Posts Tagged ‘nanowrimo’

Making Nano Work For Me

Afternoon, squiders! If you are doing Nano, you should be 10K at the end of today. How’s it going?

As we discussed as a possibility last week, in the end I decided to do a time goal. 45 minutes a day. 22.5 hours for the month. Most writing-related activities count, whether it be looking for short story markets, writing, or outlining.

We’re technically 20% done with the month. How’s it going? Pretty good.

As of yesterday I’m 17 minutes behind schedule, which isn’t terrible. (But I do feel like the time limit has the potential to snowball more than a word count limit does. But maybe that’s crazy.) And so far I have:

  • Checked and updated all my KDP data from the CreateSpace/KDP move
  • Finished the draft of my anthology story (I wrote 2K in an hour yesterday!)
  • Identified short stories for revision/editing
  • Identified markets for other short stories

So not shabby. I made a list of things that have needed to be done forever and it’s very satisfying to cross things off. On the deck to day is sending out the short stories to said selected markets and working on my monthly serial section.

Nano has gotten so huge because of the creative momentum it drags along with it. I think it’s a great thing for people who want to write but who have never successfully managed to get very far. The quantity over quality approach kind of forces you to produce something, whether it’s good or not, and a lot of times that can teach you enough about yourself and your process so that you can go on to continue writing outside of Nano.

But I think it’s also important to be honest with yourself about Nano. I did Nano for ten years straight (plus one additional year). I came out of that with two drafts that to this day are unfinished (though the space dinosaurs are almost done and will hopefully be gotten to later in the month; the other one will rot on my hard drive until the end of time), one draft that was eventually finished and published (Shards), two drafts that have been edited and sent to agents (both YA) without much luck so far, and many, many iterations of my trilogy (I’ve spent…::counts::…six Nanos on the trilogy). Nano is great if you are in a place where a new first draft is both useful and timely. But after awhile, you start to build up drafts, and sometimes you need to, you know, actually do something with them.

I know this isn’t a real Nano. I haven’t declared a project on the website. I probably will not go to any official write-ins (how can there be 20 every week and none at a decent time?). I won’t update my time anywhere anyone else will see it. But there isn’t any reason I can’t harness that creative momentum and use it for what I need it for.

And if you can see how to do it for your goals, I recommend you do so as well.

Red Mars continues to be too…something…for me to read at my normal pace so I’m going to put it off again, probably til next Thursday. But if it speeds up here, I reserve the right to do it on Tuesday instead. I’m also going to look over my nonfiction series today and get everything organized moving forward, so expect an update on that in the near future as well.

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Post-Con and Nano Musings

I have survived the con again! Yay, go me. It was actually pretty relaxing, all told, except for panel nerves, a lot of which probably stemmed from the fact that I was the youngest person on all my panels, usually by a matter of decades.

(The moderator on my last panel had sold her first book the year before I was born.)

That’s kind of MileHiCon in a nutshell, though. It gets a lot of major speculative authors, but a lot of them, especially the science fiction ones, have been in the business for a long time. The average age of that subset is probably 70. And you get a lot of attendees who match that subset, because they’ve been reading those authors forever.

And then you have a lot of younger attendees, people in their teens and early to mid-20s, who grew up with the con because their parents dragged them along, and they have their own events and stuff, including a Harry Potter academy and so forth.

But I had a good time, and I wrote quite a lot on my anthology story (which is running slightly longer than I anticipated) and I drew some pictures and plotted out some children’s book series. Landsquid needs another friend, but I can’t think of anything. Turtleduck’s kind of hard to draw (I’ve never had success in the leg department–maybe if I quit trying to do duck legs and give her turtle legs? I can draw turtle legs) and I would really need three characters for a picture book. I came up with a stealth rhino this morning (essentially a rhino with tiger stripes) but my husband says it’s not weird enough.

Shall continue to ponder that.

The very last panel of the con was called “Nanowrimo Support Group” and I ended up going to that, not because I plan to do Nano, but because I have done it for many years (this would be my 16th if I’d done it consecutively) and thought I could offer support. It was mostly us just hanging out, offering tips and talking about potential write-ins (everyone except one person had done it before), but it was still nice, and it got me thinking about Nano.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Nano. I don’t quite love the monstrosity it’s turned into over the years, but in those early years, when it was only a couple thousand of us, I got a lot–friends, stories, skills–out of it. I still love the idea, and I think it’s a great way to get going if you want to start writing.

(As a bit of background, I learned about Nano in 2002, joined in 2003, and did it every year between 2003 and 2012. I won all but twice, my first and last years–my first one I suffered a concussion and a death flu, and the last one I had a four-month-old, my first, and only did it because it was my 10th anniversary. I also did it and won in 2014, but have not done it since.)

