So Long, NaNoWriMo!

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Well, December 1 has rolled into town, and NaNoWriMo is over. How’d it go? You may or may not know that I decided to do a NaNoFiMo, or a finishing month, where I took partially-completed manuscripts and, hmm, I think you can fill in the rest.

So I tackled the first one, and banked about 7500 words in the process. Good. But when it came time for the second one, I discovered that though the concept was good, the whole thing would need a complete redo. Not so good and not so salvageable.

That was kind of a drag.

But it was November, and the whole idea is to keep going no matter what, so I moved on to the next one on the list, which had far fewer words to start, and kept NaNoing with that one. And I won, hitting 50,000 the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, allowing me the next few days to just relax. I’m not done with that manuscript yet, and normally I might have tried to finish it before November ended, but I’ve had a cough that sounds like a flock of geese with something stuck in their collective throats for much of the month, and I needed the break.

So I wrote more than 50,000 words over the course of the month, I finished one manuscript and the second one is approaching the first-draft finish. So not a bad month, overall.

I may or may not be up for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, we’ll see how my sanity fares. Otherwise, happy December, all. It was one heck of a month.

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Blog? What Blog?

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Between the cough/cold/mutant-germ-planning-to-take-over-the-world thing I’ve had and trying to keep up my word count for NaNoWriMo, I admit my poor blog has been a little…neglected. Alas. But I suppose there are only so many words one can type in a day. And the hacking cough probably doesn’t help.

Nope, forget the “probably.” It doesn’t.

It’s one of those things, you can’t do everything, so some things fall by the wayside. Not far by the wayside, but still, by the wayside. Just ask my dishwasher, which, if I leave it to its own devices any longer, it will be emptying itself.

If only.

So my blogging may be spotty over the next few weeks. Hopefully my word count will not, my NaNoFiMo is in full swing, my second manuscript of the month a little over halfway done. Now if I finish that before I finish my words, that will be it’s own issue, but you know what they say about crossing bridges.

All you other NaNoers, I hope it’s going well. And barring that, I hope it’s going.

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Well, NaNoWriMo Brought It

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I admit it. I had one of my tougher days of writing so far yesterday. I couldn’t get started, and then, finally, when I did, it was wading through sludge I didn’t know my brain possessed. I really should get someone in there to clean that all out.

But I trudged through, waist-deep in it (my shoes are a wreck) only to get to a point, right at the end, where Something Finally Happened. Hallelujah.

Part of me wanted to skip yesterday. Part of me figured, hey, my word count is pretty good at this point, I can take a day off. And then I heard from a friend doing NaNoWriMo who had been struggling all week. I’ve had a lot of words for that friend about slogging through.

He’d had a fantastic writing day.

Talk about positive peer pressure. I couldn’t, after all my going on about sticking with it, putting in the time regardless of mood (anyone remember yesterday? Anyone?) skip the day because of, well, mood. So I did what I always do when the work does whatever the opposite of “beckons” is. I sat down. I got my fingers ready. And I hit “start” on the timer.

And after writing the aforementioned schlock, after trying to make something, anything spark, finally, near the end of the session, something hit. Setting me up for a more peaceful pick-up today.

With writing, there are up days and down days, and the down ones can really get to you. But you never know when a down one will turn itself around, and you’ll make it into that imaginary world after all.

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NaNoWriMoing Away

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So as we make our way through this first week of NaNoWriMo, the reality that you’ve got to plug away at your words, every single day, is probably sinking in. And it can get tiring. Just the thought of it can get tiring.

I’m finding it tiring.

But, on the other hand, I think it is great training. You can’t get through NaNo without discipline, without making squeezing in your words, however you do that, a non-negotiable. And that’s where you really get the sense of writing with a purpose.

Here’s the thing: inspiration is so fleeting. It’s there and its gone and it’s slippery as it’s going by. When you have that rush, it’s fantastic, but when it comes to writing, you can’t always depend on that rush. Mood is the same thing. Sometimes the mood strikes where all you want is your computer, a surface, and a big block of time to make your fictional world grow.

