Monday, November 7, 2016

Epic Music, Lots of Words, and Giraffes a.k.a My First Week of NaNo


And just like that, we have survived the first week of NaNo! (Or am I the only one who has already exploded things in their novel? *cough*)

But, GUYS. The first week of NaNo has happened. Are you still alive? Am I still alive? WHO EVEN KNOWS??? I’m pretty sure NaNo’ers are just mad typing zombies for all the month of November. Like, who even needs sleep and a healthy schedule? Pssh. That’s what coffee is for.


How is my NaNo going so far?? AWESOMELY. To say I’m having fun is the understatement of the year. I’m bubbling with excitement and basically wanting to high-five and hug my novel every five minutes. This NaNo is going SO. WELL.

As I have done every NaNo thus far, I stayed up on October 31st, counting down for the clock to strike 12 so I could begin writing that very moment November 1st hit. To me, it’s one of the most exciting times of NaNo. You have all the buildup, all the excitement, and now, finally, when that clock hits midnight, you can begin your story. And then it comes, and so many, all around the world, are staying up at ridiculously late hours bringing to life an empty document, bringing those characters and stories that had only existed in our heads to something tangible, to something REAL.


Unfortunately, I was kiiiinda totally exhausted Monday night and those magical first words turned into my squinting at the screen trying to figure out how to construct a coherent sentence. But I did manage to push forward and write the first 2k words. (And I only stayed up until nearly 3 in the morning doing it. *cough, cough, cough*)

I was a little discouraged. Those first words were like pulling teeth, painfully forcing each one out. As I finally collapsed in bed, the fears came, the doubts. Was it going to be like this all month? Would I ever finish this novel? Was this going to be torture?

The next morning, I got out of bed, miraculously feeling not nearly as exhausted as I worried I would, and stomped down all those worries I had the night before. After all, I had been tired, and I always do have a hard time at the beginning stages of a novel getting back into the writing groove. I’ve actually been in editing mode all YEAR, since I spent this year editing Burning Thorns. I haven’t written a first draft of anything since last NaNo. Naturally, it was going to take me a little bit to settle back into the first drafting stage.

So, feeling more hopeful, I sat down that morning to start my first full NaNo day. And the words came. Without thought, they just flowed out of my fingers. During my first writing session, I had a few hundred words within a few minutes. All the doubts and fears blew away into pure, writing bliss. I suddenly realized how much I had missed pure writing.

That afternoon, as I was typing away, Mom came home from a trip to town with a pink gift bag. Now, remember in my last post where I joked about November being National Eat a Burrito Month or National Ride a Giraffe Month? I mentioned it in the first paragraph HERE. Well, I took the bag from her, confused, and when I pulled out the tissue paper, even more confusion ensued. Then I remembered my blog post and burst into laughter. Inside the bag was a burrito from Taco Bell and a little giraffe ornament.


What? You thought I was kidding?

Obviously, I was delighted. I mean, what better Happy Beginning of NaNo present is there besides a burrito and giraffe? Really now. And points to Mom for actually FINDING a giraffe. She’s the best. Period.

I immediately dubbed the giraffe my official NaNoWriMo mascot, and he is sitting next to my desk, and shall be brought out every single NaNo as my mini cheerleader. I call him Ivan. He’s such a precious NaNo mascot. I feel motivated to write every time I look at his adorable face. He’s also fuzzy and sometimes I like to pet him for inspiration.


I love my little Ivan. <3

Between that and having a complete blast returning to my Colors of a Dragon Scale world and characters, I ended the first day with 9,032 words (2k of those being written the night before, of course), and collapsed into bed happy and looking forward to the next day.

The rest of the week continued much like the first, the words zooming by, me grinning at my screen over my characters’ antics, consuming as much caffeine as I could get away with, all the normal things.

By the 4th day I maaaay have hit the halfway point to 50k…

Writing 25k words in 4 days is normal right? Eheh. Heh. Heheheheh. *cough*

During one of those first days, I was trying to think of some music to help inspire me. Something new because I’ve kind of listened to the songs I own to death… But I have to write to good inspirational instrumental music that fits my story. Then it hit me, and I smacked my head wondering why I only just now thought of this.

