Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2014 and Something, Something…Instagram!

Participant-2014-Twitter-ProfileI fizzled out on NaNoWriMo this year. I know, I know, I can hear you saying, “But it’s not over yet!” Okay, good point, but for me, it’s just not happening this year (despite how badly I want this “Slay 50K” T-Shirt!).

I have tons of excuses, all of which are just that, EXCUSES, and none the more probable truth that I just got lazy. But for laughs, let’s say we analyze a few of these excuses:

 

  • With my project this year to finish my Nano novel from last year, I quickly realized there wasn’t another 50k words left in it and feared that I was severely padding it. Participating in Nano last year was a great way to get started, but now I think what’s best for this novel is to do what I should have done in the first place, and that is slow down and finish the story at my natural writing pace, which is nowhere near 50k/month. (Make no mistake, I will finish this draft, but not before November 30th.)
  • After only one week, I felt like I was starting to burn out again, and didn’t want another eight months of barely writing such as what I experienced after Nano last year.
  • I’m stressed out over trying to find a new job. (I like this one, it feels very genuine!)
  • Perhaps it was just my way of distracting myself from the goal, but for some reason, my creativity was pulling me towards poetry. Being a true believer in following the muse and writing where the greatest energy is at the moment, I gave in and have let my recent focus drift into poetic verse. (Queue the opponents of  “hippie-dippie baloney.”)
  • I discovered Instagram, and have since found an uprising community of poets sharing their work to a receptive and welcoming audience. I have been enjoying the work of others and have also started to share some of my own. (Okay, not really an excuse, but makes for a nice segue into the rest of this post.)

Now for a word or two about Instagram:

Instagram

I still have no clue what I’m doing exactly, but have nonetheless been attempting this blending of media, writing and photography (even if it’s bad photography). I like that I can share my work in a more visual and striking manner, and it brings another element of creativity. Handwriting adds another personal touch (despite my atrocious handwriting). This has further kindled my desire to learn calligraphy, and eventually, with enough practice, I’d like to blend this art of beautiful handwriting with my words, perhaps even incorporate images to create something akin to the contemporary form of Japanese Haiga.

In just two short weeks on Instagram, I have been truly inspired by the work of some great writers, poets, artists, and photographers. Suddenly, my creative gears are spinning in exciting new directions and realizing a trove of possibilities. Honestly, I have no idea where this thing is going. For now I’m just learning, trying to post something every day, and happy to be part of this growing community of creative souls. So if you’d like, please join me and let’s take this journey together.

[P.S. Wasn’t this post supposed to be about NaNoWriMo?]
Advertisements

NaNoWriMo: The 2013 Wrap-up

press-start-fa915ffe8a6fb32bb3eabf7f771620b4

The hardest part about National Novel Writing Month was dragging my lazy ass out of bed. That and, well you know, actually writing.

With another NaNoWriMo looming just around the corner, I thought it was time I posted my 2013 Wrap-up:

The Overview

2013 was my first attempt at participating in this chaotic, month-long writing marathon to churn out a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days. Along the way I learned quite a bit about myself, about my writing, and about my own abilities as a writer. I learned that I can write from an outline (granted, an outline thrown together in the week before the event), and still have the freedom to “pants it,” find surprises, and drift from the script now and again. I learned that I can set a writing goal, and I can achieve it. I learned that I can write (almost) everyday.

While I didn’t actually complete an entire novel, I learned that I have the ability to write a “novel-size” manuscript in just thirty days. And I learned (or rather reminded myself) that large quantities of coffee and energy shots can in fact replace sleep.

Overall, it was a great experience (from what I remember anyway, the entire month is all still very much a blur).While I technically “won” the event by hitting the 50,000 word goal on November 30, I’m certain there are some things I could have done differently, not necessarily better, to make the experience even more rewarding. So let’s take a moment to recap my adventures in NaNoWriMo 2013.

