As everyone who has a blog says at some point: I haven’t been very good about blogging for a while. I had some life stuff going on, and so somehow I completely missed posting about my entire NaNoWriMo 2015 victory. It was a terrible novel that I might turn into a mediocre short story one day when I do editing. But never mind that, it’s time for 2016! I’m super-excited about my current project (as you might can tell from my word count; passing 15K on day 6 is a pretty fierce pace). It was going to be just one short-story in a themed collection, but instead I decided to expand it into a full novel all on its own. I believe that I’ll have ample space to explore several of the issues I wanted to explore in the original plan, but also get to really focus in on a few of the characters and bring them to life. It’s fully sci-fi, a genre I’m comfortable with as a reader but never really embraced as a writer until now. Even though the writing is difficult (don’t let anyone tell you writing a novel is easy), I am still passionate about the idea and think this may make an excellent second self-published novel. (I do intend to self-publish my first NaNovel next year, really, I mean it this time.) Anyway, now that I’ve broken the blogging ice once more, expect (after NaNo is over) to see more updates about Excellence and what that means for me these days.
I reached 50,000 words last night, and boy, does it feel good! I have a third terrible novel! Woohoo! I plan to actually edit a novel this year, too, but first I have to decide whether to make it this one or my first terrible novel. I am thoroughly enjoying a writing-free night tonight! Even the icy rain won’t get me down! 50K! Yay!
Week three has ended, and I am sitting on 40K after a very good Friday night! Yesterday, I announced that I would celebrate 50K Monday. No matter what. The truth is, I am absolutely sick of writing, and I have become willing to sacrifice all elements of plot and character to the idol of word count. When I hit 50K, then I can do something other than write every night, and that prospect is more motivational than any number of sayings about how “the world needs my novel”. That’s how I managed to write 3.5K last night in just 2.5 hours. I am thinking about all the knitting and spinning waiting for me, all those episodes of Doctor Who. I also might have signed up for *ahem* fifty Coursera classes. (Only nine are active right now.) I just recently heard about Coursera, but I already like it. The classes seem (at least to someone just taking her first ones) very good on the whole. And no matter that one could pay for them to get all verified and certified and bona fide, they are absolutely free. I love learning new things, and I’ve taken some iTunes U courses, but those are very hit and miss as far as quality goes. The Coursera ones have been excellent. They do require you to keep up with their pace somewhat; very few courses are available on demand. Instead you have to sign up for an open session, and do the lectures and exercises while it is running. We’ll see how things go in the new year, when every course ever is scheduled to start. Anyway, I encourage you to check it out–after you’ve gotten in your 50K, of course!
The second week of NaNoWriMo has come to a close at last. Everyone says that the second week is the hardest, and it really is true. I kept telling myself that if I just managed not to quit this past week, that I would be able to finish. And that’s pretty true. The vast majority of people who quit NaNo simply don’t start; they think of a novel but then can’t get pen to paper that first day or two, and decide that since they can’t catch up, they might as well just wait another year. Then there are those who make a start, even a great start, the first week, but as day seven rolls around and they’re looking at the distance from 10K to 50K, and they start truly hating their story and think every word they write is miserable crap, then suddenly they just decide maybe they need a better story. Maybe next year they’ll be writing something good.
The secret to making it to week three is two-fold. First, make it to week two by starting your story. Then (and this is the key point) keep writing throughout week two. It doesn’t matter if every sentence makes you feel slightly ill, if you know that you will end up deleting entire sections. Just. Keep. Writing. If you don’t give up, you’ll find yourself in week three, and maybe the story won’t seem quite so bad;maybe the prose will flow a little more easily, or maybe you’ll still find yourself clawing your way through every milestone. Either way, you’ll have a lot more words of a story that you needed to tell. You will be halfway through the goal word count, meaning that every day you have less to write than you’ve already written. And the odds are, it won’t look as bad in December.
Happy writing, everyone! Good luck with week three! Over halfway now!
