Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cruising to the NaNoWriMo Finish Line

Another challenge done. 

Some of you are still feverishly typing away trying to get to that 50,000 word finish line as National Novel Writing Month comes to a close. That was me last year. I was probably around 15,000 words from the finish this time last year. STRESS!!!

So, if you're there.... I feel your pain. But, this year, I did a far better job of managing my writing time and balancing my life. I strolled towards 50,000 words at about 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 28. What that meant was that last night I got a good night's sleep for the first time in November.

It felt really good not having 100 thoughts rushing through my head related to plot, character development, setting, pacing, etc., etc. 

Still not done? Keep writing. You can do it. The pay off will be awesome. It was a wonderful night's rest. Even before that, I knew in the morning I would meet my goal that evening. So, work was a breeze. I dressed up in a suit jacket, strolled around campus with a smile.

People asked why I was dressed up. I smiled and said, "I'm done with my novel!" Even the subway ride home was enjoyable. I just sank back into my seat with a nearly complete feeling of satiation.

Good times. OK, I'm gonna go back to basking in the afterglow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Finishing My NaNoWriMo Novel

If all goes well, I will finish my NaNoWriMo novel by Friday - five days ahead of schedule. The month has flown by. 50,000 words in 30 days. Time goes quickly.

It will be nice to take a little break from this book. Once I am done, I will return to Book One of the Mall Demons Series. Eight more chapters to write and it'll be ready for formatting.

I also want to get back to some flash fiction. But, I don't want to make too many plans. I still have 14,000 words to write for NaNoWriMo. Back to work.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How I Caught Up With My NaNoWriMo Word Count 10 Minutes At A Time

That's right. 10 minutes. 10 is a powerful number. Yesterday it helped me write more than 6,500 words to catch up with my NaNoWriMo novel. Now I'm ahead.

If you're behind and want to make up for lost time, you should try this. But only try it if you also want to have a life in the process. You know, like take a walk around the neighborhood, go out for lunch, spend time with the kids, watch your favorite shows, take a nap, or go to a dinner party with friends. If you want to do all that and write 6,500 in a day, then keep reading.

So, that list of activities above... I did that on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. I did that and, yes, wrote more than 6,500 words. It was a methodical effort on my part that started in the morning when I set a goal: I will catch up with my word count and write 6,500 words today.

My plan was simple. I numbered a piece of paper from 1-20. I also put that goal: 6,500 on the top of the page. Then I set my WriteMonkey timer to 10 minutes and typed words as fast as my fingers could fly. That first 10 minutes netted me only about 200 words. 

No biggie. I helped the kids get out the door, walked them to the bus stop, waved goodbye, then returned to my computer for Round 2. That second 10 minutes got me about 350 words. I paused, had a cup of coffee. I helped my wife make a batch of scones. Then Round 3. I was flying. I hit more than 600 words. Each time I wrote my word count on the paper next to the numbers 1, 2, 3.

After each 10-minute freewrite/speedwrite session, I took a break. I took a nap. Woke up for another session: 400 words. Read the newspaper; then 450 words. Ate lunch with my wife and watched an episode of Lie To Me; then, 400 more words.

Eventually, the kids came home. We watched some Military Channel show; then 390 words. We watched two episodes of Deadliest Warrior. After each episode, I squeezed in another 10-minute session: 425 words, 400 words.

I think you get the picture. By midnight, my last 10-minute session put me over the top. Ten minutes at a time, I wrote 6,751 words and still had fun with the family, attended a dinner party with friends, etc.

So, if you've never tried it, give it a shot. It worked for me. Let me know how it goes. Oh, an important rule. During those 10 minutes you write as fast as you can without editing, without stopping. Just write. Don't even worry if the right words don't come out. Just write.

Have fun!

Friday, November 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo: 6,500 Words Behind...No Problemo. I Have A Writing Plan

I'll make this short and sweet 'cause I got things to do: I'm behind. To be more specific, I'm 6,500 words behind in my NaNoWriMo novel.

My plan is simple. More on that later. Since I kinda feel like I just got busted playing with matches or passing notes in class, I figure I should throw out a few excuses for my per-dicament (I mean predicament).

I was busy. I was tired. I was distracted by something on the wall. I was watching the news and my brain exploded (It takes awhile to regenerate gray matter - or is it grey matter?).