Those things are luxuries. They are wonderful, sublime, even, when they happen, but most of the work of producing a book isn’t like that. Most of it is work.

NaNo is a fun way to really see inside the world of producing creatively, as it doesn’t allow you, really, to put it down when the feeling passes. In order to finish, you have to stick with it, no matter how you feel about it, no matter whether you think its good or terrible or somewhere in between.

But here’s the best part about it. Unless you’re running on a very, very outdated tablet, nothing you write is written in stone. So go for it. Push yourself. Write through the parts that feel scratchy, uncomfortable. At the end you’ll have something you can can work with, and isn’t that the point?

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Bring It, NaNoWriMo

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So here we are in Day 5 of NaNoWriMo, or in my case, NaNoFiMo, and I thought I’d check in with how I’m doing. Didn’t get to much blogging yet this week, and I figure I’m overdue.

My plan was to take manuscripts that were in various states of completion (or, more to the point, non-completion) and finish them. Here’s how I’m doing. I’ve got one manuscript down! It was further along than I remembered, and it didn’t take that much to wrap it up. That was the easy part.

When I got to the next manuscript I had in mind, things got a little stickier. I started reading it and I hated it. Hated it. It was older than I remembered, and it read like it. Though there are some worthwhile concepts in it, it will need to be ripped to the foundation and redone completely. Not exactly what I had in mind for NaNo.

That was disheartening.

And so then I had to decide what was next. All of my remaining choices had far less progress, which means that I can, in all likelihood, only finish one more manuscript this month. Oh well.

But that’s NaNo, isn’t it? It’s all about adjusting, rolling with the unexpected things that pop up, writing when it sounds like nonsense, and going when you just don’t feel like it. NaNo is many things, but most of all, it is endurance training in a race where the conditions are always changing.

That’s my NaNo so far. How about yours? How’s it going?

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Fire Up Those NaNoWriMo Engines

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So it all starts tomorrow. The typeface flag drops at midnight, then we’re off to the writing races, and I think this is the first year that I am not feeling nervous, only excited. I’ve even logged into the NaNoWriMo site at this point, so I mean it.

I think one of the best parts about NaNoWriMo is the change that can happen from one end of the month to the other. If you’re doing a traditional NaNo (this year, I am not) you can start Day 1 with absolutely nothing and end on Day 30 with something you’ve created from that nothing. That’s the best kind of magic.

In my case, this NaNo is all about unfinished business. I’m taking the manuscripts that are nearly done, partially done, almost done, and getting them to a first-draft ending. I’ve dubbed it my NaNoFiMo, or “finishing month.” Their unfinished states needled me, nagged at me, even when I didn’t know it was happening, so I’m bringing them home.

Well, technically, they’re already home, but you know what I mean.

NaNo is usually about fresh starts, clean, new pages, untainted beginnings, but that’s not what I wanted this year. It’s not what I needed this year.

We’ll see how it goes, the gathering of (at least) 50,000 words as November goes on, scattered across universes, across ideas, perhaps across genres. Each one finished a small personal victory.

Because that’s what NaNo is really about. It’s personal victory. It’s taking a challenge for no other reason than because you want to, because you’ve chosen to take it on.

Everyone limber up your typing fingers. We’re nearly there.

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Six NaNoWriMo Tips from a Veteran

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So I’ve done NaNoWriMo a bunch of times. How many? I don’t know, I haven’t really kept track, but I’ve gone through it enough to have enough advice to share. Of course your NaNo experience and mine might be different, which leads me into the first point:

1. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else. NaNoWriMo is something you are doing for yourself, and only yourself. Maybe you prefer to do large chunks of writing on the weekends. Maybe, like me, you like to watch your progress evenly grow over a handy-dandy chart. Do what works for you, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, because:

2. Someone will always, always have more words than you. There are some people who claim to finish in three days; I don’t know maybe they do. I’ve seen someone claim they’ve written a million words in the month. My question is always which words? Don’t let it overwhelm you or discourage you because:

3. Some days, the writing itself will be discouraging enough. It is tough to write every day. It is tough to write that much in a month, once the newness wears off. And it is typical, while working on something to get stuck and not know where to go. That can be discouraging. Just remember you can:

