Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 30: The End

Just finished up!  Total words 50,006!  (The extra 6 were just showing off, Phil says.)

Thanks to every single person who cheered me on.  You were all literally the only reason I finished.  I'd have given up the whole thing weeks ago as a stupid idea, but I couldn't stand to let down my husband, my children, my family, and my friends!  Not to mention the whole world.  (Or at least the part of the world that visits this blog!)

Suddenly, it doesn't seem quite so stupid any more!   So thanks for holding me to my word, no matter what lame excuses I conjured.

Now I'm going to go read a book!  I'll save scrubbing the shower for tomorrow . . .

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day 29: Not Enough Words Left In My Brain For a Proper Post Title

Back from Thanksgiving.  Wrote 6,286 words today.  Will write 5,322 tomorrow.  Here's the video that the director of NaNo is suggesting as theme song for the last 24 hours:

Nice hair and make-up, huh?

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Days 22, 23, and 24: The rubber hits the road (literally)

Well, here I am, gutting out the homestretch!

On Day 22, I had a Sick Migraine, and couldn't force myself to write more than 503 words.  Actually, I was kind of proud of myself for getting that much done, since on that particular day I also considered it an accomplishment to get in and out of the drugstore without throwing up on the pharmacy tech.  In comparison to that dubious achievement, 503 words looks pretty good, huh?  (See, it's all in how you present these things.)

On Day 23, it was a gooood thing I was feeling better because I had one of my busiest days in a While.  I have no clue how I did it, but 2,016 words were finished by the end of the day.

On Day 24 (today), I formulated a theory that the more free time I have to get words down, the more I procrastinate the actual writing thereof.  Yesterday I had babysitting to do as well as cooking for and staying with my grandmother.  I knew I had next to no free time available, so every chance I had to sit down and write a few paragraphs I took it.

Today, on the other hand, my husband was off work, and we had most of the afternoon and evening free.  So I didn't start writing word 1 until 9:30pm.  Oh well, at least I had plenty of quality family relaxation time before I got down to typing.  And, tonight I completed a whopping 2,001 words.  Yes, I was eeeeeking out every single word that last 15%.  I told myself I could read for a little while if I got it all done like a good girl.  And now, look at me - I'm being even more mature and putting up a blog update before I collect my reward.  I should get a badge or something.

But today is the last day before our epic Thanksgiving mountain trip, which, with no fewer than seven total households participating bodes to be every bit as adventure-filled and entertaining as any National Lampoon Vacation movie.  So I just wanted to get this update out there before we hit the road in the morning!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Twenty-One: Harry Potter awaits

Despite the temptation to download hundreds of free books before midnight, I was able to restrain myself and finish up my last writing session of the day by 11:00pm.  6,079 words in one day!  Awesome.  Definitely a record for me, by the way.  That brought my total up to 31,535.  I was really excited to get past the 30,000 word mark, because it means I'm getting in range of being able to complete this thing!  (Guess I better figure out an ending, huh?)

And, finishing up by 11:00, I was still able to download bushels of free books.  In fact, it appears that it may have been a midnight-in-some-other-time-zone deadline, because I kept on downloading until about 1:30am.  It is really hard for me to turn down free books.  But, I have to admit, I'm a little concerned that someone is going to find the 200 Harlequin romances I downloaded and think I'm a porn dealer or something.  Oh, well, I guess that's a chance I'll just have to take.  I mean, they were free.

Now, you might think that all those shiny new free romances would hold me back from my writing today.  But you would be wrong!  I didn't even read any of them.  And I just now finished up 2,037 words for a new total of 33,572.

My reward for a weekend of sticking to my writing goals is to go see the new Harry Potter movie with my friend and her daughters. This will be the first Harry Potter movie that our kids have been old enough to watch in the theater without getting too scared (hopefully), so I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Twenty: The Universe is Conspiring Against Me ;)

Are you kidding me?!  I'm sitting here trying to have a 6,000 word day (and doing pretty well, thank you) when I check my email and see this:

Kobo Book Sale Hundreds of Free Books

The catch?  The coupon code expires at midnight tonight.  It takes a while to find and download 100's of free books. Argh.  Must. finish. goal.  Must. not. try. to. buy. 100's. of. free. books.

