Monthly Archives: October 2013

NaNoWriMo: This is My Plan of Action

I had a fantastic day today. Just a simple, good old fashioned happy day. I am now exhausted and ready for bed. Initially, I was hoping that, on the eve of NaNoWriMo, I would take a nap then wake up in time for the midnight kickoff of my challenge. That is not going to happen. I am going to get a full night’s sleep and storm the castle in the morning. You need your rest for castle storming. That’s science.

I feel that the fact that I am ready to sleep is a good thing. It’s an indicator. I feel that my body is totally relaxed and ready to shut down for the night because I am in a fantastic place to succeed this year. My body knows this. My mind knows this. My heart knows this. I will sleep deeply and with drooling abandon tonight.

I have decided a couple of things recently – things that you should be aware of.

First, I am going to give to you all my favorite snippet of each day’s writing on my SNIPPETS page. It might be a turn of phrase that catches my fancy or maybe a revelation that I make during my discovery writing. Whatever it is, there will be something every day.

Second, I will be giving a weekly status update of my progress. I want to share with you all the strides that I have made. I want to hear about your progress in the comments – let’s have a discussion on what you are doing to succeed or what you need help with to do so.

So this is my daily plan of attack:

Wake up.

Shower. Eat a healthy breakfast. Pushups, squats, crunches.

Writing warm-up in longhand.

Writing session.

Work.

Dinner with Preggers.

Pushups, squats, crunches.

Writing warm-up in longhand.

Mini writing session.

Read.

Sleep.

This is, obviously, a pretty idyllic day for me. Work is going to wear me down and get in the way. Things are going to come up (finishing the nursery, traveling back to Michigan for Thanksgiving, etc.). Writing may not sound appealing to me at times. Tough shit. In my listening to podcasts such as Writing Excuses, reading Stephen King’s On Writing, and from other places where I hear authors talk about their craft, the great majority of them have a routine that they stick to daily. I need that in place. I am a creature of habit and will conform to whatever routine I establish.

I would like to point out my separation of longhand warm-ups and the main writing sessions. I am foreseeing a distinct difference in these two acts. For one, I have come to realize in my traveling these past two weeks, that I love writing in longhand. It’s a freeing experience. I feel more in tune with my voice and imagination now that I have in over a year.

The physicality of writing longhand aids your creative process in a few ways. First, it slows you down. You type faster than you pen and sometimes that does not give you the fraction of a second needed to connect thoughts, retrieve the proper word, or think through the sequence. I liken this to my teaching experience. Studies show that teachers call on students who raise their hands within one second the vast amount of time – studies also show that the same small fraction of the students in a class raise their hands that fast – other studies show that if you wait for three seconds before calling on a student for an answer, the vast majority of the students will have the answer. I am not entirely sure where I am going with all of this scientific data, but the point is that if you delay in calling on the same immediate response, participation increases and therefore engagement increases. The same is true with longhand. By delaying the speed at which you are transfering your thoughts, you give your brain the proper time to search for a more suitable word, to connect several thoughts together, and to think ahead in the story. These are good thigns.

I am planning on, at this point anyways, switching to the computer for my actual novel writing in the main writing sessions based on one simple assumption – that I will not be able to keep up with my thoughts once I am in full swing. I liken my writing rhythm to a locomotive. I am slow to start, but once I get going I have momentum that is incredibly difficult to stop. The warm-ups are there to shovel coal into the engine. The writing sessions are to carry my momentum over the crest of a hill and downwards at a pace that I have no hope to stop.

This post may not make a lot of sense. To be honest, I am so worn down from two weeks’ worth of travel, I am having a hard time discerning up from down most of the time (despite having a joyous day today). This is me clearing my head. This is me stating my plan of action for the big day tomorrow. This is me.

Further Reading

Purdie Writing – http://purdiewriting.blogspot.com/2013/06/writing-longhand.html

Kenisha Cummings – http://kenishacummings.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/nanowrimo-prep/

See Sam Write – http://seesamwrite.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/confessions-of-a-procrastinator-aka-my-commitment/comment-page-1/#comment-38

NaNoWriMo: Stratejay to 50k

It’s a horrible title, I know. Just horrible.

This year, I feel as though I have the strongest strategy to-date for my approach to success. I have really dug into the core issue with my failing every NaNo for the past seven years. It has been an exercise in introspection and a quite humbling experience.

Ultimately, I need some bite to my bark. I have said a few times in the past via social media or conversations with my peeps – I am more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually writing. It’s okay, according to the awesome people at Writing Excuses, to present yourself as a writer, even if you do not have anything published. Unfortunately for me, I have done a lot of talking about being a writer and spent very little energy actually doing the craft. This needs to change for NaNoWriMo 2013.

So I have started developing strategies that will give me teeth. That will give me the aggressiveness to bite when needed. These are obviously what I feel will help me best for the long month ahead – they may not work for you.

First and foremost, I am going to eliminate the distractions that I put in place last year. Most of these were technology-based distractions. I purchased Scrivener and was immediately overwhelmed by the vast coolness of serious number of features that it offers. That ended up as a detractor from my writing though, as I spent more time trying to set up syncing features and DropBox accounts and such. I am sure it works great and this is in no way a review or commentary on Scrivener. I just lost focus of what was important – the writing. I have tried out a new piece of tech that I am actually really enjoying however. Stenosaur is a fantastic little app that allows a user to tweet microjournals to the Stenosaur app for future use. For me, this is fantastic.