There are these video games called the Elder Scrolls games that I sometimes obsess over, where you’re a person in this fantasy world—exploring, doing random missions for people, basically just LIVING. They’re really cool and make you feel like you’re actually in a fantasy world. (Though they can be super violent, creepy, and have language, so just throwing that out there.) Anyways. I kind of totally forgot my series was heavily inspired by those games. Just the whole feel of the world in those games inspired my CoaDS books. And it occurred to me: These games have amazing music. So I rushed over to YouTube some of the songs and was instantly reminded how much those games inspired this series and how the music was basically like a perfect soundtrack for my series and and and WHY HAD I NOT THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE???

Needless to say, I went to buy one of the soundtracks. I bought it after hitting 25k, so it was kind of like a happy reward to myself. I’m thinking buying epic, inspiring music at the beginning of NaNo may need to be a new tradition. Few things make me want to write more than epic music.

I bought the Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim soundtrack and ooooh man. I want to write just to have an excuse to listen to the songs. They. Are. Perfect. They have this eerie and yet…calming fantasy feel. (Contradictory, I know, but it’s true.) The type of thing you’d hear while your characters are chatting around a campfire in the forest or exploring dark tunnels or having council in a majestic castle a.k.a EVERYTHING MY BOOK HAS. I mean, it can be rather mellow music, so I still have my go-to fast paced battle songs and whatnot, but still. I just wonder why I only now thought of this now that I’m at the finale of my series. I should have been listening to this stuff since the FIRST BOOK. *facepalm*

Seriously, listen to THIS. Or this one. Orrrr this. Okay, I’ll stop. But literally all of the songs are amazing! It even has one track that is 42 minutes long (not even kidding) that is just a variety of softer music with atmospheric sounds like birds and rain and crackling flames and such. Perfect traveling music for your characters. (I actually kind of want to just go to sleep to that track. It’s so peaceful.) If you’re writing fantasy, you need this soundtrack. Except word of warning, the physical CDs are $180 on Amazon. O_O Um, excuse me? Yeah, I don’t even know. But you can download the full track for $15.99 on iTunes which is what I did because WHO WOULD PAY $180 FOR A SOUNDTRACK??? Aaaanyways, just sharing helpful hints here. (I’m always looking for good writing music, FYI. #Obsessed So I thought others might be as well.)

With this new music, writing became even more enjoyable. Then, Saturday, I pulled out my official NaNoWriMo drink: A french vanilla cappuccino.

Back in the olden days when I didn’t like coffee (*GASP* it’s truuue!), I tried to find a substitute before my first adventure into NaNoland. I needed a hot, caffeinated drink of some kind, after all. I discovered this powdered cappuccino stuff that you put in hot milk or water and fell. in. love.

I drank it all during my first NaNo and all the NaNos thereafter. And since I only ever bought it during NaNo, it became the NaNo Drink. It smells like NaNo. If I want to get in the NaNo spirit, I just take a whiff of that warm, vanilla-y stuff and am slammed with a dozen happy NaNo memories. Funny how smells do that. So yep, for me, NaNo smells like a vanilla cappuccino.

Except, since I discovered coffee, I don’t think I had this stuff for the last NaNo or two. SHAMEFUL. I knew I could not write my CoaDS finale without it. That would be totally wrong. And, as I suspected, as I made that first cup Saturday afternoon and it overtook my senses, I was utterly overwhelmed by CoaDS memories. Add that to the new music I had bought the night before and ahhh, pure writing bliss.

I’ve also been super active on twitter, the only time of year I ever am. Usually, I’m practically nonexistent on twitter. Then NaNo rolls around and BOOM I’m a total twitter addict. (…Oops?) One of my favorite things about NaNo is the community, knowing you’re doing this crazy venture with thousands of others. And twitter is a great way to actually be a part of that community without taking up too much writing time. (And it’s also fun for flailing about crazy things that happen in your novel. *cough*notthatIwoulddothat*cough*) So if you’re nosy dragons and want to keep up with my process, just stalk my Twitter feed.