I'll let you know how that works out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Eighteen: Gearing up for a big weekend

I've blocked off this coming weekend to free up as much time as possible for writing.  I'm ready for a full-on sprint to get thousands of words done.  This is an officially recommended technique for week 3, since often people are a little behind on their word counts and don't want to go into the last week with insurmountable deficits.

According to No Plot, No Problem!, a book written by Chris Baty, the inventor of NaNoWriMo, the suggested technique is to get up in the morning.  Set the timer and write for 30 minutes, take a 10 minute break, set the timer and write for 30 minutes, take a 10 minute break, and set the timer for another 30 minutes.  Then at midday, repeat that sequence.  Do the same in the evening.  With any luck, you'll have a 6,000 word day in your rear view mirror.

Now, I can totally see myself doing all that and not having 6,000 words, but I am absolutely certain that I would have more words than normal.

So I'm going to start the technique tomorrow and keep my fingers crossed!  Of course I will let you know how it goes.

Oh, and before I go, I found a Today Show interview that aired today featuring Laura Hillenbrand and Louie Zamperini talking about Laura's new book about Louie's life,  Unbroken, that I mentioned a couple of days ago.  I thought the interview was quite interesting, particularly the part where he said he sent her his Purple Heart because he thought she deserved it more than he did.  Wow.  (You may get to watch a short ad before the clip plays, lucky you.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Days 17 and 18

Okay, yesterday I did 504 words, and today I did 2,010.  That puts the total at 25,457, which, according to the goal meter in my novel writing software (which I will write more about later, count on it), that puts me at 50% complete!

In honor of reaching the halfway mark, I just had to share this video that the NaNo folks produced for this week.  Totally the geeky kind of humor I love!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Sixteen: Yet another distraction

I tell you, I am so good at finding distractions, especially when I have challenges looming over me.  I really had no idea how many distractions I could find until NaNoWriMo!  This morning I almost started scrubbing my shower before I reminded myself that I really did NOT have time for that today.  Well, this week I have another temptation to deal with (one much more compelling than scrubbing showers!)

There's a new biography out that I've really been looking forward to reading.  It's called Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.  I know, random, right?  Well WWII isn't my usual genre, that's for sure, but this one sounded really interesting, and the author is almost as interesting as the story she wrote.  Laura Hillenbrand is the author of Seabiscuit, so this is her second biography.  (I count a story of a racehorse as a biography, okay?)  Laura Hillenbrand also happens to be an extremely ill woman.  She's had severe chronic fatigue syndrome from the time that she had a virus when she was in college.  She is almost never able to leave her house.  And, according to some of the articles I've read, she has such severe weakness and vertigo that she can't even read books anymore.  She told one interviewer that she had to skip her morning shower in order to have enough strength to even be interviewed.

This woman is so sick that she's never gotten to meet the subject of her biography, who is, in fact, still alive and in his 90's.  They've done dozens of phone interviews, and apparently she has done a remarkable job of remotely researching her topic.  I'd never even heard of the man about whom she wrote, but after reading the synopsis I am not sure why he hasn't been a household name to this day - his story is certainly incredible.  Louie Zamperini was an American Olympic runner who competed in the Berlin Olympics, met Hitler, and then stole a German flag off the Reich Chancellery!  So, yes, it seems that he was a spunky fellow.  Which was a good thing, I guess, because in the war, his plane crashed and he was marooned in a raft with two other men for weeks and weeks and weeks, drifting thousands of miles, living on rainwater and bird blood, being strafed by Japanese planes and followed by sharks.  The survivors found land only to be taken prisoner by the Japanese, and it gets crazier from there, apparently.  The final portion of the book tells of how Mr Zamperini handled the emotional aftermath of this trauma.

The reviews are phenomenal, and I just got an email from Amazon that had this book recommended as one of the ten best of the year.

