NaNoWriMo: Take two

All right. Dusting off this old blog again. (Who even still READS this? *curious*)

So last year I made it about a week before I flamed out. I was disappointed to leave the game so early, but in retrospect that was actually not so bad. I’d have loved to have finished, of course, but at least I got a good taste of Nano and a nice (if small) chunk of writing to show for it.

This year I’m a lot less prepared — I only remembered Nanowrimo was encroaching a few days ago — and therefore my mind is all a-jumble with the various ideas I’ve got spinning in this headspace. I’ve got an idea in the works, which I’ve been tossing around in my brain for the better part of the last five years. (I know! Five years! That’s a lot of procrastination, but in case you didn’t know, I am the master of that.) It’s one of those ideas that made me and my love of flippancy a little uncomfortable with its earnest spirit. Plus, I was maybe-sorta “saving” the idea for later, for when I became a better writer and could do it better justice. (It occurs to me that this may be yet another excuse to procrastinate so I wouldn’t have to write it, while feeling okay about writing it because hey, at least my reasons were good!) I suppose this is the point where I bitchslap that flinching ego of mine and tell it to grow a pair and just do it.

Last year I was super-prepared with outlines and color-coded folders with notes and character bios and relationship charts, and I faded in the first week. So maybe this year the lack of preparation might work to my benefit. Well, I can hope.

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Uh, where’d November go?

Clearly I have been remiss. I’ve actually been writing since my last post, but I haven’t been keeping up with my Nanometer, and now ’tis all over. It’s okay, though, because Nano has been a good kick in the pants, if not an end in and of itself. Getting into the habit of daily writing (or, in the absence thereof, at least daily guilt — guilt hopefully leading to writing) is a good enough result for me.

As for the Nanobook that wasn’t, I got a little farther in the plot before another idea started beckoning to me. I was good in November at ignoring all distractionary (it’s a word if I MAKE it a word) writing projects, which I was assured was the right thing to do by Meg Cabot in her Nano email. You know, the email about the plastic crate full of abandoned projects that got left for newer, shinier projects, only to remain moldering and unfinished for years to come?

Anyway, am trying to convince myself that it’s not cheating to skip projects since Nanowrimo month is over. Faulty logic, I haz it. It’s hard though, because the Nano project is a low-concept sort of mainstream fiction piece, while the other project is a high-concept sci-fi-y megalith of an idea with tons of characters and an intricate backbone of intertwining storylines and political machinations. Who wants to do simple, lighthearted fiction when one can be lost in the thrill of worldbuilding instead?

Has anyone ever had success juggling two projects at once? Or is this a case of “Just pick one and stick with it”?

Day 9

NaNoWriMo Days 5-9. Last year I thought about joining in Nano about a week in, but got defeatist, thinking, “Eh, I missed a quarter of the time, there’s no way I can do it.” I should have just done it (aside from the whole not-really-having-much-of-an-idea issue) because I missed a chunk of this first week but goshdarnitgollygeewhiz I’m gonna stick it out and get to 50,000 if it kills me. That last caveat worries me.

So this week sucked — you know, just one of those work-drowned, everything-irritates, cranky weeks. I picked up an extra project for work and I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, and then somehow manage to pull it out at the last minute. It’s a gift? Then again, probably also a curse, since the last-minute tearing of hair and panicking would be greatly reduced if time management were I skill I chose to cultivate. I don’t. Not because it’s not a worthwhile skill to know, but because I’ve never managed to find the time to figure it out. Catch-22, you are caught. And sometimes I have this crazy desire to just go into The Other Blog and just blitz it to nothingness, bye-bye, *poof*, such is my frustration. I don’t think I actually would, but some days, I’m mighty tempted. Grr. Arg.

On the upside, I’m making a Nano comeback! Or, I’d better be. I got a bunch of outlining down yesterday for some of the later developments of the story, and I’m sure the outliners out there can agree that a little extra time working on solidifying an outline beats a mindless 5,000 word count. Of course, I’d still like that 5,000 word count. But thanks be that I’m not a strict outliner, or it’d take me all of Nano Month to get everything nailed down where it needs to be.

Now, I’ve just got to finish the Work Beast so I can get down to the Nano Beast.

Day 4

NaNoWriMo Day 4.

twittercatFunny enough, I guess I have to blame Nano’s super-slow web servers for getting an extra burst of writing done last night.

Was feeling tired and unwriterly, and decided I’d close up the ol’ Word doc for the night and start fresh in the morning. Tried to log onto the site to update the word count, but of course the site was down. (Who wants to bet that at this time next week, the site will be blazing fast and smooth sailing?) A maintenance notice indicated that the site would only be down for about thirty minutes, I figured I would wait till it was back up and kept the Word doc open to kill the time, which forced out an additional few hundred words in the hour it was down. Go technical difficulties!

I don’t think I’m going to get any work done once the voting starts closing on the East Coast and the numbers start rolling in — it’ll creep along a a painfully slow crawl for the rest of the night, but I’m gonna be hooked to every damn minute of it. (Right now, the election coverage is mind-numbingly idiotic. They have nothing to say yet, so they’re saying it LOUD and REPEATEDLY in the hopes that you won’t notice how lame their coverage is.) So will try to get a teeny bit of writing done today, although maybe it’s too much to hope that my brain will be able to focus at all. On anything other than the election, that is.

