Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

NaNoWriMo Week 1 recap #nanowrimo #amwriting


Hey! *waves* Talk about a crazy week! Fall has returned to the “great white North” with record-setting temps in the 70s this week. Yep, you read that right. The first week of November in MN has temps in the 70s! Makes it almost worth the 6 1/2 inches of snow we got two weeks ago worth it.


And since it’s been so nice, it would be a sin to not take advantage of it, right? Finished cleaning up the garden and went for a run outside. It felt glorious (except for all the dust from the gravel road). We have a couple more days before seasonal temps return (to the tune of around 40-50 degrees F).

Oh, and look who we found hanging out in our grove this week: (NOT a picture of our actual visitor because I take lousy pictures and I do not have a telephoto lens (because I take lousy pictures πŸ™‚ )):

I saw a great horned owl in our grove years ago when we first bought the place, but haven’t seen one since, though I think I might have heard it a few times. This week, hubs got out the binoculars, pointed to some place in the grove, and said “Look.” Yeah. Unless you know ex-act-ly where to look with binoculars, good luck seeing whatever the hell it is the other person is pointing at.

He took me down the driveway (through the grove) so I had a different angle. Sure enough, it was a great horned owl. So cool! That’s one of the best things about our little 8-acre island in the middle of vast farm fields: we get to see all kinds of wildlife. There’s a resident red-tailed hawk and another hawk I’m not sure of, maybe broad-winged or Cooper’s. A pair of wood ducks hangs out every spring on their way to wherever they nest. Saw a possum cross the yard last week, and I’m pretty sure a woodchuck lives in the ruins of the old timber-frame farm house. I’m not going to mention the rabbits. So many rabbits. Ugh.

And back to NaNo, Week 1. I’ve managed to keep up this week. Not my usual 2k words a day, but I’m making the 1667 word quota, with about a hundred words to spare. It was touch and go the first couple days, though.

With the “oh my gawd I cannot deal with election Tuesday” this week, I had a video chat with my Writing Sisters, two of whom are joining me in this crazy NaNo adventure.

And one of them, who is attempting NaNo for the first time, expressed her frustration. “Why did I ever think this was a good idea? I blame you, Julie.”

In some secret, dark part of me, I rubbed my hands together and laughed maniacally. Mwahahahahaha!

In the kinder, brighter part of me, I empathized. NaNo can be pretty intimidating.

She asked how I do it.

This is what I told her:

  • The internet is a time-sucking distraction, even when it comes to research. I can pop to the internet to look something up, such as popular boys names in the 1950s, and pretty soon I’ve lost a half-hour of writing time. This year I’m getting serious with my lack of discipline. I turn the internet off (well, not off, hubs would not appreciate that). I started using a program called Freedom.to that will block me from accessing the internet for a period of time. I even splurged for a lifetime membership (which is half-price this month and actually reasonable).
  • What about when I have to look something up if I can’t go to the internet? I make an inline note within brackets to remind me, then when I revise, I’ll look it up.
  • Don’t go back to revise something you wrote earlier. Chuck that inner editor into a cage, close the door, and put the key into the back of the desk drawer. If I need to revise something or come back to it, I make inline notes again, sometimes like: gawd, this sounds stupid fix it later. πŸ˜€
  • What about keeping track of details? I have a character “bible” in OneNote, which also includes setting details (I use Karen Wiesner’s worksheets from her First Draft in 30 days book). I also use Scrivener, which lets you keep notes for scenes and stuff. I can keep track of what day it is or whose POV it is that way.
  • Music or no music? I actually like to listen to instrumental music along the lines of The Piano Guys, George Winston, David Garrett, the Narada artists, etc. Sometimes I’ll go full nature with thunderstorm or ocean wave soundtracks. It seems to help me corral creative energies.

I did run into a problem in the beginning, though. I like to write out a timeline or series of events for a story (some might call it an outline, but that word seems too rigid to me), then I’ll write the story following the timeline. It’s how I’ve written every other book, and it works, or has worked for me.

Until now.

I wrote out the timeline for this book over a year ago. I know what happens in the book, but I’m not sure about the transitions. I found myself plodding along from point A to point B at such a slow pace that my usual 2-hr writing session only netted me maybe 500 words.

I’ll never hit 50k in 30 days at that pace.

So I decided to try the method one of my other writing sisters uses. She writes in scenes, and then weaves them together later. It works for her.

Guess what? It’s working for me with this book (hey, after 4 unfinished first drafts, something’s gotta work, right?). I’m getting through the scenes and hitting my word counts. Yay!

We have a couple more days of unseasonably-warm weather, so I’ll be trying to enjoy it while still getting my daily word quota.