And I would be lying if, while I was sitting there in that room, with those other Nanoers, I told you that I wasn’t tempted. But it almost feels like I’ve outgrown Nano, or it’s outgrown me. It’s harder to do Nano if you have a serious project with a serious deadline, or if you’re editing, or if you’re co-writing, or a number of other situations.

Still tempting, though. And maybe I’ll be in a position again sometime where it will make sense to do it again.

How was your weekend, Squiders? Thoughts about Nano?

MileHiCon and Nanowrimo

I have survived the con! \o/ Barely. But I had a good time and made some new friends (yay!) and am now on a search for a refillable notebook cover. (Craig Griswold who was in the art show, on the off chance you read this, you have no online presence and I would like to buy things from you.)

(If you know of nice refillable notebook covers–i.e., a cover you can move from notebook to notebook that attaches to said notebook’s cover, kind of like a dust jacket for a notebook–in a larger size, such as composition book or steno book size, let me know. It seems like the perfect solution to my need to buy fancy notebooks but then my reticence to use said notebooks because they’re too fancy.)

I think the panels and limited signing/selling books time is a much better combination for me. I might have sold more books if I manned a table all weekend, but hey, maybe I wouldn’t have. I sold a decent amount for the time I did man a table, and any difference in sales is not worth being trapped at a table all convention. I got to see the costume contest for the first time ever.

The panels were mostly fun. The Trek one was the best, both because of the obvious love for the franchise by everyone on the panel and in the audience, and also because we actually discussed things back and forth on the panel. The audience was engaged and had great questions and comments. The Doctor Who one was the worst. It was a roundtable, which is basically just a big discussion between everyone present, but it was dominated by a small minority who wanted to talk about special effects and other background things while it was obvious some people just wanted to geek out over their favorite companions and whatnot. And the fangirling panel was fun, but we would all just go in a row to answer each question, and I wish we’d had more actual discussion.

It was a learning experience, though, and I’d definitely do it again.

There were a lot of questions from con attendees about Nanowrimo. It makes sense–the convention attracts a lot of amateur and beginning authors and it is almost November (I wrote Navember, haha)–but it still surprised me. So I figured I’d better do my obligatory Nano post for the year here.

I’m not doing Nano this year. I have not been terribly productive this year, at least not as productive as I’d planned to be, due to various stresses, and while November should be pretty chill (after next Wednesday, anyway) I know that the moment I commit to anything, something else will fall apart. So I’m out for the year, though I will probably do a smaller goal (somewhere between 10K and 20K) on my rewrite.

Doing Nano, squiders? Thoughts on MileHiCon if you went, or conventions in general?

Also, happy Halloween!

Obligatory Nanowrimo Post 2015

Ah, Squiders. It’s October. Best month of the year, of course, for many reasons, but it being October means it’s almost November. And November means Nanowrimo. And so October, these days, also means getting bombarded by Nano everywhere you look if you are a writer.

I do mean everywhere. Oy vey. And I apologize for adding to the madness, but I’ve had a bit of a headache and blog post topics are scarce at the moment.

(I got an email this morning from a woman who runs writing groups out of the local library about Nano prep, and she mentioned she’d done Nano five times, and I was like, “Well, I’ve done it eleven” and then I figured it was time to get off the internet.)

(If you’re interested in previous Nano adventures, feel free to search the “nanowrimo” tab here on the blog.)

(Also, the reason why there’s a year in the title is because I suspect I’ve already named a previous years’ entry this.)

(Help! I’m trapped in parenthetical phrases!)

Freedom!

Anyway. My Nano news this year is that I’m not doing Nano, so if you are sick of Nano stuff, after this entry you’ll be safe until next year.

Unlike 2013, where I waffled back and forth about whether or not I was going to participate since I had a book release on Dec 1 (2013 was the first year I missed since I started in 2003), I’m sure about this point. 2013 taught me that it was okay not to participate if it didn’t align with my current writing goals.

I’ve got a completed draft due to editors on Dec 1, so while I might feed off Nano to make sure things get done (I’ve got ~25K left to do, though I hope to have less by the time November hits), I’m not going to do it in any formal sort of way.

What about you, Squiders? Nano, yes or no? Sick of seeing it everywhere, or does that get you raring to go?

Nano: The Aftermath

Ah, December. Sweet, sweet freedom. And yet, it highlights yet another less attractive aspect of Nano, aside from the fact that it is unaccountably exhausting.

And that is that you feel restless when December comes.

I am not one of those people that finishes a draft during Nano. I have exactly once, in 2006, when I wrote a younger YA fantasy whose first draft came in at a whooping 54K. But in general, 50K is about half a draft for me, so I rarely write “The End” during November itself.