The Plan

I signed up mid-October on a whim, and started throwing together a quick outline from a story concept I’d been harboring for some time. I’d never tried to write “fast” before and had never really tested myself to see how many words I could cram out per hour, but I guessed that if I was typing at a good rate and just letting the stream of consciousness flow, just writing whatever came to mind without second guessing sentence structure or word choice, that I could probably hammer out about a thousand words in an hour.

So I planned to give myself roughly two hours per day to write, in the early morning hours before work and before the family started to stir. I hoped to reach two thousand words per day so that I could take Sundays off and not fall behind on word count.

The Process

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

My NaNoWriMo 2013 Starter Kit

Depending on the day’s work schedule, I would wake up anywhere between 4:30-6 a.m. I’d brew my coffee and take my place on the sofa, working on a T.V. tray set up as a desk with my iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard. I had my music of course, ear-buds plugged in to my phone cranking out Pandora. (For some reason I was listening to a lot of Alt-J, Mumford and Sons, and Dave Matthews Band.)

Most days I found it easy to hit my word count in the given time, and I do believe my estimates proved pretty darn accurate. From what I remember, I was averaging right around 1,000 words/hour. There were a few days that I found time to write in the afternoons and those sessions would put me ahead. Me, being the lazy, procrastinating person that I am–instead of using these moments to really take off and up my word count–found opportunity several mornings to only write for an hour or so and then go back to bed for another hour prior to work.

I planned on blogging the whole experience along the way, but became so engrossed that I only managed to poke my head out once for a Week One Update. After that, there was only writing, coffee, and then darkness…

The Aftermath

2013 WriMo Stats
As you can see from the above image, I stayed on track and hit a total of 50,041 words on November 30. I ended up writing every day except for two days, day #10 and #28. Despite that, I never fell behind in the overall word count goal for any given day. I think this is really a good point to take home for anyone attempting the event this year. It is very important to keep your head above water. If you want to write ahead, write ahead, but don’t skip a day if it’s going to put you behind thinking you will make up for it tomorrow. That is, write for credit; don’t write yourself into debt. While I have read a few other writers post about falling behind and then making up for it in a final, glorious surge near the end, writing from a deficit only makes an already difficult challenge that much more challenging.

The Result

2013 WriMo Stats 2
So, what do I have to show for all this, aside from the satisfaction of knowing that I am now officially a WINNER! (With a t-shirt to prove it! Yippee!) plus all that ooey gooey knowledge and creamy-center-filled confidence I gained? Let me tell you: I am now the proud owner of 50,041 words of a half-finished “zero” draft novel that I haven’t looked at since and can barely even recall writing let alone remember what the hell I actually wrote. It is probably complete orangutan puke, but it is mine. It is mine to finish. It is mine to rewrite, edit, and revise. It is mine to turn into something perhaps worthwhile, something that could even one day be yours as well, and if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, it might never have existed.

If you have never done NaNoWriMo before, don’t kid yourself, this is a very difficult challenge. By December 1, I was exhausted, burned out. With family obligations and a full time job, there’s no way I could keep that kind of pace going for much longer than a month. Even only writing a couple or three hours a day, it just wears you down, both physically and mentally, trying to keep pace and consistently make your word count. But if you can hang with it for the whole month, win or lose, it is extremely rewarding. And yes, I will be “competing” again this year. (As I’ll discuss here in a few days, this year I plan on cheating. Shhhh…)

How about any of you? Done NaNoWriMo in previous years? Care to share your experiences, good or bad? Or, if you’ve never done the event but are thinking about it, please feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions in the comments below. While I’m still somewhat of a NaNoWriMoNewbie, I’d be happy to chat about the issue, and perhaps we can pull some real veterans into the discussion along with us.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, Just Write!


