What I Learned From NaNo

In May, my goal was to write a 30,000 word suspense novella in 30 days. I was only supposed to write 1,000 words a day. Starting off my journey, I chronicled each day’s experience until I started getting behind with blogging (my computer crashed!!!!). Anyway, I’d like to share what I’ve learned through participating in this fun, but stressful challenge and I’d also like to finish my update on if I had failed or succeeded back in May.

Why, you may ask? Because….in November, I’m officially participating in Nano through the website. I want an award hee hee!!! I even contacted local writers who do NaNo every year. It’ll be fun meeting new people.

What I Learned From NaNo

1.  Lowering the word count will play tricks on you. You’ll think you will have all the time in the world to make word count up, and before you know it, the month is almost over!

2.  It’s hard to stay motivated, focusing on a goal when you’re the only person working on NaNo.

3.  DO NOT start NaNo in the middle of releasing a book! Choose one or the other. As you’ll see, a lot of my zeroes were of me downloading ONE BY ONE to different websites, setting up Goodreads, formatting my book correctly, and finding bloggers for book reviews and author interviews.

4.  Even though you may fail, it’s still good to treat yourself once in a while. On June 1st, I went to New York City with my family. I’ll never regret choosing spending quality time with my cousins and mom the night before our trip instead of writing the ending of my NaNo story.

5.  Don’t start other activities if you’ve already committed to NaNo. In May, I had began tutoring a college student, becoming a beta-reader and critique partner to multiple writers, etc. Maybe I should have waited hee hee…

My May NaNo Update

I decided it’d be better to just list the rest of the days instead of chronicle each day’s activity. Let’s see if I succeeded or failed for TRAPPED: A NOVELLA…

  • The first 11 days
  • Day 12 – May 13th (293 words)
  • Day 13 – May 14th (1,154 words)
  • Day 14 – May 15th (0 words)
  • Day 15 – May 16th (0 words)
  • Day 16 – May 17th (0 words)
  • Day 17 – May 18th (0 words)
  • Day 18 – May 19th (3,016 words)
  • Day 19 – May 20th (504 words)
  • Day 20 – May 21st (0 words)
  • Day 21 – May 22nd (0 words)
  • Day 22 – May 23rd (0 words)
  • Day 23 – May 24th (526 words)
  • Day 24 – May 25th (3,010 words)
  • Day 25 – May 26th (0 words)
  • Day 26 – May 27th (2,822 words)
  • Day 27 – May 28th (2,579 words)
  • Day 28 – May 29th (837 words)
  • Day 29 – May 30th (1,608 words)
  • Day 30 – May 31st (0 words)

FAILED–ENDING COUNT 26,179 WORDS

SHORT BY 3,821 WORDS (which isn’t that bad considering how many zeroes I had…)

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Good Luck To All The NaNoWriMo Participants!!!

For writers, November is a fun (somewhat stressful) month if participating in NaNoWriMo. This challenge requires them to write a novel in 30 days–1,666 words a day. Good luck to everyone who participates! Online PHD Programs offers a helpful post called 25 Most Effective Tools for NaNoWriMo Success. It talks about efficient software to help you keep track of word count and the progress of your novel as well as websites to go to afterwards to help with critique and feedback. I swore that I wouldn’t use online methods anymore for critique partners or beta-readers, but Critique Circle keeps getting positive reviews. I may have to check it out.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Poppy’s NaNoWriMo Survival Guide – My Top 9 Tips for Success!

Poppy gives a great list of tips on succeeding with the NaNoWriMo challenge that everyone should look at for November if participating.

Poppy Writes A Book

It’s that time of year again!

It’s almost November, which means it’s time for National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. Flush with victory from last years NaNo, I’m going to share with you the top 9 things that helped me to write 50,000 words in  less than a month!