Ok, Ok, truth is I just didn't feel like writing. It happens. Then I went to the Library of Congress yesterday, and I was re-inspired. So, hooray!

Now as for my plan, I have given this quite a bit of thought. If you are currently 6,000 words behind, 20,000 words behind, then check this out. Here is a step-by-step, failure-proof, no-brainer plan to catching up. Ready? Here it is:

I'm gonna write. End of tip.

Fine, I hear the sighs from here. But catching up is that simple. I'm putting my head down, stretching my fingers, setting a timer, and telling everyone around me to leave me alone (I'll try to be nice about it.), and then I'm just gonna write words. I guess if you have to put a label on it, you can call it freewriting or speedwriting. Whatever. 

Important note: the "no-brainer" part is important. When you're behind you can't get too picky. Don't worry about pretty words or the right words. When you're behind, you need to turn your over-critical, judgemental brain off and settle for any words.

So, let's get to it. Set a goal to just write any words. Tell that inner critic in your head to shut up. Just write. Just write. Just write.

I'll be writing and plan to catch up today, but first I have to get the kids on the bus. I'll update all with my progress. Are you behind? What's your plan to catch up?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Visiting The Library Of Congress For Inspiration

It was an inspirational day for me. Sometimes as writers we may need to recharge our batteries. That's what today was all about for me. I spent the first half of the day at the Library of Congress. Let me just say you need more time in that place!

I'm in that middle act of my NaNoWriMo novel, and it's getting shaky. So today's trip was designed to inspire and get me back on track.

If you've never gone, make it one of your destinations when you visit Washington, DC. Checking out Thomas Jefferson's personal library collection was wicked cool. He possessed more than 6,000 books! Many of the ones I saw were ones he actually used. When you think about it. You're inches away from books that Thomas Jefferson held and read.

Then there were all the statues, paintings, inscriptions everywhere! The reading rooms were amazing.
It was a great use of time. I will reap the benefits in my next writing session. Just gotta get the kids to bed first. So, if you're floundering in your writing project, find something that will inspire. Then, go do it, and come back to your writing.

Reality Sets In

Do you remember having those wonderful dreams where you get everything you've ever hoped for? Yeah... then reality smacks you in the face.

I'm busy cranking out my NaNoWriMo novel. I'm at about 25,000 words, so... not like I'm too far behind. But, other stuff has got me stressed. In a nutshell... My dad's in the hospital. My kids are going through stuff. Parents will understand. I'm forced to have that talk w/ one of my kids. You know.. the birds and the bees talk. Think I'm gonna puke....

Then there's my novel. I have neglected my first book in the Mall Demons Series. Gotta finish. But trying to bring a novel to market is stressful. Right now, I'm trying to finalize book cover art. Other considerations????? There's the cost for ISBN numbers and bar codes. Winning the lottery for at least $500 would be so sweet right now.

That's not gonna happen, so... (fyi... not sure what comes next.).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sigh...Day 12 of NaNoWriMo... I'm Feeling Lazy

So... anyone else tired of their novel? Maybe it's just me. But 12 days ago I thought I had the next best awesome novel. Now... I feel I have the next best this bites novel. OK. Maybe it's just me.

I'm plugging away, but, I've hit a wall. It's the Week Two Wall that I knew would eventually appear. I had to resort to two sessions of free-writing to deal with last night. I'll have to do it again tonight.

For now... I'm procrastinating. It's Friday!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day Eight Of NaNoWriMo: Life Happens

All those days of trying to get ahead on my word count helped because now I'm under the gun. As we enter Week Two of National Novel Writing Month, many of us are starting to feel the pressure of trying to write a novel in 30 days A-N-D keep our lives from spiraling out of control.

What's happening for me?

I was battling some sort of stomach bug all last week. Slowed me down, but I kept plugging away.
Now my wife has it this week.

The school (without consulting me, of course) scheduled two days off this week, so the kids have been at home. There is no place to hide from them! They are everywhere! They know how to pick the lock in the bathroom! I'm not letting them watch McGyver anymore!

So... needless to say, I am about 1,600 words behind. No worries. I knew something would happen during Week Two. Now I've just got to ride it out. If that means I stay up an extra hour tonight and wake up an hour earlier, then that's what I'll do.