So, because November is exhausted, I find that I have little motivation to keep going when December comes (again, not sure why Nano is so exhausting when it’s about what I write on a regular basis) even when my drafts aren’t done.

So here we are, about a week in December, and I still haven’t finalized my writing plans for December.

I have three options:

1) Go back to my YA paranormal edit (sitting at about 65K, so 20 to 25K more to be done) that I was working on over the summer and up to the beginning of Nano.
2) Continue working on the first draft of my space adventure story I started for Nano until it’s done (Probably 30 to 40K more past 50K).
3) Take a break from both big projects for the month and work on shorts and other miscellany.

I can’t quite decide which to do. Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, another one starts to look more promising. At this rate it’s going to be Christmas and I’m still going to be deciding. I have written a section of my serial and sent out some short stories to ezines, so that’s something at least.

I would like to start the edit on my high fantasy trilogy in January, but I’m still missing most of my beta comments and I feel like I should finish the last edit first. But man, to leave a first draft in the lurch…

You see my dilemma.

How did Nano go for you Squiders that did it? Any opinions on what I should do?

Nearing the End

My apologies for this being a little late, Squiders. I spent yesterday pulling out 5,000 words around everything else, so I’m afraid blogging fell by the wayside.

Something always does, during Nano. This year it seems to be blogging (sorry!) and non-essential house chores. The poor car desperately needs to be cleaned out, alas.

I spent most of Week 3 being utterly exhausted and sick and so I didn’t get a lot of writing done. I’ve written 8K over the past two days, which brings me up to 46K, which, to the untrained eye, looks like it’s nice and close to 50K, but from experience is forever away, and I am probably doomed.

Nano can get a little exhausting. I’m not quite sure why. It’s not like there aren’t other times of the year where I write 1.5-2K without breaking a sweat. So if I’m not necessarily writing more (5K days aside), why does it wear me out so bad?

I really wish I would figure that out. I swear it exhausts me every year.

An added complication that I didn’t have in my earlier years of doing Nano is that we now (since 2011) host Thanksgiving. Before I just showed up at someone’s house, helped set up and clean up, and then hid in the basement and pounded out a couple thousand words during the football game if I wasn’t already done for the month. Now I’ve got to cook and clean, and yesterday the store I was picking the turkey up from and I had a truly epic (and long) miscommunication going, and I’ve got to make stuffing for the homeless (admittedly volunteered for that one), and we’re in the middle of repairing the formal dining chairs (we’ve got one half-done, so that needs to be finished today).

Sorry. Thanksgiving stresses me out. I’ve got 16 people coming tomorrow and toys spread everywhere. And the other day I cleaned off the inside of the oven door (badly needed) and now the whole oven smells slightly bizarre and hopefully isn’t creating toxic gases.

ANYWAY. I shall be done when November is over and I will go back to my edit (which hopefully, when I read back over it, will be better than it felt to do) and will freak out about Christmas instead.

Happy Thanksgiving, American squiders, Happy Wednesday everybody else. I hope everyone else who’s doing Nano is feeling like they’re having a good time and making good progress.

More Structural Thoughts

Another issue I’m running into with my Nano is my structural beats, or acts, or whatever you want to call them.

You see, when I plotted Nano this year I tried a new technique. In the past I have phase outlined, which consists of basically making a bullet point list of what happens in order. This generally works well for me, and is especially useful when I have multiple viewpoint characters that directly affect one another, because it helps me keep track of what’s happening overall and also what’s happening in relation to the other character.

But I find it hard to phase outline an entire novel (it is an excellent technique for short stories and I highly recommend it) if I don’t already have a draft of said novel under my belt. It’s an excellent tool for sharpening things up. But a whole novel is a lot of work to phase outline otherwise.

So, for this book I decided to outline by tentpoles. In story structure terminology, a tentpole or a milestone is a major event, typically that divides your acts if you’re using a 3-Act Structure (or a 4-Act, or I suppose any number of acts). Depending on who you talk to, there can be a variety of numbers of tentpoles, but normally you have one 10-25% through your novel (sometimes called the Inciting Incident) and another one 75%-90% through the denotes the start of the climax. (That one probably has a fancy name too, but I’m blanking on it.)

Aside from those two, I’ve also got a midpoint tentpole, and I’ve got all three set up for both of my main plots.

So, for the first time ever, I’ve gotten somewhere, thought to myself, “Oh, I should hit such and such plot point, that would be fun,” and then had to back up and realize that it’s not time for that yet.

So it should be interesting, at the end of this draft, to see if my story is more sound structurally because I had my tentpoles in places before I stuck them in during editing.

Anything interesting happening on your ends, Squiders?