Sunday, November 09, 2014

NanoWriMo - How's Everyone Doing?

It's NaNoWriMo Sunday at The Pink Heart Society and time to hear from some of our participants. How have they been getting along in their first week? But first, Jenna Bayley-Burke is here with a list of things to remember as we fight the good fight... 

With all these NaNoWriMo virgins around, I wonder if I should introduce myself as the hussy of the group. Sheesh. I've been addicted to NaNoWriMo since 2004, when high on pain meds and fear, I finally finished my first novel. I'd started a dozen, but never made it to the end until NaNo intervened. 

That book - after much TLC - became Just One Spark and I've faithfully been a WriMo-er ever since. Most of the stories make it to publication (like For Kicks and Drive Me Crazy) Others are not fit for human consumption, like the time I tried to write a Regency or the Gothic horror I typed after losing three family members in a month. I'm sticking to my strengths this year - a Las Vegas wedding, a kilted hero, and schmexytimes in chapter 1!

In the meantime, here at my Top 6 Things To Remember During NaNoWriMo:

Writers write. It’s a simple fact that is often ignored. I know I get sucked into talking about writing, reading about writing, writing classes, writers groups, conferences, online forums – as lovely and informative as all these things are they can not make you a writer. Only writing can.

Writers finish. That is where National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) came in for me. I’d started to write dozens of stories, but learned form this class, that group, a critique partner or four that there was a fatal flaw in chapter two and gave up the story. Well, I usually gave up because I got a new, exciting idea, but the writing flaws made for a good excuse to quit that story. NaNoWriMo taught me a valuable lesson. Writers finish. All the way to THE END and back a dozen times during the process.

Writers get rejected. Lots. Go ahead and double gulp, gasp, cry. But part of writing, finishing, and submitting is being rejected. Some people never finish because they don’t think they can handle rejection. I’m not going to lie, it stings. But it makes you a writer. So, if your goal is to be published, don’t let the fear of impending rejection stand in your way. It happens, often, and it is part of the process.

Writers make time. It’s amazing, but in the month you set aside for NaNoWriMo the dust bunnies will not stage a revolt, sunlight will still spill through your windows, someone else will manage the PTA fundraiser, you’ll wonder why no one ever told you about Bertolli frozen meals before, scrapbooking can really wait until January, and your to-be-read pile will get deeper. But in December you’ll have a drafted novel, and everyone you tell will wonder how you found the time. You don’t find it. You make it.

Writers start in the middle. It is important that you know your characters, but the reader wants to know what happens in THIS story, not the history of your heroine’s life in chapter one. Pepper in the backstory as you go, it adds suspense and keeps you interested, looking for places to wedge character depth into your scenes.

Writers don’t give up. This isn’t an easy business, but when you are writing, it is fun. But the hard parts – the rejection or tricky scenes or not wanting to write today – can make you want to throw in the towel. Don’t. Not until you finish at least one story. That high at finishing, even though you know it will take some work to edit and revise, is a bliss like no other. Writing is a solitary thing, and so is the sense of accomplishment. You deserve to soak that in. All writers do.

And now for some updates. How is everyone doing?

Michelle Styles Update:

My editor's thoughts appeared in my inbox on Friday morning with a note asking for the revised manuscript sooner rather than later. They look do able and I may be back with #NaNoWriMo in a week or two but for now it is on hold. I did however get 17.5k done in 6 days. It has potential so it will get done -- I will just have to make adjustments for the revising.

In the world of a professional author, revising a contracted manuscript comes first. 

Things I have learnt:

1. Use the dead time productively. I had fallen in to the habit of not starting my writing until 9am. After I did my morning hour and a half of exercising (it keeps me sane) I would faff. By not faffing, I normally have over a thousand words done.

2. Use alarms or some other device to keep my focus rather than checking social media (yes, hello I am an Internet addict and it isn't good for productivity)

3. Know my limit on words. On Monday as I was at an exciting part, I wrote 4,000 words. I was physically exhausted by the end. Going outside helped. But less is better. I do envy people who can write 5,000 + in a day.

4. Remember it is a first draft and therefore, it doesn't have to be perfection.

5. Caffeine is not necessarily your friend. I gave up caffeine a month ago (excessive caffeine can result in tinnitus -- ringing in the ears) and I can tell that my mind is sharper and more focused,plus the ringing has almost vanished.

I look forward to seeing how others are doing and hope to be back in the swing once these revs are done!

Ali WIlliams Update:

It's been a disastrous week! I started off really well, and then work and the real world hit me with a bang!!

I haven't given up though!  Despite doing overtime left, right and centre and working through my lunch everyday, I've spent my commute scribbling saucy scenes in a notebook, and then typing them up when I get home, before I collapse in a heap.

There's still a way to go, but I've an entire week off work from Wednesday, and my plan is to try and write 5k a day, to make up for my appalling word count and all the days I've missed.

So if you're really struggling, and life's getting in the way, don't give up!

Even if I don't quite hit 50k, I'm going to have made such a dent in this MS that it'd be foolish to let it drift away...  

Trish Wylie Update:

If nothing else, this week has reminded me why I desperately need to get back in a routine and protect my writing time. I got off to a slow start, but figured that was fine. Plenty of time to make up the deficit, right? 

Then my life did what it is prone to do on a regular basis. It got in the wayTwo days of not-messing-around-rain which doubled the amount of time I had to spend caring for animals: Check. A leak in my office roof directly above my computer which meant I lost most of a day rearranging furniture so nothing would blow up: Check. Family descending on me and forcing me out the door for a rare catch-up: Check (though in fairness, the latter did me a great deal of good.) 

But so damn much for clearing the decks in preparation for Nano, right?

It hasn't been a complete disaster - I have 5k that I didn't have a week ago and trust me, considering how long it has taken me to achieve that in the last couple of years, I'm chuffed to bits! But I'm way behind where I should be and have a lot of catching up to do if I'm gonna make it to the end as a Nano winner.

Things I have learnt:

1. When there's so much as ten free minutes to put some words down, use them.

2. Apart from caring for my animals, everything else can wait. Dishes/laundry/housework isn't going anywhere and just because I've been obsessed with keeping on top of them the last few months doesn't mean they now rule my life.

3. Any words are better than no words. This totally falls under the remit of 'you can't edit a blank page' and it's the absolute beauty of Nano. My biggest stumbling block prior to this month has been reading back over what I've already done and editing it before I continue. I wouldn't say I'm entirely over that, but I do think I'm getting better.

4. Know what scene you're going to work on next. I had an outline before I began but it was more character related. What I did a couple of days ago was stop for long enough to scribble down some scene ideas for each chapter. Now I have them pinned to the notice board above my desk and can consult them before I start writing. I can also take a look at the next card when I finish a scene and be thinking about what comes next when I'm away from the keyboard.

5. Don't skip meals or scrimp on sleep. My brain is sharper when I'm regularly fed and rested. Currently the latter isn't a full seven hours, which isn't helping, but when it gets to the point where I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, it's time for bed. The last thing I need is to get sick!

Don't forget to check back next week to see how everyone has coped with week two of NanoWriMo. And in the meantime you can find most of our participants hanging out with a bunch of other writers in our NaNoRoMo group on Facebook. Drop by and cheer them on!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry I forgot to add an update! I'm at nearly 13000 words! I was hoping to add to the count on the weekend, but weekends have a way of getting away from me. Everyone is home and we usually have things going on so I guess my one tip for the week is don't let a day or two of bad or no counts get you down! Just adjust for it in your weekly totals!