I remember reading an article that came out soon after they released the movie version of Seabiscuit.  In that article, Laura explained that during the course of writing Seabiscuit her health had deteriorated significantly.    At the time, she really sounded unsure that she would ever be able to complete another book, and frankly, it sounded like an open question of whether she would even want to, given how much the first one had cost her in terms of her health.  So I was very happy to learn that she was successful in writing another book, and one that sounds very well received, too.

And that really makes me want to read it.

(Yesterday I completed 1,940 words, for a total of 22,943.  Still working on today.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Days Fourteen and Fifteen

Just jumping over here to do a quick update.  Things are still progressing!  But I've been spending time writing and sleeping instead of blogging.

The distractions are getting pretty intense right now!  Yesterday I was all set to make tons of progress, and I did.  But it was painful progress, the kind you have to fight through, because a) I found out there were like 30 new Kindle and Nook books for free on Amazon, and I downloaded a bunch of them and b) I found a new app that allows me to check out ebooks from my library and read them on Paddy (the iPad).  Argh.  All that free reading just had to come right in the middle of WriMo, didn't it?  But still, how cool?!

Despite the lure of free reading, I was able to get in 1,938 words yesterday.  And on Sunday, despite having way too much fun with friends, I did get in 685.  Plus I have a few more already logged for today, bringing my total up to 21,311.  Sooooo close to that halfway point.  I need a big week this week, since we have Thanksgiving coming up.  If anybody makes plans during the week, don't tell me about them!

P.S. - Even if you don't have an ebook reader, you can still read the Kindle books and library ebooks on your computer.  Not my favorite way to read a book, but hey, the price is right, and if the book is good then you'll forget where you're reading it!  (Been there, done that)  Here's a link to the Kindle Apps for PC, Mac, iPhone/iTouch, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7.  And here's the Barnes and Noble equivalent for their Nook Books.  You may as well start collecting some of the free ones now, for the inevitable day when you succumb to the lure of reading digital books!  Any books you collect from the Kindle store or the Barnes and Noble store (free or not) will stay in your account forever, and can be read on any or all of those devices, and they even remember where you were when you switch devices.  Check a library near you for their digital offerings.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Thirteen: Write or Die

2,094 words written. 18,280 total. 36% done.

'Nuff said.

Oh, come on, I'm a writer. I could never make a 9 word blog post! So instead of leaving well enough alone, I'll tell you about Write or Die, instead.

Write or Die is an online tool for NaNo writers. It was created by Dr. Wicked, and it was designed to give writers some real, short term consequences for failing to meet the goal for their writing session. Now I know that we writer types are grown-ups (the ones of us who are over 18, anyway) and we should be perfectly capable of disciplining ourselves to meet long-term goals without having to go to crazy lengths to make sure we do our writing for the day. Should being the key word here - reality works a little differently, and it seems that many writers benefit from some extra motivation.  Hence, Write or Die.

The idea with Write or Die is that you have to start writing and keep writing until you have met your goal, or face the consequences.

You can pick a word amount and/or time limit, and you can choose from a range of consequence levels:
  • Gentle
  • Normal
  • Kamikaze
  • Electric Shock(!)
Gentle mode just displays a pop-up reminder to get back to work.  Isn't that sweet?  In terms of useful consequences, it's not nearly enough for the hard-core procrastinator, though.

Normal mode is much more effective, in my book.   It starts playing annoying sounds if you pause too long.  The only way to stop the sounds is to keep writing.  Everyone in my family hates annoying sounds, so keeping them happy would be an extra incentive for me to keep the fingers clicking.

Kamikaze mode is just evil, I think.  In Kamikaze mode, if you stop writing for too long, it starts erasing what you already wrote!  Horrific!  (But very effective.)

And finally, Electric Shock mode . . . doesn't actually work.  It's a joke, people.  This isn't literally Write or Die - that's just an expression.

I think the idea of Write or Die is fascinating.  I've never used it, though, because I just can't commit.  What if the doorbell rings?  Or the kids need me?  Or the kitchen catches on fire?  You never know when something is going to come up, and then where would you be?

