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NaNoWriMo Update #1


Hello friends!

Whether you’re joining me in this quest to write a 50,000 word novel in a month, or you’re just here to check up on me and see how I’m surviving – thank you. After only ONE DAY, I know that I’ll need you to keep me accountable.

I thought after a month of planning that I’d be able to just sit down at the computer and let the words flow. But really, it was the opposite of that. I usually write when inspiration strikes, and it’s been a while since I have had writing “deadlines”. I sat down at my computer, cup of coffee at hand, ready to write chapter one.

But the words just didn’t come. I’d start typing and then the backspace key would get involved and it felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back.

I think part of my struggle was that I wanted to skip to the middle, to skip to the scenes that are most exciting to me. Instead, I had decided to write beginning to end, and that meant starting with a lot of set up. I know that it’s important and necessary, but it wasn’t the easiest way to jump into my first draft.

However, I’ve already learned a few things about my writing process:

  1. Music can make or break a writing session. I had made a playlist of songs for my novel – songs that speak to the themes and feelings I want to portray – but it ended up just being distracting. I had to switch to a very mellow album with more instrumental sections. I think having a playlist for your novel is important in terms of inspiration, but when it comes to ACTUALLY writing, I’d recommend choosing something that will not distract you. Check out my How to Make a Homework Playlist post for some ideas.
  2. If you’re trying to write in the AM, it might take a few minutes to get in the zone. I’ve heard that some people wake up inspired and ready to write, and others like to write at night because they’ve had a whole day to think about their words and where their story is going. But I don’t wake up inspired, and I’m often ready to crash by 8pm, so I know that I’ll have to figure out a system that works for me. When the words just weren’t coming, I closed my eyes and thought about the scene – what would my main character be feeling, what needs to happen, and how can I make it happen? Soon enough I was typing and the writing was starting to flow. Give yourself a few minutes to think ahead, and the writing will come.


Here’s an excerpt from what I’ve written so far. Forgive any typos and grammatical errors – the point of NaNoWriMo is to write first, edit later!

The boxes are finally delivered and I’m unpacking when I hear a car door slam out in the street. I rush to the window to look out, and I see three boys walking up the driveway of a house across the street. Their house is big, probably the largest on the block, and bright lights seep through every window despite it being 10pm. The youngest boy, probably thirteen years old, carries a caddy full of McDonald’s sundaes.

When the oldest boy, or so I assume from his size, opens the front door of the house, a yellow lab rushes out to explore the yard.

The third boy waits outside with the dog as it pees on every tree, bush, flower, and decorative rock. He looks about my age, with muscular arms and legs extending from his tee shirt and cargo shorts. His hair is beach-blonde and messily pushed to one side.

“Huck!” he calls, and the dog runs to his side. They walk together up the stairs to the front door and then disappear.

I pick up my cell to text Gia:

Suburbia Times – Family makes a 10pm ice-cream run, yellow lab greets them at the door.

I continue unpacking until the mess is too much to handle. I know that it’ll have to get worse before it gets better, but I just don’t have the energy tonight.

As I fall asleep in a sleeping bag on top of my mattress because we can’t find the bedding, I think about the people moving into our house. Our old house. And although it makes me happy to think of a young couple starting a family there, having their own memories there just like we did, it still breaks my heart a little bit.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back every Monday for an update, and let me know how you’re getting on too.



1 day down, 29 to go! Click through to see how I handled a major case of writer's block and to read an excerpt from my novel!

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  • Lydia Lois

    Haley! Stop! I already want to read more! You are going to kill it! It might kill you too in the process, (I was a writing major I understand!) but it will be great! I’m not kidding, can’t wait for next update! 🙂

    November 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm Reply
    • Haley

      Oh thank you! Glad I have a reader 🙂 And just adding to the ways that we’re the same person – I was a writing MINOR. Thanks for the encouragement! More cheesy YA romance coming up!

      November 2, 2015 at 7:53 pm Reply
      • Lydia Lois

        sister from another mister 😉

        November 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm Reply
  • Carol

    What a great start, Haley! Sounds like a good Ya already. (And I don’t mean Molly!) One trick when you’re not inspired is to set up your scene/story as a letter to a friend. I’ve even had writing groups I do begin with Dear Carol. Another tip is to write the senses on a piece of paper–it’s a great reminder to flesh out a sentence with some sensory items. Look for metaphors. One of my recent favs is “My heart was a kettledrum,” from Miss Potter. Your beginning really does capture the reader’s attention. Carry on!

    November 3, 2015 at 11:11 am Reply
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