Friday, Veterans Day, NaNoWriMo, and Beginning to End...

Happy 11.11.11...honestly, it's not the catchy date that has me excited, but the fact that it's Friday!

But more importantly, let's not forget, it's also Veterans Day. So if you're out and about today, enjoying the traffic-less roads, the free parking downtown, or the fact you don't have school (lucky kids), please take a moment to remember the importance behind this day. And please show your support for the amazing men and women (both past and present) in the Armed Forces - it's because of what they do, that I can do what I love.

So a BIG THANK YOU to all of our Veterans!

November 11th also means, we're eleven days into NaNoWriMo - almost halfway into this mind-bending, "what was I thinking", insanity. If you aren't familiar with NaNo, to sum it up - November is National Novel Writing Month (Na-No-Wri-Mo). Which basically means, the wonderful folks over at NaNoWriMo host the amazing challenge every November to all us crazy writers: 50,000 words in 30 days.

Yep, crazy.'s also pure, literally abandon. Everything goes. No one's judging - well, unless you don't hit the 50k mark by 11:59pm on November 30th. Cause that's when those that didn't make it, hang their heads in shame, and promise themselves that next year will be different. 

My first attempt at NaNo was actually last year. I'd been dealing with the absolute worst bout of writer's block I'd ever had (you can read all about it here). In fact, I hadn't written a stitch the entire two months before.

But then NaNo came along. And with it, was the thrill of the hunt, the "I so can win this sucker". And it all boiled down to...the competition. Who would've thought? I mean, anyone that knows me, knows I'm super competitive. I love anything that's a challenge. And 50,000 words in 30 days? Yeah, I think that fits the bill. Why hadn't I done this before?

Anyhow. Last November was amazing. Not only did I hit 50,000 words, but I surpassed that goal by an extra 15,000, and completed my current manuscript, THE LUCKY FEW (TLF). Completed. It was pure insanity. And I loved every single day of it.

Well, wouldn't you know September rolled around again, and the EXACT same thing happened. Again. Couldn't write. Didn't want to. Nothing made sense.

October wasn't much better.

I now call it the Curse of SeptOber (that should be read aloud in a vampire voice, hands held up above your head, in that strange Transilvanian accent). 

Now some of you know I'm in the midst of major revisions to my above mentioned manuscipt, THE LUCKY FEW, with my dream agent, who shall remain simply "Dream Agent" for the time being. And yes, dream. Short of stalking him (come on, all you writers out there fess up, you do it too), he's been at the top of my agent wish list for the past five years. So when the opportunity came up to work on exclusive edits with him (well, after I picked myself up off the floor when he called), I of course, jumped all over it. But then SeptOber rolled around, the very same time I received my editorial letter from Dream Agent, and my fingers decided they didn't know how to type anymore. 

Enter: NaNo.

It's been almost two weeks now, and I've been unstoppable. Everything I'd been worried about for the past two months, flew right out the window. And suddenly, everything just clicked into place. Sure my ideas still have some holes that need to be filled - but these ideas are really great (yes, that could totally be subjective, I know) - and most importantly, I'm excited to be writing again! 

I may not hit the 50,000 word goal this year (although I think I'll be close!), but to be honest, that's only the motiviation behind the writing and not what's important. What's important will be to finish this first round of revisions, make my manuscript that much better, and keep all my hair while doing it.

Cause I'd look awfully funny bald. 

So, in honor of NaNo and everything wonderful about it, that leaves me with today's Paper Hangover Friday Fives topic:

What are the FIVE ways that get you from the beginning to the end of your WiP without losing all your hair? 

1. Competition. Nothing makes my fingers come alive more, than a healthy does of competition. Challenge me with a deadline, tell me to surpass a wordcount, and as is the case with NaNo, throw in a few hundred thousand other individuals doing the exact same thing, and I'm game. Now to figure out how to create that same sense of frenzy the other eleven months of the year.

2. Read. Take the time to read. For me, it's reading books that fall within my genre, YA. While that's not the only genre I read, YA definitely contributes to around 90% of my TBR stack, since after all, it's what I write. Not only does reading YA allow for me to escape the mundane of day to day life, but it also helps me as a writer, to write better. 

3. Take a break. Don't forget to eat. Maybe take in a movie or watch a favorite show (hey, no shame in my game, I'm addicted to The Vampire Diaries. So every Thursday from 8-9pm, I'm parked in front of my TV - and it's kinda nice knowing I have that to look forward to every week).

4. Work or focus on something else. Strangely enough, when I was having issues working on TLF, I'd started writing something new - completely out of my comfort zone, falling in the category of contemporary YA. And it was just what I'd needed. Maybe it's the freedom and newness a brand new story brings, allowing my creativity to run rampant. Whatever it is, it works for me.

5. Fall in love with your story and your characters. Seriously. Writing is kinda like trying to grow something in your garden. I know this analogy has been used a million times before, the whole plant the seed and nurture and water it, till it grows into something beautiful...but I suck at gardening. I kill everything. Money tree? Yeah, I've had nine of them. They've all died. Rosemary - the herb that never dies? Yep, killed it in less than a month. Plastic plants? Cats got those, so technically it's not my fault. Anyhow, you get the point. Either way, like growing something in your garden, take the time and invest in your story and your characters. If you love them (even the antagonists, which happen to be my favorites!), it will show in your writing, and ultimately, your readers will connect. 

So, how do you make it through from beginning to end of your manuscripts? What inspires you to keep going? I'd love to hear your suggestions...after all, next SeptOber is only 9.5 months away.

Happy Friday / Veterans Day everyone!