Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

10 Days?

Holy crap, when did it get to be Spring? Spring means we’re two-thirds of the way through March, which means that there are ten days left in the month for me to prepare for…

Script Frenzy! One month, 100 pages of script, piece of cake. Really, I’m not worried at all, though I wish I was further along in my plotting. At this point, I have the general idea (the same one I attempted last year), and a solid grasp of what I want to take out of it, and what I feel needs to go in. What I don’t have is a lot of the details, but that part will involve a lot of staring at a blank page, writing down ideas, fleshing them out, realizing that they’re horrible ideas, and starting again. Ten days. No pressure

Last year I really went by the seat of my pants, and stopped when I hit my 100 pages. This year, I hope to be able to throw down a complete six-issue story arc of a graphic novel series. It’s doable with a solid focus, but it’ll probably end up clocking in at around 200 pages. This may not seem like a lot for some people, but for me it’s a pretty intimidating number. I’ll need to get started bright and early on the first day, and probably keep going until dark and late on day thirty.

I’m curious to see how big the community is this year. Last April, there were only maybe two dozen people in Montreal trying the same thing. The forums were quiet (completely dead by about the fifteenth), and there was not one single meet-up. I expect a lot of the faces will be the same ones who try NaNoWriMo in November, but it’s be nice to see what they’ve been up to over the last four months, and if there are fresh faces, that’ll be a bonus.

I have other things I want to finish tonight, so the outlining starts in earnest tomorrow. This is fairly last minute, but it’s an improvement over last year when I hit April 1st with no idea of what I wanted to do.


One Month In

So, it’s February 1st, which puts me at one month in on my resolutions for the year. I’m doing all right, but there’s room for improvement.

As stated last week, I’ve been completely ignoring the weight loss thus far, but that’s in the process of changing. We’ll see how much weigh I can drop in February, but I’m hoping for 12-15. The first bit is always easier, it’s keeping it up that’s always been difficult.

For the blogging, I consider it a complete success. I posted on this blog every day for the month, except for the one day that I blanked it out in anti-SOPA protest. Now I just have to keep it up for another 335 days and it’ll be done.

For the one million words, I had a lot of problems keeping pace. Or rather, I got a very late start and had a difficult time catching up. I finished the month with around 52,000 words, which is about sixty percent of where I want to be. Work madness cost me about five thousand words, the late start cost me several as well, and taking breaks for other things slowed me down. I’m optimistic that February will see a dramatic increase in my daily average, and I’m hoping that I can keep par and catch up by a few thousand as well. Finishing the month so close to fifty thousand (the target for NaNoWriMo) makes me afraid that that’s close to my natural limit, but I need to see if I can push it. What I’m hoping is not only that I’ll get better at finding the little bits of time for writing, but that the intense goal will give me the impetus to write more words during that time. If I can get better at using the bits of my brain that turn thoughts into words on the page, then I can boost my words per minute, which will make the rest fall together more easily.

The cafeteria at work has all but been expunged from my routine. In the course of the month (granted, I took one week off), I only had lunch at work once, and that was a brain fart on my part where I’d prepared a lunch but left it at home. Doing a bit of math, and I think it’s going to end up saving me a ton of money as well. Between the coffee and the lunches, I was easily spending $10 a day there, and always complaining about the crap they served. Counting about 20 days a month and that’s $200 in my pocket, almost $2500 in a year, which seems like a ridiculous amount of money to be throwing at people who provide only disappointment. It might as well be another tax at that point. A bunch of us also pitched in to get a single-serve coffee maker at work, so between that and the diligence of bringing in my own food, there’s no reason to go back to eating crap just because it plays itself as being the only option.

As for staying home yesterday with a sick kid, I still have mild sniffles and a bit of a sore throat, but it’s not getting worse. Either I have reason to be optimistic and it’s only going to be a mild cold, or it’s trying to make me complacent so it can kill me by surprise. Time will tell.


The Word-Marathon Continues

As predicted, the week away from work has been a boon to my word count for the year, although I should note that easily two-thirds of my writing has been done in the late evening (with the exception of today, where I got just about everything written while the sun was still up). If I can find a way to pump out a few hundred words early in the morning, or during my lunch breaks, I shouldn’t see my output drop significantly when I go back to work next Monday. Getting this much done also means I can go play board games tonight relatively guilt-free, which helps keep me sane in lots of ways.

