Posts Tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

Writing Weather

Posted: November 4, 2016 in writing
Tags: , ,

I don’t know what it is about November, but it makes me want to write.

Perhaps its the fact that by November school is well underway and my brain has settled into the rhythm of the work day. Less stress of remembering where I need to be means more time to daydream about things that aren’t work.

Maybe its the weather, as the heat of summer gives way to the ever cooling fall. Sure, there’s still plenty to enjoy outside, but when the sun starts going down around 5 the heat goes with it. No need to be outside in the chill when its comfortable indoors.

Or it could be my inbox, with its happy NaNoWriMo reminder e-mails sparking my inner Pavlovian dog to drool at the idea of a month dedicated to nothing but fictional bliss. Contrarily, I won’t be participating this year. I’ve had years when I’ve said I’m busy and then still attempted, and I’ve had others where there was nothing more pressing than the siren call of a word count, but either way for the past five years I’ve at least given it a shot. Last year I even won. (Shocking, because I’m perpetually behind in daily word counts.) This year, though, I really put myself in a bind with a play. Next week we enter tech week, and the following week we perform. There is no way in hell I have a spare minute.

Whatever it is (schedule, weather, NaNo habit, or a mysterious writing bug) I’ve found myself very much focused on the stories that exist only in my head. They kept me up a few nights ago. I wrote, fell asleep, woke at 4am and decided I couldn’t get back to sleep until I finished getting all my ideas down. Since then my brain won’t shut up. I don’t really have the time, but it’s there. Nagging me.

I can’t wait for this play to be done so I can have a little fun with my other mistress: writing.

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So I’m behind on word count. What else is new?

However, there are a lot of people who are NOT behind on word count and doing a fantastic job putting their writing where their mouth is.

For instance, lets take a look at Alex Grover who is writing a novel. He is not only participating in NaNoWriMo but also No-Shave November. Every day he’s been putting up a post detailing how his beard is growing in as well as the ups and downs of his word count. Last I saw he was kicking his novel’s ass. I wish I had the time to keep up with it day to day because he’s posting pictures, word counts, anecdotes, and snippets from his novel in progress.

The Daily 400 just had a charming post about the things authors research even though they aren’t serial killers. He’s also been updating his blog with his word counts and doing a phenomenal job.

Spilled Ink recently reported skipping three days of writing, no big though because she was already so far ahead she was still ahead by 1,000 words at the end of her hiatus.

They have skills.

I’m telling you, there are some motivated, dedicated people out there, and many of them are detailing their writing journeys on their blogs. Some people say they do it because it keeps them honest and accountable. Others maybe just get caught up in the craziness of a month and want to detail their journey for posterity. For those people looking to procrastinate, or live vicariously through other people there is lots of fun to be had by just seeing what other people are doing.

Me? I need to put my big girl pants on and start writing on weekends. I had plans to get it done weekdays only and having my weekends free to fraternize. Then I got sick and my word counts took a dive. I’m 10,000 words behind and if I keep to my original schedule I need to put in 4,000 word days. That is not happening, because today was supposed to be one of them, and the brain is not able to work that hard.

In order to pull ahead and win I’m going to have to write like the wind. If I pretend I’m George R. R. Martin I have a theme song to spur me onward.

In fact, I could also pretend I’m fellow Wisconsinite Patrick Rothfuss.

Now if only I could grow me an epic beard…

It’s that time of year again, and as such I feel the need to make the obligatory post, not only because I think it’s a fantastic program, but also because much like a gambler I’m typically “all in”.

Despite my past history of always saying “Yes! I’m doing it!” the decision to participate in this fall’s NaNoWriMo wasn’t an easy one. I had already come to grips that November is an awful month for me, full of busy things that I’ve committed to and hinder my ability to give it 100%.  That and nothing is more disappointing than knowing all that, participating anyways, and getting maybe 10,000 words to page. Yes, it’s 10,000 words more than I would have if I didn’t write, but as a writer they are words I probably would have gotten down anyways.

Anway, through a strange twist of events I find myself looking at my schedule and realizing it isn’t as full as prior years. I could actually give it the old college try and make a real go of it. Typically, this realization would have been met with a “Hell yeah!” but instead I found myself waffling for several reasons.

1. NaNoWriMo Events

I’ve always been intrigued by the write-ins that happen during NaNoWriMo and whether it was just the fact that I was booked any night that they had one, or just didn’t want to travel twenty minutes to the opposite side of town, I’ve been to all of one. I love the idea. It’s not conducive to my work ethic (I chat way too much in group environments), but the ability to bond with other writers that I would otherwise not run into is an amazing opportunity. Now I have more time but the closest event is an hour’s drive away…grrr.

2. The Commitment

I already set aside time to write… just not nearly as much as NaNoWriMo requires. My inner lazy-bones bristles at the idea of increasing the time I already devote, especially when it thinks of how much 50,000 words can accomplish. I’ve been working on a project for almost a year now and I hoped I would be much farther along. Putting into perspective how much could get done in a month if I put my nose to the grinding stone makes me feel a little…guilty. No one likes to feel guilty.

3.The Prep-Work

In doing NaNoWriMo I wouldn’t be doing it as a normal participant. I’d be a rebel, working on what I’ve been trying to get through and put it to bed. To do this requires a lot of extra prep-work. I’m one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants people who writes the scenes that spring to mind first and fill in the blanks later. More than that, I like to write with pen and paper first, and then transfer it to the computer. This means when I get going I can have a great many pages that are written but after awhile I lose my main thread and have to put them together in a document so I can regain my footing on the story.

I have a lot of papers that haven’t been transferred. It’s causing the equivalent of that awful word “writer’s block”, which as I’ve previously discussed I agree isn’t really a block it’s the brain revolting. After writing down a bunch of scenes I tend to lose track of which scenes I still need and the flow of the story. Putting them together helps me back on track… it’s also a lot of work.

 

So, last night I thought of all these items that were stopping me and decided “screw it!” I bit the bullet and signed up for NaNoWriMo yet again.

As the prep-work is the one thing I can control the plan is as follows.

1. Turn the handwritten to digital

I have one week to gather together my schnibbles and put them into digital files so I know what I already have done. This is really something I would have to do anyways and was procrastinating on so Yay! Taking Initiative!

2. Make a Scene Plan

Like I said, I’m a pantser, but as such I do tend to get gaps in my story. I don’t have a problem filling the gaps in, but I have to know they exist. So I’m going to make a list of what I have and gaps between them to fill in ideas of what I need.

3. Put Order to the Plot Bunnies

I don’t know if you do this, but I tend to write a scene and then write a discussion with myself as to character motivations, backgrounds, or thoughts on how things need to get fixed. I have a lot of these running around. It would be helpful if the ones that were answered got discarded and those not were taken into consideration moving forward.

If I know what I’m doing perhaps I won’t have so many moments of writing memos to myself.

 

In all honesty, this is way more structured than I’m used to, but when you have 30 days to get down 50,000 words a little forethought is helpful.

I won’t even think about the fact that I’m probably cutting out weekends from my writing schedule. That way lies madness.

What about you? Joining? Abstaining? Weighing your options until the last possible moment?

Tonight is the eve of the start of one of the most notorious writing competitions ever. To be more specific, it is the eve of one of the subdivisions of, but that hardly matters. For those writers who have already been initiated into the madness that has been condensed into the simple word “NaNoWriMo”, I salute you. For those who know not of what I speak, brace yourselves, for this way lies madness.

Yes, my friends. Tomorrow, July 1st, marks the start of CampNaNoWriMo: thirty-one days of pure, unadulterated literary overdrive. We shall write our daily totals and in the end we shall be victorious when before our eyes we see pages upon pages totaling 50,000 words. We shall win when we see our novel sprung forth from our brains, through our pens, and onto our paper. Or, keyboard to screen if you prefer. I know it makes the word count a lot easier. Granted, CampNano offers us flexible word counts, a welcome change for those who have found 50,000 beyond their reach but would settle to push themselves for 30,000 and call it a day knowing they are halfway there. Others, scoff at the meager 50,000 words and toss their glasses to the ground crying out, “ANOTHER!” and so they have the ability to up their word count to a staggering 999,999. (I don’t know anyone who would do this, but drop me a line if you are because I bow to a skill far greater than my own.)

As I have said in the past: We who are about to die, salute you.

For more fantastic pep talks check your CampNaNo inbox. They tend to have them over there. For those who will be doing battle with the ultimate enemy, writer’s block, you might need something a little bit stronger. We’re at war, after all, and that means epic-level battle speeches. I found a youtube video listing a top 10…but there was too much commenting and not enough speeching, so I picked one that I felt was quite motivating and epic.

It was a tough decision, let me tell you. I had a serious hankering to show the opening speech from Gladiator, but Aragorn stole my heart once again. Darn you, Viggo!

As for my own plans for Camp NaNoWriMo I’m going to do what would be considered rebelling during November’s NaNoWriMo but it totally legit to do during camp and focus on rewrites. I’ve been working really hard on a fantasy serial and want to get the first couple episodes typed out so I have something tangible to work with when I get busy during the fall. My goal is 50,000 words. Within that 50,000 words I hope to encompass three stories, perhaps four. As my prep currently stands I have two of those basically rough drafted, and two I will be basically writing from scratch during the month. To stay on task and on schedule that’s about one story per week.

