NaNoWriMo 2014 Preparations

Yes, I’m going to do it again. I’m going to be crazy enough to write 50,000 words (or more!) in 30 days. On top of that, my work schedule is more hectic. I’m full-time now, training five days a week starting very soon. Luckily, I’ll have a month to get myself in a habit of writing daily again, and probably more on my days off. Unless things change, those’ll be Tuesdays and Saturdays, which are good for me. It means I’ll have a day I can spend with Jason when he does have a day off, and a day which I can devote to long bursts of writing. Plus my schedule will now be set, which means I can get up and write before work, knowing exactly when I’ll be working. This is what I wanted, a stable schedule in order to have more regular time to write.

I still have no idea what I’m going to write, though. I haven’t even edited last year’s novel. It desperately needs it, honestly, but I’m not going to ‘cheat’ and use NaNo 2014 for that. It’s going to be all writing, something new. Maybe I’ll finally get to writing Thirty-Three Days into something real, or maybe I’ll start the second part of the novel which I started last year for NaNo. Or maybe I’ll rewrite the concept I started last October. I really, really enjoyed the concept, it just became really disjointed, and I think I can take the ideas and write them more concretely now that I’ve had some time to think on it.

Of course that brings me to the dilemma of what to do in October.

I don’t want to run the risk of basically writing all my ideas for NaNo 2014 in October, but I really need to get into a writing habit again, since it’s been a long time for me. I love writing, and I feel like I’m happier and healthier when I’m writing, but after a year almost of not writing I know I need to get back into the habit. I also need to learn how to work it into my daily/weekly schedule. I suppose I can use the month to work through a backlog of writing prompts, and that will help me get into the habit of writing both for a word-count and on a regular schedule. Both will be good for me.

I found myself wanting to read through some of last year’s novel, and I noticed something interesting. I didn’t remember a lot of it. I don’t know what that means, really, but there were a lot of details I didn’t remember whatsoever. I guess that says two things: first, that I really need to sit and read the story so I can edit it, and that a lot of that story came to me in flashes of pure inspiration, but didn’t stick with me. Is that a good thing? Maybe not. If it wasn’t memorable to me maybe it wasn’t memorable at all. Though realistically, it’s a rough draft. It’s a first draft, and by no means a finished novel. It needs a lot of work before it’s a finished novel. I haven’t even considered really publishing it somehow. I think it has the bones of a series, but that requires work I haven’t been able to put into it yet. Yet.

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Camp NaNoWriMo & NaPoWriMo

As you might remember, I participated in NaNoWriMo last year, for the third time, and for the first time I won. I ended up writing over 64k words, when the goal was 50k, and I’m pretty impressed with myself in that regard. I have a completed rough draft of a novel that needs some serious editing, but it’s a completed rough draft and that’s big for me.

The people who run NaNoWriMo also do Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. It’s a more flexible version of the original NaNoWriMo, but based on the same idea: set a goal for the month, and work your ass off to reach that goal. I wasn’t sure I would participate in this, but I think NaNoWriMo was so good for me as a writer that I’d be foolish not to do Camp as well.

I first thought I might use Camp to do my first edits on the existing novel, which I really need to do and not let it sit and be forgotten. But then I thought maybe I could do another novel that’s been rattling around in my brain for a bit.

Thirty Three Days

The asteroid some had predicted would hit the Earth is on a collision course with the planet, and all estimates said there is only a month’s time before it hits. Even if it doesn’t obliterate the planet, life will certainly change.

What would you do, if you knew you had only thirty-three days to live?

The idea for that one came from a writing prompt several years ago, and I thought it might be a nifty novel idea. Maybe a group of short stories. I’m not sure. Short stories seems a little more doable, really, now that I’m thinking about it.

Anyway.

I then was reminded that NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) is also in April, and that led to a renewed wish to put together and publish a collection of poetry. So I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write poetry. I don’t know how much poetry it’ll take to feel like I’ve really accomplished something, especially since I tend to write shorter pieces. I only wrote a total of 5800 words in 2013 (not including NaNo!), though I did write 14k+ in 2012. I’ve settled on 15k words, so I may have to write 6-10 pieces a day in order to get 15k done in one month, but that could be doable, even if they’re crap.

So, Camp NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo are a go! Even if I get that promotion I’ve been teased with for four months, I should still be able to manage it. And if I don’t at least I will have tried.

30 Days of Writing

So my friend Xiane posted on Facebook that she wants to join in the 30 Days of Writing found here, and I thought I might use it to push myself to get back to writing regularly. But when I started looking at the rules, I found myself rather turned off, especially by the requirement to write first thing in the morning. I don’t have a regular schedule of any sort. I don’t even work the same days every week, much less the same time. Sometimes my ‘first thing in the morning’ is already 3am. I’m certainly not going to wake up an hour or two earlier (making it 1am!) just to adhere to some strangers idea of ‘the right way to be a writer’. And before you say it, no, I’m not going to go to sleep at 6pm or earlier so I can wake up early to follow someone else’s rules of writing.

“You need to write first thing in the morning. Period. Your true life depends on it. If you must get up earlier to do this, then get up earlier. I know I have to.”