Day 3

NaNoWriMo Day 3. Um, so scratch that whole socializing = work theory. Day 2 was not a great day for the word count meter, and taught me a new lesson: javabeans is physically incapable of napping. She is physically capable of sleeping the whole night through, but not short, efficient cat-napping.

Well, it’s an old lesson I really ought to have learned by now — nearly a decade of convincing myself I’ll “only take a forty-minute nap” has yielded failure after failure, and yet I refuse to learn. Every time I yawn and look at the clock and think, “a short nap’ll do the trick.” And then I wake up six hours later, feeling refreshed but also very disappointed in self.

I did manage to write a couple hundred words, but they were mostly rearrangements of previously written snippets so I’m not counting them. By the way, this logistics of accurately calculating this whole word count thing is giving me a headache. How do y’all do it? I know it ought to be easy if you’re just writing start to finish, first to last, since you can just do a total word tally and figure out how many new ones have spawned since the last count. (Wouldn’t it be groovy if they all got down and bizzy and reproduced amongst themselves, like rabbits?) But I write out of order — I’ll think of a great bit for a later chapter, and I don’t want to lose it, so I’ll write it immediately. So when time comes to include that bit, I want to be accurate and not count it twice, if it’s been counted in a previous day.

Right now I’ve got a folder full of drafts, and have tried divvying them out to a new Word file a day to keep the word count straight. I am convinced there must be a better way.

I know, I make things more difficult than they need to be. And it’s only Day 3! I’m hoping to crank out a whole mess of words today (and “whole mess” may just be what I get) because I foresee being useless tomorrow — I will try to write, but after I vote (who knows how long that’ll take?) I’ll probably spend the entire day glued to cable news and alternating likkers. If it’s a good day, I’ve got wine at the ready, but the freezer’s stocked with vodka to dull the cold, harsh pain of a bad day.

Day 2

NaNoWriMo Day 2. Extending the desert island metaphor, last night was the night the cold reality of island living encroached on the grandiose dreams of building a Swiss Family Robinson-style treetop paradise, when my metaphorical tropical cabana collapsed into a sad mess of twigs and brush. Hey, I ain’t no carpenter. Instead, I had to settle for metaphorical sleeping (er, “writing” — perhaps the only time where sleep = work?) in the open air, underneath some banana leaves for shelter. Kind of like a hobo sleeping under sheaves of newspaper.

But it’s okay, because I’m not writing a Salinger-esque New Great American Novel, and even if I was trying to, the point of Nano isn’t literary perfection so much as it is to just get that first vomit draft out, already.

I’ve edited and critiqued tons of other people’s work, and every time I come across a particularly heinous piece of writing — you’d be amazed at how crappy “professional” writers can be, and just how much the editor can do to improve a problematic writer’s draft — I think, “I could make this so much better in one pass.” But it’s a lot easier for me to edit than it is to fill a blank page, so that is my Nano strategy.

If nothing else, it’s that kind of thinking that helped me put down words in Chapter 1 yesterday. That, and also the fact that I was lazing around (google, snack, procrastinate, procrastinate, blog, google, snack) until a friend called with evening plans. All of a sudden I had a deadline — I agreed to go as long as I finished word count for the day — and bam! A thousand words came spewing out and somehow landed on that page. They even generally made sense!

Today, I’ve also got plans later, and am hoping that motivates me to get the word count down for Day 2, too. Ooh, maybe have stumbled on the secret for writing success! Maybe it is actually writing tool to cultivate MORE of a social life! Maybe will have to go out and enjoy self more, all in the name of work! And productivity!

Then again, not every day is Saturday.

Off to write. (And google, snack, blog, google, google.)

Day 1

NaNoWriMo Day 1. If we were using a desert island analogy, this is the day I crash-land on my desert wonderland (hey, on Day 1 it’s a wonderland), a little jarred out of complacency and at a loss for where to begin. I gather the remnants of the belongings that washed ashore with me (my jumbled mess of notes and outlines) and try to arrange them into a semblance of coherency. Gather sticks of ideas, try to fashion shelter. Everything collapses. Throw up hands in frustration. Try again. Forage for island resources. Try to think optimistically.

Of course, in the real world, that translates into something like:

Morning: Sit at computer. Eagerly open Word file. Wait for inspiration to strike and my genius to be unleashed.

Very soon thereafter that morning: Ooh, need coffee. Gotta go make some.

Thirty seconds later: Hm, coffeepot needs washing. Sink full of dishes could use washing too.

Five minutes later: Mm, coffeeee. I wonder where this came from. What exactly is an “arabica”? Must google.

Thirty minutes later: Oops, should get back to work.

Thirty seconds later: Dum. Dee. Doo. Novel novel novel. Write write write. Why is page so white? Mocking me with its emptiness, the blinking cursor taunting, like an annoying older sibling hits you in the face with your own hand: Why aren’t you writing yourself? Why aren’t you writing yourself? Why aren’t you writing yourself?

Five minutes later: Whoa, where did the last five minutes go?

Five minutes later: Maybe I should blog first. To get the juices going, y’know.

Thirty minutes later: Dude, I could have written a page in this time. WILL NOT PROCRASTINATE (any more). Ooh, cookies.