How's your NaNoWriMo experience?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day Three Of NaNoWriMo: Charging Ahead?

There's about 30 minutes left of Day Three for me. By the end of the night, I will surpass 10,000 words. That makes me feel so good, I'm taking the final 30 minutes off of Day Three.

Now before you send comments my way like, "You suck! I'm at 500 words and my main character has a stutter!" Listen to this:

Last year was the first year I finished NaNoWriMo after trying three times before and failing miserably. This is my fifth time doing the competition. I am using all my past failures to show me how to succeed for the second straight year.

There are many things I'm doing this year that are different from the first three years. I've written a few blog entries already highlighting some of the strategies I'm using to increase my chances of success. Here's another:

Write even when I don't feel like it or when the words won't come out.

Sometimes the words do not want to come out easily. Let me rephrase: Sometimes the "right" words don't want to come out easily. I get frustrated because what I'm typing is bad. This is NaNoWriMo. It's all about quantity, not quality. Stop thinking so much. Let go. Just write. If the "right" words don't want to come out, then just "write" words - right ones or wrong ones. If writing "any" words, whatever comes to mind in your stream of consciousness is too loose, then write someone else's words for a bit.

I have two works with me as I write. When I'm stuck, I open up one of those works and simply type a few lines until these "borrowed" words prime my pump and "my" words take over. For the record, my borrowed words this time around are coming from Milton's "Paradise Lost," and C.S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters."

If you're stuck, give it a shot. At least you will be typing out words for your count. Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day Two Of NaNoWriMo

So far so good. Next week one of my entries may start with an "Oh, no! I'm behind!" But today is not that time. As of this posting, I have nearly 4,300 words written on my way to 50,000 by Nov. 30. Not too shabby.

If you're measuring by daily goal, I'm ahead. In case you want to pace yourself, here is NaNoWriMo's breakdown of daily word count goals. It is a good starting point for finishing exactly on the last day, Nov. 30. Some may want to sprint ahead. I'm trying to at least semi-sprint ahead. I am hoping to get to at least 5,000 before the day is out. 

Here's a word count guide:
Day 1 - 1,667                   Day 16 - 26,672
Day 2 - 3,334                   Day 17 - 28,339
Day 3 - 5,001                   Day 18 - 30,006
Day 4 - 6,668                   Day 19 - 31,673
Day 5 - 8,335                   Day 20 - 33,340
Day 6 - 10,002                 Day 21 - 35,007
Day 7 - 11,669                 Day 22 - 36,674
Day 8 - 13,336                 Day 23 - 38,341
Day 9 - 15,003                 Day 24 - 40,008
Day 10 - 16,670               Day 25 - 41,675
Day 11 - 18,337               Day 26 - 43,342
Day 12 - 20,004               Day 27 - 45, 009
Day 13 - 21,671               Day 28 - 46,676
Day 14 - 23,338               Day 29 - 48,343
Day 15 - 25,005               Day 30 - 50,000

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day One

I'm in the middle of Day One of National Novel Writing Month. Although I was struck with illness hours before the competition started, I have managed to burst out of the gate with 1,781 words. 

Not too shabby.

The goal is to write at least 1,667 words a day. Do that for 30 days and it's party time which will include not touching a keyboard for at least a few days.

Before today is over, I'm actually hoping to reach 3,500. Why you ask? Because if you get the chance to run ahead during the month, then do it. All the excitement of Week One will eventually give way to the apathy of Week Two once writing your novel begins to resemble hard work. Trust me. I know.

So get ahead to weather Week Two. We'll deal with Week Three later.

Tactic Tip: Have one of your characters walk around with a book that he/she quotes from or refers to periodically.

This is a sneaky way of padding your word count. Extra bonus points for you if you're able to make it relevant to your plot. My protagonist has already employed this technique in Chapter One. He's reading John Milton's "Paradise Lost." It works for me because I am using Milton's work as a reference for my own. If I go crazy and over-quote, I can always cut that stuff out later, but not until after Nov. 30.

It's win-win. I meet word count and conduct valuable research pertinent to my story.

That's Day One so far...

How's your first day going?

Pedro Is Still Writing

It's late at night... I am watching the news... I'm drinking a beer. I'm about to make a huge transition in life. In about t...