Keep on writing!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

14 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Week 1 recap #nanowrimo #amwriting

  1. You’re climbing Mount Everest. And it looks like you’ll reach the summit. You’re in a groove!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I write in scenes sometimes, too, Julie! It really does help on those days when one’s stuck in one section of a story, but has good ideas for other sections. It really does seem to move a story along. I think that’s great that you saw that owl. Sometimes you have to be really alert to see animals like that. There are coyotes where I live, and every once in a while, I’ll see one at a distance if I’m out early in the morning with our dogs. It’s a good reminder that they were here first… Now… why are you on this blog when you ought to be writing, hmmm?? (Sorry – your Muse bribed encouraged me to send you that message. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m learning to accept it when something that has worked for years doesn’t seem to work anymore, or doesn’t work with a particular project. And I’m learning to try approaching the project from different directions. My husband saw the owl first from “his chair” in the living room. With all the leaves gone, we get to watch the squirrels play. He noticed the odd lump. The owl hung out for a few days, and now it left, probably to another part of its territory. Or the crows noticed it and drove it off. Still, cool to see! As for coyotes, we haven’t actually seen any, but we hear them. What an eerie sound!

      Ahhh, my Muse is tapping his foot and pointing at my writing chair. Better go πŸ˜€ !!

      Have a great week, Margot!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love owls, Julie. We have a pair in our woods and occasionally we get a rare glimpse of them. Good luck with Nano. And great tips for keeping the word count going. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love to see the raptors around! I know (hope?!) they can keep the rabbits, pigeons, and squirrels under some sort of control (I suppose I should add coyotes in there for the rabbits, but honestly if they moved on I wouldn’t be sad about it). I always feel bad for them when other birds start swooping at them.

      Good luck with your writing as well, Diana! Have a great writing week!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Zoey, you great big fluffy tease!!
    Cracks me up a little that you can pay for a feature that shuts off your internet for you. I can see the necessity of it, however. Some enterprising soul capitalized on it.
    I wrote the climax of my novel when I was otherwise on chapter two. Had to get it down while it was still in my head. πŸ™‚ Whatever works! Keep up the great work, Julie. Enjoy your nice weather while it lasts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I resisted for the longest time, thinking, like a fool, I had enough willpower to resist the pull of infinite information! One of my old computer had a switch to turn the WiFi off and on, so everyone else could still use the internet. Still kills me that I actually paid for something, but I’ve been using it and it is helping me. Even knowing I can’t get to the internet I still click on my browser shortcut. And I get a nice calming green screen with a butterfly on it instead of FB or Amazon.

      Nice weather has finally expired. We’ve got rain today and a winter storm warning for tomorrow for a few inches (with my luck, it’ll be half a foot) of snow and cold. Ugh.

      Have a great writing week, Betsy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • A calming green screen with a butterfly! Ha! I love it! This company knows what it’s doing.

        Good luck with the snow. :/ Thinking of all that white stuff reminds me of a rather chilling and chilly scene in this great book I read… πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds like you found a method that’s working for you. That’s great! I’ve been working in scenes since I switched to Scrivener, and it’s been a huge help to me. As for turning off the Internet, I can see why you find that useful (I get sucked down research rabbit holes, too), but I can’t do it. My OCD doesn’t allow me to leave blanks in my WIP. I’d have a panic attack. But I’m thrilled that’s working for you. I have Karen’s book and worksheets, too, but I find them to be more than I need. I’d love to know how they work for you when you’re done. Wishing you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My method has changed over the years. Just today I was catching up with SE posts and found Marcia’s post on Scapple, which lead me to think about all those worksheets from Wiesner’s book and how I only use about 4 of them: characters, settings, research, and maybe timeline. So I might try Scapple, but I suspect just setting up the essentials in OneNote will work just fine. If MS ever stops upgrading it–I can’t open older notebooks anymore. Grrr.

      As for inline notes, I hear ya about wanting to fill in the blanks at the time, but that, for me, just leads to more distraction and less writing (and an Muse who starts to breathe down my neck because I’m not writing (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) )

      Good luck with your writing as well, Staci! Or share some with me, because you are the queen of 5k+ word days. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

      Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so impressed with your picture, its impossible to get a picture of an owl. I never have:) I hear them but don’t see them.

    Sounds like our crazy weather changes. We are went from the high 70s to snow. Not much but we finally got out of fire season.. yay!

    Glad all is going well with NaNo. I’m doing 2000 words a day too. So far only missed one day that I will try to make up slowly. Some good advice, the internet is distracting. I am doing two time lines and keep looking stuff up. I think i have have to do that later and mark it. You are right the election was very distracting and life always throws in a few curve balls, but even if its late at night I’m writing:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve tried to get pics of birds before, like our wood ducks, but they never turn out very well. And our crazy weather continues: 70 degrees yesterday, rainy and dropping fast today. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get snow. Again. I love the seasons, but it would help if they would just make up their minds whose turn it is.

      2000 words a day! Awesome! I’ve had one 2k word day so far this round, which is disappointing, hence the extra “help” keeping me from slipping down an internet rabbit hole. Keep up the writing!

      Have a wonderful writing week, Denise!

      Liked by 1 person

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