But seriously now. This novel has been going epically. Like, the-words-are-flowing-the-characters-are-behaving-the-plot-is-a-blast-is-this-really-real-life-or-am-I-dreaming type of epically. I’m preeetty sure I’ve made it clear that I LOVE NaNo with all my being and basically revolve my life around it. Buuuut it can be a little…tiring. I think we can all agree. After staring at the screen for 7 hours straight, typing and typing and typing, by the end of the day a horde of wild dragons can’t force one. more. word. out of you. (I mean, my novel is about dragons, but they’re all rather polite. But I digress.) But you know what? I’m having no trouble getting the words down. Usually I end my NaNo days bleary eyed and exhausting and wondering what I’m doing with my life. Then drag myself out of bed the next day and do it all over again. But this week? None of that. The words have just been coming. Quickly! And I’ve even had time to keep up with everyone’s blog posts (mostly) and emails (some of the time) and have even spoken to my family once or twice (though probably not totally coherently). Usually none of this happens during NaNo. But I kinda suspect this won’t last. I’ve had some unexpected free time this week. Soon Life and my novel will fight in an epic battle of doom and despair for my attention. So I’m just soaking up this fantastic first week, grateful for the head start!

Speaking of which, I may already have 35k words.


My NaNo Stats

Have I mentioned I want to get this novel written as fast as possible, and I’m pretty positive it’s going to be well over 100k? x_x I kiiinda think I’ll still be trying to finish it up on through December, buuut let’s not focus on that right now. I’m just gonna write as much as humanly possible in November and hope I can at least get the majority of it done.

But ANYWAYS. I had a good first week of NaNo. If it isn’t obvious.

One reason I think the words are coming so well is because this novel is basically second nature. I’ve spent 7 years in this world. Have written entire books about each of these characters. They’re HOME. It’s the most natural thing in the world to slip into this story, into these character’s heads. They’re such a deep, intimate part of me. Sometimes with writing, I have to take a moment to break away from the real world and transition into the story world, but with these books, they are my real world. During NaNo I actually have a hard time breaking away from the story back into the real world. My mind is utterly consumed in Story. And that’s one of the reasons I love NaNo so very much. You are literally living and breathing your novel, making it your world. It’s magical. (Even if you seem a little spacey to non-NaNo’ers. But we’re writers, we adapt to strange looks.)

And I meant to gush some about my characters (because my BABIES <333) and the actual story and maybe even share a snippet or two but I apparently got distracted by music and giraffes and twitter… But hey, it’s NaNo, these things happen. Maybe next week?

Also, if you expected to come over here and read a well constructed, coherent post, I apologize. Those don’t happen during NaNo. ALL THE CAFFEINE WORDS AND NO SLEEP. *frolics away*

The big question here is: HOW WAS YOUR FIRST WEEK OF NANO??? Or if you’re actually a sane person and not participating in NaNo (I admire you, teach me your sane ways), are you enjoying November so far? Do you have a favorite writing soundtrack? (Give meeee!) Also, what’s YOUR favorite warm, wintery drink? Let us discuss all the wonderful November things!


  1. Oi Christine! You're turning into the next Cait, where you write 63K in 3 days!

    *subtly gleans motivation from this post*

    Also lowkey I really loved this post even though I really hate super long blogposts, I totally loved reading the whole thing. Also....are you published? Because ME WANT READ.

    As for the first week of Nano? Uh. Yo no comprendo. Me cantsd english goodly. I'm at 10% of my (not 50K) goal, which is, like, not good, but I don't really care. Harvest Tea has been my life's substance lately....ITS SO GOOD

    1. LOLZY. I don't think I'll EVER reach Cait's level of writing insanity. XD That'd be great buuut...I'd probably die, so.

      Well, that just makes me all giddy inside! Thank you! I do tend to write really long posts... *cough, cough* I'm a liiiittle wordy, if my enormous sized novels don't already give that away. XD
      No, I am not published. I'm hoping to start pursuing traditional publishing soon but that's a looong process, so IF I do get published it'll the distant future. :-/ And this series won't see the light of day for, um, a LOOOONG time. It'll need super major rewrites, and after I finish this NaNo I'll be going back to edits of Burning Thorns, which is what I hope to try to publish with first. And that was a long answer (see? wordy). Long answer short: I'm not published but I'd love to be one day. And your interest in something *I* wrote just...*FLAILS* That's so encouraging! Thank you!!!