So, for now, I'm having to power through with the only motivators to which I've been able to commit - my husband (who, it turns out, can be quite the nag) and my friends (less naggy, but also very motivational).  So far so good, but it's nice to know I've got options if I need to move up to more dire consequences.  Maybe in week 4!

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Days Eleven and Twelve: I couldn't be a Pantser, could I?

Yesterday was just as busy as I thought it might be, and my flare was no better, either, so I fell asleep after 558 words and no blog entry! I'm not complaining though, because a) I'm so glad I got to go to the Christmas Show with my daughters and my friends, and b) I finally toughed through the worst of the flare, and today I'm much better in a lot of ways, despite having a migraine for the first 12 hours or so. If you'd told me a few years ago that I'd be happy to have a day with "only" a migraine, I'd have thought you were crazy! Isn't life funny? Everything's relative, I guess.

Anyway, to prove that today was better, here I am at 9:14pm, and I've already completed 1934 words today, for a grand total of 16,286. That's 32% of the total, so I'm very close to 1/3 done with the 50,000 word goal.

But enough with the statistics - On to the main topic of this blog post. Maybe you are still wondering what the term "pantser" means? I have to say, it's certainly not something I ever thought I would be. In fact, there was probably a time when I would have said pantsers were foolish and asking for trouble. I would have said it, that is, if I had known what it was! Then NaNoWriMo came and turned everything on its head. Not only did I discover the phrase pantser, AND learn what it meant, but I also came across some strong evidence that I might BE a pantser. Wow.

Okay, okay, before I force you to resort to a Google search out of frustration, I'll get to the point. It seems that most people are either plotters or pantsers. That is, they either outline their writing ahead of time, or they show up at the computer each day and fly by the seat of their pants. Guess which one I am? Oh, yeah, anyone who knows me would be probably say I'm a plotter. Heck, I would say I'm a plotter. Ever since English 101, I've loved outlines. They are awesome! You just organize your thoughts, jot key points in order, jiggle them around a little, and then your hard work is done. From there on out, you can just systematically turn each point into prose and you are golden.

Of course, I've done a lot more non-fiction writing than fiction . . . Still, I would never approach a novel without knowing what it was about. Or would I?

Going into this NaNo project, I had an idea for a story about three weeks before the official start. For NaNo purposes, you are allowed to do all the outlining and organizing you want before the start of November, as long as you don't start the actual writing of the book itself. So I spent the three weeks brainstorming, thinking through storylines, working out plot points, and I didn't have enough time to get it all completed. I had a good idea of where I was going and how, but not nearly to the point of a scene by scene outline. That had me a little nervous, but I didn't have much choice about it.

So, on November 1, 2010, I booted up my laptop, pulled up my barebones outline, and promptly changed the entire audience of my novel before I'd finished the first sentence. My plot and outline were for a children's book. I was writing a children's book, I tell you. But when I started writing that first sentence, I found out that I didn't think I could make this a children's book. The character wanted to be older. So right now, she's older. And so far I've just shown up at the computer every day to see what will come out.

Now, despite how much I like plotting and planning with non-fiction writing, I really shouldn't be surprised by how this has turned out. An honest appraisal of my character would have turned it up in a heartbeat. Fact is, I'm obsessed with planning. I love to research, I love to organize and make plans and set things up. But when it comes time to follow through? Man, I chafe at being held to a schedule. I'm like this in homeschooling too. Every summer I spend weeks researching and ordering and making up schedules. By Christmas, we're lucky if we are still using half of what I planned. The rest has been switched, dropped, or tweaked beyond recognition.

I've decided that's because creativity calls for flexibility. The more creative the endeavor, the more necessity there is for the whims of the muse or the needs of the moment. It is hard to predict the future with creative projects, and that's what planning tries to do.

That said, I still love planning, and I do think there is a place for it, a big place, in my creative "stuff". For example, the more research and planning I do, the more I learn. For me, planning is the place to start, whether it is for homeschool lesson plans or (apparently) a NaNo project. The ideas get to germinate, take root, get ready to sprout up. And then we get to find out what kind of plant they really are. Maybe we thought we were planting radishes, and it was really carrots. Who knew?

