NaNoWriMo 2011

At this point, it’s been so long I’ve posted here I doubt I have any readers left. I still keep in touch with some of you on Facebook or Twitter, which is cool, but I still miss this place.

Most of the comments I do get still from time to time, are past posts regarding National Novel Writing Month. Another big post is my “Novel Planning for Pantsers” post. Amazingly, if you look up the word “pantser” on Google, that post is the first search result.

I’m writing this post about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It starts next week. It’s like the writer holiday season. I will not be joining in this year. This pains me, but is for the best.

My favorite part of NaNoWriMo is the community. I have met so many other writers through NaNoWriMo. I love that we’re all in it together feeling. I even “won” NaNoWriMo a few times. I still don’t have a “complete” novel though. And that’s why I’m not doing it this year.

You see, I’m two chapters into a novel right now. They are two pretty goo chapters though. My pace has been glacial, but I haven’t scrapped it yet. I’m going to stick to that for now.

You see, since I don’t really work from an outline I do a bunch of writing, then I think about it for a while, then the next bit comes to me, then I write. NaNoWriMo short circuits that I think.

So, good luck to the NaNoWriMo class of 2011. Have great fun with it. I know I’ll miss it. But it’s better this way.

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NaNo Prep – A Race to the Finish?

I have that wheels are just about to fall off when it comes to my NaNoWriMo planning. I have been trying to plan this thing for a month now, and I don’t really have a solid premise written. I would be happy with a one sentence on, really, telling me what this thing is about. Still, I have enough for four chapters or so, so that should get me almost through week one of NaNoWriMo.

The funny thing is I made some decent progress on the brainstorming this morning while trying to rock my eight-month-old back to sleep at 5:00 AM this morning. For some reason, the little guy wakes up around that time every day, like there is a little baby alarm clock in his head. That time is usually Daddy time, because I like to give my wife the extra minutes of sleep since she needs the energy to herd the kids throughout the day.

Anyhow, as I was rocking him I got some pretty good ideas. I had to keep repeating them in my head so I wouldn’t forget them. When he finally fell asleep at 6:00 AM, I put him down and typed up my thoughts as fast as I could, knowing he would most likely not sleep very long.

So, I’m tired (that’s my usual setting, so not a big deal) and a little bit frustrated. I keep telling myself I’m in better shape planning that I have been in years past. Still, if you are listening Muse, please visit me soon. It’s getting lonely here.

Writing Stuff

I came across some interesting writing info, and thought I’d share a bit today. Gotta give back to the community, right?

Remember how I was talking about my hate for outlines (always)? Well, I’ve decided I’m really going to give it a try. It can only help my writing, I believe. So, I did a little search on the ol’ Internet today using the search term “outlines of popular books”, trying to find some examples. Wouldn’t you know I came across the Harry Potter lexicon. They have an outline up for each of books up there. It’s pretty excellent. Here’s one to The Chamber of Secrets.

Those are some pretty detailed outlines. What I did was I cut out all the detail and kept each chapter summary. This will give me an example of an outline I’d like to create for my novel. The goal here is not to copy Harry Potter. I just find it useful when creating something to have something successful as a model. Why re-invent sliced cheese?

Next, author Justine Larbalestier had a pretty excellent post today on getting ahead of oneself and asking the wrong questions as an unpublished author.

Finally, they have posted some badges for 2009 NaNoWriMo. I may have to take part again this year, for the badges alone. Very shiny.

Derailed – A NaNoWriMo Update

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn’t write anything over the Thanksgiving holiday .  I feel pretty bad about this, but I don’t think I could have done anything about it.  Here is what happened and from that you can determine if I should be cast aside in a deep pit to think about my failures, or forgiven and allowed to sit at the great table of writerdom.

