NaNoWriMo 2017 Winner

The big news this week is that I inched past the 50k words and on Thanksgiving of all days! If you follow me on Instagram you saw my daily word count posts and my winner post!

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I have done NaNo for 6 years now and this is the fastest I have ever won, which gives me great hope that 2018 might finally be the year that I publish my book.

Three things helped me win NaNo early this year:

  1. PLANNER vs. PANTSER – I am such a planner it isn’t even funny, but this year I had my outline, timeline, character profiles, setting profiles, and several of my scenes all ready to go for November 1st. This is the most prepared I have ever been. Maybe some year I’ll try to be a pantser (writing by the seat of your pants without any prep), but I haven’t been able to do it yet.
  2. Book in a Month – I read and worked through the exercises in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt in September and October and it helped me immensely. This book really made me focus on my story, characters, and outline. I really don’t think that I could have won this year without reading this book first.
  3. Write-ins – I think attending write-ins, either in person or online, is one of the most important parts of winning NaNo. I didn’t attend nearly as many write-ins as I have in the past, but I scheduled my own write-ins, which were scheduled writing sessions at Starbucks two or three times a week. I also took part in the Day of Writing Everywhere and knocked out over 6k words in one day.

While I technically won NaNo by writing 50k words in one month, I still have half of my book to write. In the past, I took December off to regroup, but this year I am going to keep on writing throughout December with the hope of completing the first draft of my book by the end of the year.

I fear that if I put my book away even for a month I will lose my groove, and we all know how difficult that can be to get back.



What is in my 2017 NaNoWriMo Bag?

If you bump into me at a write-in, the library, or my local Starbucks this November, I’m pretty sure you’ll find me with my official NaNo 2017 bag. What is in this year’s NaNo bag?

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  1. Lands’ End medium canvas leopard bag – As soon as I saw this bag on the Lands’ End website I knew it would make the perfect NaNo bag. Plus, it is super cute! My old computer bag had gotten a little bit too worn, so I was on the hunt for a new one before November. I was concerned it wouldn’t be wide enough for my laptop, but it fits perfectly and with a little room to spare. It was also 40% off! I love a good bargain.
  2. Laptop – I love my MacBook Air laptop with the Tiffany blue laptop case! I have cleaned up my desktop, uploaded my Spotify playlists, and opened a new Scrivener novel template, so I am good to go.
  3. Planner/Agenda – I also love my Kate Spade Large Scatter Dot Agenda. I’m pretty sure I would not be able to function this NaNo without some sort of planner. I’ve tried them all: bullet journal, Happy Planner, and the Recollections planner. None of them worked for me. Trying to figure out a weekly design with washi tape, stickers, and drawings was just too much and honestly too stressful for me. But the 2017/2018 Kate Spade planner is simple enough for me to use. I do still use a few stickers, but nothing too elaborate.
  4. Moleskine/Blank journal – I have a couple of Moleskine journals that I picked up a few years ago on clearance. It was a pretty big score since they can be pretty pricey.
  5. Post-it Notes – I always have post-it notes in my NaNo bag, purse, and on my desk. I prefer the smaller ones because they fit better in a book or journal.
  6. Water – I always bring a bottle of water with me to a write-in or my own writing session, although I am usually at a cafe or restaurant. I always buy something from the place where I write, whether it is Starbucks, Panera, or another food spot. But, I drink a lot. So a backup bottle of water is always a good idea. Voss is my favorite.
  7. Tylenol – Sometimes when I write a lot I get a headache. I think it is looking at the computer screen for such a long time. A bottle of Tylenol or Advil is always in my bag along with a couple of Excedrin Migraine pills, just in case.
  8. Starbucks card – I mentioned Starbucks before because that is my go-to spot to write. The girls at my local Starbucks are super nice and they know me by name. They also don’t mind that I spend hours in the cafe. A couple of years ago I was sent a gold card worth extra stars and bonuses. Now I make sure I earn enough stars during the year to keep the gold card. November usually pushes me over the edge thanks to NaNo.
  9. Granola Bar – Along with my water I like to take a few easy to eat snacks, like crackers, goldfish, or an apple. But my go-to snack is a granola bar, preferably a peanut butter chocolate chip Larabar. They are made with dates, which sounds pretty odd, but they are sooo good! Also a little expensive, but I splurge a little during NaNo.
  10. Pen – I have a couple of favorite pens, but this year I am using one that I got from Cath Kidston. It is a blue and white polka dot ballpoint pen. It writes really well, which isn’t the case for the majority of my pens.
  11. Gum – I couldn’t get through NaNo without gum. My favorite is Sweet Mint by Orbit. I have 2 packs in my bag now, which should last me a few weeks.
  12. iTouch & Earbuds – I could not complete NaNo without music. Music is so important to my writing. This afternoon, I just finished all of my character and novel playlists and uploaded them to my Apple iTouch. I also use Spotify and LOVE it! You can check them out on my Spotify page. I’ll be posting about the different playlists throughout the month too.
  13. Lip Gloss/Chapstick – It is usually cold during NaNo, though this year it is ridiculously hot. I’m hoping by mid-NaNo we get some colder temps. But I’m getting prepared anyway with some lip gloss and chapstick. The combo of the cold weather and then the heat at the write-ins always make for some chapped lips.
  14. Hand Lotion – And I must have hand lotion too. The cold weather tends to wreak havoc on my hands. My favorite is Gold Bond, but I recently picked up a travel size of the Aveeno hand lotion. It is really nice and nongreasy.
  15. Fingerless Gloves – Not needed yet, but on standby in case I do. Sometimes my hands get a little cold while I’m typing for hours and hours. Fingerless gloves warm up my hands while leaving my fingers able to type.