For the word count, I’m still behind pace, but have managed to catch up by a fair bit over the past five days. Sunday night I was at 10,000 words, and as of this writing, I’m at 25278 words, for a total of 15278 in five days. Not shabby at all, and about 250 per day ahead of the daily pace of roughly 2700. At this rate, I’m already ahead of Nanowrimo pace for January, and Nano definitely stands as the most I’ve ever managed in a month, at roughly 50,000. We’ll see where I am on the fifteenth, and it should be very easy for me to double that number before February, given the slow start I had. To be on pace for the year, I’d need to be at roughly 85,000 by Feb 1st, but I’d settle for 70,000 as a new personal monthly best and work my way up from there.

2012 Resolution Progress:
25278/1,000,000 words written (2.53%)
13/13 days blogged (Target: 366/366)


10,000

Today I crossed the threshold of ten thousand words for the year, and it’s taken me eight days to get there, though I’m not done writing for the night.

That’s an average of 1250 words per day, which is slightly below half of where I need to be if I’m going to hit my one million words for the year. Again, I’m not sure why I set the bar so high, given how much difficulty I traditionally have just making my fifty thousand words during November for NaNoWriMo, but there it is. What would be nice would be to actually catch up over the next week so that I’m not behind my word count for the entirety of 2012. It would be very nice to be able to say that I was actually on par at some point, even if it’s at the complete beginning.

I have a week off work, which should help, but it still won’t be easy. I’m definitely going to have to buckle down and be diligent about not only finding time to do some writing, but I’ll also have to be very good about how I use my time. I tend to be a very distracted writer. I’ll write a couple of hundred words, then go off to do something else. It’s how I tend to do most of my tasks, breaking them down into manageable chunks and interleaving several of them together, so that I’m doing bits and pieces of several things and by the time I’m done (hopefully) everything is finished that I wanted to finish.

Usually I try to do non-writing things as palate cleansers for writing activities, but I’m going to need to find a way of getting more writing done while I’m in front of my computer. Games aren’t a big issue, since the only thing I’ve really been playing a lot of recently is Skyrim, and that’s on the PS3 so more is involved in getting that game started than say, virtual farming or some such thing, but I’m very susceptible to spending an hour on the Internet when I only intended to go for five or ten minutes to check email or see what’s popped into my RSS feed.


Evolve Two Review, and F#*&ing Typos

Proof of how quickly time goes by. This review for Evolve Two came out around Halloween, and I meant to post it and comment it, but completely failed. Here’s the post, about two months later than expected. Part of the problem was that I didn’t have access to certain files I wanted to reference, since I was still transitioning from laptop to netbook and I’d only moved over the stuff I needed most at the time. Also, it was NaNoWriMo and November was busy being a hectic month. And then after that it was just easier to not blog than to blog.

So, click the link to the review above, then come back.

The reviewer goes into fairly insightful detail for each short story and part of the reason, though not all of the reason, why my story (Six Underground) doesn’t work for him is because he found a mistake. Here’s a bit of what he has to say (for context: jurors in a deliberation room…):

On page 57 (the first vote), we’re told that the count is “[o]ne guilty, and eleven for acquittal” [...] But then on page 60 (the second vote), we are told that the count is now “nine guilty votes and two in favor of reviewing the evidence.” That’s not a typo; that’s a jarring full stop that completely pulls us out of the story, while we sit back and say, “Wait, what?” since only two characters have changed their vote to guilty.

On a linguistic scale, it might not seem like a very big mistake, but it changed the whole logic of a sentence, which meant that it contradicted “the story so far” and threw him out of the narrative, as I suspect it would for anyone who noticed. What strikes me is how, for the most part, it clearly wasn’t noticed. Others have reviewed the story and not mentioned it, so either they saw it and it didn’t bother them or they read it the way I must have read it, with their brains filling in the details it expected to see regardless of actual words on the page. Sort of a literary equivalent of the McGurk Effect, I suppose.

