Another NaNoWriMo is behind me.
Did I learn anything? Were there any takeaways?
Oh, sure. Planning is good. Plotting can be a friend… even to a pantser like me.
Maybe only character-driven writers will understand this, but all the planning and prepping in the world still guarantees you nothing.
I was plodding right along, words flowing like a cool stream, when all of a sudden, my beloved protagonist looks around with the malevolent grin of a serial killer and dumps a plot twist in my lap. (We’re still not speaking.)
Okaaaay. Now what?
I went with it.
The scene I was writing looked nothing like the one I sketched out six weeks ago. But, hey. Words were flowing… from somewhere, so I kept writing—and making notes.
I gave a cursory glance to my journal every morning, wondering if the completed scene would resemble what I’d planned in any way.
But, I stayed with it, because that is the point of NaNoWriMo. Get the words out of your head and on paper…fifty-thousand of them at least.
I reached the halfway mark and wondered if Hemingway ever struggled like this. Then I realized he drank… and a glass of wine doesn’t sound bad. But should I drink it or give it to my protagonist?
Nah. I’m still not happy with her… the wine is mine.
After one glass of Sweet Red, I understand why Hemingway drank!
It gets you out of your own way. The wall of doubt and fountain of inhibitions fall and you write like you’re on fire.
Or maybe that was just me.
No, I’m not advocating drinking while writing. Our liver is our friend and unlike plots, we can’t get a new one with every manuscript.
But, a writer writes because they have to. It is a deep-seeded need that can only be fulfilled by putting words on paper. Anything else is unacceptable.
If you get hit with a dose of writer’s block, get out of your way. The characters didn’t change and the words remain the same. The problem is you.
Remember why you write.
Remember the freedom you feel.
Remember the sense of accomplishment you feel regardless of if it’s five, five hundred, or five-thousand words you leave on the paper.
It took me a couple of years to “get it” but the NaNoWriMo rule of no editing makes perfect sense. It makes me get out of my own way to just write. Of course, by doing so, I’m also giving my characters free reign, but that’s a completely different blog post.
I’ve spent the first three days of December making notes and moving things around in my MS, however, I’m putting it away until after the holidays. But sometime in January, I’ll have to decipher all those red squiggly lines and double blue lines, and wonder if I was typing in alien code.
And there may or may not be wine involved, because… Hemingway.
POV (point of view).
It can be a struggle, especially for authors still trying to find their ‘voice’… like me.
First person POV or alternating POVs among lead characters seem to be the standard or preferred. I read them, but I prefer Third Person Close because I like to know what everyone is thinking, not what someone assumes they’re thinking.
I’ve read books where I loved the second lead, all the BFFs, the parents, nosy neighbors… even the antagonist.
But the lead hero/heroine/protagonist?
Just wanted to push them into oncoming traffic.
And this character that I’ve come to loathe gets to tell me their story their way.
Flip the script and I cringe re-reading things I’ve written… the head-hopping is epic. It’s a fine line, and a struggle—writing that person, that character who gets to tell the whole story… as it relates to them.
And, make them interesting, likable, and flawed so at the very least readers won’t want to push them into oncoming traffic.
I give my characters a lot of room to tell their story.
But if I get annoyed… I’ll kill them off myself.
NaNoWriMo Day 11 word count – 1885
Total – 21,777 / 50,000
It’s week two of NaNoWriMo2017.
Confidences are a bit shaky,
Doubt creeps in,
And November 30th looks a LONG way away.
I’m not worried about finishing, I’m just curious what the ‘finished’ product will look like.
The outline has already undergone drastic changes, and all I’ve done is write (and make notes).
The plot has not changed, but alliances, truths, and scenes have.
I’m intrigued! 😀
Time to get to today’s word count. Emotions are about to flare, and evil will drop by.
And I’ll probably change something. 😀
I’m about 4K ahead on word count and was considering slowing down… until a member of my Tucson-Nano group crossed the 51K mark.
On the NINTH day of the challenge.
Day 8 word count -1801
Total – 16262/50000
Every MS goes through them, especially in the editing phase.
I chatted with an author a couple of years ago who planned every aspect of her book, right down to the dialogue.
Other than spelling and grammar, there were no changes.
I was in awe.
I have no clue what a book’s title will be until I reach midpoint in writing… mostly.
But this ultra-author knew in advance what her characters would do and say, plot twists, and the ending.
That’s an amazing superpower to have.
Yet, I don’t think it’s one I want.
As a character-driven writer, the voices in my head trip me up almost daily when I began a new MS.
Saturday, Day 4 of NaNoWriMo, two in-the-moment-characters stole scenes. And they were good.
Yesterday, Day 6 of NaNoWriMo, the protagonist took a walk into existentialism.
It wasn’t planned, but it fit.
Will it stay? I doubt it.
But it did give me an idea for another WIP.
So, after six days of NaNo, I have nine scenes and 12K+ words written, FIVE pages of CHANGES, and an outline for a new WIP.
Didn’t see that coming.
Maybe it’s a different superpower.
NaNoWriMo Day 6 word count – 2037
Total – 12503/50000
On any given day, you’re sure to find a post or comment by someone saying they can never find the time to write.
Yes, if you work a fulltime job, have a spouse and children, friends and family, a hobby…any semblance of a LIFE, most days, your time is not your own.
But. Think about it. How many times have you sat down with your device of choice with a task in mind—paying bills, checking test scores, researching a future major purchase, book travel plans, etc.—and found yourself opening your email, checking any or ALL of your social network accounts, watching a video of a sloth eating a grape or taking a quiz to find out which Avenger you’re most like?
You’re not alone. We all have the pretty, shiny object that so easily pulls our attention away from the task at hand.
Pinterest is my downfall.
I can pull up the app in search of a photo of a land mass or mountain range to match a location I’ve written about, and two hours later, I have no photo of my location… but I do have three recipes for Pad Thai, a new pattern for an afghan, fifteen more coffee memes, and a detailed infogram on how to turn empty toilet paper rolls into a decorative Christmas centerpiece.
I am weak and in need of help… and probably intense counseling.
In my last NaNo Diaries post, I mentioned I’d jumped on the AlphaSmart bandwagon. No Internet connection, no wifi—just me and a sturdy little word processor that I purposely use away from all my other devices, including my phone. My adult children hate that.
But there are still times when I need to be online and around all my favorite distractions, and that’s when I use an Internet blocker. I have the paid version of Freedom.to. I can set it for any amount of time I chose, from minutes to hours, and the Internet is gone. Can’t open a browser or app. (Yes, I’ve tried.)
There are quite a few other Internet blocking apps available, but not all have free versions.
Anti-Social (In the process of merging with Freedom.to but love the name!)
Cold Turkey (Free Version Available)
Rescue Time (Free Version Available)
These are great little tools to have to help you block online distractions, but the writing part is still up to you. Sorry.
I started coming down with a head cold yesterday and had to struggle for word count… but I got it! For NaNoWriMo Day 3, I’m at 5544/50000.
Today is NaNoWriMo Double-Up Donation Day. Check it out. Make a donation and double your word count for the day.
I’m going to give it a shot… even though I can’t stop sneezing and my head feels bigger than Wyoming.
One of the first things you’ll learn during a NaNoWriMo challenge is do not waste time editing.
We’re told to turn off our inner editor. Bound, gag and toss them into a closet. Send them on vacation. Put your inner edit on IGNORE.
Editing slows you down. While you should be moving on to the next scene or chapter, you stare at what you’ve written and it just isn’t quite… right.
So, you futz around trying to rebuild the world, or block the scene, or build the suspense and an hour later, the page still sucks, you have a total word count of 537, and you just want a drink or your bed…or both!
Save your sanity and sobriety and don’t edit.
True, it’s easier said than done. But, when you think of the time wasted on editing text that will be re-edited several times in the coming weeks and months after NaNoWriMo, self-editing while you write becomes less of a problem.
In most writing programs and apps, the screen can be modified so only a few lines of text are visible at a time. If self-editing is a big problem for you, it would benefit you to investigate how the process works in your particular writing program.
I’m trying something different this year.
A few months ago, I saw several authors post about the Alphasmart, a writing tool used in schools and computer labs in days gone by. They’re no longer in production, but after a bit of research, I found there are still tons of them around, new and refurbished, and the company still supplies and support. #WIN
I ordered one from Amazon and OMG! The sky is blue, birds are singing, and I’m sure I saw a Unicorn walk past my window!
This is not a high tech piece of equipment. It’s strictly for word processing. There is NO way to connect it to the Internet. It holds up to one hundred pages of text. It’s lightweight and has a battery life unrivaled by any device–more than seven hundred hours from three AAA-batteries. (I’ve been using mine daily for over two months and the usage line on the battery meter is so small, I can’t measure it.)
And word count? My word count is rockin’! Only four lines of text are visible (with the font setting I use) so I can’t see my WIP and languish over words already written when I should be writing new words!
For Day 2 of NaNoWriMo, I wrote 1914 new words. I can live with that!
Word count total – 3815/50000.
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