My writing output seems to be greatly influenced by sleep, or lack thereof.  This Thanksgiving was the latter.  We spent two nights away from home, and our poor daughter had a rough time.  She was great during the day, smiling and cooing and impressing all of her relatives, but at night she had a hard time.  We would get her to sleep and gently place her in her Pack and Play, which is supposed to be a portable play area and sleep area, but doesn’t seem to be good at either.  The moment her little head hit the surface, she would cry hysterically until we picked her up.  She would then immediately fall asleep in our arms, only to wake again when placed in the Pack and Play.  Continue this for eight hours two nights and you can see why I was too exhausted to write.  I maybe got three hours of sleep each night.

Thankfully, she was so happy during the day.  Otherwise I would feel even worse about travelling.  It was nice to see our extended family, some of which we hadn’t seen in a few months.  Our daughter even waved at her Great-Grandmother while eating her Rice Cereal.

On top of all of this, the Stillers ( that’s Pittsburgh Steelers to you non-Western Pensylvanians) got shut out by the Baltimore Ravens yesterday, ending any hope of a Super Bowl repeat.  And yes, it was painful to watch.

I am going to try to work on my NaNoWriMo project every night this week, just to see how many words I can wind up with.  Then, I will put my trusty notebook away for a little while and work on some short stories.  Eventually, I will revisit my little notebook, with the hopes of revising the story into something worthwhile.  We’ll see.

Wikipedia Brown

Yesterday I came across Adam Cadre’s Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala, a short story parody of the Encyclopedia Brown children’s detective stories. I got a kick out of it, and now I want to go back and read some of my Encyclopedia Brown books. For those that are unfamiliar with Encyclopedia Brown, check out the Wikipedia link I provided (ironically?). As a kid it was always fun to read books like these where the children are smarter than the adults and are always saving the day and having adventures.

On the NaNoWriMo front, after all that pep talk from the other day, I still almost threw in the towel last night. Our daughter fell asleep later than usual and I had to drive back and forth to town a couple of times to pick up my car, which was at the garage being inspected. I sat there at 10:00 P.M., exhausted, thinking to myself how nice it would be to just lay down and go to sleep. Besides, I thought to myself, there is nothing left to write in this story.

Instead, I wrote a few horrible sentences of dialog. This dialog, though laughable, sparked a few ideas in my head which lead to more sentences and eventually helped me finally answer some plot questions which have been gnawing at me. By the time I was finished writing, I had 500+ words. A meager amount, for sure, but they were 500 very important words and are much better than zero words.

A NaNoWriMo Dilemma

I am a bit torn as to what my next writing move will be. On my NaNoWriMo project, I have 13,716 words written, almost unthinkable monthly output for me, but well off the 50,000 goal and now slightly off my personal goal of 25,000 words. On the plus side, I have finally figured out the central conflict of the story and “what the story is about”. This may sound funny since I am 13,000 words in and just now figuring out what the story is about. Though I did little pre-planning I think the new direction of the story will work and the parts that don’t work can be fixed in the second draft.

There are only 11 writing days remaining in NaNoWriMo (including today) and that includes Thanksgiving and all the travel associated with the holiday. The question that I have is, should I continue on this project and just be happy with whatever I come up with, or do I scrap this project and work on a couple short stories that I have in my mind? Last night I had a pretty funny dream, which I think would make an excellent short story. This is pretty rare for me because I usually forget my dreams the moment I wake up. I won’t go into details about the dream here, because I will probably post the short story here, but it has potential. I would really like to write this one while the idea is still fresh in my mind. My other short story idea is a Christmas short story, which I think also has potential.

I’m not sure what I am going to do. For now, I will stick with the NaNoWriMo project because, well, I ain’t no quitter. Whether this lasts, I don’t know. Maybe I ‘ll just eat a ton of food and watch football.

Back to our Usual NaNoWriMo Update

Well, I am still plugging away at NaNoWriMo, and was able to write 800 words yesterday in my trusty old notebook giving me a grand total of 12,500. No, I won’t reach 50,000 but I still hope to reach 25,000 and see what I have. Exciting!