Screw that. Screw her. She’s a little too judgmental for my tastes, making broad assumptions about those reading her articles. I agree that for me personally, I need to write, but I don’t agree that I have to completely change my life and make myself miserable to write. Perhaps for her it works, but she is not me, and I don’t think she should be informing other people what works for them.

I work best with framework, I know that. But I don’t work well with rigid rules. Structure, not absolutes. So I’m going to take her basic idea, that writing every day is a goal, and I’m going to make my own plan.

She says: “I don’t fucking care what else you have to do.”
I say: Some things take precedence, like sleep. And work. I don’t get paid for my writing. We need to pay bills. Work and sleep will take priority over writing.

She says: “Writing time: 1-3 hours.”
I say: Setting a time limit is stupid. I can sit in front of the laptop for an hour and not write a damn thing. I like word count goals. I discovered that when I was writing my novel for NaNoWriMo, I could write around 800-1000 words an hour. If I’m writing poetry, certainly, I’m not going to write that much, but for novel/short story writing, or blogging, I can certainly shoot for 1000 words a day and be pretty happy. And more often than not, I’ll exceed that.

She says: “It has to be first thing in the morning.”
I say: Screw you. I bet you don’t have to be up at 3am some mornings to work a very physical job. I will write when I can. If that’s late at night, then that’s when I will write. I already know that I don’t do well with the ‘morning pages’ concept from The Writer’s Way, at least not at this point in my life. Screw you for assuming you know what works in my life.

She says: “The only thing you’re allowed to do BEFORE you “sit at your typewriter and bleed” is your physical morning routine: drink water, poo, go for a walk, exercise, shower, have your tea, coffee, breakfast, whatever your body needs to function.” and “What you can’t do: Don’t check your email or social media, don’t make or answer phone calls, don’t engage in any conversation beyond a sweet good-morning to your life companion/s.”
I say: This makes sense, but again, it depends on the day and my schedule. Some mornings it’s not feasible for me to write before engaging in conversation because I’m at work at 3am, or my husband and I have plans. I woner if she’d be a happier person (assuming her tone in her articles is indicative of her attitude) if she didn’t take such a rigid stance with her own writing time.

She says: “It can be ANY type of writing, but it has to give you pleasure.”
I say: Finally something I can agree with. Telling me to spend 1, 2, 3 hours writing poetry every day is the surest way to make me not want to write a damn thing. Same goes for blogging, writing short stories, writing anything at all. I love writing, and it has shown probably all my life. I do best when I don’t limit myself to any particular type of writing, and just write what I’m inspired to write.

She says: “Stay in touch via social media / email / etc.”
I say: I don’t know that this is necessarily important, but it certainly does help a writer feel like part of a community of sorts. I do post about my progress when I’m writing, and I enjoy seeing other people talk about their writing. I don’t think it should be about accountability, though, because I don’t think I have to be accountable to anyone but myself.

So I’m going to take on the challenge of writing every day in March. I may not write every day, and that’s okay. I probably won’t write first thing in the morning, and I may not write for an hour on the days that I do write. I won’t always write before I check email/social media/play stupid online games/talk to my husband. I will, however, write. I will try to write every day, but I won’t adhere to someone else’s idea of the right way, because what’s right for her isn’t right for everyone, just like what’s right for me isn’t right for everyone.

NaNo-Crazy

So there’s something I don’t quite understand about some people participating in NaNoWriMo. I was perusing the forums idly while trying to decide what I’m going to write about next month, and came across the “How do you prepare for NaNo?” thread. It sounded interesting, so I began reading through it, and I was honestly a little appalled at some of the responses, and more than slightly confused.

I am not a particularly fast writer, but I timed myself the other day, and I wrote around 800 words in about 40 minutes. Which means on average, I can write 1000 words an hour. So if I just write two hours a day, I have plenty of time to write my novel. Even if it takes me longer once in a while, there’s still plenty of time. What really gets me is the people who have basically said they won’t be doing housework, cooking, homework, and basically will avoid doing anything except writing for the whole month. People who are preparing a month’s worth of meals, and bribing their children to leave them alone, and telling friends and family not to expect to see them for the month.

I work. I work part time, granted, but on days that I do work I am usually there between 6 and 8 hours. Even when I work a full 8 hours, there are still plenty of hours in the day for me to get some writing done, and cook a meal for myself and my husband, and do a load of laundry or wash dishes or take the trash out. If I’m not working a particular day, I have plenty of time to write, and go take a walk, and go get a cup of coffee if I want to. I can visit friends. I can spend time doing other things – for me that’s probably knitting and spinning. I cannot imagine a reason that someone would have to swear off all interaction with the people around them, or why they would have to plan to eat nothing but ramen noodles and candy and soda. That doesn’t seem at all healthy to me. I also don’t understand the ‘I’m going to use paper plates/plastic cups’ mentality either. Talk about being wasteful. Wash a plate or a cup. Getting away from your computer screen or notebook for 10 minutes won’t kill you.

I guess maybe I’m just not as fanatical about it, or maybe I’m a faster writer than I think, but it doesn’t seem like it’d be too difficult to keep a normal life while working on your NaNo novel. I competed in nerd wars and wrote over 15k words so far this month, and I wasn’t even trying for super high word count. Maybe it’s harder than it seems, but I just don’t really get the need to become that much of a hermit.