would happen if we all walked around looking at people and seeing their skeletons. Just the bones that support and hold them together.

They're all basically the same, right?

There are no more unique people, with pretty laughs and smiles. That's all gone. It's just bone.

Treat your stories like people. See the story for what it really is - and when you catch yourself comparing your story with someone else's, zoom out. Look at the whole novel. Is probably won't be a similar as you think.

Qualm #3: everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses

My cousin is a boss.

(just thought you ought to know)

I'll have to tell you all the full story sometime of how I became a writer, but my cousin played an integral role in that.

But today is confession day. And I'm here to say that ... I've always been a little jealous of my cousin.

She has such an amazing brain. Her ideas - just ... WOW. So many, so creative, so all over the place. They come so effortlessly to her (or seemingly so).

And like, this girl ... you should see her work at characters. She has page after page after page of backstory on her characters. And not just the main ones. If I asked her who her MC's cousin's best childhood friend was, she would be able to look at me and tell me a summary of this person's life, including major events that shaped them into the person they are today. It doesn't even matter to her if they're in the story or not. Legit. Like, I am not exaggerating. It's crazy.

My brain doesn't work like that. I don't understand how she can do it, and I used to get really down about it. Like, can't I be awesome like that too, please?

But that's not how I work. I come up with the character backstory I really need and don't go much further. (except for in world building - hehehe) and that works for me. Backstory is one of her greatest writing strengths. World building is mine.

We are different.

And that is okay. It is nothing to feel down about, or ashamed of.

Take a closer look before you say something is "better" or "worse". Think more of differences and the beauty we have in being unique. Reevaluate how you think when you look at someone's blurb or snippet or word count. Don't think why can't I be like them? But try to appreciate them for who they are, and show that same courtesy to yourself.

NaNo is a giant, world wide effort. It's really easy to fall into the trap of comparing. You're writing alongside thousands of other writers! Of course it's going to be difficult not to look over their shoulders and see their word count and their snippet that looks so beautiful and say, WHY CAN'T I WRITE LIKE THAT?

But please don't. Don't see differences as being better or worse. Just look at them as differences. It will make the world a much more beautiful place.

How goes nano for you all (if you're doing it)? Do you struggle with comparing?



How to Ignore your Family and Write Like the Boss You are

6:00 AM


Ehem. You might have noticed I write 2 different kinds of posts. Either reasonably deep, or really just incoherent and loud. Today you will receive the latter. 

So. My family has this thing that they do. It's gotten better lately, since I'm the oldest one in the house now, but it was really bad there for a while. Everyone just sort of ... gathers. In my room. While I'm writing., what?

I’m not sure why this happens. During nanowrimo last year, it happened, like, EVERY NIGHT. I’d be sitting there, typing away, getting really into it, building steam … and then BOOM. The family swoops in to make allllll the noise and distractions. I'm not even in their conversation, just slightly angrily typing away with my writer glare (see below) in place and my headphones (see below) crammed on.

As you can expect, I am now a pro at tuning out loud noises and voices and major distractions. I sat in a room full of people the other day while my friends played a card game (#introvert) and cranked out 200 words in like, five minutes. Allow me to give you some life changing advice so you, too, can be a pro.

What why are you looking at me like that I am completely serious.

Tactic 1 /// headphones

They work the best. Fam sees you with them on and it’s like, oh I can’t talk to her. Headphones are the better than earbuds since they’re more visible, but earbuds will work if that’s all you have. Just pretend you can’t hear them when they say your name. And when they shake you, just tap your ear like, I'm busy, or yank it out and let it hit them and be like, "oops. sorry. now what do you want."

It also makes the awkward silence less awkward when they're sitting on your bed staring at you, and you're happily ignoring them and typing away and grooving to your writer music.

Tactic 2 /// the writer glare 

The fam tries to speak and you kind of look at them. It’s kind of a glare, but it’s more glazed because your mind is on your story and the characters and the scene you’re trying to write and then the family member nods slowly and backs up.

Tactic 3 /// writer threats 

As writers, we have a quite limitless box of threats to unleash. Don't be afraid to threaten banishment to a distant galaxy, death by giant snap turtles, or drowning in ogre snot. Writer threats will scare off the younger siblings. Maybe even the older ones, if you play it right.

Tactic 4 /// ask nicely? 

“Hey I’m trying to write. So can you just … leave?”