This should be totally do-able. I’ve already got my cabin set. For those who want to check in on my word count or race me to the finish you can find me under the username samt. Good luck, everyone!

 

I hate to admit it, but I am: I’m scared. Scared to death of what awaits my writing journey. Scared of what I know will happen and what I don’t know will happen. Scared that I’m not good enough, that what I imagined will never make it onto the page as perfectly as it resides inside my brain.

Many authors will admit to feeling this very same fear. The fear of success. The fear of failure. Whatever source we give this fear the result is the same. It is what leaves authors staring at a blank page unable to write a single word, overwhelmed by what lay before them.

After working my way through the 90-Day Novel for the past…several months… I have only gotten through day 30 in the listing of daily exercises and encouragement. Yes, I’m so overdue to finish this 90 day program that I should have to start paying a late fee. To be fair, I didn’t stretch out the daily activities over several days, I just didn’t consistently work on them. This might be feeding into my fear of beginning. I’ve had three months to plot, to plan, to explore. I’ve never spent this long on a story before just in a planning stage. Typically I have an idea and I start writing snippets immediately and just go with it. For once, I feel completely in control. And it terrifies me.

I finally hit the part of the 90-Day Novel that it says, ” You are about to start your novel. We will spend this first week writing until you reach the initiating incident.”

“Holy Shit!,” I respond. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this. This is an awful lot of responsibility.” It’s almost like I’ve been carrying this story safely in my womb and I’m now experiencing labor pains. Is it too late to turn back the hands of time? Maybe it can just marinate a little bit longer in there, you know, for good flavor and we can deal with this some other time.

The book has all sorts of reassuring things to say. Something like. “We give you full permission to suck. You should give yourself full permission to suck. The point of the first draft is to get it on paper and if it sucks that’s okay. That’s why we have revision.”

“I don’t know if I can handle this,” I say, starting to hyperventilate. The book reminds me of the Lamaze classes we’ve been taking so I can visualize my story gently gliding from the tip of my pen onto the paper knowing that it is perfect the way it is when it first comes out. That’s what parenting is all about. Through time and training we can mold it into the book we want.

I stare at the paper. It’s so…white, and lined. It’s beautiful in it’s perfection and I don’t want to mar it with my hopeless scrawling. And yet I must. This story that has been living within my brain for three months has to come out. It is the point of no return. And so I tentatively write what I have pictured as my first line for at least two of the three months. This is okay. I can do this. What am I supposed to say next? I remember scribbling down something during the planning process but that doesn’t seem right now. Too much exposition and not enough action. Well, let’s write down this.

No! No that beginning doesn’t work but my training states not only do I allow myself to suck but I shouldn’t rewrite anything, nor should I cross out. I skip a line and begin again. Three times I do this before I give up for the evening. “The time isn’t right.” I decide, ” It’s false labor. The real time is tomorrow.” And yet as I lay in bed words come to mind, a story is forming. I resist the urge to turn my light back on lest the idea stop before it is begun, lest I find out it, too, is false.”

This morning I woke up early (my biological clock is still ticking to the time before daylight savings). For once my alarm woke up at 5:30am and I felt ready to start the day. I dress, eat, pack my lunch and sit down with my notebook. And I write. I write as my brain instructed to me moments before falling asleep, and after a half an hour of furious work I feel satisfied. The story is not fully birthed, but the first contraction has passed. And now I prepare myself for the task ahead, still scared, but with an inkling of hope that this, too, will pass into pages of satisfaction.

If you’re at all in touch with the writing community you’ve probably already been bombarded by posts about NaNoWriMo. People have been gearing up for the whole of October. This makes sense for several reasons. First, because now is the time to plot your novel if you plan on participating with a plan, so people are talking about that. Second, because the newly refurbished website went live and if you’ve ever participated before you’ve gotten plenty of e-mails documenting the new wonderfulness. It really is very pretty now. I approve of the upgrade. Third, because other people are talking about it. Maybe that was covered in the first reason? In any case, November is an exciting month for writers. Thousands upon thousands of people all striving towards a similar goal. I participated in the smaller scale CampNaNo this summer. It was hard, it was grueling, it was a lot of fun, and yes, I did write 50,000 words.

Now it’s November and it’s not an easy month to swing a novel. There’s the obvious blockades such as Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a big holiday in my family that requires the whole weekend to recuperate from. This could be in part because I juggle between two families worth of dinners but I think mainly it’s because I like to eat and hang out with people and the process is just exhausting. Being in the interpreting field presents a second roadblock in the form of my state’s conference. It’s the big one. Three days of workshops geared to improve skills and knowledge. That’s also a whole weekend that leaves me just burned out. Thirdly, it’s a busy time for after school activities at my job, which means I don’t typically arrive home on time half of the work week. November is a complete turd of a month to try to accomplish writing during. At least for me.

