#FridayFive, NaNoWriMo Edition: 10/26/2018

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Happy Friday, gang! 

Well, there’s (finally) a cool tinge to the air down here in Texas, which means the arrival of fall, the ramping up of football season, the near-availability of cheap Halloween candy, and of course the kick-off for  National Novel Writing Month (or, NaNoWriMo)!

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a worldwide challenge to write at least 50,000 words of a novel during the 30 days of November. You can find more info here.

While I’m not participating this year (next year? Possibly…), I do have a slew of links to help you brainstorm for your NaNo sprints next Thursday! 


Don’t Waste Your Words: How to Write A First Draft that is Crappy but Usable — If you have ever participated in NaNoWriMo before, you know that the trick is speed, not polish. In this post, Jeff Goins helps those of us who try to perfect every line to get over that habit. He also gives a great basic definition of “planners” versus “pantsers” and provides some useful questions to consider, no matter which approach you take to planning your novel.

Start Writing a Novel Without Having A Clue What to Do — Another Jeff Goins piece, this time providing some useful starting advice about story, genre, and plot. He also links to Shawn Coyne’s “Story Grid,” which is a great resource.

I Wrote A Novel Entirely On Evernote — This post from the Evernote blog by Forrest Dylan Bryant is obviously meant to entice you to use Evernote. But you know what? I love Evernote, and I’ve found it to be incredibly useful for blogging and capturing story ideas. I even have half of a short story on there right now that I’m hoping to finish and share with you later this year. So, if you haven’t used Evernote before, this may be a helpful introduction to the program for you.

How to Construct a 3-D Main Character — A novel lives or dies by how interesting or compelling its protagonist is. This immensely practical piece from ProWritingAid gives you prompts to help flesh out your main character. I’m definitely going to be revisiting this post soon.

Losing NaNoWriMo is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing — You know I love providing counterpoints at the end of these lists. You may want to save this post from Mitzi Flyte in your back pocket in case you need it at the end of November. Let’s face it–cranking out 50,000 words in 30 days is HARD. And if you only get part of the way there but can’t quite reach the finish line, this post is a good reminder that a half-finished NaNoWriMo attempt does have its merits.


There you have it–5 posts about NaNoWriMo and the craft of writing a speedy story.

If you found these helpful, I’d very much appreciate it if you would “Like” this post and let me know to keep providing content like this.

And if you are participating in NaNoWriMo yourself, let us know in the comments, so we can cheer you on!

Otherwise, I’ll see y’all next week!

Let’s Try That Again: Day 1 of Month 2.

[I wrote this entire post last night, only to delete it accidentally, because I was using a tablet instead of my laptop and I switched apps without thinking. So here’s my best approximation of last night’s post.]

One month ago, I wrote about how I was going to treat the first day of the month like a new year, and start working on a new habit of daily Bible reading. How did that work out?

It went pretty well…for about 2 weeks.

Sometime around my birthday celebration, it all kind of fell apart. I stopped reading the Word regularly. I stopped tracking my food intake (resulting in my gaining back the little bit of weight I had lost in the previous month). I stopped working on my 2016 reading list. I just let up for some reason. My normal schedule was disrupted by parties and travel and family activities, and rather than leaning into the daily habits I had been developing, I fell back into bad patterns.

So now, here we are, a month later, and I’m sorry to say that my adherence on last month’s goal was about 50%, if not a tad less. That’s just sad. So you know what that means… Happy New Year! I’m starting over. But not just starting over–I’m adding a new element. (I know, it’s crazy. Just roll with it.)

Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo for a few weeks (hmm–starting to see a pattern) before realizing it wasn’t quite the right time for me. I got about 15,000 words of a novel written, with notes and random scraps of text to carry through the rest of the book and into the next two. Over the last year, the story has been pressing into my consciousness at various times, and I’ve been keeping a record of ideas and insights that have resulted. It’s a project I am determined to get back to, because I think it will be worth doing.

While I’m not going to go full-NaNo this year, I have decided to add something writing-related to Month 2 of this “new-year” approach.  For the month of November, in addition to continuing to increase my Bible intake, I will try to write 300 words a day of something. You will sometimes see the results of this on the blog (like this post!), and other times these words will only be for my own purposes–writing prompts to sharpen my skills, poetry for my wife, incremental work on my novel. 300 words a day–a modest amount. Nothing to go crazy over. But if I do that, at the end of November, I’ll have produced at least 9,000 more words of creative content, which will be a good thing for me, no matter what.

So, welcome to Month 2. I’m looking forward to keeping you up to date on my progress.


Your Turn: Are you working on any new habits? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo? How can I encourage you or help you in that?



As far back as I can remember, I have loved stories–hearing them, reading them, and telling them. I was the nerdy kid who took his 8th grade homework assignments (write 10 sentences using your new weekly vocabulary words) and turned them into a serial adventure about American and Soviet spies locked in covert battle.

I wrote short stories all throughout high school. When I went to college, I changed my major from Journalism to English, because I loved fiction and wanted to write books. During college and into my early 2o’s, I wrote more short stories and the first part of at least 2 novels. But something happened. I stopped believing it was worth the effort. I liked the idea of “being a writer” more than the actual work of writing.

Over the last 10 years, I stopped writing fiction regularly. I’d blog and write poetry, but I felt like the idea of being a novelist was a “childish thing” I needed to put away. Sure, I would still bring it up from time to time, as I’d run into story ideas that intrigued me, but I told myself that I couldn’t really pursue something like that. I had to grow up and move on.

Then something strange and wonderful happened: I got married to a woman who not only loves and cares for me, but who believes in me. I married a woman who doesn’t think that being a writer is a crazy, childish dream. Over the last year-plus, every time the critic in my head has said “Why bother?”, hers has been the voice in my ears saying, “Why not?”

So, after some deliberation and encouragement, I decided I’m going to take on a new challenge. This year, I’m going to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), starting on November 1st. It’s a worldwide challenge to write a 50,000-word book in 30 days. It’s an incredibly intimidating task, but I need to take on this challenge. And I’m telling you fine folks, because I need to go “on the record” so I don’t back out.

So, starting this Saturday at midnight, the NaNo clock will begin counting down, and I will have 30 days to write like I’ve never written before.

(By the way, what this means for the 4thDaveBlog is that, for the month of November, I’ll be posting some lighter content. From time to time, I’ll update you on the writing process. And if any of you would like to submit a guest-post, I’m definitely open to that. Hit me up at the4thdave at gmail dot com.)

The question you may be asking at this point is, “What in the world are you going to write about?”

In the last few months, I’ve started kicking around a new story–a mystery/thriller about a man with a dark past who is trying to figure out how to live as a “new creation” in a violent world. It’s a story about faith and doubt, and about holding onto black-and-white moral values in a grey-scale city. And it’s a story about defending those who can’t defend themselves against the wolves who seek to devour them.

The working title of the novel is “Good Shepherd.”

As you can tell, I’m pretty excited about it. I’m pretty nervous too, but I’m hoping the excitement wins out. The most important thing is that I’m ready to challenge myself in a new way, and do something I’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid to try.


What about you? Can you think of a time when you’ve really challenged yourself to try something new or scary? Or, do you have some specific words of wisdom for me as I begin this event? Please share below!