The good news is through this whole process I haven’t been lacking ideas. Every time I think I hit a wall, a new idea pops in my head and I’m off. I have have yet to hit “writer’s block” which I am beginning to believe doesn’t exist. I have heard it said that “writer’s bloc” is just an excuse, and this can be defeated by simply writing your way out of it. Maybe this is true?

The only thing keeping me back from writing even more words per day is fatigue. My usual evening consists of getting home from work, helping with dinner, helping feed the baby cereal, helping to clean up after dinner, getting the baby a bath, and finally hoping the baby falls asleep. From the moment she falls asleep, I write, sitting on my bedroom floor with my legs crossed in front of me, scribbling in my notebook.

I can usually get an hour of writing in, and then my eyes get tired. At first, my eyes close an extra second while I blink. Next, I close my eyes to “better picture the story”. I continue writing because I have to reach my goal. Eventually, I fall asleep mid sentence and dream about writing, only to wake up and look at the paper and wonder what in the heck I was trying to say. After doing this a few times, I usually quit for the night, worried anything I write in that state will be gibberish. This has happened to me three out of the past five days. If only there were more waking hours in the day.

Reverse Dictionary

First of all, for those interested, I was able to write 725 words last night on my NaNoWriMo project, not quite the 1,000 I was shooting for, but still OK. I was able to start a new scene and to introduce a possible new supporting character. Right now I am dragging the protagonist through the mud in order to create some conflict. I’m still not really sure what the ending of the story will be or where it is going. It should be interesting even if it goes nowhere. After all, I’m doing NaNoWriMo more for the journey than the destination.

Also, thanks to everyone who visited the blog yesterday. You set a single day record of 101 visits, destroying the previous single day record of 82 visits. I hope those new here found something interesting and will return and I hope all of you regulars continue to visit.

I found a really cool website today via the excellent site Cool Tools. The link I found is to what they call a Reverse Dictionary. The idea is that you know the concept of something, but you can’t think of the word for it. For example, say you what the word for a “thing you wear on your head”. You type that into the prompt and it gives you results such as “hat”, “veil”, etc. Obviously this is a simplistic example but you can see where it could come in handy for a writer. The search isn’t but is significantly better than scanning a dictionary or thesaurus.

I sometimes have trouble in every day life remembering even the most common of words. For example, I will be talking with friends and will stop mid-sentence and say something like, “what do you call a guy who paints for a living?” and they would answer, “um, a painter?” and I would say “oh yeah.” Well, this site would help with that. If only I could have this site installed in my head.

Mid Point NanNoWriMo Update

I was able to gain some momentum on my NaNoWriMo project and write 1,175 words last night. That gives me 10, 975 words so far. Yay, I hit 10,000! I probably could have wrote even more last night, but I didn’t want to be exhausted at work today.

I am already seeing many positives from participating in NaNoWriMo this year. For one, I have written a ton more dialog than I ever have before and I think this is helping me write more believable dialog. Secondly, I now have a strategy for writing every day. This obliterates my excuse that I don’t have time to write. This is a very good thing. Finally, in the past I have stuck to writing short stories. NaNoWriMo has forced me to work on a larger project, and I think the learning process will be invaluable.

Anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo experiencing any positives? Or, is NaNoWriMo totaly ruining your writing?

Weekend Writing in the Ole Notebook

Well, I did manage to bust out the old notebook and do some writing this weekend. I set a pretty optimistic goal of 3000 words for myself, hoping I could somehow keep my weekday average. I didn’t hit my goal, but I did manage around 1800 words. Meh. Hopefully I can pick up the pace this week. As usual, life, fatigue, and a killer ice hockey game I played in last night kept me from writing as much as I would have liked. I desperately want to hit the 10,000 word mark today, because dang it it’s an extra zero!

At some point I would like to post an excerpt of my work here, so look for that.