Week 2 Just Sucks.

Welcome, my friends, to the shittiness that is Week 2 of NaNoWriMo.

The excitement of Week 1 has worn off. You’re probably pissed at at least some of your characters. It’s possible your plot did one or both of two things that plots are wont to do in Week 2: died prematurely or got completely out of hand. (If your plot got completely out of hand before jumping ship… well, I’m sorry that happened to you.)

So what do you do?

First, it’s okay to go through the stages.

Fox’s Four Stages of NaNoWriMo Week 2
as interpreted by Fox’s dog, Lucy


Complete despair. You’ll never write this. Never. You’ll never catch up. You’ll never figure out what to do about that plot hole with the wombats back in chapter two.


Anger. You hate your characters, your plot, your non-WriMo friends who aren’t going through this, your WriMo friends with better word counts, the man, flowers WHY ARE FLOWERS SO DAMN HAPPY ALL THE TIME THOSE JAGOFFS.


Panic. You know you have to keep going but how? HOW WILL YOU KEEP GOING WHEN YOU MUST KEEP GOING SO MUCH? Write all the things! No! Wait! The laundry! Oh, the gym! And they want you to go to work? But! The words! The words!


The Inability to Give a Shit. You just don’t care. You just want it to be December 1 so you can have your life back. You will do whatever it takes to get that purple WINNER bar, and you do not care what you must do, because you are now so emotionally uninvested in it that there is no longer any regard for quality, just for the magical number of 50,000. You will kill any character if it is convenient, you will write lengthy scenes describing outfits, and you will allow your characters to deliver monologues about their favorite Cure albums. You just do not care.

And then it gets better! It really does!

But how do you survive, while you’re suffering through the Four Stages?

Do something that isn’t writing, but still inspires you.

Like cooking! Cooking leaves you with a sense of accomplishment AND something to eat at the end!


The more you cook, the more hours you have an excuse for not writing!

Take a couple of hours to embrace your exhaustion.

Acknowledge that you’ve really been working hard, and even if your word count isn’t reflecting all that hard work, you might need a little mental break. And go ahead, dream about how fabulous your book is going to be when you wake up and start working on it again.

Be understanding of yourself that you might be acting a little strange.

Don’t totally freak out if you wake up in the morning to find that you’d had a Drew Barrymore in Mad Love style meltdown overnight and moved all of your gargoyle and dragon protectors right next to your bed. Remind yourself that all the best authors were truly crazy, so this is just part of your process.

Go out with your fellow WriMos

Commiserate with them about plot holes and word count distress. Get completely off topic and don’t get a word of writing done at a Write-In, but walk away from the event with a thousand hilarious quotes and at least one really awesome picture like this.

Ease back into the writing.

Maybe start with a blog post, or some writing in your journal, just to get the hang of things again. Maybe brainstorm a little before getting back into the meat of the story. Just go casually into it.

Return to your happy writing place.

When you’re emotionally ready, head back to your happy writing place, and settle in for a few hours of hard work. Play the jukebox, wear your favorite outfit, maybe bring along a friend who will keep you on task but not distract you *too* much. Sit down and power through some words until you’re feeling more confident.


And before you know it, you’ll be looking like this when someone asks how your novel is going. You’ll tell them, “It’s just fine, and I can’t WAIT for Week Three to get here!”

YOU CAN DO IT. STAY STRONG OUT THERE, WRIMOS. WE ARE ON OUR WAY.

Fox’s Easy Guide to the First Week of NaNoWriMo

Why hello, readers! Bet you didn’t think you’d see little ol’ *me* again this soon!

(But a promise is a promise, and a promise made that distracts me from my word count is *always* a promise kept.)

So as promised, I’m here to chat a little bit about my favorite month-long endeavor of the year, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). Briefly: NaNoWriMo is a month-long event held each November in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel across 30 days. (If only I could sum up my novels that succinctly, I might actually get work as a writer!)

I’ve been participating since 2002. Oh yeah. I’m one of the oldies (it started in 1999). And since this is my twelfth NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d share some of my sage wisdom expert tips for procrastinators throughout the month. Without further ado, Fox’s Easy Guide to NaNoWriMo.

So you’ve decided to embark upon a 30-day quest to write 50,000 words about something or other. Where do you even start? How do you even take the first step and get those first words down?

(First of all, you wait until 12:01am on November 1. I am a real stickler about that! NO CHEATING!)

Ahem. Prior to November 1, you are welcome to do all the planning, outlining, playlist-making, etc. that you want.

I mean. You *could* do that. If you’re one of those overachiever-types.

Fox’s Step #1. Stumble blindly into the month with only a vague idea of plot and/or characters.
I’m not even kidding here. Yes, you can spend hours and days planning for this month, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re like me and can only function under pressure of seemingly-insurmountable deadlines, staring blankly at your computer screen at 12:01am on November 1 is not the worst thing. If you can plan ahead, do it. But if you’re not a planner, don’t panic. You’ll be just fine.

I like to get a general idea of what world I’ll be writing in.

Fox’s Step #2: (Kind of) know your world.
Okay. So you don’t have to have it nailed down, but a basic idea of like, genre, or world, is a good first step. I like to write (badly) about ghosts a lot. One year, I decided it was time to go for broke and write the thinly-veiled Labyrinth rip-off I’d been dreaming of since age 13. This year, having exhausted ghosts, guardian angels, spirit healers, Death’s intern, Death himself, and a not-really-evil Goblin-king-esque hotty-villain, I decided to write about good-guy demons.


(Because out of all the comic book heroes out there, I identify with Hellboy the most.)

