Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - We have a Winner!

A few of you have asked what it means to be a "winner" - well, for NaNoWriMo, all it means is you finished 50,000 words in 30 days. There's no judging. No prizes. No limit on the number of winners.

But it's still nice to win!

I finished my 50K on Sunday the 28th with two days to spare and several hundred words over the minimum.

I thought I'd share with you what I got out of the past 28 days.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first.
  • I've been a deficient friend for the past month. I admit to screening phone calls. Especially if they came right as I sat down to write. So, um, sorry about that.
  • I've been a deficient housekeeper. So, nothing new there.
  • I've been a deficient homemaker. So, there's been more takeout than usual. And quite a few things are in piles "to do" in December. I managed to double book myself at two doctors because I haven't bothered to write things down on my calendar. And let's not discuss the laundry situation, shall we?
  • And the writing . . . well, let's just say I don't want anyone to read what I've written. It's sloppy. It's full of lazy metaphors and overdone explanations. It's also full of holes - plot holes, timeline holes and character holes. There's a good chance that it wouldn't make sense to anyone but me at this stage. Not to mention that while I've written 50K+ words this month, I didn't finish my novel. Not even close. Best guess, I'm about half-way there.
So, with all that out of the way, on to the good stuff.
  • I wrote 50K+ words in 28 days!!! I can hardly believe it. I wasn't sure it was possible. But it is.
  • I still prefer to write in long, uninterrupted stretches, but if I can't get them, it's amazing what I can accomplish in fifteen minutes.
  • I have a novel-in-progress! Before November 1st, I had an idea of where the story was going. Now, I have the makings of a real plot. Complete with drama, catastrophe and even - gasp! - death.
  • I learned to block out my internal editor for most things. I still can't stand to leave misspelled words in the manuscript. And I did re-write the occasional sentence. But I tried to keep the focus on getting the story out, not in perfecting it.
  • I learned I'm a "take-outer" rather than a "put-inner" and I'm OK with that. I'll cut at least 15-20% of this stuff. But that doesn't mean it was wasted effort. Even a scene that doesn't survive helps me flesh out the characters and their relationships.
  • As a winner, I'll be able to purchase the Scrivener for PC program (a really cool writing program) when it comes out next year for half-price. Given that it will probably sell for $40, this equates to a $20 savings which means I made $0.0004 a word. Hmm...on second thought, maybe this should be in the "bad" list. :-)
  • In 28 days, I only had 3 days where I didn't write a word. Most days I wrote over 1000 words, which, in writing circles, seems to be a bit of a magic number and one that used to seem out of reach to me.
  • Even though I met my word count goal on Sunday, I don't feel any inclination to stop working on the novel. If anything, I feel energized to press on.
So, thanks to all of you - for your support, words of encouragement, babysitting, and for, even though you may think I'm insane, cheering me on as I bounce around the loony bin!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paper, Diets and Other NaNoWriMo Hazards

I have a paper cut.

It’s on the tip of my right index finger. Every time I type, pain shoots through my fingertip and hand.

I press on because I’m tough.

But it made me think of things we should avoid during NaNoWriMo. I’m not talking about the usual stuff writers give up—sleep, TV, video games, free time, reading for pleasure, hobbies, etc.

I’m talking about hazardous things. Such as . . .

Paper—Obviously. Paper cuts will make you miserable. Trust me.

Hot objects—Including but not limited to ovens and irons. Have you ever suffered a burn on your fingers? I have. It’s worse than a paper cut. Save yourself a great deal of pain and time. Order takeout. It’s for your own safety.

Sharp objects—Knives and scissors are taboo.

Laundry—Why risk it? I know the clothes are soft and should be harmless, but save your hand strength for typing your manuscript.

Small children—Admittedly, this is not always possible. But in the past week and a half, my children have sat and stepped on my hands more times than I can count. And, they seem to enjoy being fed, repeatedly subjecting my fragile fingers to all manner of hot and sharp objects. They request pizza, hotdogs and pancakes. It’s a miracle I’ve survived unscathed.

Sports—Volleyball anyone? I think not.

Card games—Cards are made of? That’s right—paper! And, most games require that you hold the cards in an unnatural position, causing unnecessary hand strain. If you happen to be playing Old Maid or Go Fish, then you are consorting with small children while handling paper. Madness!

Power tools—Do I need to explain this?

Of course, there are other things that can mess with your writing rhythm.

Tight pants—Every writer should own at least one pair of “writing” pants. The kind of pants that you wouldn’t wear out in public, but that are soft, warm and have an elastic waist. Comfort is important. If you have a character who suddenly goes on a diet or starts complaining of abdominal pain—totally out of the blue—check your waistband.

Caffeine—Too much or too little can ruin your day. Too much and your hands shake and your mind wanders. Too little and you can't stay awake to write. It's a fine line. And maybe you should stick to soft drinks and frappucinos. If you want to live on the edge and go with the mochas or lattes, be sure you let them cool off.

Dieting—Your word count needs chocolate. And it’s tricky to diet while living on takeout. The diet can wait for December . . . or January . . . or whenever.

If you’re a NaNo participant this year, what else do you do to protect yourself from catastrophe? And if you aren’t a NaNo participant, feel free to make any recommendations you can think of.

My word count thanks you in advance!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Have I Lost My Mind?

Have you lost your mind?

These were the exact words my sister uttered when I announced my plans to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo.

She pointed out that I was busy.

She pointed out that I don't have time to do this.

She pointed out that my decision making skills might be questionable.

And then I told her what I was writing.

And she told me to carry on.

Hop on over to The Write Conversation to read why I'm doing this. And then you can decide for yourself if I've lost my mind.

Monday, November 1, 2010

She Can Be Taught . . . Maybe

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that September was a roller coaster for me. Lots of writing and editing, interspersed with ridiculous amounts of drama.

But, I'm learning.


November is National Novel Writing Month. And the goal of NaNoWriMo is to encourage authors to finally write that novel.

The goal? 50,000 words in 30 days.

Not unattainable if, say, you don't have children, or a spouse, or a full time job that doesn't involve writing novels. Otherwise, 50,000 words in 30 days is a challenge.

My life is a bit nuts right now.

Nuts enough to totally justify skipping this year's NaNoWriMo. But I have reasons for participating. And I'll be sharing different ones with you in the days ahead.

It occurred to me this morning that November will be another opportunity - a 30 day opportunity - to focus on spending my time the way God wants me to spend it. My writing frequently takes a back seat to my life, and NaNo is a great way to bring it to the forefront.

But my life is important. The little life growing inside me is vitally important.

And no novel, not even the sequel the 15 or so people who've read my first novel have been clamoring for, is more important than spending my time in the center of God's will.

So I'm diving in. Taking the challenge. But I'm not too hung up on completing the 50,000 words by November 30th. I want to. I'm going to give it my best. But if God sends me a new challenge, a new opportunity, a new twist on my already twisting road, I won't be viewing it as a detour to my plans.

At least . . . I'll try not to.

I'll follow the path He's laying out for me. And just like a good book, eagerly turn the pages to see what happens next.