It looks like the novel I'm writing now was, in fact carrots, not radishes. So I'm using the basic plot ideas, but changing huge parts of the story, and mainly showing up to see what happens next. Hey, I'm in good company - apparently both Stephen King and Nora Roberts are known pantsers. They do pretty well for themselves.

The worst thing about pantsing is that a lot of what I write might end up needing to be changed. It might be really bad, even need to be deleted outright. But, as I've said before, I don't mind revising at all, so that's probably not such a bad thing for me.

The best part about pantsing is that I get to be just as interested and surprised as the reader. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Ten: Good thing I got my quota in yesterday . . .

Wow. Yesterday was something, and today was something else! By late afternoon, I was extremely glad that I had gotten as much done yesterday as I had. Tonight, I got myself started and pushed through more than 50% of my quota (900 words to be exact), and I didn't have to feel bad about turning in early. Usually the most severe part of these unusually strong flares only lasts two-three days, so there is light ahead - I'm banking on it!

You can tell it's bad today, though, because I'm not even tempted to blog a dissertation on some cool NaNoWriMo term. Nope, I'm thinking I need to start the unwinding process and hit the hay. Maybe then I can get a little early morning writing done to make up. It's another really busy day tomorrow, so I have to admit I'm a little nervous about that. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are pretty much free and clear though, despite my crazy cousin's attempts to ensnare me in a plot to attend a drive-in movie in the middle of November. Nice try. Sleep and writing and a heating pad, that's my plan.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Nine: 25%, but I can't believe I got there today

So today I passed the 25% mark of my 50,000 word goal for the month. I wrote 1888 words, for a grand total of 12,894. According to my noveling software (more about that another day) I have the equivalent of about 37 pages of paperback book text.

I can't believe I got those words in, though, because I felt sooo crummy. Let's just say it was not a good evening, and I didn't get started with word 1 until around 9:30. I was seriously tempted to give today a skip, and hope that tomorrow was a better day.

I have found with other goals that the key, for me, is to just get started. Getting going is so much more difficult than keeping going. So the good news is that often, if I can just get started, I can keep going for quite a while. The bad news is, it can be so hard to get started that I just don't.

My carefully honed technique, therefore, is to bargain myself into starting. I'll offer myself a deal. "Self," I'll tell myself, "you don't want to have to make up all these words tomorrow, do you? Even when you are feeling bad you can write for a few minutes. How about this - how about you just do 500 little words? You can knock that out in a half hour or so, and then you can still get a full evening of rest and relaxation in. No further obligation, promise!"

Even though I know that it is all just a dastardly plot to get myself started, and even though I am really hoping that I will write a lot more than 500 words, still, there is a part of me that will often buy the act. I'll think, "You know, I'm really tired tonight, and feeling crummy. I won't feel up to writing it all, but I will get a little bit done, just to keep from losing all my momentum. A little bit won't be too bad to manage." Sucker!!!

On days when I'm lucky, I'll get started and keep right on going. And that's what happened tonight.

I did stop briefly when I got to 63% of my quota, to go check on what Phil was up to. My poor hubby has had to deal with me writing most evenings, and I couldn't help but feel bad that he was being so neglected. I figured he might be getting sick of being ignored in favor of my alphabet soup of a manuscript. A misguided, amateur-hour manuscript he might not even get to read, it's so questionable.

I told him I was trying to decide between writing more or taking a shower. "Write more!" he said. I told him I was close to 70%. "Then get to 80!" he said.

So I guess he's not too sick of it, yet. Or possibly he just wanted to get back to his Blackberry Word Mole game. But either way, he wasn't missing me too much, and I had no more excuses for feeling guilty.

So I got back to it, and knocked out the last big chunk, and I even set a new record for the month. And you know what? I still feel crummy. Very, very crummy, especially since I forgot whether or not I'd taken my pain medicine this evening, so I couldn't take any more just in case. (Like I've said before, my wonky memory makes life more interesting than it has to be.)