Fox’s Step #3: Accept your limitations.
For me, my number one limitation is world building. That’s why the Labyrinth-style fantasy crashed & burned so badly. Yeah, I made it to 50k, but will I ever go back and polish that thing? Probably not. Unless I’m super rich and super bored and have found a way to hire Guillermo del Toro to help my sorry ass out.

In general, I know that the less world-building I have to do, the faster the story will move along. I am absolutely that girl who will spend 43 minutes trying to figure out the name of that animal who’s like, part person, part horse, and probably a butler (it’s a faun, by the way, looked that one up for 43 minutes in 2010).

In the event that I will be faced with some world-building, I accept that I’ll have to do some research. So, yeah, my working knowledge of goodguy demons is limited to what I know of Hellboy. With that in mind, I set aside some hours for reading comics and fumbling around my husband’s iPad trying to read about the daily habits of fallen angels and gargoyles and succubi.

Fox’s Step #4: Find your happy writing place.
Every writer has both a place and a time where she is most productive. I’m a late-night kind of gal. My husband used to write at 7am (ughhhh and not just because he’d stayed up all night to get there, either). When I was in college, I was partial to this weird little alcove on the second or third floor of the Cathedral of Learning where it was freaking FREEZING and I had to write in mittens, but where I felt really inspired.


Ideally, I would spend all of November on a train. I get some of my best writing done while traveling, particularly on train trips. But since that’s not exactly practical, it’s important to find a local place that keeps the same hours as you.


I’m partial to this dive bar up the hill called the Squirrel Cage. Cheap drinks, good bartender, nice tables, and no one cares if I’m there sipping vodka and writing for hours, whatever time of day. Oh! And I can play the jukebox from my phone without even having to get up from my seat!

(Which brings me to my next point…)

Fox’s Step #5: Get the right soundtrack.
Okay, I’m a mixtape broad through and through, but I think the right soundtrack is important to all writers. It’s a good idea to keep building it throughout the process of writing your manuscript. I almost always make my characters their own mixtapes, but often I’ll start out with just a list of songs I’m kind of into at the time that fit the mood of what I’m writing.

Pro-tip: Sad songs are almost always the right choice.

Some bands who are always in my rotation include The Cure (bonus: you can find endless hours of Robert Smith remixes to keep things fresh!), Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, Ryan Adams (both with and without the Cardinals), and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. If I’m feeling uninspired, sometimes I like to put on my characters’ mixtapes and drive around after dark to get me pumped up. Take notes of any song that you hear in your daily life that makes you feel even remotely inspired and put it together when it’s time to write.

And finally,

Fox’s Step #6: Identify your allies.
Sure, writing is a highly personal thing. And I’m not saying, by any means, that you have to share what you’re writing with another soul until you’re fully ready, but it’s important to have people you can rely on to help you get through the month. The first time I did NaNoWriMo back in 2002, we didn’t have forums and Write-Ins and all that we have now. We had me, and my friend Christine, and AOL Instant Messenger at 3 in the morning. (I didn’t even have a laptop to go to the Cage! Nor was I old enough to yet anyway, but that’s neither here nor there.) My point is, I would never have gotten through that first year without our late night messages of ‘IT’S 3AM, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR PLOT IS???’


You need to have someone who will leave you Tweets like this when you are feeling lost and alone in the noveling world (even if that person is your creepy co-ML).


I also like to stock a healthy supply of photos of my friends & family members looking at me disappointingly just to keep me on my toes and remind me of what I’ll have to face in real life if I let them down by not hitting my word count.

And if you can get a handle on those first 6 steps, you’re going to make it. Will it be easy? NOPE! And we’ll get to that, and we’ll get to it plenty in Week 2. But if you have an idea where you’re going, and know where to go and what to listen to when you get there, with your friends at your side (WriMo and supportive non-WriMo alike), you’ll get through November just fine. Trust me on this one :)

The Return of the Fox

First things first, can we just agree that any time I post in here, there is an assumed paragraph that’s basically like:

~ Sorry I’ve been away for so long!
~ Things have been busy!
~ I promise I’m going to write more often starting now!

so that I can stop *actually* starting with this?

That being said, of COURSE right now is the time I choose to resurrect the writing blog – it’s November! And what’s November, you might ask? Why, it’s National Novel Writing Month! And what’s NaNoWriMo? Why, it’s the month I’m supposed to be writing 50,000 words in 30 days!

So of COURSE I’m going to resurrect my writing blog instead of working on my word count!

(Pro-tip: those of us who participate in NaNoWriMo – WriMos, if you will – are expert procrastinators.)

This is my twelfth NaNoWriMo. I’ve written about it a little before, more so about my duties as ML, or Municipal Liaison, which is my role as Den Mother of the Pittsburgh region each November.


(Spoiler alert: I have two amazing Co-MLs this year who are making my life SO MUCH EASIER.)

But I haven’t written much about the writing part, itself. And the writing part is the most fun!

Don’t get me wrong: I love planning events and all that.


(Even when they’re enormous and give me panic attacks!)

But even more fun than being an ML is being a participant. I LOVE Write-Ins, I love nonsense Twitter threads that keep us up all night working on our word count. I love scrambling for plot ideas. I even kind of love that moment where I decide to throw caution to the wind and let my characters wander around the touristy sites of Boston just to up my word count by a few thousands.

And so, in a two-fold attempt to both make me commit to writing in here and start bringing interesting content to this blog, I’ll be talking a lot about NaNoWriMo this month.

Because let’s face it: I may not be full of information on how to get published or be a famous author (yet), but I *am* totally good at giving advice on how to write in pretty much any situation and get up to 50,000 words across a 30-day period under any life circumstances.


I’m the girl who writes during the setbreak at concerts. I mean, really.

So pop on by again tomorrow for my first official NaNoWriMo installment. Why not right now? Well, it *is* November, after all, and I’ve got my word count to attend to! :)