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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.


Face My Fear

I have a confession to make – more to myself than to anyone reading this – but a confession none-the-less. I am coming to terms with the fact that I am terrified to become a writer. This is a realization that has revealed itself to me very recently…today, in fact. I find that others have pushed me, encouraged me, smiled and nodded as I rambled on, and otherwise allowed me to come to this realization on my own. Perhaps that is exactly why I feel so responsible to fix this particular issue.

Thinking that I had a breakthrough (with the gentle nudging of a fellow writer who knows who she is) today, upon arriving home, I strode into the bedroom and promptly woke my sick wife. “Honey,” I said. “I know what my problem is. I am scarred to write … the thought terrifies me.”

Heather, the amazing woman that she is – even when not feeling well – gave me a familiar gentle smile and head nod, somehow telling me that she already knew and was glad that it dawned  on me as well. We talked for a moment. She arrived at the exact same conclusion mere hours earlier.

This is confirmation. I can write it in stone. Give me a slate tablet and a chisel – no need for a hammer though, I will just repeatedly pound my head into the chisel to do the work. This fear is as hard to get rid of as blood on a white shirt or grease stains on a graphic tee.

I really do not know what I hope to accomplish here. Well, I do know, but I fear that I won’t actually accomplish it. In the idyllic landscape that is my mind – the place where the notion of writing and becoming an actual author sounds glamorous and perfect – I hope to use this blog as my centering, my focus, where I can write to clear my head and know what I am writing before I write it.

This is as good of a time as any to discover myself as a writer and I intend to do just that. I will not fear writing again, regardless of how daunting it seems or how much I self-depricate by comparing my words to another author’s.

My writing buddy tweeted a quote for me tonight because she is awesome like that.

Do what you fear and fear disappears.
~David Joseph Schwartz