But now I feel crummy AND I finished my quota! Which definitely beats the alternative! In the immortal words of London Tipton, "Yay me!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Eight: Resisting the Siren's Call - (Frontierville)

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook's associated plethora of time-wasting, soul-sucking games like Farmville and Frontierville. I hate them because of all the, you know, time-wasting and soul-sucking. (Admittedly, the jury is still out on the soul-sucking - that's hard to prove in this lifetime, but I have my suspicions. . .)

On the other hand, I also love the games because they are extremely fun, and also because I really, really like to earn things - even so-called "things" of very dubious value. I never got to be a Girl Scout, but if I had been, I'd have collected every single badge I could possibly get my mitts on. I just love completing goals and earning badges and pins and things for my efforts. Even badges made of bytes, like the sort they gave out on my most recent obsession, Frontierville.

By the start of NaNoWriMo's writing-an-entire-novel-in-one-month-craziness, though, I had finally gotten a little tired of the amount of time and energy it took to keep my frontier town thriving. I already had a neglected Farmville account languishing in my rear view mirror, and I'd learned from that experience that once you manage to go a few days without checking in, the game loses most of its allure, and you can suddenly step back and see that it is, in fact, just a silly game that is striving (futilely, in my case) to get you to spend real money for fake stuff.

So it has been several weeks now, since I bid the (fake) frontier farewell and headed off into the sunset. But Week Two of NaNo has been nothing but a big temptation to relapse. See, here you are, staring at the computer screen, and suddenly you can't write another word without your head just exploding, so you click over really quick to check email, and . . . nothing. For like ten minutes at least, your friends haven't sent you a single silly rhyming email designed to drive their sisters crazy (true story) or even a decent chain email threatening death and destruction if not forwarded to 80 friends in the next 14 seconds. Not even an email with cute pictures of kittens!

So there you are, with nothing, and then Facebook starts calling your name. Frontierville is luring you back like a true siren, pulling you away from your novel-writing and towards the terrible dangerous rocks of time-you-don't-have-to-waste. Don't you deserve a break? You have a terrible headache from all that serious writing. Don't you deserve to have some rest and relaxation and good times with your friends, sending and receiving items and earning . . . badges? What about the badges April? How could you forget?

Well so far, much like Odysseus on his great, well, odyssey, I've tied myself to the couch and kept my mouse away from the "Frontierville" button with success. Okay, so Odysseus tied himself to the mast of his ship to avoid answering the sirens' call, which isn't much like a couch at all, and I'm pretty sure Odysseus would have thought a WriMo was a disaster sent by the Greek muses (well, actually, hey - that part might be pretty accurate) but anyway, my POINT is, this is the 21st century. We modern day heroes have to adapt!

And so, at least for now, my Frontierville bookmark is safely tucked away. Just in case, however, I do have a secret weapon if the urge to earn badges becomes too great! How cool is that?!

Words written today: 1,779. Total: 11,006. Badges: None yet, but I can order them in a jiffy if I need them!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Seven: One Week Down . . .

Well, I'm one week into the NaNo experiment, and so far things are going better than I'd expected. I mean the writing quality itself pretty much stinks, but it has been doable to meet the goals each day. Well, except for the two dud days. Plus yesterday when I stayed up half the night. But overall, four out of seven days went smoothly, and I can live with that! ;)

Today I completed 1,798 words, for a total of 9,227. That means tomorrow I should cross over 10,000 words. I'm really getting into this quantity over quality thing. I think I can learn a lot just from writing thousands and thousands of words, regardless of how many are actually usable in any public venue. I keep telling my children that the best way to learn is to practice. Even if you start off unskilled, with practice something is bound to improve. I keep hoping, anyway!

Now, I mentioned yesterday that I'd explain about the shovel of death. When I signed up for NaNo, I had no idea how geeky these people were. Almost as geeky as I am! So they have this whole culture on the forums there, where they support one another and generally get together to commiserate and blow off steam between chapters. And one of the traditions that has taken on a life of its own at NaNo is the shovel of death.