      English? What is this English?? I'm a little scared to read back through what I've written so far to be honest *cough, cough, cough* I'm sorry your first week isn't going quite as well as you'd like. I hope the rest of NaNo will be smooth sailing!
      Oooh, I've never had harvest tea. Sounds delish!

  2. Not really doing Nano... though I do have November writing goal, and am using all the Nano excitement to help motivate me to actually hit that goal!

    One of my favorite soundtracks to write to is the Princess Bride. Also the old Hobbit video game soundtrack which cannot be purchased anymore as I think the license was given to public domain, which is cool, but you can give it a listen here:

    Congrats on such a wonderful first week of Nano! I'm impressed. And motivated... so... I shall bid you adieu and go try to hit my own 600word goal for the day. :)

    1. Oh, also, thanks for recommending the Elder Scrolls soundtrack... I listened to it on Youtube a few nights ago and wrote for an hour and a half... and 1800 words! Amazing! I like that it's very fantasy with kind of a nice, even cadence... sort of faded into the background and helped me immerse myself in what I was writing instead of distracting me.

    2. That is okay! You have children to take care of! Some years just don't work out. That's awesome you're using November to hit your own goal though. November is a great time to write, that's for sure! ^_^ All the NaNo excitement and cozy fall weather. Perfection. (We'll just pretend it's not ridiculously busy with holidays and stuff... *cough*)

      OH. I've never thought of listening to the Princess Bride music. :O That is a good idea!!
      I am listening to that Hobbit game soundtrack right now while answering comments and totally loving it! It's got a great fun fantasy vibe. Thank you for the suggestion!

      Awww, thank you! It makes me happy to hear my silly little post was actually motivational. ^_^ I hope writing has been going wonderfully for you!

      EEP. So you've been enjoying the music? That is wonderful!!! :D YES. You put it into the very words I scrambled around but couldn't quite say. It's the perfect background music, without overtaking everything. That's exactly it! Congrats on your nearly 2k words! *throws confetti*

  3. WOAH YOU GO GIRL!!!!!
    Seriously, though. YOU ARE ON FIRE. I hope it lasts, and I hope you can get this story out to the whole world! (oh, and by the way, I love Ivan. Everyone needs an Ivan. Your mom is epic ;D)


      Well, it'll be a looong time before this whole SERIES sees the light of day... *cough* But your enthusiasm just makes me all bubbly with happiness. ^_^

      Everyone TOTALLY needs an Ivan! My mom is definitely epic! ^_^

  4. What is this odd feeling I have? Conviction, envy, or inspiration? Could it be a mix of all three?

    Glad to hear that NaNo is going well for you!

    1. LOL! Now I don't know what to feel... Guilt? Glad to be an inspiration? Sad that I seem to have no life? *cough*

      Thanks so much! That's so nice of you to say. ^_^

  5. *dies* You... you wrote so much. Wow. I'm in awe. So glad it's going well for you!

    My NaNo started out veryyyy rough actually, but once I had gotten things sorted out, it was better. I wrote 5k on Saturday, which is maybe the highest wordcount I've ever had in a day. *cough* ;) But now school and life are happening, so I'm certainly glad I got that 5k in when I could. xP

    But I have a roadtrip tomorrow. Roadtrips are good. Words will be written, I hope, although I may just end up bringing work on the road with me. xP Even though I've been stressed and busy, THIS NANO HAS BEEN GOOD. I'm loving it. I want to do this every year.

    You're doing so well! Keep it up, you fabulous writer. <3

    1. Thank you, Emily!!! <3

      Aww, I'm SO sorry to hear it started out rough. I get that. Beginnings tend to be the hardest for me. That's wonderful it's getting better. And you wrote 5k in a day! YAY, EMILY!!! I'm seriously in awe of you people who can do NaNo DURING school. I was a wimp and waited until I graduated to even attempt it. XD You're basically superheroes.

      Roadtrips are GREAT, yes! I actually plotted almost my whole NaNo '14 novel during a trip.
      Isn't NaNo amazing??? It's so stressful and ridiculous and's just magical! I'm so happy you're having a great time!