2014: The Year thus Far

download (1)

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, away from writing in general in fact. After “winning” NaNoWriMo last year, I decided to take a little break in December, which inadvertently turned into an extended hiatus from writing altogether. I had managed to hit the 50K word goal during the month while working full time, meeting various other obligations, and still spending time with my family, but by the end of it, I was tired, perhaps even burned out. So I decided to take a step back during the holidays, with a plan to return in January. My aim then was to finish the first draft of my Nano novel which, though it stood at 50,000 plus words on December 1, wasn’t (and still isn’t) even close to being a completed anything. I’d left the story dangling somewhere in the hazy middle, in the middle of a terrible and laborious storm if I recall correctly, and that is precisely where it stands today.

Now with the summer months nearly gone, I stand facing September as it screeches near, and I’m wondering where the hell the year went. I don’t want to make excuses for not writing and so I’m not going to dwell on the time lost. I just know this: it is time to get back to The Work. Okay, so not that work exactly. Not the half-completed nonsense novel thus far left by the wayside. Don’t get me wrong, I will finish that sloppy “zero” draft. I will eventually revise, rewrite, mold and sculpt it into something that hopefully won’t make your eyes bleed. But first I just need to get moving again, and I’ve got other projects that have been on the shelf which I feel I owe my obligations to at present.

Also, with another Nano approaching, I don’t think it’s too early to start planning the work to be done during this year’s madness. Yes, that’s right. I am crazy enough to do this thing again. This time however, I’d like to set a personal goal beyond the 50k word count. Hopefully, with a bit of planning and some time to conjure up a decent outline, I’d like to actually complete an entire draft during the month, so as to not end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble roughly half of a completed novel. My personal goal then will be to end up with fifty thousand words of incoherent garbage that might one day resemble an entire novel.

So I’ve had a wee little break but now I’ve got work to do. In the coming weeks I’ll be plotting and outlining the new novel as well as working to finish up another novel and a chapbook which have both been in the works for far too long. I’ll be making an effort to post more regularly to the blog, if for nothing else than to pop in and say “hi” and tell you what I had for dinner. No. I won’t really do that. No one really cares about that. But I do have a few ideas to expand upon the current content and make it reflect additional topics outside of writing. Perhaps that will liven the place up, make it more fun, like some sort of futuristic cyborg monkey disco. Wouldn’t that be cool? Anyway, I believe I also promised some posts on the NaNoWriMo experience, so as we draw closer to this year’s event in November, I’ll try to post a summary on my thoughts from the chaos of 2013. So until next time, be cool, be safe, and just write!


NaNoWriMo: Post Week One Update

Graph

My journey into this lunatic adventure of National Novel Writing Month is well underway as I’m joining nearly 300,000 other writers (so far) in this grand (insane?) undertaking to write an entire novel in 30 days during the month of November. Now that we’re done with the first quarter (sports term for all you sport-ish people) and boldly going right on into the next, sleep deprived and caffeine juiced, with alienated family and friends, I think it’s time for a quick update to see how things are shaping up.

First, here’s a look at the score card:

Score

 

A quick word on motivation and word output:

The hardest part of this whole adventure thus far has been waking up early. That is, actually opening my eyes, forcing my lazy butt to roll out of bed, and JUST WRITE! I’ve been waking up every morning anywhere between 4:30 and 5:oo a.m., brewing coffee, headphones tuned to Pandora, and then sitting down to write. Nothing else, no distractions. That gives me about two hours before the kids start waking up and then I’m pretty much done for the day. On two days I wrote in the afternoons, once on Saturday while the kids napped and once on Wednesday after work. On each of those days, I cleared over 3,000 words. I’m averaging about 1,000 words an hour. Some hours I get less, but some hours I get more. as far as words go, I guess I’m not doing too bad. (Note: refer to the graph at the top of the post for my daily progress chart.)

But how’s the story shaping up?

