NaNoWriMo 2018

This post is predominantly about the fact that November is right around the corner, and with it, NaNo 2018. It’s been 9 years since I last “won” at NaNoWriMo, but I’m going to be foolhardy enough to try it again this year.

I’ve been lately feeling the pull stronger than normal to write something. To create something. I feel that those urges, those pulls, should be answered, and can be answered easily enough. But, the satisfaction of them requires that we do a bit of work.

Work in the form of sitting our butts in the chairs and doing the writing.  At least in the case of the urge to create some form of written word work. The same could be said for other creative forms. Feel the urge to paint?  You’ve got to apply the paintbrush to canvas. Want to create a finely crafted rocking chair?  You’ve got to start cutting the wood.

Whatever your creative outlet, when the urge calls, answering it is the easiest way to satisfaction. And sanity, I believe. Those pulls. Those urges. Unanswered, I believe they erode away at the strings that hold us together.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Commence NaNoWriMo!

Goodness!  Did you look at the date today?  November is RIGHT THERE!  And, with November, another NaNoWriMo!

Are you participating this year?  After barely making it a week in 2008, winning in 2009, and then failing in 2010, I’m looking to continue the pattern with a win in 2011.  I’m changing it up a little bit this year, however.  Instead of one long work, I’m setting the goal of 10 shorts with a combined total of 50,000 words or more.  With an average of 5,000 words each, I’m hoping it might make it a bit easier to accomplish the 50,000 word goal.  It sure makes it sound easier.  I only have to do 10, 5,000 word short stories!

I think, technically, the purists will hang me for not sticking to the letter of the law and doing one long work, but if you think about it, 10 shorts is more than enough for a collection, and a collection is one long work.  Sorta.  I see it as bending the rules rather than breaking them.  Besides, the goal is to write.  And, if that’s how I get it done, then so be it.

So?  Spill it!  What are you planning to write for NaNoWriMo?

Reflections on NaNoWriMo 2010

As November comes to it’s close, it only seems right to reflect on the NaNoWriMo that was.  I’ll be honest.  I stopped somewhere around the 23rd.  I maybe could have finished all 50k if I had wanted, but it would have been some very late nights and long days to do it.  But, that wasn’t the reason that I stopped.

In fact, my reasons were multiple.

I write fiction for fun.  Because I enjoy the art and the creation that I do through writing.  But, I also write a fair amount of non-fiction for my blogs.  I have a few that I write for.  Dedicating as much time to NaNo as I had for most of November, I fell way behind on my blog writing.  And, at the moment, that’s the only writing I do that even comes close to earning me any money.  On top of that, I felt like I was forcing the story and it wasn’t coming out right.  So, I stopped.  I’m not the only one.

I could have done several things.  I could have counted all the blog writing I was doing with my novel totals and made one big total.  And it would have likely surpassed the 50k mark.  But, that didn’t seem right. At least by the rules that I had set at the beginning of the month.   So, I settled for not winning NaNo this year.  Far from condemning NaNo, I leave NaNo with a few lessons learned, and a new dedication to writing.

I also come away agreeing with Kyeli Smith, that I just might be doing it wrong.

If you find yourself writing because you have to write or you will fail, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re writing because you have to finish NaNoWriMo, because you have to win, because quitting means you’re a loser – your attitude needs tweaking.

If you’re writing because you love writing, because writing fuels you, because writing is what you want to do – well, you’re already a success in my book.

I don’t want to write because I have to.  I want to write because I can.  Because it’s something that I’m good at, and I enjoy doing it.  Writing for writings sake, not just to finish NaNoWriMo.

Last year, NaNo was more of an exercise in getting 50k and “winning”.  This year, I came away with a feeling of accomplishment in that I know that if I sit down and write, I can easily write 1000-1500 words an hour.  Sometimes more.  Sometimes less.  But on average, that’s about it.  I’ve also come away with a newfound dedication to writing daily.  I’ve spend the last few days of November letting my brain recover from the forced marathon of that was the rest of the month.  And then, recovery finished, I’m going to fire the engines back up and see what I can do.  I won’t write fiction every night, but I will try to write every night.  For at least an hour.  We’ll see how that goes.

I’m also going to finish the first edit of last years NaNo novel.  And add a bit to it to flesh it out.  And, if it seems right, I’m going to begin querying it to agents.  But, not until it’s ready.  Which could be some time from now. But, I will finish it.

I don’t consider myself a NaNo failure, even though, by the standard rules, I really am.  I think the real essence of what NaNo is all about is the creation of a habit of writing.  A habit of creating something new.  But, the real trick, the real winning, is in continuing that habit past November and into the rest of the year.  Only then have you truly won NaNo.

Next year, I’m going to do NaNo again.  But, I’m changing the rules.  I want to express the habit.  So, next year, I’m counting everything.  Fiction, non-fiction, all of it.  And, you know what?  I’m gonna blow 50k away.  And, hopefully, by doing so, I’ll relieve some of the pressure of the event.

Nanowrimo is Under Way

So, here we are on the 9th of November.  9 days into the month of November.  Day 9 of 30 in November.  Luckily for you, I’m not counting blog posts in my word count for Nanowrimo and will stop with that now.  I am, however, participating in nano this year.  Last year, I managed to not only participate, but to also win!  Ok, so winning doesn’t really get you anything more than bragging rights, but still.  Last night, I managed to exceed 10,000 words.  It seems like a lot until you stop to think that it’s only 20% of the goal.  Plenty to do and write from now until the end of the month.