Well, there you have it. A peek into my 2017 NaNoWriMo bag.

10 Tips for NaNoWriMo Success

If you have decided to take the plunge into the abyss that is NaNoWriMo then give yourself a giant pat on the back. Taking part in NaNoWriMo is a huge commitment, but with a few tips, you will be all ready to get to writing on November 1.

What is NaNoWriMo?

Let’s get this bit of info out-of-the-way. According to the NaNoWriMo website, “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” Super simple, right? Write a

Super simple, right? Write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Piece of cake! Well, it might sound simple, but for those of us who have attempted NaNo in the past, it really isn’t that simple. But with a little planning and commitment, you can be victorious!

Continue reading “10 Tips for NaNoWriMo Success”

NaNoWriMo – Week 2 Recap

It is almost to the end of week 2 of NaNo! Where has the time gone? Ugh!

I am happy to report that I am still on target. Well, actually a little ahead of my targeted word count which is always good. I am pushing to hit the halfway mark tonight! But, a little change in the story has caused me to scrap a lot of the first two chapters. No bueno!

This change makes a lot more sense to get my characters to London, where most of the story takes place. So as tough at it is to start over, it is completely necessary. It happened while I was in the midst of writing my third chapter. I had an epiphany and added a second murder to the story. I had a feeling one murder wasn’t enough for me. I like a high body count. :) So, I now have to go back and re-write chapters 1 & 2. That will be my goal tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow. . . My local NaNo writing group is hosting an all day write-a-thon. We will be starting at a local restaurant for breakfast and then making our through the city to libraries, coffee shops, and finally ending up at a local hotel. Our group goal for the day is to reach 100,000 words! I’ve volunteered to give 10% of the goal. Yikes! So, my goal is to reach 10,000. That is the most words I will have ever written in one day. I’m excited, but also afraid that at the end of the day my eyes will be bugging out of my head!

I’ll be tweeting about the “Write-in-Motion” write-a-thon all day. To keep track of my progress and the group’s 100,000 goal follow me at elissakwrites. We might even assign a hashtag to go along with our write-in-motion day, but we don’t have one as of yet.

Hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll be one giant step closer to my 50,000 words! *Fingers crossed*