That’s a fair question. Allow me to attempt to provide an answer, but since I’m blazing a trail forward and not looking back to see the terrible mess I’m making, I’ll just have to guess. I started with a rough outline that I threw together the week before Nano began. It is basically just a work in progress TOC with the major parts listed and basic details of what’s to happen in each part. I didn’t break it down any further into specific chapters or scenes. In all there are five parts. After nearly 16k words, I’m still floating, rather aimlessly, around in Part I. Clearly I am pantsing it (within the framework of my outline) and I know I’ve written a puke-tastic amount of fluff. I mean, not much has happened yet in terms of plot, and I know that will be an issue ill need to to tackle in the coming drafts, but in the mean time, who cares? I’m fully aware that what I’m creating is a Hot Stinking Mess, but that’s OKAY! At this rate however, I’ll be doing Nano: The Extended Edition until late January before I ever reach the end of that final scene. Oh well, it is what it is. At least I’ll have something to work with once the first (zero?) draft is actually complete. 

And now the summary:

Overall, I’m actually quite amazed that Nano is going this smoothly so far. I honestly felt like it was going to be nearly impossible and that I was completely nuts for even considering it, and now it feels entirely possible. The (seemingly) impossible is now looking quite plausible, perhaps even probable? Now that I’m sensing that accomplishing the goal is actually attainable, my drive and determination are all that much hungrier. All I have to do is keep doing what I’ve been doing and at this pace, I might actually win. Well okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of novel yet to write, but so far I must say it’s looking quite good for the home team.


NaNoWriMo…Wha? I must be Crazy!

press-start-fa915ffe8a6fb32bb3eabf7f771620b4
 

I’ve always suspected that I might be insane. Now it’s official. Read on, I finally have the proof!

Yesterday, on a whim, without a shred of forewarning from my subconscious, I decided to participate in this year’s National Novel Writing Month.  Why is this so crazy, you might ask? Well in case you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, let me give you a brief rundown. Basically, every November is National Novel Writing Month. Participants sign up (for free) to write one 50,000 word novel in the time span of one month. That’s right, 30 days. One. Entire. Novel.

The goal in itself isn’t crazy, mind you. While I imagine that it might be extremely difficult to write an entire novel in one month, it IS an achievable goal. No, what makes this so crazy for me is that I’m going to attempt this with my current work schedule and home life (which I’m certain is no different than most of the participants). And of course, one thing I simply can not do is neglect my family in order to write. Family first. Writing second. Always, no matter how strong my passions are for writing, that is just the way it must be.

Currently, I’ve been telling myself that I don’t have any time to do any writing whatsoever. I tried the whole, wake-up-an-hour-early thing for a couple of weeks and I think I actually dragged my lazy but outta bed to write a total of…what was it, oh yeah, once. So how am I going to achieve this goal? Well, while it is doubtful that I will actually achieve the goal and “win” NaNoWriMo, (although I will be damned if I’m not going to give it my best shot!) I think staying up later than usual and waking up at oh, say, 4 a.m. is probably a good place to start. So let’s just see if this event will give me the drive. Let’s see if it will give me the kick in the pants I’ve been needing to really make it happen! I figure if I even only meet 10% of the goal, it’s still 10% more of a novel than I started the month with, so hey, what the hell have I got to lose?

In the next twelve days before the writing frenzy begins (twelve? really? is that all?) I’ll be trying to prepare as best as I can by daydreaming plot lines and penning character sketches. I’ll also try to post some information about the actual novel itself such as title, premise, and teasers, but I doubt I’ll have much time to post, if at all, during the month of November. But have no doubt, I will be posting post-NaNoWriMo in the weeks/months after in order to update you on how things went, what I (hopefully) learned during the process, and generally just share my experience.

Ok, now that I’ve gone public with my total insanity, all I need to do is to stock the cupboards with the finest (cheapest, strongest) espresso, a couple of cases of Monster, and a goodly supply of energy shots. Oh, and if I could somehow lose my unquenchable desire for a good nights sleep, that would be helpful as well.

What about you? Participating? Thinking about it? Been there, done that? I’d love to hear from you and any thoughts, advice, or experiences you might like to share! Also, a small smack of encouragement would be great too! 🙂


%d bloggers like this: