Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

Final NaNoWriMo Installment – The value of failure…

So… the big news, I didn’t write a novel this month.

I guess I could get hung up on that – but I’m not going to. Failure teaches us things that success doesn’t. And getting good at failure – acknowledging it, accepting it, and moving forward – is one of the greatest lessons in life.

A month ago I started working on this blog – which meant writing every day. It happened to coincide with NaNoWriMo and I knew there could be conflicts. Researching and putting out product at regular intervals takes time and mental energy. I also sent off two short stories and wrote a third one. All in all I produced 32,563 new words in the month of November and placed them in some sort of creative order. Now they weren’t for a novel so they don’t count for NaNoWriMo but I was excited when I added them all up.

That’s an average of 1,137 for each day I wrote.

Now – to make the life that I want happen I need to up that to ~ 5,000 words a day. This month taught me that I can do that – not because I did it – but because I kept going. To me writing is like training for a marathon. I’ve become a pretty good sprinter but learning how to work over the long haul is my next challenge….

That, after all, is what NaMoWriMo is all about. To attempt, in the month of November, to write 50,000 words so that you can get a feel for writing a novel. It takes effort – and a different kind of effort than writing articles every day or the random short story.

So here is my list of things I learned…

  • I write best in the morning
  • Sometimes I have too many ideas and have trouble focusing on just one
  • Too much writing crap frustrates me
  • My non-fiction skills are rusty
  • I love writing my blog
  • When I don’t like a story – I can’t write it to save my life – okay maybe to save my life but nothing less
  • I’m not working hard enough
  • Facebook is the root of procrastination – as is random web surfing
  • I have trouble flipping from the blog work then into the fiction work – it seems to work better the other way
  • I can write after one scotch, but not after two – unless it is poetry  
  • When I get up from the computer it takes effort to go back, but it is getting easier

I started this journey with a very specific goal – I have a YA Paranormal idea that I am very excited about. But as the first week progressed I became less and less enamored with it until finally abandoning it. Then I picked up a Horror story idea I’d been kicking around for awhile and started researching that… but it petered out to nothing. My main focus was the blog and I couldn’t seem to create room in my head for a novel.

Learning to split focus –

I haven’t yet learned how to split my focus between the blogs and the fiction. And that needs work – as does marketing my blog – thinking about moving it off wordpress.com and setting it up on its own site. There were so many different things pulling at me and it’s been awhile since I’ve had to manage my day like that. I’m still a project manager at heart so I just have to give myself a plan.

And then there were the migraines – but that is a story I’m not ready to tell.

But like I said, writing like this is like running a marathon. You practice. Working up to longer and longer runs, eventually getting good at it, running effortlessly with ease and joy. Building up stamina and focus and pretty soon you’re writing your novel.  

At least that is my current working theory… if there are any ideas out there let me know. There are as many ways to write as there are people… new input is always welcome.

~ Tess

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NaNoWriMo Week IV: Inspiration!

I’ve been giving inspiration a lot of thought this month. Partly because I’ve been writing 4 to 6 posts for my blogs every week, partly because I blew a bunch of deadlines last month, and partly because I haven’t written a word for NaMoWriMo in weeks. And the clock is ticking!

What is working is that I’m writing every day! What isn’t working is that I have yet to balance my blog posts with my fiction writing life. Everyday – except Fridays and Saturdays – I get up and write one or more essays. That means that every day I have to have a new thought, a new idea to research, or something new to say. It feels like work – but fun engaging work that I’d do for free (oh, and look I am doing it for free).

But while the blogs are going well my fiction work is suffering. The deadlines I blew off last month are gone, but new ones are on the horizon and I need to get working on them or they too will zip past me. Last month I felt worn and my ideas tired and shapeless. This month I’m revitalized… so I should use that and get to work.

I’ve always believed in the power of panic!

Maybe for me panic is my Muse. That is why I love deadlines and have such a hard time writing things that either don’t have a home or only the possibility of one. Sending words out into the ether seems to be a leap of faith – and I am not one of the faithful.

The end of the month is approaching and I have yet to write anything… since I killed the original story. It isn’t time – I have time – it is something else. It isn’t a lack of ideas – I have tons of those too – it’s more about wadding through them and trying to decide which ones have legs and which ones don’t.

So what is left?

It isn’t inspiration I am lacking – but discipline. Learning to be a writer is a process – learning to produce each day, day in day out, is one of the most valuable lessons I can think to learn… and I’m learning it…but I still have a ways to go. I know this – I’ve known this forever. When I get up in the morning I am responsible only for myself (and the cat – but Minerva’s pretty low maintenance) and that means that every moment I spend working is only for me – I don’t have a “job” where I’m responsible for things outside myself.

Everything – creativity, inspiration, discipline – all comes from inside.

Just me, the computer, and the stories… so… the question this week is can I write 50,000 words by the end of November? Of course! I’ve done it before I can do it again.

The value of panic!

~ Tess

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NaNoWriMo Week III – Seeing what sticks!

nano_09For the last five years I have been working towards the goal of making my living as a writer. It’s been a long journey and I’m still on the first few steps. Getting laid off jumped my timeline – which in some ways was great since even with an exit strategy from corporate life I was struggling to let go of the paycheck – suddenly I was given time to write. But I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I didn’t have the publishing record that I wanted to achieve before I left the day job.

Plus I wasn’t sure what would work and what wouldn’t – in the world of being a solvent writer. I’d done my research – looked at copy writing, freelancing, fiction, non-fiction and read up on trends in the market. So I made some decisions… and then I altered them giving some up because I couldn’t force myself to do it or because new information surfaced that made me change directions.

I’m still throwing dirt at the wall.

Now there is the possibility that I am just indecisive and a flake… but I hope that isn’t true. I hope that my changing gears, moving to different genres, and starting the blogs is actually the sign of an iterative plan that takes into account new information.

I guess I’m implementing an Agile development scheme.

Wow! What a thought. I never really thought about how I work as being part of this relatively new form of managing software development. In fact – one of the problems I’m having with looking for a day job is that I don’t have any Agile development experience – and everyone wants it. But apparently I don’t need the training because I’m already using it in my day-to-day life. Who knew!

Okay so that was a geek tangent (sorry) – what I’m trying to explain and defend is the changes in my goals, aims, and writing projects over the last couple of months. I’m adapting… and every once in awhile the universe puts me back on track too.

This week I ended up, on top of the blogs, writing a short story.  Another short story, in the same genre, was accepted for publication and its acceptance gave me the kick I needed to move forward. Nothing like the occasional dose of success. The funny thing – I was toying with the idea of not writing in that genre any more – my success was spotty and I was struggling to get my foot in the door of some of the major markets. Then a sale – an extended due date for an editor that I’d love to work with – and my friend who edits all of my stories (sorry not my blog – can’t afford that) gave me a story he was sitting on for nearly two months. In less than I week I was suddenly I’m back on track…

I’m also getting feedback that my Science and Technology flavored essays are more engaging than the others I’ve posted on musings… so I’m going to be moving the blog in that direction. I needed to find a more focused topic than the random “everything” I was doing. So, I’m going with my audience with that…

Now that we are almost done chatting, I should probably write about NaMoWriMo. Well – that has been the big loser this month. Between the blogs and the stories w/ deadlines not to mention the fact that I trashed my first week of work because I changed topics… I’m dead in the water. But I am not done – and neither is the month. Next weekend I am taking a trip to the area in my state that I’ve placed my fictitious town Crossroads. I’m going to wander around, take pictures and soak up atmosphere. And I hope find some inspiration to jump start the perspiration to get me to my 50k done by the end of the month.

Nothing like the stress of a deadline…

~ Tess

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Weekly NaNoWriMo Updated

nano_09Well – to say that things didn’t go as planned would be understating the change in direction that occurred last week. The goal was 12,500 words… and although I almost hit 5,000 I’ve decided that I have to change my project so now I am down to a big fat ZERO!

Nothing like starting from the beginning…again.

My original project was formed months ago – but I found as I forced myself to painfully write word after word – that I just wasn’t interested in it. This new story idea – a Horror story no less – was possessing my mind. And although I haven’t written a word of it yet – it was all I wanted to think about. I would have random thoughts, plot points, ideas on scenes or characters while I was drifting off to sleep. I would imagine conversations between my characters while in the shower. Who am to say no to the muse when it visits?220px-The_Scream

The really fun part of this project is that it is going to have a nontraditional form.

My idea is to write it in first person as blog posts – and if possible unfold in real time. A little like a serialized novel or the novels structured as letters from the last centuries. It will provide some interesting restrictions and problems to solve as the plot progresses. I am very fond of the idea of the unreliable narrator. Nikolai Gogol was the crown prince of the unreliable narrator with a dash of magical realism. “Diary of a Madman” is still one of my favorite short stories and just thinking about “The Nose” has me off in a fit of giggles. The idea that a man’s nose would take off and start impersonating an official… okay still laughing.  

Not that my main character will be, by her nature, unreliable – but the audience will be viewing all of the action through her words, her eyes, and her mental filter. By default we should wonder just what is happening to her and what she is or isn’t telling us.

Then there are the horror aspects – Poe, Lovecraft, M. R. James, not to mention the contribution of Henry James, Guy de Maupassant, O. Henry, Saki, and Edith Wharton (to name just a few). Okay – so I’m a bit of a classicist when it comes to tales of terror and the supernatural. But so much of what has been written in the latter part of the 20th Century and first part of the 21st owe these writers. They took the dark tales told around the fire and molded them into a literary form. Rereading them will be a joy – not to mention this gives me an excuse to watch “The Shining” and “The Changeling” again!

So – there is much to do. Much research, development, plotting, writing, dreaming, and writing to do. I now am looking at 50,000 words in just over three weeks and the holidays are fast approaching…. Yes. Crazy am I. But a good brand of crazy – I hope.

 Next Sunday I’ll check in again and let you know how I did.

 ~ Tess

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