Basically, when the Shovel of Death thread comes up on the forum, people who want to participate immediately begin working out how to incorporate a murder (or at least serious injury) by shovel into their day's writing. Then they tell their fellow NaNo's the results of their experiments into shovel deaths. Some of the people on the forums tell how they have incorporated shovels of death into every NaNo project they've ever attempted.

The shovel of death is a good example of the kind of writing NaNo encourages. It doesn't have to be perfectly original. All of life is full of cliches, after all. But rather, it is about using your creativity to come up with fun and imaginative takes on those familiar ideas.

If you think that's fascinating, just wait - in the coming days I'll explain about some more amateur writer terms like "write or die", "word sprints", "plot bunnies" and "pantsers"! You know you can't wait!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Six: Friends and writing don't mix

I'm just kidding, of course. Friends are wonderful, and an unexpected evening with friends, eating good food, playing games, chatting and laughing - that's the best! Some people say not to socialize during NaNoWriMo, but I don't agree with that. I also don't agree with the "don't socialize until after your quota is met" approach. Which is just as well, because I think I'd have a full out mutiny on my hands if I tried to tell my 10 year old daughters that they needed to clear their social calendar for the month of November, just so I could rack up a few thousand poorly chosen words.

Which is why we all got to enjoy a nice evening out at Alicia's tonight, even though I'd forgotten about NaNo in the morning and had only 700 words knocked out. (Yes, I forget things like this often. It makes life interesting.) And I did get to finish up my writing quota anyway, even though it was 1:42 in the morning before I was done. It was great to feel like I pushed myself and stuck to my goal. It was even greater to be able to finally go to sleep! My writing was more questionable than ever today, but I haven't yet had to resort to any of the old NaNo fallbacks, like the shovel of death. (More about that later, maybe tomorrow, so stay tuned!)

My word count for today was a respectable 1790, my record thus far, in fact. My total word count is now 7429, 14% through the 50,000 word goal.

Thanks so much for the fun evening and good company, Alicia!

Friday, November 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Five quick update - Just in case you are concerned

One of the bits of advice I remember reading before starting this project was about what to do if you missed days. Don't try to make up missed days all at once, the advice stated. Just adjust your average daily target.

I'm really glad I read that, because I have to admit that having two low production days in a row was really discouraging, even though I tried not to let it get to me toooo much. Making all that up is a lot of writing, enough to make you decide to quit, to be honest. But when I followed the above advice, and calculated a new average to reach my target, it turned out only to have moved from 1667 words per day to 1766.

In other words, it is early - there is plenty of time to make it up, so make it up I did! It is 9:26 am, and I've already hit my goal for the day! I have 1776 words for the morning, making a grand total of 5639. Over 10% of my goal is done. It is pretty awful, but it is done! And, I have most (but not all) of my notes re-assembled and properly backed up.

Now I need to get dressed (call me crazy, but a shower would be nice, too . . .), then school and the grocery store. I hear Harris Teeter has super doubles this week.

It is a great feeling to have today's goal behind me already!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Four update - They say it's my birthday!

I kept forgetting that today was going to be my birthday. It is entirely possible that there was some sort of mental block there! Anyway, regardless of my forgetfulness, I'm now another year older, and about 20 words closer to 50,000! wooo-hoooo!

I'll be back tomorrow! (Technically, it is actually 5 minutes into tomorrow already, but I won't tell if you don't. It's been a long day of birthday goodness, which is much better than yesterday's long day of technological badness!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Three update: Reality bites!

Soooo, I was about 400 words into my quota for today when my laptop overheated and abruptly shut down, corrupting the data files for my novel-writing software. Which would be no problem, except that the backups I'd been so conscientiously making turned out to be the less ideal kind of backup copies. Thankfully, I was able to manually get into my files to access the text I'd written out.

Unfortunately, it is all in plain text, and I have to go into my noveling software and start all over with creating new little files for each character, setting, etc., that I'd made notes on, and then copying and pasting the correct bits of text into each of them, then reformating. Which I really didn't have TIME for today.

By the way, this is not, repeat NOT the software's fault. I LOVE the software, which is a Beta version of a program that's only been available on Macs until about a week ago. (more about that on a day with less inherent drama.) Anyway, this is a classic case of POE - Pure Operator Error. But hey, now I know what kind of back ups I need to make going forward.