Click Here if you’re like “What the heck’s a NaNoWriMo?” For the rest of you here we go…

1. Scrivener Writing Software

Available for both Mac and PC,  Scrivener changed the way I write. I consider it the best writing software on the market. It’s full of  so many great features and I encourage you to check it out. During NaNo they offer a Special NaNo Trial  that allows you to download the software to use during the month of November for FREE. The trial lasts through December 7th, and if you “win” NaNo you get…

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Word Count Makes A Difference Between Short Stories, Novels, and Novellas

Word count means the number of words in your story. There are guidelines to follow in the publishing industry; however, different genres have different preferences. Please double-check before submitting to agents or publishers, or hitting the publishing button. Here’s a break-down between short stories, novels, and novellas:

NOVEL–50,000 to 110,000

  • has more complicated plot (beginning, middle, ending)
  • has main and supporting characters
  • has chapter breaks
  • very popular length for paperbacks and hardbacks

NOVELLA–20,000 to 50,000

  • has a more complicated plot than a short story but not much in-depth like a novel
  • has more than one character, but usually focuses on just main ones
  • typically no chapter breaks
  • very popular length for e-books (so readers can finish in one sitting)

SHORT STORY–1,000 to 7,500

  • has simple plot (usually focuses on a couple of scenes, sometimes even only one)
  • has more than one character, but usually focuses on just main ones
  • no chapter breaks
  • very popular length for magazines and writing contests (readers definitely finish in one sitting)

For all the writers out there, is there anything you’d like to add on the guidelines for different lengths of books? Especially on how genres have varied lengths?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 20 of 90 Day Novel Challenge

I didn’t lie when I predicted I’d have plenty of time on my hands while outlining my next novel. I’ve managed to get the majority of my editing accomplished for One By One (only 20 more pages to go woo hoo), provided character sketches and plot outline for screenplay with my writing buddy (it was fun the day we scouted locations in Harpers Ferry), and I completed character sketches for my comic–even did research (will be combining comicpress with wordpress for my art blog next year).

Now, its day 20 of this novel challenge. In 8 more, I can start my rough draft. I can’t wait! I’ve described the majority of the scenes that I want in this story, so it’s all fresh in my head. I just have to jot it down on paper. I’ve been a busy bee, getting intimate with my characters. I’ve roleplayed enough that I know them by heart. It took a while for me to figure out their names though–that was a first. I’m not even completely sold on my four main characters’ names, so they may change in revisions. Since they are celebrities, they should have memorable first and last name combinations.

My routine for this challenge so far has been to focus on plot outline and character sketches  in the morning(using my own method instead of those questions in the 90 day book), then in the afternoon and night, I work on my other projects. This challenge expects a 80,000 word count novel at the end! I have to rethink my strategy.

  • Let’s see, for NaNo, it was 1,666 words a day. If I write 1,000 words a day for the next 2 months, that only leaves 60,000. If I do 1,340 words a day, then it’ll be 80,400 words give or take. Hopefully, this will be less stress compared to NaNo. When researching, I couldn’t find anything about when to expect burning out or being motivated, the best and worst weeks of the process, etc. I’m going into the situation blindly, and I hate that. I want to already know, so I can prepare myself for it. Oh well.

Being realistic, I don’t expect to reach 80,000. I really don’t want to hee hee. I like to get in, make my point, then exit to the left. This 90 day novel challenge will probably give me a headache, but I’ll succeed. My inner-nerd won’t let me fail. It’ll help that I plan on dividing this novel into different parts–it should help me produce a higher word count than usual.

The premise is based off of an actress’s experience. It’s a popular headline at the moment for magazines and blog sites. It was fun to Google the gossip to get the juicy version from the press and to hear fans’ reactions. I’m excited to reveal behind-the-scenes of Hollywood with PR, bruised egos, inflated egos, narcissists, etc even if my story is make believe. That’s why it’s called fiction. The details are changed so much that no one will be able to tell where I found inspiration from. There’s only one person I told, and she better not spill the beans hee hee.

I plan to finish editing One By One this weekend, leaving me time to begin my creative writing prompts again. I’ll start this Friday. I’m sorry I had to stop awhile–it was cool that some of you enjoyed reading them 🙂

Come on Day 28, I’m ready for ya! For all the writers out there who’s participated in this 90 day novel challenge, do you have any tips or suggestions for me and my writing buddy before we start our first rough draft?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 30 (SUCCESSFUL!!!!)