Tactic 5 /// the info dump

Your family is probably at least somewhat interested in what you’re writing. So dump it on them. They’ve dared to enter the domain of your room, your top secret writing head-quarters. They signed up for it. (Although, be careful about this one. A) your plot will be so captivating that they want to keep listening, or b) they’ll fake smile and nod uneasily and then creep out of the room and you’ll question if your plot is actually good and wonder what you're even doing with your life. #beentheredonethatoops)

(Can you tell my words are leaving me?) XP

Tactic 6 /// SCREAM

Loudly. It'll startle them. Then just keep doing it until they run away.

Tactic 7 /// just ... ignore them

You’ve got your headphones on. You’re typing away. Your family – for some strange reason – has decided to gather in your small room and party. I DON’T KNOW WHY. MAYBE THEY LIKE BEING NEAR YOUR BOOKS??? But they’re there, and you’ve got skills because you’re in your own little world. Just keep typing. They’ll go out … eventually.

Tactic 8 /// war someone

It's really useful to be in the middle of a word war so you can be like, GUYS GO AWAY I AM IN BATTLE. They might not fully understand the significance of this statement, but when they see the fighting gleam in your eyes they will back away slowly and at least pretend to understand. They don't want to take the place of your opponent.

And that’s about all I have for you. Hopefully I'll think of some more ignore-the-fam-and-write-on hacks, but for now this is the best I’ve got. Of course, not that you should always ignore them. Sometimes, a good game of bananagrams or a nice walk with your mom is needed to break the author craziness. I know it might feel like you’re wasting time you could be spending working out all these plot holes and cranking out all those words, but you don’t have forever with your family. Enjoy the time you have while it lasts. <3

(...while, um, still you know. getting your word count in.)

Does your family have a habit of gathering in your room to watch loud horror movie trailers and play with scorpions? (not exaggerating) How do you write through it? SHARE YOUR HACKS, MY LOVELY STALKER BEANS. 


Writing Encouragement

Writing Impacts YOU

6:00 AM

Hi guyyyys! It's day 5 of nano! How are you all surviving? *checks pulses* I'm actually at a sleepover today, and I'm going to be gone. all. day. SO. ahaaaaaaha. I had to get ahead on the first few days so my word count on the third was 12k, and it's probably going to stay there. I realized midway through day 1 that I'm actually going to be gone ... every weekend this month?? Or at least, doing a big time sucking thing every weekend. *hysterical laughter*

But that's okay. You got this, I got this, we all got this. Please tell me how you're doing! I WANT TO HEAR ALL THE THINGS <3

But anyway. I was feeling the blogger love /before/ nano, so I will hopefully have enough posts to still keep on schedule (look at me! *dances*). This particular post has been on my heart a lot, especially this week.

So. On with the post!

I want to change lives with my writing.

That's not something I've always consciously wanted. I started writing stories simply because I enjoyed doing it. But it has grown into something so much more. And suddenly there's this pressure. I want to help people. I want to impact my readers. I want to give them that powerful emotional experience that every writer strives for.

But ... what if I don't? What if I never even finish this book, anyway? What if no one ever reads my words?

If you're thinking this, I want you to stop. Right here, right now, stop. Gaze at these words and think.

Why are you writing?

The Dream Walkers. I'm writing this book because there are things I need to discover, and this book is my key to doing that.

I'm writing this book because it will impact me.

Not my cousin. Not my mother. Not my dad or my siblings or my best friend or my best friend's aunt or my neighbor's niece.

I'm writing it because it is going to help me. It's going to change me. It's going to impact me.

That may sound a bit selfish, but I don't think it is. Likelihood is, someone out there is struggling with what I've been struggling with. Maybe they have a sister they're not sure how to get along with. Maybe they have a fear they can't conquer. Maybe they have a longing to be loved and accepted (don't we all have that longing?) and are struggling with feelings that they're not, and never will be.

And so, in helping myself ... I just might help others. If I do get this book published (which I'm pretty sure I will) then yes, my writing will reach others.

But right now, I'm not there yet. I'm in Nano. I'm in messy draft one. I'm in bad words and crunch time and uncertainty and late nights and ice cream binge eating and sore wrists. That's where I am.

But I'm discovering. And that's beautiful. And it's just what I needed.

Writing impacts you. So if you are afraid you will never help anyone, never change or challenge anyone, never influence or inspire, just take a look at yourself. What has writing done for you?

Is that not worth it?

Keep writing, lovelies. It's worth it.

Please, tell me how nano goes for you! And if you're not doing nano, what things writing-wise are you doing this month? 


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