Monday, October 31, 2011

Midnight fast approaches

NaNoWriMo is well on its way for many, but I still wait!  I'm being patient and following the rules, though I will admit I'm tempted to cheat.  What's a few hours, right?  But it does matter.  If I cheat now and it's a matter of minutes to make it at the end, I won't feel as accomplished when all is said and done.

It's only 8:30 where I am, here in the mountains of Colorado, so I wait, stalk the facebook page for NaNo, and try desperately to get my photo on my NaNo page working!  It's supposed to be black and white.  I don't think it's working yet.  This is the one I want:

Alas, it is not yet showing up.  Hopefully in the morning it will be right.

For now, I'll share this little blip I put on the Facebook page in answer to a nervous first timer!

Just remember, this is a self challenge! Every word you wrote is an accomplishment! Every day you write more is another! Every day, your count will get higher and higher and you'll be proud of what you've accomplished at the end, no matter HOW it turns out.

Even if you don't "finish", you did more than you would have otherwise, right? That's something! :)

While I wait, as well, here's how I got started with this!

I have been putting my writing on the back burner for many years, with having small kids around the house, it's not exactly the easiest thing ever to get writing done.  It requires a level of focus I have difficulty achieving while kids run about and make the kid noises kids do.

Also, things like cocoa powder, strawberry Quick mix, and some unknown liquid poured over the top of both on the carpet tend to lead to melt downs and loss of sanity which take a while to grow back...  Kids are nothing if not a test for one's patience!

In any case, my kids were finally getting old enough to fend for themselves and behave unwatched for stretches of time in 2009, and I decided I would give this writing thing a try again.

It was my first year back at it, and the words spilled out, and a lovely story began to form.  I'm still working on the book I started then, and it's MUCH longer and much better now!  I think I've doubled its size since the end of NaNoWriMo 2009, but I would have to double check...  

So, 2009, I made it.  By the skin of my teeth, but I made it, fair and square!  YAY ME!!!!!

2010, I decided to keep working on the same novel, counting only my new writing.  That did not go over so well.  All the things I was stuck on were still there, and I just wasn't as excited about the project as I had started off the year before.  I did NOT win that year.

So, going into 2011, I could continue down the path I was on, though I've fixed many questions and have answers and direction...  or I can start something else I've had in mind for a while.  I decided to start fresh and pick back up on the other book after NaNo dies down.

Because, well, for me, NaNo is a great thing, but it's only one month.  And I want to be writing all the time!  I don't always make it happen, but that's something I'm working on.

NaNo is my refresher, my jumping off point.  My renewed dedication with excitement flowing from outside sources to spur me on.  And if I get stuck with my new story, I can edit or work on that old story for a while.  That's ok too!  :)

So, rambling aside, I have been at this a couple years now.  And I'm going to win this year too.  Because I know I'm capable of 1666 words a day.  I'm capable of more than that.  And those words will be good.

I'm excited, going into this, and I hope to keep the excitement going all month!  I can do this.  And I know you can too!  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Planning Your Plot, the basics

Wrote this in answer to a question on the NaNoWriMo forum on Facebook.  How do you go about planning?  This is pretty simplified, but should get you started!  :)

Character sketches: Names, brief background, defining features, quirks. Add to them as you go and come upon them. Helps if you can't remember which person had shoulder length brown hair and which one had cropped black, etc, or which pers
on chews their nails when something is going wrong. Handy and helps you keep it all straight. :)

Treat your locations as characters too. If you're making up your setting, write as much as you can about each place. Names, pronunciations, part of the world, weather, types of trees/plants/buildings/people/clothing/accents, etc. All of it. Get it out there and put it in the same place as your character sketches.

For "outline", unless you have a very clear idea of what you're doing already, don't go straight to it. Start with a synopsis. Break it into three parts:

Beginning, middle, end.

Then expand on that. What happens in the beginning? What happens in the middle? What happens to resolve everything in the end?

Then expand on THAT. What has to happen to make the beginning go that way? And the middle? And the end?

When you've planned it that far, you should be able to get it into something of an outline form.

But the big thing is to write it down. Save it in more than one place, just in case. Print it out if you must. Write it into a spreadsheet if that will help you see it.

But plan. I've done it both ways, and planning is by far easier in the end than just running with it. If you get stuck, you look at your outline/synopsis/spreadsheet. You know what happens next. Make it happen.

Good luck!! :)

Oh goodness, I've been busy!

Coffee time is thinking time...  My work schedule for the "real job" has changed quite a bit lately, so I've been home only while my kids are here.  Which makes it so much more difficult for the writing.  I write best in the morning, not at night.  I'm up at night and can continue writing then if I'm on a roll, don't get me wrong, but the best thinking time is when I can pause when stuck and gaze out at a blustery day, watch the drizzle smattering upon the pavement...  watch the squirrel from my front tree digging and burying lord knows what out in my front yard.

At night, there's nothing to look at but the dark.  There are just enough lights on in the neighborhood to prevent stargazing (lame!!) or that could be pretty cool.

I dunno, there's just something about morning writing with a cup of coffee and a bowl of steel cut oats with fruit & nut trail mix (cinnamon and brown sugar too, of course) that makes for happy writing time.

And during that time of day, I've been at work.  Yay for a job that pays me more than $45 a month like Amazon, don't get me wrong...  but it's not what I want to be doing with my time.  If you know what I mean.  And if you're browsing my boring little blog here, you probably do.

Anyway!  So NaNoWriMo is creeping up and I'm shelving my current big project for it.  Last year, I tried to work on that book again, and I got absolutely nowhere.  Not that I didn't know where it was going, but it was an old project.  And old projects don't have the excitement and enthusiasm that a new ones do.  (tense slip!  Saw and fixed before I published...  win!)

SO, this time I'm going to start something I've had in the back of my mind for a while.  Never started, never wrote character sketches for it, no synopsis or outline.  I need to get on that before November hits, so I have direction.  All I'm going to say is it's my story about a little girl whose only friend lives in the mirror...  Something I came up with as a mini ode to my childhood, where I was the only girl in the neighborhood within walking distance.  I used to pretend...

But that's all for now.  If you're doing NaNoWriMo this year, DO NOT FORGET TO PLAN!!!  It will make the difference between rambling for pages and pages (Like I did my first time around!  Editing hell, let me tell you!) and having somewhere to step forward to when you find yourself stuck.

Also, remember:  writer's block is a LIE!!!  It does not exist.  No more than painter's block, retail cashier block, homework block, or phone customer service representative block exists.  Every job has its hard parts.  Don't think you're special just because you're a writer.  Look at your notes.  Step forward.  Fill in the blanks later if you must.  Don't let the "don't wanna write"s beat you!  YOU are better than that.

Don't let it win.  *nod.*