4. Always set a timer. See how many words you can type before the clock runs out. It’s a race with yourself that can get your brain going before it has time to worry or time to think. Once you get some momentum behind you, like most things, it builds on itself to get going. But if you find that still doesn’t work:

5. Take a break. Get some exercise, take a walk, watch a little bit of TV. Let your mind leave your book for the moment. Give your subconscious a chance to breathe, to work on it on its own. Something might inspire you during the time away from the work. Still not inspired? Well, then:

6. Do something you want to do even less than write. This one is my surefire fixer for procrastination. The minute I start in on the dishes, or cleaning the bathtub, or anything else I don’t actually want to do, inspiration tends to hit and hit hard. It’s like fighting procrastination with procrastination, and everyone knows there’s no stronger force in the universe.

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So Long, Laziness

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OK, laziness interlude is over, though it was pretty nice while it lasted. Still, there’s something about getting back to it, to seeing the work stretch ahead of you, to the challenge of getting through it.

A finished manuscript is not a finished book. And with NaNoWriMo, or in my case, NaNoFiMo (I really should log into the site before November 1) rushing toward us, I need to take some steps toward completion before I can’t see anything beyond the end of my keyboard.

Though who knows, maybe the entirely different set of problems to solve will be a fun break during the writing madness.

So I will try to be a good blogger, and a good tweeter, and a good finisher now that I’ve had a little time to regroup. Though we’ll see how the blogging will go in the throes of NaNoWriMo. But sometimes, the best thing about having a lot on your plate is getting to taste it all.

Meanwhile, I will keep you posted about the metamorphosis from manuscript to book as it emerges from its little literary cocoon. I’m excited to share some details, but it’s just not time yet. Soon, though.

I don’t usually throw myself into another book so quickly, or in the case of this year’s NaNo, books. I generally give myself a little more space between, but I am actually looking forward to getting back to it nearly immediately. Maybe it will become a habit.

Maybe it will become the stuff of legendary bad ideas.

I’ll never know until I try. I might find myself nostalgic for the laziness.

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I’ve Finished

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Whew. After all the endless rounds of editing, I have finished my book.

It’s a strange feeling, right after you’re done. It’s as though the bubble that you were once inside closes, and this thing floats off on its own, separate, complete. All this work cements itself, and becomes something else, something no longer pliable.

It’s right on time, too, seeing as how NaNoWriMo starts in just a few days, and there was no way I could do both. So I think I am going to take a few days (as strongly recommended to me by a wise, wise person) to rest, regroup, and get ready.

Even with this one done, or, at least, essentially done, even now, in the wake of tiredness the finishing leaves behind, I’m excited for my NaNoFiMo, for the challenge of dusting off the ghosts of manuscripts past and seeing what they hold. Maybe it’s a kind of writing-based amnesia, wanting to jump on the merry-go-round again while still dabbing my scrapes with the first-aid ointment. Maybe it’s some type of delusion.

But let’s face it. Most of us who write of fiction are deluded in some way.

Whatever it may be, I’m glad that completion is leading straight into creation. Because as difficult as it is shaping words to your will, the satisfaction when you’ve managed is worth it.

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Beating Shiny Thing Distraction

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If you can’t tell from the last few posts, my mind is already on November. Not that I want this year to fly by any faster than it has (and it really has) but because I am actually excited to get going on my NaNoWriMo (or in my case, NaNoFiMo challenge.

It’s one of my quirks, unfortunately, that I get distracted by new and shiny things, ones unspoiled by actual execution. But here’s how I think I got me right in the procrastination: I’ve made the old feel new again by setting it up in a whole different way.

It’s a contest with myself, and a way to push my finishing power all in one. And, even better, I completed another round of edits on my manuscript, so I think I’ll be ready to go once November 1 hits.

I should probably temper my excitement a little, though. Don’t want to use it all up before November.

We all have weaknesses, some larger than others, some more destructive than others. But we are creative people, and we can figure out creative solutions to deal with those weaknesses. Losing steam?

Create a new steam source.

Anyone else get easily distracted? What do you do?

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