National Novel Writing Month – or, That Crazy Writer’s Locked Herself in the Closet Again

Next month is November and the National Novel Writing Month spectacular, aka NaNoWriMo.  Yes, writers are lazy; why type all that shit when we don’t have to?

What is NaNoWriMo?  It’s this crazy idea that in thirty days, you can bang out a 50,000-word novel.  It’s a chance to take that idea swimming around in your head and birth it out into reality.  Not polished perfection, mind you—that takes a much longer commitment.  Since many writers suffer from butt-in-chair deficiency, NaNoWriMo is designed to force you to sit still and write.

To do this, you can formally sign up for the process at the NaNoWriMo site and participate in the contest.  Or you can do it on your own, whatever.   The site has forums, advice, word counters, and much more.

I hate trying to crap out first drafts.  HATE HATE HATE HATE.  I’m considering doing NaNoWriMo informally this year, just to finish something.

I would like to get some voice recognition software and just talk the damn thing out, like “Then Dr. Equate stabs the zombie four times—no, three—and his evil diseased brain cocktail is about to fall into the water supply!  Yeah!  And super spy Dirk Fabulous shows up and forces him to drink it!”  Same process; no hand cramps. I can clean it up later.

The awesomeness of this would be, well, awesome.

Image:  Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The current WIP is stalled, but I think I finally figured out something that was borking my story.  By borking, I mean it threw up a giant roadblock that effectively killed forward progression.  This has nothing to do with the fact that my life imploded, by the way; it was a glitch in the plot.

If you want to do this, I suggest you take these next couple of weeks to prepare, if you haven’t already.

Do an outline

I get a rough concept of a book and when I’ve thought it out a bit, I write a synopsis and then break it down into scenes.  Later, I use it to organize chapters.  Since I tend to skip around when I write, the outline keeps me on track.

Get your life in order

My writer buddy James Allder recommended that I make sure I’m not interrupted in any way during my NNWM writing time.  He’s got a good point.  A break in concentration can mean death to a writing session.  Shouldn’t be hard, considering I have no life right now.

If you have one, make sure you get extra crap out of the way so you can sit down at the same time every day and work.

Do a few practice sessions

You may already have a set time you write every day.  If so, good for you.

Here’s your trophy, you self-righteous bastard.

Image:  Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you don’t, I would suggest a practice run.  Take a few days and try it out.  It doesn’t matter if you’re only writing gibberish, just so you get the feel of actually working during that interval.  Mind you, it’s against the rules to work on your NNWM project before the start date.

Remember it’s only a tool

You are not going to produce a complete book in one month.  Let me repeat that, because it’s important:  you are not going to produce a complete book in one frigging month. 

A complete book, ready for publishing, will require at least another few months of editing, rewriting, polishing, submission to first/second/third readers, more editing, more polishing, etc. before you can even think about querying.

Your goal is to finish something, not write a goddamn bestseller.   Use it to get your butt in the chair.  When the month is over, it’s up to you to keep it there.

NaNoWriMo is only a tool.  Its purpose:  to make you WRITE.  In a burst of uncensored, freewriting word diarrhea.   Your brain will open the creativity floodgates and not even the Brain-o-pectate will stop it.  At the end, you will have the bones of a book.

If I do NaNoWriMo—and I think I will—I’ll create a separate category on this blog where I can update my progress and tears.  You may live through the actual process of writing (well, finishing, technically) a book along with me.

Lock and load.

Image:  vudhikrai / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Helpful links:

25 Things You Should Know about NaNoWriMo”  by Chuck Wendig

Chuck is no-holds barred.   If you don’t like me saying goddamn and shit, you’ll hate him.  But he knows what he’s talking about, goddamn it.

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo” by Steve Shepard

Some decent tips, even if it’s kind of an ad for the Storyist software.  I prefer PageFour myself.  Plain old Word is fine; you don’t have to buy anything to do NNWM.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Novel_Writing_Month

History, rules, and more.

 

Writing When You’re Not Writing

It was wrenching to write the first words of this post.  Why?  Because I don’t want to admit I’m not writing.  Maybe you surmised from an earlier post that things aren’t going very well right now.

But you’re blogging, you say.  That’s writing.  Sure it is.  I’m talking to you in written form, telling you something.  So it’s writing.  It’s just not the kind of writing I want to be doing.

Anne Wayman, super freelance guru, wrote a post about writing even when you are horribly distracted.   She says, in essence, that writing helps keep her mind off things.

I have the opposite problem; I can’t NOT think about it, because when I’m upset, I tend to bang out little Notepad diary entries about how pissed off I am.  At least they’re digital, and I can delete them before I die and someone finds them.

Note to self: burn this old thing….

Image:  vada0214/stock.xchng

How the hell do you write when life blows up in your face?  Here are my conclusions.

Take a break

Sometimes, you just have to.  If you have freelance clients or a deadline, you might not have the luxury.  At least cut back, if you’re able.  Put as many projects on hiatus as you can while you deal with things.

Write something that pertains to whatever is distracting you

Turn it into a project, by golly.  At most, you might even get a sale out of it, if you can find an intriguing angle on the subject.  At least, you’ll discharge some of those feelings and sort your thoughts.

I have no clue what the hell this is supposed to be, but it cheered me up for a minute.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Use the time to do research

I’ve been trying to do this a bit.  Of course, the whole insomnia thing makes reading material very difficult.  I’ve actually had to *GASP* put the computer aside and rest my eyes.

Research is easy.  You read some stuff and take notes.  No pressure. If you act like it’s no big deal instead of life or death, you may dig yourself out of a dead end.  I think I’ve found an answer to one particular problem in the current WIP that’s been plaguing me.

Write somewhere other than your hidey-hole

Get out of the house.  Take your laptop to the library.  They have wi-fi in case you need to look up giant sloth toads of Madagascar, or watch a YouTube tutorial on binary star systems.  Wear headphones so other unemployed lurkers don’t hit on you.

Once you start writing in earnest, disconnect.

For God’s sake, stay away from the button!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Go back to a previous project

When I’m brain-dead, pulling something out of Ye Olde Writing Trunk is soothing.  I’ve said before that I much prefer editing to writing first drafts.

Hence the re-edit of Rose’s Hostage   I’ve got a few more queries to try before I bury the poor thing.  At least it will give me something to do.  And you never know.

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I dearly hope you are all surviving this ridiculous excuse for an economy we have lately.  And the drought.  And the unemployment.  And the global warming.  And the religious wars.

We all have to hang in there.  There’s nothing else to do.  Except, maybe, write about it.