I’ve had time now to go back through all the drafts of the story, because I wanted to see where the error was introduced. My initial thought was that it was something I’d “fixed” in haste at the last second because I’d noticed it and thought it was wrong (during the edit phase, when the editor got back to me with a couple of things she thought would improve the story, I know I changed a few sentences). Turns out that wasn’t it, this sentence was wrong from the beginning, though it was wrong in a different way. In the first two drafts the line was, “The vote was nine to two in favour of reviewing the evidence.” What’s great about that line is that even though the words were very different, the logic was still completely wrong.

Wait, that’s not great at all…

So… let’s see.  I screwed it up once, and then along the way I must have read it at least two dozen times myself, going so far as to change the sentence to another wrong form. It was wrong the first way through two drafts, and wrong differently through the next four (yes, I revise a lot. Some revisions are big, some are rapid read-throughs for grammar and spelling). My writing group also passed it over, the editor read it at least once, probably more than that, and still this stupid little logical error survived six drafts and into publication.

Un-fucking-real. Bastard little word-cockroaches… you can’t even nuke them…

So now the question is how to stop it from happening again. Ultimately, it’s my fault, because I put those words there, and the only person who should be expected to stop it from happening again is me. But now that has me questioning every single word I put down to paper/screen. I suppose that’s the key – always trying to be a more careful writer. Not to mention a more careful reader, so that these things can be caught before publication. It’s hard to fix things if you can’t find them.

Still. Argh!

 

For the Resolutions: I might start tracking these on a weekly basis. I haven’t decided yet whether I think daily updates clutters up the page for nothing or not.

2012 Resolution Progress:
6121/1,000,000 words written (0.61%)
5/5 days blogged (Target: 366/366)
2/2 Days cafeteria avoidance (No real target)


Happy New Year!

I rang in the New Year as I have for the last ten or so, with a house full of friends and family. It was fun but exhausting. My wife was called away to work all day yesterday so I was left with all the cleaning and food preparation, and she’s at work again today so I’m left with the clean up, though I’m letting the dishwasher do most of the work.

I don’t often make resolutions, but I figured I’d give myself a bit of a kick in the ass this year, so here’s the rundown.

1.) Lose weight: This one is on a lot of people’s lists, but my weight has really gone up over the past two years and I’m at the point where it just doesn’t feel good to be me. I get tired, sore and out of breath and I’m tired of it. My goal is to lose 50 pounds by my birthday (July 22), and to keep those pounds off for the rest of the year.

2.) Cafeteria Independence: The cafeteria in the building where I work used to be amazing. It was almost impossible to go there and not find something that looked really tasty. The quality has gone so far down it’s ridiculous. Now the choice is less about which one of several options you like best, but to mark off options because they all look horrible, so you’re taking the lesser of three or four evils. Recycled soup, leftover sandwich specials finding their way to the panini section three or four days later. Horrible. It looks like they made an effort to reduce cost by reducing quality, but they’re the running gag of the building. So, I will bring my lunch in as much as possible, and will make the greatest effort to bring my own coffee in the morning so they won’t get my money off that either. Controlling what I have for lunch will help with the weight loss as well.

3.) 365 Blog Posts: Well, okay, 366 since it’s a leap year. Basically I want to use this blog every day. Quick hits, long rants, and everything in between, but I want to make sure that I get and stay in the habit of making this my go-to place to speak my mind. So expect much more of my drivel over the coming year, a minimum of one post per day.

4.) One Million Words: I’ve heard it said that you have to write one million words of crap before you start to write well. I want to get those million words out of the way this year. This will be sort of an expanded and extended NaNoWriMo. I’m going to count this blog, short stories, novels, and anything else that falls into the loose definition of creatively putting one word after another. The only thing I don’t know how I’ll handle is edits and revisions. I’ll figure something out, but suggestions are welcome.

And that’s about it. The only one that really worries me is the writing. One million words is a lot. Keeping up that pace for a year is going to hurt, but it will be a good hurt.

For the rest of you out there, may 2012 be what you want it to be.


NaNoReCap

NaNoWriMo is over, and I managed to complete my 50,000 words, though it was a pretty hard drive to the finish. Here’s my stats for the month, as lifted from the site. As you can see, I had a late start, a slow start, and a steep climb at the end.