      D'awwww! Thank you!! You too. We're gonna make it through this NaNo and be awesome! *fistpump*

  6. ohhhh my goodness I AM SO VERY EXCITED TO SEE SNIPPETS OF THIS. I'm so glad your NaNo is going well thus far! Here *motivational chocolate*

    IVAN IS SUCH A CUTIE AW. And what a perfect name for a giraffe, honestly.

    I'm not doing NaNo on account of schoolwork (cry), but I AM plugging away rather efficiently at my steampunk vs. fairyland novella. I think I'm about 2/3 of the way done with the first draft? Give or take a little?

    I've actually just recently harnessed Spotify for the purposes of WIP playlists, and it DEFINITELY helps me slip into the world and the characters' heads when I first sit down to write.


    Best of luck with week two of NaNo! <3

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. GIRL. Your enthusiasm for this series just makes me so insanely inspired to keep pushing forward. THANK YOU!!!

      I adore Ivan. And I have my sister to thank for the name. I asked for name ideas and she randomly said Ivan, and it just felt perfect for some reason. Don't even know why. XD But I love it!

      I understand! I admire how you're keeping school as the priority. Some years NaNo just doesn't work out, and that's okay! But that's awesome your're still writing. You've made so much progress!!! :D Go, Ellie, go! *waves pompoms*

      I keep thinking I need to give Spotify a try. I'd probably love it. Isn't music just magical like that? I really can't even write in silence. I need something to immerse me in the world.

      You know what's tragic? I'VE NEVER BEEN TO A STARBUCKS. We don't even HAVE one where I live. *cries for a million years*

      Thanks so much, girl! <333

  7. Glad Nano is going so good for you Christine, your mom sounds amazing!

    1. Thanks so much, Skye! D'awww, yes. She's basically the best. ^_^

  8. Wow, I've never heard of NaNo until today... Sounds intense.... Makes me want to try it...

    1. NANO IS AMAZING!!! You should totally check it out. (*subtly leaves link to the website here* Definitely intense but absolutely worth it. It's just a blast!


    I LOVE how those soundtracks are relaxing and beautiful and epic, all rolled into one glorious bundle. My mom will sometimes pull them up on YouTube to listen to during school hours (we homeschool). So lovely! I especially love the ones with atmospheric sounds, like wind and birds and crickets.

    Speaking of epic soundtracks, my current favorite is Thor. It gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it! *flails* You can listen to the whole thing on YouTube here:

    I'm glad your writing is going so well! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! *gives you and Ivan a double thumbs up*


    1. :O :O :O SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS. *tackles you* You put it into words!!! Somehow the music IS epic and yet relaxing and so gorgeous. GAH. I'm obsessed! Okay, your mom sounds AH-MAY-ZING. Putting it on during school is basically the best idea ever. And I agree, the atmospheric ones are so pretty and relaxing. They're kind of de-stressers and I love it!

      THOR. Why have I not thought of this before??? That movie has amazing music. Thank you so much for the suggestion!!!

      Thank you, Lizzy!!! Your encouragement is making me feel all enthusiastic about writing. ^_^

    2. You're so welcome - for both the music suggestion and the encouragement! Congrats on passing 50K, by the way! :D


    3. Eep! Thanks, girl! I'm excited. ^_^

  10. Awww, I loved reading this! "I’m bubbling with excitement and basically wanting to high-five and hug my novel every five minutes." That is LITERALLY THE BEST FEELING. Like when you sit back and think "gosh DARN this is a GOOD BOOK". (In amongst all the other times of "this is literally the worst drivel ever penned wot iz lyf", but let's not talk about that.) Also, I love how much you love your world. Returning to faves is such a delight.