Today we had a full slate of doctor's checkups, babysitting and dance classes already on the schedule. Then the steak for my supper fajitas tasted a bit off. And when I switched to just chicken, the new fajita seasoning I used turned out to be lessssss than yummy, too. I get a touch grouchy when I have to throw out steak and wash my already cooked chicken. Oh, and stitch my soon-to-be-novel back together again! So with all this drama, I haven't gotten any further with my word count. The day stands at right around 400. I'm just taking deep breaths and reminding myself that there's plenty of time yet. In fact, someone on one of my Yahoo Groups just signed up for NaNo today. That takes real courage - starting out when you are already two days down! Very cool!

Stay tuned for better news tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo - Day Two update

Happy election day, everyone - a day to be celebrated by any American citizen of any political affiliation or none at all, because this is the day we get to exercise our freedom to choose our leaders. (Yeah, they may not live up to what we think the good leaders should be, but I still say freedom to choose our leaders beats the alternative!)

Now, for our daily NaNo update:

Well, I finished up yesterday with 1,733 words, 66 more than I needed - yay! This is good, because I need to start banking extra words for sick days and Thanksgiving. This point was driven home to me when I started feeling ultra puny with a gross sore throat yesterday afternoon. Not too puny to type, however! There's actually a thread on the NaNoWriMo forums started by someone who was excited to be sick because she got to stay home and write!

Sore throats and colds are one thing - migraines are a whole 'nother ball of wax, and since I get lots of those (migraines, not balls of wax), I definitely need to be logging a few extra words when I can.

Today we were babysitting my niece and nephew, and the kids got to watch "How to Train Your Dragon". They were riveted. I got in my quota. Everyone was happy. (They also played lots with Barbies and legos, so don't be afraid I that I parked them in front of the TV all day!)

Today my word count was 1,710, for a grand total of 3,443. Not too bad for a puny-feeling day with extras running around!

I can't help but notice that I'm still on the first chapter, though. I'm getting the distinct impression that I may well make it to 50,000 words, but still only be halfway done with the book! That's fine though, actually, because most novels are a good bit more than 50,000 words. There are books of 50k words, like Brave New World, but most novels these days seem to be more like 90,000-100,000+. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was over 250,000 words! (See I'm learning so much doing all this - it's great!)

Tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge, I'm thinking - we have lessons, doctor check-ups, and probably more babysitting in the afternoon, so a very busy day! Stay tuned to see if I can pull it off!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Here goes nothing!

So, at 12:00am NaNoWriMo officially started. I stayed up late to get a few words logged before bed last night. Unsurprisingly, the NaNo website was swamped, and barely functioning! That's a good thing, because it meant less time wasted on the very active NaNo forums, and more time writing actual words. It's now 11:47, and I am already up to 1,272 words. (and even got some school done! We are getting ready to finish up, now.) That's pretty good - the gold standard daily quota is 1,667 words per day to reach 50,000 by month's end.

That said, if I were to be killed in a car wreck today, I would be mortified for anyone to read those 1200 words! (And, trust me, me dying is the only way anyone will. Otherwise, I'd die of embarrassment anyway, so let's not go there.) The standard approach in NaNo is NOT TO EDIT. That is virtually impossible for me, but so far I've limited myself to correcting typos, and fixing things if I change tacts mid-paragraph. I've highlighted a bunch of stuff that I want to delete later. I keep promising myself that in December I can come back and change and tweak and polish to my heart's content.

But November is about getting something down first, so I have something to edit in the first place.

I'll be interested to see how successful I can be at not editing as I go. I usually type in an extremely non-linear way, and even my emails and blog posts are polished continually as I go. I'm almost obsessive about it. I can easily spend an hour on one email, by accident. So this is a great exercise for me - a whole different way of approaching things. We'll see how it goes!

My agreement with myself is to post at least a word count update every day in November. Even if I don't get any writing done. That's a great incentive to keep on track, I think. So check back daily to see how I do. The drama, it is exciting!!!