I will write a full review about Stenosaur once I have explored it to the fullest, but for now, I am in love with the fact that I can use talk-to-text functionality to voice record ideas while I am driving, which I do more than the average bear.

My second strategy is to do warm-ups before each session. Ultimately, if you start writing cold, your first five hundred words or so are still your warm-up, but I am going to employ a new strategy: I am going to write for a half hour before every session for a different project. My main NaNoWriMo project is a fantasy novel that I have been working on for quite some time. The other project that I want to use warm-ups for is a somewhat post apocalyptic novel about survival and human drive. I will use this designated half hour to simply write character explorations of a few people jangling around in my head.

My intentions here are to build up a working base for the new novel, while letting my mind and fingers fall into my natural rhythm of writing. I have found from past experiences, that when I sit down to write and the words do not come easily, I get frustrated and give up on the session. I have also found that I love write character sketches and letting them grow and explore on the page. Using the moment of these free write sketches I will, I hope, be able to switch gears into the world and characters that I already know and love and understand, and continue with the real juicy stuff for the day.

Finally, I am going to change perspective on my word count approach. I have decided to take the 1st off of work, which gives me a three day, full on NaNoWriMo start to work with. I plan to write until my fingers bleed on day one. I plan to write my ass off on day two. I plan to write until my preggers wife drags me from my office on day three. At that point, on Sunday night, when I need to rub cream on the ever-expanding belly of my beautiful wife, I will start calculating word count. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that I manage 10k words in those three days, I would only have to average 1429 words per day (aWPD) for the rest of the month. If I started at Day One, I would need 1613 aWPD to hit 50k by the end of the month. A 200 aWPD difference does not seem like much and you would be correct.

The bigger issue at play is the inspirational force of grinding out 10k words in 3 days! At that pace 100k words is feasible, and I am a man who rides the waves of momentum quite well. This is the biggest point for everyone to embrace. Develop strategies that give you small victories. Let the high of those victories fuel your momentum. Let your momentum carry you into the land of NaNo victory.

In most things in life, I am at least as much bite as I am bark. So far, this has not been the case in my writing, and I have realized that is because of a lack of confidence in my craft and a lack of micro-victories to prove to myself that I am capable of doing this.

NaNoWriMo Musings

I know, I know, I KNOW.

This is the time of year where I fill your delicate ears with sweet whisperings of NaNoWriMo. I let flow the promises of dedication, planning, and a resolve like I have never felt before to accomplish my goal this year. The heat of my breath on your neck confirms the passion burning within me – that or I used too much cinnamon toothpaste this morning.

But. THIS IS THE YEAR! I have spent the entire last year working away at, sound-boarding, outlining, and exploring the story in which I still want to write. I have a fantastic group of writerly friends (I think its safe to call them that) that I know will encourage me along, and some actual, in-the-flesh writing buddies that will be sitting alongside me from time to time during the challenge. I am in the best position of my seven years of attempting NaNoWriMo to succeed. That is precisely what will happen.

I can talk a bit about the idea in my head. Yesterday was the “Ahh Ha!” or, perhaps, the “Oh Shit!” day for me – the day in which you realize that NaNoWriMo is turning the doorknob and will soon be in your room with a rusty meat cleaver. It was the day in which I decided to create a new account – not to hide in shame from the failings of the past years, but rather to start fresh using my Twitter handle and what has ingrained itself as my online writing persona, @wordrew. If you tweet, you know what I’m talking about.

Yesterday was also the day in which two breakthroughs happened for me. First, and probably most significantly, the four or five book ideas that I have rolling around in my vacuous noggin all sort of tumbled to the dusty recesses. The story that I have been working with for the past year stayed. The story has come back to me with fervor and I know that this is what I need to work on in the upcoming weeks and months. That leads me to the second breakthrough – yesterday I wrote an impromptu synopsis of my story while setting up my wordrew NaNo account.

It isn’t polished and took me less time to write than this post, but here it goes:

Several years and a lifetime ago, Parl and Purl’s parents were slain by minions of a secret society. Since that horrendous day, the brothers have become self-sufficient and forced to live on the run. Parl has grown intense, fallen in love, and consumed his childhood village and a few of its inhabitants in an unexpected inferno. Purl has studied, worked for the mayor, and saved his twin brother’s life with a deluge of quenching water.

Life in hiding has been bearable. The nightmares have been insufferable. As twins try to settle into a new community, they are discovered by agents of the Seminary of Five Ashes and offered sanctuary with the church. The twins accept the offer of training and absolution in order to live a open life once again.

As his studies progress with the Seminary, Purl uncovers a tumultuous history while reading by candlelight deep in to the night. Parl’s wanderlust and insatiable curiosity lead down a more physical path of training where the painful past is uncovered from his curvaceous mentor as she undresses at the edge of the Laughingman’s Rush river.

Join the twins as they arrive at the same conclusion and set off to join forces with Elementalists, secret societies, and the gods themselves.

I am not sure that I intended the plot to sound so YA, but perhaps that is where the book wants to be. Perhaps I should expand, revise, and think about this shit first? I am not entirely sure.

On a side note, I would like to hear from you handful of awesomeness (umm, that sounds very weird) as to your thoughts on my voice here at writebrainedramblings. Am I too informal? Do I not sound intelligent enough or proper like the English teacher that I am certified to be? Do you care? Hit me up in the comments below.