    I also love Ivan! I do not understand the burrito/giraffe reference because I haven't read that previous post, but it is cute that your mum read and responded so admirably! As you have probably noticed I am new here, basically I see you bopping around Tracey's comment section all the time and think "she seems nice, I should check her blog out", and ... here I am. Checking your blog out. Hi. ~waves awkwardly~ Maybe I should've introduced myself first ... My name is Emily. I have a blog called Ink, Inc. I write sometimes about trees that kill people and sometimes about Les Mis, and sometimes even about other things. Good to meet you. ~bows~

    1. *sees my name*
      *is excited*

      EMILY! I'm so glad you checked out Musings of an Elf, and I'm particularly delighted that my comment section facilitated that discovery. ;) Now that you're here, you'll likely find it impossible to leave. Christine's posts are that wonderful. XD

    2. MEEP. Thank you! I was worried I'd just scare people off with my crazed ramblings. *sheepish grin*
      YES. That feeling of just LOVING your novel with your whole being...aaahhh. Nothing like it! Although...I don't think I'm having that feeling right now because the book itself is all that GOOD. In fact, I'm scared to even read back through it. Who knows the mess I'm making. o.o Buuut I just love the characters so much it makes me all happy every time I go to write and get to spend time with them.

      I do love my Ivan. I can't help but smile every time I look over at him. ^_^

      It's so good to meet you too, Emily!!! *glomps you* I love making new blogging buddies! That is the sweetest thing my comments on Tracey's blog brought you over here. I'm very happy to have you!

      @Tracey - GIRL. The things you say! <333

      You're both making me smile so much!

  11. I'm so glad you're having a great NaNo! Mine is going pretty awesome as well. I'm staying at a slow pace right now, because I'm writing with a friend, but when she's done with her exams WE'RE GOING TO ROCK THE WORD DOCS! RAHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I'm up to 17K right now. ^ ^ Also the Skyrim soundtrack is amazing. I'm listening to Assassin's Creed II a lot for this book. I listened to Skyrim a lot for Red Hood. I'm still creating the soundtrack for my NaNo novel this year. XD I associate Red Hood with Skyrim so I can't recycle the soundtrack or I feel like I may start stealing that books feel you know? Happy NaNo!

    1. Thank you! That is absolutely wonderful yours is going awesome as well! :D I think a slow and steady pace is sometimes best. My NaNo novels are MONSTERS because I write them too fast and don't take the care to write them very...well. Other non-NaNo novels usually end up better because I write them more slowly. Lol. But you're doing so good, girl!

      YES. Someone else who listens to Skyrim music! :D (I actually thought of you when I was talking about it because I suspected you played the Elder Scrolls games. ^_^) OH. I looove Assassin's Creed music! I've never actually played those games, but the music is beautimous.

      YES. I totally get that!! I also try to make fairly different playlists for each novel, so every novel of mine will have their own style. Whatever I'm listening to at the time effects my writing BIG TIME, so I have to be careful.

      I hope the rest of your NaNo is amazing! Keep up the awesome work!

  12. Augh, GIRL, all the enthusiasm contained in this post is enough to make me burst with my own excitement! :D I am so, SO glad that you're having such a blast and reveling in the return to a favorite world of yours. Haha, the hugging and high-fiving your novel feeling is one of the greatest things ever. Just reading about your experience is motivating.


    Ivan! A burrito! Your mom is wonderful! ^_^

    I've never listened to the Elder Scrolls music until now. What a fabulous option for writing sessions! I'm seriously considering buying that Skyrim album on iTunes after listening to those three songs you linked to. It seems perfectly fantasy-ish without being distracting, like Jenelle said.

    But wow. That wordcount. O.O You're doing so well!!! Way to end this series on a high note! (I also just scrolled through the twitter feed on your sidebar, and seeing your little progress updates was so cool.) I'm just insanely happy that you're so immersed in your novel, enjoying your characters, and having the time of your life. *hugs you and the book* And you're already past 50k! Congrats!

    1. AND NOW YOUR COMMENT IS GOING TO MAKE ME BURST. Thank you so much! I don't even know what to saaaay!

      My mom is the BEST. It was so great! XD

      Isn't the music just gorgeous?? Yes, Jenelle put it perfectly. Such relaxing, non-invasive writing music. (Has Josiah ever listened to any of it? He's like the playlist king, so I felt like he might enjoy some of that stuff. XD)

      *grins* Thank you! I think my wordcount may slow down a bit from now on. Life is starting to get busy again. But I did get to hit 50k before returning to Life, so that was exciting! :D

      Thanks so much, Tracey! Your comments never cease to make me smile. <3


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