I’m using a new (to me) tool this year.  I decided to give the new Scrivener for Windows a try and see if I liked it any better than ywriter.  So far, I can’t really say I prefer one over the other.  Scrivener has a lot more of the details that might be really nice for future projects where I’m actually organized.  I think it would be particularly useful for a non-fiction work.  So, maybe I’ll give one of those a try after nano this year. Right now it’s in beta until at least December 12th, so you can give it a test drive for free.  As an added bit of bonus, if you win (50,000+ words) nano this year and verify it, you’ll get a coupon for 50% off the full license when it’s released early next year.  For future use, ywriter is free, so that might make a bit of a difference.  We’ll see.

If you’re participating in nano this year, please add me as a buddy.  Leave a comment here with your profile link and I’ll add you too!  I try and go through and find the ones that have added me on the nano site, but they haven’t made that all that easy, so it’s easier if I just have the direct link.  Here’s my profile.

Scrivener for Windows Beta Available

Literature and Latte, the folks who’ve been giving us Scrivener for Mac for the last who knows how many years (I’m a PC, so I haven’t paid any attention) released their beta version of Scrivener for Windows today.  It’s basically Scrivener 1.0 for Mac ported over for Windows.  I’m downloading it now.

If you’d like to give it a try, you can check out the info on the Scrivener for Windows page, or you can go directly to the download link.

They’ve also released the trial version of the newest Scrivener for Mac 2.0.  All of this is scheduled particularly for the beginning of Nanowrimo next week.  This year, I’m using Scrivener for Windows for NanoWrimo!  (As long as it isn’t horribly buggy, that is.)

Just Write

There’s always a ton of writing advice floating around the internet, and there is certainly no shortage of books on writing.  I touched on that a little the other day in talking about a post by John Scalzi. One thing that they almost always have in common is the advice that you “just have to write”.  Always be writing.

In all honesty, I should be the last one spouting this advice about.  I’m one of those people who hasn’t made it a priority to find make the time to write. That’s the core difference I think.  If  you think of it as “finding” the time to write, you won’t.  If you, instead, think of it as making the time to write, you have a much better chance of actually doing some writing.  What you write, I think, doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you wrote.  If, at the very least, you use a daily writing prompt of some sort to push you to write, that is a start.  It’s something.

Does it work?  Sure it does.  Looking back at my experience during NaNoWriMo last year, I can say for sure that it does work.  I won.  I wrote over 50,000 words in the month of November 2009.  Since then, when I didn’t have that extra little bit of external push?  I don’t have an official count, but my guess would be something around 10,000 words.  In eleven months.  Why?  Because I haven’t made the effort to write something everyday like I did during NaNo.

As November creeps closer this year, I’m beginning to prepare for NaNo again.   Things are busier this year, and I have a number of ready made excuses for not hitting that 50,000 mark.  But, I’m going to do it.  And then, I’m going to try and finish the year off strong.  Maybe not with a 50k a month writing habit, but maybe something like 10,000 words a month.  That’s less than 350 words a day.  I know that on a slower day in November I easily wrote 1000 words.  I can do it.

If you’re serious about becoming a writer, you’ve got to write regularly.  Make the commitment to it.  Do something like NaNo.  November is a busy month, so if it won’t work for you, try it in January or February.  Bust your word processors balls and write 50,000 words in a month.  I think you’ll be surprised where you make time to write.

Reflecting on NaNoWriMo 2009

I think I may be finally reaching the way down deep bottom of the valley that came on November 28th.  That was the day that I hit 50,000 words.  I started on November 1 and made just under 52,000 by the end of  November.  And what a rush!  But, oh, what a fall that comes after you hit that 50,000 words.

After spending 30 straight days with your budding novel, you are suddenly free from any solid goals.  And without any new ones, you are likely to stagnate.  You’ll read a few people who claim that taking the month of December off can be good.  It gives you a bit of space from the act of writing the novel and gives your mind some time to digest it fully and begin to weave in new threads that will allow you to finish the novel.  (That may be true, actually.)

But, if you’ve just spent 30 days of solid writing, don’t just stop altogether.   I did, and wish I hadn’t.  I went from averaging over 1500 words a day to only writing 1500 in the entire month.  (Unless you count blog posts like this one.  It’s a different category for me.)  I should have picked up on some other story or started something new.  The effect here is that I now have to try and force myself back into the flow of things.  Ugh.

Enough meandering around that though.

Reflecting back on NaNoWriMo 2009, there are several amazingly good things that came out of it for me.  Of course, the most important and amazing of it all is that I won by writing 50,000 words.  I also learned some very important things about my self and my work as a writer.  I’ve written, off and on, for many years, but never with any seriousness.  And I am very much still an amateur.  There is so much to this writing thing that I don’t know and that I need to know.  I’m positive that I’ve only scratched the surface of it.

I used to think that writing was just something you did.  That very little thought should go into it and it will just flow along on it’s own and come out the other end perfect.  Boy, was I delusional.  There are moments where the story and its characters flow right off the ends of your fingers and you don’t even have to think about what’s going on to write it.  They are not nearly as frequent as they should be.  And the end result after 50,000 words and 30 days?  Trash.  Well, not literally.  I have no intention of actually trashing the thing.  But, as I read back over it, there are plot holes everywhere, expansive gaps that leave me wondering just where the plot went.  Some of the dialogue is spectacular (If I say so myself), but quite a bit of it is very rough and clumsy.  There are vast sections of the novel where I do a great bit of telling without one speck of showing.  And there are more than one character who turned out flat.

Looking at that long list, I have to remind myself that the inner editor in us all will be the most critical of any editor.

And after it’s all said and done, I’m thankful for the experience.  And it may take me until next October to be forgettful enough of the whole thing to be crazy enough to try that hectic schedule again.  But, I probably will. After all, writing is what it’s all about, and that’s the fun part.

If you’d like to read up on NaNoWriMo, you can visit their site at http://www.nanowrimo.org