MAY 9TH – 1,634 WORDS

TOTAL AFTER 30 DAYS: 50,167 WORD COUNT

The last day!!!! What a relief!!!! That’s all I kept thinking this morning. I felt like weight had been lifted off my shoulders; the faster I could write 1,666 words, the sooner I could finish my goal. In Jumpin’ Java, Nicholas asked to read one of my books to see how good I am (he was nice at first but since then turned into a bug-a-boo). He asked me on scale of 1 to 10 how good of a writer was I. Of course, I said 11. Might as well give off confidence. If I don’t believe in my writing, no one else will. He made the mistake of grabbing for my stack of papers on the table, so I snatched them away from his hand. When will people learn to respect my space?

I also talked to Haylie, who informed me Jumpin’ Java is haunted. Say what now? I believe in ghosts, so I was automatically fascinated and wanted to hear every detail of how she knew. So spooky. The cafe used to be a storage for coffins back in the olden days, and the post office used to be the jail where John Brown served his sentence until he was hanged. I learn something new every day.

Despite my conversations with people, I was productive in writing and created around 1,600 words. Today was a really busy day with new customers coming in. I’m the type of person who looks up every time the door opens to see who walks in. So let’s just say, there was plenty of distractions, but I was so happy when I reached my mark. Now, I could relax all day!

  • Melissa, Robin, and I extended our NaNo challenge for one more week in case people need to catch up on word count. Since I beat it, I’m simply finishing my novel. Hopefully, it’ll be completed by next Friday. After that, we start the editing process–oh boy.
  • I reached the scene where they find the second victim’s body. It’s so surreal that 30 days have gone by. It seems like we started this writing challenge yesterday.

All I know is that my life has gone back to normal since bug-a-boo NaNo is finished hee hee. I created more mock book covers and will present them to Melissa and Robin to receive their opinions. I want this story published, so the book cover will keep me motivated to follow my dreams. To stay on track.

  • I stayed on Facebook for so long, I almost fainted. Usually I write a status update, don’t even bother checking other peoples’ walls or looking at the home page, then quickly log off. Not today. Why? Because I had time –NaNo’s over!!! I even critiqued my writer group’s stories. Why? Because I had time–NaNo’s over!!! That will never get old to say hee hee.

I’m happy to report that I succeeded in my NaNoWriMo 30 day challenge. I told you guys I would; my inner nerd refused to let me fail.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 29 (Can See Story As A Finished Product)

MAY 8TH – 1,969 WORDS

At the train station, I was mesmerized by all the different pamphlets. My favorites were the scenic train rides, sightseeing, and the national aquarium. It reminded me of my 6th grade field trip to Baltimore. Very interesting morning–people fought over 0.50 cents. Yes folks, you see the correct amount, no typo: 0.50 cents. Let’s just say, I didn’t get any writing accomplished at the train station.

In the morning, it was only me and Robin at Jumpin’ Java. We watched YouTube and talked about the history behind Charles Town. She suggested that I should look at the records in the library since I have names of my ancestors (even some slave names). It would be so cool to find information on them. And, I never knew that there’s a cave with a stream underneath Charles Town. Basically, if town collapses, we’ll all drown. I learn something new everyday.

  • With Robin’s suggestion, I know my next novel idea. It’ll be another suspense–someone obsessive over a person who doesn’t realize until too late. With this NaNo story, I realized that I enjoyed writing in this genre. At first, I thought I’d mostly write romance or women’s fiction, so I should use my name. Now, I’m debating that. I think it’ll be cool to write these suspenseful mysteries, so maybe these genres should use my name, and the women’s fiction can use a pen name.

I wrote during my lunch break in case I got tired at home. It rained and was dreary ALL DAY, making it the perfect setting to be motivated to write. No way I wanted to go out in that mess. I reached around 400 words–better than zero. I reached Chapter Eight where the second body is found. Dun, dun, dun… Keeping my momentum going, I decided to print off a mock book cover, experimenting with different font sizes and styles.