It’s November again, and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month! I am participating again this year, and you can follow along with my progress using the handy calendar in the sidebar. The first week started off with a bang, as I hit 6K the first two days. It helped that it started over a weekend, and that there were two writing meets on Saturday. I had held a pre-novel party two days earlier, a “wild” affair with lots of drinking of Orangina and playing of Rock Band until eleven p.m. and I needed recovery time, so I didn’t get a midnight Friday start like some people, but Saturday was a roaring start. The rest of the week wasn’t so bad. I was glad to have built up a lead because I knew with Thanksgiving at the end of the month, it would be really easy to finish with a whimper. But I made my word count every day– until last night. I just couldn’t write. I managed three words, the start of a sentence that I never finished. The first week ended up on target, but I blew the lead I had built up.
Today was a good start to week two, however, as I got to go to another writing meet, and managed 2K, breaking through some of the difficult section. I have a feeling the next three days are going to determine whether I finish this novel or not. Week two is always the hardest. The most important thing you can do is to simply not give up in week two. Keep scratching those words out, knowing that everyone is hating their novel at this point, that everyone has gaping plot holes that make them want to scream, and that everything can be fixed later. If you never push through it to get to week three, then you’ll never finish the novel.
So I’ll push through and go to another meet tomorrow and try to get a little lead back because I might meet another rainy day like yesterday.
I have been using a handy app on my iPad, called 30/30. It allows you to set up a to-do list, with a specified time for each task, and then the timer ticks off while you busily get things done. I tend to set the timer to 15 minutes for each task, out of long habit. You would think by now, I would no longer be surprised by what I can accomplish in 15 minutes, but somehow I always am. In 15 minutes, I can:
– cast on 60 stitches and knit 6 rows
– load the washer and fold a load of laundry
– unload and reload the dishwasher
– wind 6 balls of yarn!
– tidy most of the mess in my craft room
– write a quick blog post
The timer is telling me to move on, but I encourage you to try setting a timer whenever you have a list too long to do, or a task that you’ve been procrastinating on.
I had a half-finished draft of a post listing resolutions for the new year, but it seems a bit late to put it up now, so instead I’ll just catch you up with things. (Happy New Year!) I got an iPad and wireless keyboard for my birthday, and it is an excellent on-the-go writing studio. This afternoon, in fact, I biked to town and sat in the coffeeshop, sipping a latte and writing a short story. It felt good to write some fiction again, especially something short and bite-sized. I’ve been trying to get back into the writing groove so I can get motivated to edit one of the two novels I wrote by the end of March. Seeing as how that’s coming up a lot sooner than I had hoped, I really need to just go ahead and start editing.
I’ve been pretty excellent in other ways. One of the apps on my iPad is iTunes U, a cool site that offers free courses from various universities. I took an excellent course on moons, and am currently working my way through a Harvard course on the ethics of justice, a writing workshop, and a rather hard-to-follow introductory medical school course on the pulmonary system. It’s all been pretty fascinating so far. Another app that I’ve enjoyed is Duolingo, a language-learning app. It’s not great for actually learning a language, as it doesn’t really do any explanation, but it is excellent for giving you exercises to build up your vocabulary and practice the correct genders and such. I’m using it to learn French and review German. Finally, I am learning poetry. I found an app where you progressively memorize poems, leading up to a recorded recitation of them from memory. I’m really enjoying it! I used to enjoy memorizing poems as a child (I knew large chunks of Where the Sidewalk Ends and all of And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street), and they say that as an adult you will probably still enjoy the things you enjoyed as a child. I’ve already learned Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day, The Jabberwocky, El Dorado, Death Be Not Proud, and just a tiny smidge of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
I may not be doing great on any of the other focus areas for excellence, but it’s not as bad as it could be. So far, this has been an excellent year, and I’m just really excited to get back into writing again! I may try to get into the editing mood by editing the short story I wrote this morning, and we’ll see how that pans out. Not having done much editing before, it’s hard to know what to expect or how to plan for it. I’ll keep you updated.