NaNoWriMo 2021: Participation, Story Choice, Vlogs, & An Announcement!

Once again, we’ve gotten to that time of year where I ask myself, “Will I attempt to write 50,000 words once again?”

I honestly debated this for a couple of months because I’ve collected several Shiny New Ideas™ since last year. All of which only have minor premises written down in many new Scrivener files. I did think about trying to finish Project Bodyguard because I haven’t finished drafting it yet. But I’ve also been thinking about re-visiting some old drafts to get them revised or at least re-drafted for the first time.

Basically, I had a lot of options and wasn’t sure what I would pick. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure even when I started writing this post. I made a mental pros and cons list before deciding what to do.

So yes, I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year, and it’ll be unlike any of my previous years.

What Am I Writing?

For the first time ever, I’m choosing to re-vist an old draft. I’ve always been a NaNoWriMo traditionalist who started a new idea at the beginning of November. To me, there’s something pure about starting over each year with something new.

But my problem is that after six years, all I have are six first drafts, some of which aren’t even complete.

My project on the NaNoWriMo website

So, I’ve decided to take on Project Ceiling Cat again and work on Draft 2. The first draft was written back in 2017, and somehow, it’s still the cleanest, most comprehensive first draft I’ve ever written. I think it’s partly because I loved the story and the characters, and partly because I was writing so consistently during that semester that my skills were super polished throughout the month. It was a great time and I did a few vlogs about the experience.

Four years of being away from the story has helped me come up with revision ideas for Draft 2. I know there are some big changes I want to make and some big things I have to do. With only two weeks until NaNoWriMo begins, I am a little worried about my ability to get it all done, but I’m nothing if not good under a deadline.

Pre-NaNoWriMo Plans

I’m being ambitious for the short time frame I have before November begins. I’d like to re-read my whole draft (amidst the already ambitious TBR I have for the month), re-outline, write my Save the Cat beat sheet, and prepare for the second draft.

Project Ceiling Cat's 2017 status

The act of re-reading is valuable because I’ve never fully re-read any of my work. I did start re-reading Project Ceiling Cat back in 2018 but stopped about 40% of the way through. I don’t remember why exactly I stopped, but I think it had something to do with meeting my ex and spending more time with him. Yeah. Let’s blame a boy for me not following through on a re-read…

In my mind, I remember a lot of what I wrote. That’s probably not true though. Reading through the story again will allow me to note down other things I need to change. There’s also the matter of remembering what character dynamics were like and figuring out how to improve them. I’ve known for awhile that I need to develop a lot of the relationships between the main character and the supporting characters, but first, I need to remember what it was like during the first draft.

Re-outlining and writing out the Save the Cat beat sheet is the second step in the process. I don’t think I’ll be changing much in terms of what happens within the main structure of the story, but I want to improve my pacing and create space to develop character relationships. Things need to be added and I already know that I most likely have filler chapters or scenes that need to be taken out. Of course, there might be other things that I need to re-work into a fresh outline after I read through all 58,392 words.

Lastly, I’ll be moving everything into a new file. Originally, I was going to work in the same file, but I think there’s something nice about starting over in a brand new space. I’d like to go through the process of actually re-writing every word, even though I don’t think this will be a full re-write. Honestly, I’m not sure what this process will be like because I’ve never made it this far before. Well, I kind of made it this far with Project GHOST, but that was a full re-structure and re-write, so the rules don’t apply in the same way.

All in all, it feels like a good plan.

The Vlogging

Time stamps of last year's vlogs

In the past, I’ve documented my NaNoWriMo experiences through vlogging. 2015 produced a really awkward vlog, 2017 was a bit of a mess, and 2020 led to some very long weekly updates. I’ve enjoyed filming throughout the month because it gives me something to look back on. In the case of my 2015 vlog, it reminds me how incredibly awkward I was at filming and how much I was trying to hide the fact that I made videos. My parents had no idea at that point, so all the clips were filmed really late at night while I whispered loudly. Oh how I’ve evolved since. Kind of. I’m still awkward at filming in front of people.

That being said, I don’t plan on vlogging as much this year. Both 2017 and 2020 saw weekly vlogs where I filmed on an almost daily basis and updated a few times a day. This year, I want to step back from that a bit. I still plan on vlogging, but I’m going to do one giant video instead.

All my NaNoWriMo videos are long, so this is a challenge to myself to fit the whole month into an hour. As someone who tends to ramble in videos, it’ll be a good lesson in only talking about the important things. It also saves me the stress of trying to edit long weekly videos when I want to put up content other than writing vlogs throughout the month.

Do I think I’ll still exceed the one-hour mark after a month of filming? It’s highly likely. Even so, I’d like to aim to keep everything within that time frame because it’s rare that someone (other than my friend, Audrey) will want to sit through 60 minutes of me talking about one thing.

An Announcement…

Writing stream announcement!

Next Saturday - October 23, 2021 - will be the first time I’m part of a writing livestream. The amazing Kate Cavanaugh asked me to co-host for the October World Wide WriteAThon going on that weekend. It’s my first time doing any kind of livestream, much less being a co-host, so I’m a bit nervous, but I’m also really looking forward to it. I’ll get to actually talk to two writers (Cam and Kate) I really look up to for the first time ever, and it gives me the chance to try something different/out of my comfort zone. If you’d like to see how awkward I am during the livestream, feel free to drop in.

We’re starting at 7:30AM EDT and will be streaming for about two hours. I love participating in writing streams, so I highly recommend dropping by for a bit if you’re curious about how they work, want to watch four writers stare at their screens while typing, or generally want to see what kind of hilarious awkwardness will ensue.

If you’re looking to stay updated with my progress during the month of November, there are a few places you can do that. The easiest is to follow me on Instagram and check my stories there. We can become NaNoWriMo buddies if you have an account and want to see what my daily stats look like - my username is AxiomCharmander.

I look forward to seeing how this different approach turns out. Like any other year, it’ll be an interesting month of figuring out how to balance writing with everything else I do. The challenge is always there, and so is the community. Both keep me coming back and encourage me to keep writing.

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  • Maggie says:

    FINALLY the return of Project Ceiling Cat! I'm so excited for your NaNo project this year and I can't wait to see how this draft turns out. I don't think I'll be officially participating this time around, but I'm gonna keep working on my Book 2 outline. And of course, I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines! Good luck!

    • Charmaine Lim says:

      Yes! It's time for Ezra to cause more chaos and say more silly things. I still think he and Percy would get along amazingly. Can't wait to hear how your outlining goes. I'm always available for late-night rant sessions about writing because that's the perk of being in a different time zone 🙂