At home, I started at 8 PM. Eventually I stopped to download two more ebooks. Such a temptation to read them tomorrow hee hee. Gasp, tomorrow will be the last day. Will I reach 50,000 words?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 28 (Embracing My Writer Identity)

MAY 7TH – 1, 630 WORDS

I had fun at Jumpin’ Java today even if I was alone most of the time. You know a certain vibe you get when you assume someone wants to speak to you, but they never do. Well, Nicholas introduced himself (I guess he wanted to wait until I was alone). He thought I was a teacher because he always noticed I “correct something.” Taking everyone’s advice, I’ve decided to embrace my writer identity. So I told him I’m a writer; now he calls me “novelist.”

I’ve been dining in Jumpin’ Java for about a month now–officially 30 days on May 9th. I’m not talking just eating then leaving right away. I’ve been spending a good 2 hours each morning–minus weekends–in there, so it was about time I talked to the lady behind the counter. Somehow we got on the subject of WVU (we both attended). She asked me when I graduated, and Haylie couldn’t believe my age. She said I definitely don’t look like it. If that’s not a compliment, then I don’t know what is hee hee. Let’s just say, my day went swell.

  • Since I’ll be a regular customer even after NaNo is over, I might as well mingle with the staff and other regular customers. I can’t stay a quiet wallflower forever.

I wrote at Jumpin’ Java (a little over 1,000 words) as well as during my lunch. I’ve reached the part where the second victim is dead upstairs. Dun, dun, dun…The other characters don’t know it yet. Since I only have 2 days to complete NaNo, I know I won’t finish. I’ll get passed my word count of 50,000 but I still have 7 more victims to go. Excited that this will be my first story that passes the novella stage.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 27 (A Proud Mama)

MAY 6TH – 3,138 WORDS

Since my sleeping schedule is all out of wack, I woke up at 6:30 AM and began writing. I once read that you can train your mind when it’s time to write. For example, if I get up very early, then instead of jotting things down, I should do something else. Maybe listen to music or watch TV. Maybe go for a walk. Anything except writing. This will condition myself to stop forcing me in the morning. If only I’d listen to that advice hee hee.

Of course, I drifted back to sleep after a little while. Knowing I had to make up for yesterday, I created my new scenes immediately in the afternoon. No more stalling tactics. It hit me that there’s only 3 days left of NaNo!!! Where has all the time gone? It seems like just yesterday Robin, Melissa, and I started this writing challenge.

I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t stop until 7:45 PM (very little breaks. A girl has to eat right?). I didn’t even take a nap today, which is a first. I wasn’t even tired! Not even a little!

  • All day I’ve been singing loudly and off-key. Oh how I wish I could carry a tune. When my granddad was younger, he and his brothers formed a gospel group that was popular in the local community. I’m so jealous. Why couldn’t I carry those gifted traits hee hee?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 26 (Nap Should Be My Middle Name)

MAY 5TH – 1,020 WORDS

Next time I know better than to think I’ll be in and out of a hair salon. I’ll bring my writing notebooks with me just in case. Since I wasn’t prepared today, I couldn’t begin NaNo until 5:45 PM. I tried to concentrate, but my mind kept drifting to the fact that my stylist asked me if I wanted to dye my gray hairs. I know I have some–didn’t know it was that bad. They’ve crept in my bangs and in front of my hair. I’ve always been called an old soul, but sheesh!

Anyway, back to NaNo. I was on a roll yet couldn’t keep my eyes open. I took a nap at 8:15 PM and didn’t wake up until 11:55 PM, so I missed the majority of the day. Oh well, I’ll just make up tomorrow. I’ve never been so sleepy like this; I think it’s because I’m technically not a morning person. I get up in the wee hours of the morning, keep nodding off in mid-afternoon, and once evening hits, I’m knocked out, but always up in time for my shows. I’m like a newborn baby who can’t function with the correct sleeping schedule.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby