Nov 29, 2008

Nano, Day 28 & 29

I actually passed the 50K mark late Thursday night, so I’ve really been a Nano winner for a couple of days now. :-)

Yesterday I started plugging up some of the plot holes and added another 1500 words, and I’ve got more holes to fill. Not sure how long this novel is going to be, but I’m going to keep at it until it’s done. Then, while I’m in the process of editing it, I’ll start working on something else.

Today I logged onto the NaNoWriMo site and validated my word count, which entitled me to download a couple of spiffy icons and print off a certificate which I will hang on my office wall as soon as I get a frame for it.

I’m actually sorry Nano’s done, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and my writing habits and I’d like to think I’ll keep going. They say it only takes 14 days for something to become a habit, so that means the habit must be doubly set in after 30 days. Which means, I have no excuse for not writing 2,000 words a day.

Maybe I’ll just have to pretend that every day is a Nano day.

Nov 27, 2008

Nano, Day 27

I’m driving myself crazy.

Yesterday I had a really hard time buckling down to the writing. Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the weather, maybe it was just the cosmic alignment, I don’t know. All I know is I couldn’t seem to concentrate.

I’d plug away for awhile and then check my progress and be appalled at how little I’d done. Then I’d go back and read some of what I’d written and think “Ew, how could I ever write such drivel?” *sigh*

Then I’d plug away some more and thought I was finally making progress, but when I checked at about 1 a.m. I was shocked to see that I hadn’t even passed the 1,000 mark for the day. Finally I skipped ahead to the scene where my female main character’s ship is dead in space and the male main character has to rescue her. It started out as just a filler, but now it’s become important ‘cause it’s given them both time apart to get their priorities straight. Well, his priorities anyway. She still has issues.

In the peaks of my creativity I write entire scenes, in the lulls I try and go back and fill out the stuff that comes in between. Actually, the lulls are sometimes caused by trying to backfill the holes in the story.

Some of what I was reading tonight was pretty good, a lot of it wasn’t. But I still like the story and I can almost say I’m looking forward to editing it into something readable.

Nov 26, 2008

Nano, Day 26

I remember my first Nano. I had a good idea, I knew where the story was going, I had my characters more or less figured out (well, they had names anyway). I had a well thought out outline and though I tended to jump ahead to the more interesting parts, I still pretty much stuck to the outline. I ran out of story before I ran out of words, and I’m still trying to edit that sucker. I may just start over from scratch. I still like the basic idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Recently I came across the original prologue and it’s a much better fit than the new one. In fact, it’s long enough that I might dispense with the prologue altogether and just use it as chapter one.

Last year I attempted Nano. I had what I thought was a good idea and I booked a week’s vacation in the middle of November. I wrote 2,000 words and then stopped. In retrospect, what I had was a good beginning for an idea. It needed a lot more developing before it was going to go anywhere.

This year, I almost didn’t sign up for Nano. My writing was floundering and I didn't think the extra pressure from Nano was what I needed to pull me out of my slump. I was working on three different projects simultaneously and my progress just seemed really slow. The two weeks before Nano I was hard-pressed to even update my blogs, let alone get any other writing done. There was this story that was stuck in my head. Every time I tried to write something this story would rear its ugly head in my mind and demand my attention.

I tried to ignore it but the problem was it was a good idea. It kept revolving in my head, refining itself until I knew the whole story from start to finish. I knew the characters and their motivations, I knew their flaws, I knew exactly where the story was going and how it was going to get there including the obstacles my characters were going to encounter.

After two weeks of not writing, I was leaning more towards not signing up for Nano. I just couldn’t face more failure. And then I read a post on Absolute Write that changed my way of thinking. The thread asked the question, “Is Nano a good idea for beginning writers?” The answer was illuminating (at least for me). I wish I could find the original post, but in a nutshell it basically said that writers often have to work under tight deadlines and Nano is a good way of testing yourself.

I want to be a writer. Nano is making me feel like one.

Nov 25, 2008

Nano, Day 25

I must admit today's wordage wasn't as good as it's been lately.

In the morning I did a thorough house cleaning and in the afternoon my daughter was home for a job interview. I didn't even crack my lap top open until late in the afternoon, and then didn't start any writing until the evening when my daughter went to a friend's house to watch NCIS. Truthfully, I didn't really get going until she went to bed at 11.

So, I only did about 1,000 words today, but that's okay. I'm still ahead of the game and any words are better than no words.

Now that I'm so close I don't think I'm going to update my Nano counter again until I'm ready to use the Nano validation to become a winner. I've seen the little web badges and I wants one!

Nov 24, 2008

Nano, Day 24

Okay, I can definitely say I’m not going to run out of story. In fact, if I have the time once I reach the 50K that makes me a winner, I have a section at the beginning I need to add.

I started today as I normally do, checking my e-mails and my blog list, and then I sat at my desk staring at my document, fingers poised over the keyboard and . . . nothing. I reread the last section I wrote yesterday and . . . nada. I stared into space for a while and . . . zip, zilch, nil.

So then I logged into Absolute Write and started checking out the forum and after checking out the new posts I participated in a word war with some fellow Nanoers. This is where we pick a mutually agreeable time to start and then write as fast as we can for 30 minutes. Afterwards, we post our word counts.

The idea behind this is to give ourselves (and our writing) a little boost and for me it worked well. I wrote just under 900 words in my thirty minutes. Not only did it give me a jump start, I kept going and reached the 45K mark just before supper.

I’m turning into a regular writing machine, go me!

Nov 23, 2008

Nano, Day 23

Well, in spite of grocery shopping and girl’s night yesterday, and Christmas shopping today, I made my 43K. And before midnight too!

Let’s see, my female main character has recovered from her illness and my male main character has developed a real stubborn streak, especially when it comes to recovering his memory (he doesn’t appear to want to remember).

He’s lured my poor FMC to a barn, of all places, for nefarious purposes, and just when they thought it was safe to relax in the afterglow, someone sets fire to the barn. They escape, but there’s still the question of who set the fire and why.

I managed about 500 words before shopping this morning, and the rest this evening. Despite the volume of the television, I was able to focus and just get it done. I think this deserves coffee cake and ice cream!

Nov 22, 2008

Nano, Day 22

Yipee! I passed the 40K mark! The goal for this weekend is 43K by the end of Sunday. A little less progress than I’ve been making but I’m factoring in the grocery shopping today, a girl’s night out tonight, and Christmas shopping tomorrow.

Wow, I’ve got a lot on the go this weekend. It will be interesting to see if I’m able to reach my wordage goal and how late I have to stay up to make it :-)

My characters have reached his planet, which still doesn’t have a name. She’s been sprung from prison and is recovering nicely from her life-threatening illness. They’ve been reunited in his former home, and he’s beginning to show his stubborn streak regarding his memory loss. They've met what's left of his family and she's just given them a run-down on how they met.

I am no longer worried about running out of story before I hit the 50K mark. I think I’ll still be adding words even after Nano ends. If that’s the case then even when the pressure’s off, I'd like to stay focused until I get this finished.

I owe it to myself to see where it takes me.

Nov 21, 2008

Nano, Day 20 and 21

I am becoming more focused on my writing than I’ve ever been before. It’s a strange, yet good feeling. Even when sitting with my lap top in front of the T.V. I keep adding a sentence or two at a time, slow but steady progress.

When I get to the bottom of a page I check my word count and I always think “I’ll just keep going to the next thousand and then I’ll take a break” and by the time I reach that thousand I’m in the middle of a scene and then I don’t want to take a break until I finish that scene.

Yesterday’s words came in dribs and drabs, but I kept at it despite the fact I’m back to feeling sick again. There’s nothing more distracting than your intestinal tract writhing inside you when you’re trying to write. However, I persevered and ended my day about 2,000 words ahead.

Today my goal is to break the 40K mark. Already I’m further into this book than I’ve been ever been with any of my other attempts at novels. It’s a good feeling.

Nov 19, 2008

Seriously? It’s Wednesday? or Nano, Day 19

I thought yesterday was Wednesday. Of course I thought Monday was Friday. It’s easy to lose track of the days when you’re a practicing hermit. I see I also forgot to post yesterday.

Nothing much to report, other than the steady increase of words. My main characters have reached his planet, which still doesn’t have a name. I suck at naming planets. The last planet they were on was Sigma Alpha IV, which I think I stole from Star Trek.

My female main character is in a real skanky prison, my male main character is else where, kept prisoner with kindness. I am in the process of getting them back together.

The writing has been going so well lately that I actually got to bed early a couple of nights in a row, however, I still ended up sleeping in. Yeah, I know, poor pitiful me. The thing is, if I get more than seven hours of sleep I end up more tired and head-achy than if I don’t get enough sleep. So, I give up. Until the end of Nano I will bow to my body’s desire and stay up that extra hour to watch Star Trek (original series). I mean, to write.

I’m back to the whole - am I going to run out of story before I run out of words thing. I think it’ll be close. It’s taking them a while to find my female MC in the jail she’s in. There’s something a little underhanded going on and the man in charge of the jail is going to have to get his comeuppance. I think he might end up being the father of the woman who’s been pursuing the male MC romantically. Oooo! That would work out great! That’s how she knew Aleksandar was back at the palace . . .