This doesn’t dissuade me from wanting to participate anyways. It’s so much fun to attend write-ins at local libraries, check stats online, and hear about other people’s trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

It just isn’t the most ideal time.

It was mentioned in another blog that there are many reasons for and against signing up for NaNoWriMo. And from my own experience I can say it’s a wonderful motivator and a fantastic challenge… but the draft I finished in July was no where near anything I could properly edit into something useable. I essentially have 50,000 words of a story that is so far away from being anything shareable that I’ll probably need another rewrite before I’ll even consider it. This is on a story that’s been percolating in my brain for over a year. It also left my brain so overwhelmed and burned out I wrote very little of anything the following month.

So, with all these things and more on my mind I’m thinking I will probably still participate in NaNoWriMo, but as something of a rebel. I’ll still sign up, try to attend a write-in or two, but this year I’m doing it all by hand. I’m not going to worry about word count, I’m going to worry about my ability to put writing first for the whole month. It’s actually an added bonus to what I’ve been working on the last few months, because I’ve been doing the 90-Day Novel. Granted, I started that journey probably 90 days ago and I’m no where near the end of the workshop. This is not to say the 90-Day Novel is complete bunk. I just haven’t written every day. But I have kept track of my writing in a day to day form. I’ve spent a grand total of almost 30 days working on the 90-Day Novel. This is perfect to coincide with NaNoWriMo as on day 30 I’m supposed to start drafting the story itself. I figure with the time I have available to me it is possible to embark on the first day of drafting my novel on the first of November.

Like I said, I won’t be typing. I won’t even be looking at word count. Instead I’ll just tell myself it’s important to write every day to the best of my abilities. At the end of the month I probably won’t have nearly the word count needed for a victory, but I can use the excitement as a launching pad to propel me through the holidays of December and get the first draft finished. When I’m done with the draft I’ll type it up and because every day I write will be dated I can see just how much was accomplished during a single month.

It’s not nearly as frantic, but I think it’s what I need.

 

This is a post I wanted to write last night at around 9:30pm but realized my brain was too far gone for anything that seemed even roughly cognizant. There were ideas, but no flow to the thoughts. It is my hope that I can bring some form of clarity to those thoughts today, but I’m just so stoked I may be a bit discombobulated.

I did it.

50,000 words: Finished

A Novel: Finished…more or less. I’m sitting at around 75,000 for the complete rough draft of my Twelve Dancing Princesses novel including what I wrote before and during Nano. Yes, I’ve been working on this story since before CampNano started, for about a year now all things told. Yes, I was working as a rebel spy. It was a trap! But I’m happy I wasn’t starting from the beginning because there’s no way I would have finished the plot in a month’s time and that would have made me sad. As it stands, there’s still some scenes that I have to fill in, timelines that need to be tweaked, dialogue that needs to be fleshed out. (Do you ever find yourself, in the stream of consciousness of writing, that words sometimes escape you and you start typing in expletives as adjectives because you’re too lazy to think of anything better at that moment and don’t want to pause to think of it? Yea, I have some of those going on in the manuscript. They will be going away when not completely appropriate. Okay in dialogue? Perhaps. Okay in narrative? Not so much.)

This is the first time the story has sat in any form of completion. It’s all there more or less. Scenes that haven’t been written have at least been made note of that they need to be added, but nothing that disrupts the actual story is missing. For sure, I need to go through it and rewrite it to something that resembles what I’d like it to be, but for now I bask. I bask in the afterglow of accomplishing something that at times seemed impossible. I bask in the glow of something that I was too close to accomplishing to just sit back and accept defeat. I bask in the glow of being one step further to a finished product.

The plan is to bask for a week and then the writer in me will demand I accomplish something. Already my mind has started to think of edits and additions. I tell my mind to shut up. I want to let it sit and rest and just exist before I toy with it some more. The question is: how long do I let it sit?

Right now I can’t even look at it. The thought of writing so many words (almost 85 pages typed in word) and then diving right into editing them just makes me too sad. The parts that really need to be worked will need more than a few tweaks. Some edits could be massive like Godzilla. After a week I may feel differently, and then it comes into question of what’s best for the story. Is it better to go back at it while everything’s fresh in my mind, to toil onward until I have a manuscript that is very close to finished or do I take a break? I’m not going to lie, I’ve got in mind a storyline about Grim Reapers that is just killing me to get out but I put it on hold until I finished Twelve. I think it might be time to work on a new project, and when that project is finished I can look at Twelve again with a fresh eye and work on that while Reaper sits and chills out.

I kind of like the idea of staggering the work, always having two projects. One to edit, one to create.

We shall see what happens. For now, I BASK!