This one was tough. I went into the month not knowing what I was going to be writing and it slowed me down quite a bit. I learned a long time ago that I’m an outliner, and I was really worried about not having an outline by the end of October. By November 20th I was 13,000 words behind pace and I had to find all kinds of new writing time in order to make it up. I surprised myself by writing several thousand words on my way to and from SFContario. Taking the bus saved me cash, and was more comfortable than expected. Plus it freed me from driving my own car, so I gained about 10 hours of writing time. It wasn’t great progress, but it kept me from falling further behind than I already was. If I had elected to take my car, I would have probably failed to reach my 50,000 words.

That’s part of the point of NaNoWriMo. To rearrange your life so that you find writing time you never thought you had. I struggled through the first three weeks, then I put things on hold and spent as much time as possible writing. I’m not a particularly fast writer, and I’m easily distracted, so it was a question of finding bits of time in which I could write a couple of hundred words, and to try and snatch those snippets of time wherever I could. I spent the last 10 days closing the gap by about 8,000 words, and managed roughly 5500 on November 30th to finish with about 9 minutes to spare.

Honestly, after a really rough summer, I wanted to use Nano as a reason to force myself into writing through the judicious use of  a deadline. I needed to kick myself back into writing, and this allowed me to do it by focusing on an easy target (not that 50,000 words is easy, just that it gives you one single thing to target. X words in a month, X words in a day, X words in a sitting, write write write…) and by surrounding myself with people doing the same thing. Mission accomplished, writing doesn’t feel like the impossible thing it was two or three months ago.

So what did I get out of all this? Mostly, a bunch of words which will need to be killed, but that’s okay. I also reinforced what I already knew about my need to outline. With a partial outline on day five, I found myself needing to start or risk not being able to finish, and I found myself with many new ideas midway through a chapter and writing things which I knew would make me choose later on. I’d write two chapters, both taking the novel in different directions, knowing that one would have to go eventually but not knowing which.  Normally this is the sort of thing I fix while outlining, bouncing ideas around until I have something relatively solid from start to finish. It’s much easier to toss one third of an outline and to rewrite, than to toss one third of a novel and rewrite. Call it laziness, but I think it’s just logical. I do, however, have a good grasp of where this story is going now, so from here on in I should be able to detail the rest of the novel and write it properly.

Another thing I learned is that my netbook ins’t as great as expected. I love the portability and the 8-hour battery life, but the real estate leaves a lot to be desired. I use a large screen at work, and my old laptop had a decent widescreen display, but this netbook only has 10.1 inches diagonally and it doesn’t show very much. Worse is the keyboard. I was worried at the beginning that I’d have issues adjusting to touch-typing on the smaller keyboard layout, but it’s been more of a literal pain. My hands are in a fairly cramped position on the smaller keyboard, and it causes me joint pains and swelling after extended periods of writing. Part of me knows that some of that is increasing age and 25+ years of mousing and keying, but I didn’t have this much pain before I started using the netbook, so I’m starting to think it’s the main culprit. When I eventually replace my deceased laptop, keyboard size will definitely be more of a factor than I’d anticipated. Also, when all I expected to run on my netbook was Scrivener and the occasional browser window, it was fine. Now that I’m using it more and more to replace the functions of my laptop, I’m realizing that 1GB of RAM is pretty damned pitiful. Scrivener plus Chrome was fine. Scrivener plus Chrome with 7-8 tabs open (some websites are worse than others), andLibreOffice for a tracking sheet, and  things start to get bogged down. Gods help me if I ever try to run iTunes from this thing. Doing the character search and replace for the NaNoWriMo word validation took several minutes, during which I couldn’t do anything else at all with the netbook. So I might keep the Acer as a supplementary device, but it’s never going to cut it as my primary machine.

So there. For now, I will continue this novel. I expect I’ll be finished somewhere in March, at a slower pace than Nano, and leaving time for other projects. I’ll be writing it on the netbook since that’s all I’ve really got at the moment. And I’ll be writing it with a much better idea of where I want to take the whole thing, which will make for only a painful, as opposed to  excruciating, time of hammering this rough draft into a second, more coherent work. I’ll certainly keep posting about my progress.


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