*wanders off to include this new plot development*

Nov 17, 2008

Nano, Day 17

Am I driving everyone batty with incoherent, repetitive Nano posts?

Good. Insanity love company.

Yesterday I was taking a break from my procrastinating for lunch and I happened upon another Star Trek marathon. This one with different movies from last weekend. There’s something about Star Trek that’s conducive to writing because I made pretty good progress while I was watching.

At one point, early in the evening, I was conscious of being close to my daily word count but I wanted to “just finish this scene” before I stopped. Before I knew it, I’d not only reached yesterday’s word count, I finished today’s as well. Go me!

Slowly I’m learning to ignore distractions, like the television (I’ve been using the lap top in the living room a lot), games, blogs . . . I’ll open up spider solitaire, but then close it up again because I want to type just another few words first.

Dare I hope this will last?

Nov 16, 2008

Nano, Day 16

Well, I’m over the hump. I’ve passed the 25K mark. To celebrate, I bought myself a tub of Nestle French Vanilla ice cream.

I have stopped obsessing over the fact that my prime writing time seems to be after 1 a.m. I spend all day writing a word here, a sentence there, but come 1 a.m. I start to get serious and I probably write a thousand words between 2 and 3.

Why is that I can focus so well at that time and not any other? Yeah, I know I just said I’m going to stop obsessing over it (it’s not like I have any pressing need to get up early in the morning so it’s not the staying up so much, it’s the writing itself) but it would be nice to be able to generate that kind of focus at other times during the day. Just think of the kind of output I could have! It would make the difference between staying home to write and having to go out to work for a living.

The story itself is progressing well. In the beginning I tended to skip ahead just to get the word counts in, now I’m slowly filling in the gaps. The first 30 pages are more or less seamless now, and I’m hoping by the end of the day this will be the first 35 pages (I’ve got my document set for single, not double spacing) and they haven’t even got to his planet yet.

Hmm. Maybe I’ve just answered my own question. I’ve been skipping ahead to get the word counts in, and when I start my writing for the day I start to fill in the gaps. This could be why I get off to such a slow start. Gap filling can be hard work - it strains the brain. While it’s important to fill in those gaps, it’s more fun to skip ahead.

Today’s mission, should I choose to accept it, is to pay attention to what changes that allows me to focus when the writing is going quickly.

Nov 13, 2008

One Wave Short of a Shipwreck or Nano, Day 13

I’m having one of those days where I feel like everything I’m writing is crap. Even the sex scenes (which I’ve actually been really enjoying writing) sound boring and repetitive. According to my Nano Newsletter, this is called the second week slump. Apparently, I’m in it.

I’m feeling jusifiably proud of myself that I keep writing anyway. Trust me it’s not easy. As you well know, my normal reaction would be to go find a Fantasy Island marathon on television and forget all about writing. The trick is, to avoid going back to re-read what I’ve written. Yeah, maybe a lot of what I’m doing is crap. But there might be some good stuff in there too and I don’t want it to end up guilty by associating with crap and get cut.

See what I mean? Did that last sentence even make sense?

Of course it doesn’t help that my stomach is doing more back flips than a dying fish on a beach. ‘Tis the season to get flu bugs. Sorry, I don’t have time to be sick right now. I just passed the 20k mark for Nano, only 30k more to go.

I’ll make myself a deal. Five hundred more words (which will put me at 21k) and then I can go curl up in the living room for awhile.

Sounds fair to me.

Nov 12, 2008

It’s A Kind of Magic or Nano, Day 12

Despite my misgivings about the story lasting as long as the word count, I’m finding a magical thing occurring. I start what I think is just a minor scene, but it starts to stretch out. And it’s not just filler to boost my word count either. It’s important stuff that moves the story forward.

Be still my heart.

I’m also seeing places where I’ll be adding wordage when December rolls around and it’s time to start the dreaded editing.

The best part of all is, I’m still enjoying the story. I want to know “what happens next”. I haven’t included this minor conspiracy thread that I had originally envisioned, but it’s still there if I want it. The brother is turning into not as bad a guy as I’d figured; if I use the conspiracy thread at all he’ll have been coerced into it.

I used to think it was a dangerous thing, keeping a story in my head. My memory’s not what it used to be (not that it was ever great) and I was always afraid of forgetting the story before I could get it down on paper. But now I’m beginning to realize, for me at least, if I can work out the entire story in my head and it’s still in there when I start to type, then it’s a story worth remembering.

Which in my books makes it a story worth writing.

Nov 11, 2008

B12 or Nano, Day 11

I have a serious lack of B12 in my system. Most people do and don’t realize it, and in most people that’s fine. But one of the first things they check for (or should check for) with depression, is your B12 level. Mine was non-existent, hence the need for supplements.

You’re wondering what this has to do with writing. Well have patience, I’m getting to that.

One of the benefits of B12 is it's an energy boost. However, I have found that before I get the energy boost I get tired. Sort of like the water pulling back before the wave rolls in. If I take the B12 with breakfast, I get the energy sink just after lunch, but I’m fine late in the afternoon and the evening, which is when I’ve been getting my writing done. However, because I get such a late start to the writing, I end up staying up later to get what I’m working on finished.

I wanted to change this. I’d like to get my writing done during the day like a normal person, and then relax in the evening and go to bed at a normal time.

So the last few days I’ve been taking my B12 at supper time (you have to take it with food or it won’t be absorbed into your system). The energy sink hits around 11 p.m., but by the time I’m ready to go to bed, say 12:30 or 1, the energy boost has kicked in. Last night I was up until after 3, at which point I went to bed, but it was still a good hour before I fell asleep. There has got to be a happy medium.

I just have to find it.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep plugging away between naps.

Nov 10, 2008

Groovy! Or Nano, Day 10

It’s late at night. The hubby’s in bed because he has to be up early for a bowling tournament in Toronto. I find a Star Trek marathon on the television to distract me from my writing. I have a cat curled up on the foot of my recliner. All of a sudden, I realize I’m paying more attention to my writing than the movie.

Insert open-mouthed look of shock here.

We’re not just talking any movie, we’re talking Star Trek VI The Voyage Home, my all time favorite movie. Is it possible? Could it be? I’ve finally found my writing groove.

It’s no longer about the word count. It’s about getting the story done. I keep getting distracted from my distractions by wanted to add just a few more words, finish that scene. One of the pep talk letters I received in my e-mail from Nano states: “. . . once you’ve established a daily rhythm of work, you’ll find it energizing and sustaining in itself. Even when it’s not going well.”

They’re right. Even when I’m having trouble with a scene I still keep plugging away, and eventually I work past it and before I know what’s happened I’ve added another few hundred words.

Persistence plus a whole lot of determination just might see me through to the end this year.

Nov 7, 2008

Nano Day 7

I was up until 3 a.m. again last night, but at least this time I made my word count. Today I been plugging away at it, but I’m still short by about 500 words. I’m hoping to get them done this evening.

I’ve noticed for a lot of Nanoers (Nanites?) that they tend to have low word counts during the week, but make up for it over the weekend. I have just the opposite problem. I can keep up the steady word count during the week, but the weekend is when I usually start to fall off.

I know why this is. Week nights, the hubby bowls two nights and goes back to the office the other two. But the weekend he’s hanging around the house a lot. He just doesn’t understand that even if I’m sitting here staring at the computer screen that he shouldn’t interrupt me unless the house is on fire.

I love you but I do not need to know who’s winning the car race or the hockey game, nor do I care about what happened at bowling this morning. You’ve just derailed my train of thought, for the twelfth time, and the track that train runs on is very fragile indeed.

Nano is turning me into a night owl. I’m starting to have a real problem getting creative until after the sun goes down, and the last couple of nights my optimum writing time has been between 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Maybe it has something to do with the B12 I've been taking. I've been taking them with breakfast but maybe I should take them with supper instead. Then the burst of energy I've been getting in the wee small hours of the morning will be at a more reasonable time of day.

Hey, at this point I'm willing to try anything!

Nov 6, 2008

Nano, Day 6

I am determined to finish Nano this year.

This year I’m enjoying the novel I’m writing and I have it all worked out in my head, it’s just a little slow moving from my head to the keyboard.

You would think, being unemployed, I’d be making all kinds of progress on my Nano. Alas, such is not the case.

Yesterday saw me with a 100 word shortfall, which, considering I started the day 400 words ahead of the day is not a good thing. I think the saddest part is, it was my own damn fault. I piddled around and procrastinated, and then just as I’d get going I’d let myself be distracted by silly things (like the little old lady who goes for a walk around the crescent every day and bears a frightening resemblance to my Aunt Florence who’s been dead for years).

So then I ended up staying up until 3 a.m. working on my nano novel because earlier in the evening I started reading the archives of one of the blogs I’ve started frequenting. I probably could have pushed and done the extra 100 words, but, my God! It was 3 a.m.! What am I still doing up?

I’m not unreasonable. I’m going to give myself until the end of the week and if I have not reached or exceeded my daily word count then after checking my email and blog list in the morning I’m going to start unplugging the router so I can’t get an internet connection on my lap top. The idea will be that it stays unplugged until I reach my daily goal.

Great idea. If I can make myself do it.

Nov 5, 2008

Under Pressure

Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. Last night I participated in not one, but two half hour word wars on AW and I not only caught up to my word count, I exceeded it.

I have also discovered that my optimum writing time appears to be after dark. These last couple of nights I’ve been using the lap top in front of the television, and I’ve actually made better progress than I do during the day.

This is a good thing, really. Eventually I’ll be going back to school, and if not then I’ll be going back to work, which means I’ll be busy during the day and will only be able to write during the evenings. Might as well get into the habit now.

Only five days into Nano and I’m already worrying about running out of story before I run out of words. Oh, well. As I said to a friend this morning if that happens I can always just start adding sex scenes and turn my space/adventure/romance into an erotic/space/adventure/romance. ;-)

Nov 4, 2008

Track Time

It appears I’m well on the way to getting back on track writing-wise.

Yes, I suffered a minor set-back when my sister came to visit yesterday, but I got back to it last night and made some decent progress. I even managed to update my word count on the NaNo site, although I still can’t access the forums.

In between fits and starts of writing I’ve been sneaking over to the AW site to hang out a bit on the NaNo thread over there (no problem logging in here!) just to see how everyone else is doing so far. Some good, some bad, some you really have to wonder if they’re cheating when they show word counts of 10 or 15 thousand words after only 3 days. I know it’s possible, but still!

The hard part about Nano is to write and not look back. And if you do look back, not to fix what you see.

I was talking to the friend that I talked into joining Nano the first year I joined. I ran out of story at 33,000 words that year, but she completed hers. This year I’ve been making slow, but steady progress and she’s just figured out her plot. I’d let myself enjoy the fact that I’ve got the jump on her, but she’s probably going to end up kicking my ass again.

The point is, it takes all kinds to Nano, and it ain’t over until November 30 when the word counts are in.

Nov 3, 2008

Interpretation of Waffle Post

Did anyone actually get the fact that I signed up for NaNo from that run-on, back and forth post I made last time?

I almost didn’t, not because I kept changing my mind, but because it was so hard logging into the NaNoWriMo site. I don’t remember the last time I participated, but I forgot my password. Because the site is so busy the first few days it took me three hours to get my password reset.

However, my password is reset, and I wrote it down in my notebook of Important Logins and Passwords, and now I’m good to go.

By the end of day one I only had about 700 words, but that’s still 700 more than I managed in the last week or two. Yesterday I did much better and I even managed to update my word count on the NaNo site.

One of the nice things about NaNo is that it gives me permission to focus on one thing and one thing only. I don’t have to feel guilty about ignoring my other works in progress because this is NaNo! That’s not to say I can’t work on them if I want, but their word counts don’t matter in the larger scheme of things.

I think what surprises me most is, rather than feeling restricted by NaNo, as I’d feared, I’m feeling liberated.

Viva la NaNo!

Nov 1, 2008

Happy All Souls Day

If you’d like to read my Hallowe’en post on vampires, go HERE .

I have spent the last week, week and a half, writing a novel . . . in my head. This novel is complete from start to finish. I know the characters, I know the motivations, I know how it begins and how it ends, I even know what goes on in the middle. However, every time I go to write it down, my fingers lock up. It’s like I’m under some kind of magic spell that only allows me to think about writing it.

To date I have written down the name of the female main character (it came to me in a burst of inspiration), the title, and exactly one line of text. Right now the male main character’s name eludes me - in my head I keep referring to him as “Ape” because that’s what the crazy old woman who’s holding him prisoner calls him. The crazy old woman is not named either, and probably won’t get a name.

The sad part is, this is a good story. I just need to get it written down.

I’ve been waffling these last few weeks over whether to NaNo or not. I still am. Part of me says: “This novel is a sign. The reason you weren’t able to write it on paper is that it’s saving itself for NaNo” while another part of me wonders if I really need the pressure.

On the other hand, I read some of the replies to a post about whether NaNo is a good idea over on AW and one of the old timers brought up a very good point. Writers often have to write under pressure to meet targets or deadlines. NaNo can be a good test for anyone with the desire to write for a living.

Fifty thousand words in one month. That’s about two thousand words a day. Looking back in my posts I see that I was able to manage that kind of progress in the month of September . . . I have to wonder though, what happened to October?

On the other hand, this year is perfect for me. I'm not working, and other than getting the ball rolling so I can go back to school, I really don't have much on the go this month. I have the time, but do I have the inclination?

See what I mean? Waffling.

Sigh. I guess I’ll never know if I don’t take the plunge.