Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On Writing for Oneself

Ran out of gas for this year's Nano. The fact is, it wasn't much fun this time around. I think it stemmed from being too organized and too prepared for the event. Like it or not, I do my best writing with very few notes. A detailed outline seems to drain every drop of excitement from a project.

Nano's supposed to be a fun challenge: write the most words possible and quality be damned. In the beginning it was thus, but then the spectre of publication reared its ugly head. Intellectually, I knew that my Nano work was not destined for anything but self-publication. I knew it and wanted it that way. But then 'what-ifs' started popping up: "Nah, I don't care about paid publication, but what if it happens? Others have been discovered. . .even through Nano.", etc. etc.

The rationalizations got more pathetic, desperate and insistent as November progressed. I was dutifully following my prescribed outline and my 'what-if' voices were having a field day. All the while my conscious mind was rebelling against all of this. What happened to all the fun Nano used to be?

In the end, I had to give up this year's effort to shut the voices up. Once again I've learned what I already knew: I really only want to write for myself and I don't like detailed outlines. But after reading some nifty books about how much easier writing is by outlining everything in advance, I got carried away and started practically projecting a whole writing career, for kripes sake. That way lay madness.

So once again I've run smack into my contradictions and limitations concerning writing. And once again, the verdict is: write for yourself and have fun.

And I'll be doing Nano again next year. Hopefully without  all those lousy voices.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Pope Drowns!

After a suitable period of reflection, I've decided to drop out of this year's festivities. I've won Nano in the past, but I no longer see the point of producing crap just to attain some arbitrary word count. I suppose Nano is great for those people having trouble getting words on the page. I don't have that difficulty. Getting interesting words on paper, now, that's my whole problem. Nano can't help me there.

I've enjoyed Nano immensely and totally support the concept, but it's time for me to move on. I'm still writing and will use the blog to talk about that when the Nano dust settles.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week One : Fire and Ice

First couple of days I blazed a way up to 6,000 words or so. That was the fire. Then I missed a day. My word count looked to be in mortal danger, with the game barely started. Now I'm back on course punching words out with cool confidence. Ice.

I'm still behind. . .just for today. The Ice Man Cometh.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Pope's in the Pool!

November, at last! Started writing at 12:01 a.m. For about 15 minutes. Just to get my feets wet. My quota's still not done for the day, but that's normal for me. I'm almost always behind. That's why I gotta get off this computer--and get ahead.

. . .to be continued.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Launch Countdown

Final Nanowrimo systems check.

Outline: GO
Typewriter ribbon: GO
Nanofood cache : GO
Word count widget: GO
Forum filter:GO
Family prep: GO
AlphaSmart Neo backup: GO

All systems go, Flight.
Copy on that. You are go for Nanowrimo liftoff. Now at T-minus 09 hours 23 minutes and counting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Return of the Nano Beard

Nanowrimo is a perfect time to ditch time wasters. Furious literary creation demands total concentration. Excess netsurfing must go. Needless phone calls, too. And those pesky personal interactions with those you live with, ditto.

Likewise the biggest time-waster of all: shaving! In the time it takes one to shave, you can write a page or more. One lost page a day, it adds up. I don't know about you, but I need all the words I can get. Less time wasted shaving means more time cranking out my novel. And at the end of the month, I'll not only have a new novel, but a new beard. Talk about efficiency!

So, the Nano Beard shall return. Starting today. Starting now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Base of Operations

Heres' my humble writing space from which this year's masterpiece shall spring forth. Spend most of my time in this room. If I'm not writing or reading here, I'm playing the piano. There's even a synthesizer (out of frame), so I can play piano at night.

But not in November.

For that month I'll be here every day and night, battling with both Muses (music and litrachure). There'll be no piano playing at night, however. The only keyboard I'll be touching in the wee hours is my AlphaSmart Neo. Normally, I use the Neo to enter typewritten text into the computer. But if my word count takes a dive, the silent Neo will come in handy. I doubt if my wife would approve of music from my typewriter at 2 a.m.

There's also enough space in this room so I could move in fridge and a hotplate, lock the door and thus be hermetically sealed off from the workaday world during the entire month of November.

But I'm not going to do that. My wife wouldn't like it. We Nano artistes are so misunderstood!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Planning Update

Yes, I am outlining this year's opus. Which doesn't mean I'll win. Outlined last year and reached just 6,000 words before throwing in the towel. Don't think outlining had much to do with it, though. There were other issues...

So. Here we go again. Since I began my writing hobby with a completed 3-Day Novel some 25 years ago, I've always been a seat-of-the-pants (SOTP) writer. Won Nano the first time I tried. And all the Nanos I've won were SOTP. Every one I lost, I lost with an outline. Was it me, or the outline? I had to find out.

To answer that question, I began collecting books on outlining. Here's my short list:
The Marshal Plan
First Draft in 30 Days
The Snowflake Method
From First Draft to Finished Novel
Write Away
One Way to Write Your Novel
The Weekend Novelist
The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery
Save The Cat!
Save The Cat Goes to the Movies
20 Master Plots
Plot and Structure
Write a Movie in 30 Days
Syd Field...

You get the idea.

After all that reading and practice, I still feel ambivalent about outlining. Many say it is more efficient knowing where your story's going. Granted. But sometimes I just want to throw stuff against the wall and see what happens. However, I want to exploit outlining to the maximum before dropping what could be a useful tool. And this year I want to win, and have a decent story to show for it--or at least a decent start.

So I'm outlining. Big time. I'm using elements from the following methods: Snowflake, Save The Cat!, First Draft in 30 Days and Master Plots. Found a way to tweak yWriter5 to accomodate the different styles in the same project.

Here's how it's working out. I've done the basic Snowflake summaries, character bios, a couple dozen scenes blocked out like in 30 Days, and I'll finish with "the beats" in Save The Cat. Sounds like a lot of work, but I'm truly enjoying myself.

Let's hope the fun continues when it comes time to actually write the book.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Prelude to Madness

A new NaNoWriMo season is upon us, with a new blog inflicted on the public. Mercifully, this humble journal will last but as long as the fleeting month of November, like a fragile butterfly taking wing...toward oblivion. Or something like that.

Preparations are in full swing as I try desperately to make sense of the Liquid Story Binder software so's I can use it to plot this year's magnum opus: Operation Paradise. The actual writing is to be done on my Olympia SM3 typewriter. Yes, a manual typewriter. Just to add to the stress, the angst...the fun!


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