Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo Necessities

In less than two weeks NaNoWriMo begins, and while I can't join in by writing this year I'm playing with some ideas of what I can do here at PBW in November for those of you who are taking on the challenge.

In previous years I've posted things like ten lists, satires, fun stuff, writing through the tough parts and reality checks. I had to chuckle when I was searching through the archives and came across this post from my 2010 Nanofailure; my agent is currently negotiating a contract for the same book that got such an unpleasant bounce last year (which is why you should never let a harsh rejection bother you. For one thing 99.9% of editors are never that snotty or unprofessional, and when you do sell the book to another publisher it feels especially wonderful.)

I'd like to do some NaNo Q&A writing-related sessions, which is where I think I can be of the most practical help. I like to do virtual workshops, but I worry they're always too long and/or may be distracting or undermining. I always like to hunt down links, and wouldn't hurt to put together a mini-master list of freeware and resources tailored to the specific needs of NaNo'ers.

Your turn: what do you guys think I can do to help inspire, motivate and otherwise cheer on the NaNoWriMo'ers through November? Let me know in comments.

15 comments:

  1. Haven't a clue. But major congrats on those negotiations, & hope for a huge contract.
    That's good to hear. :)

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  2. Too bad you can't do it this year. I'm going to try again (failed last year), and I'm pretty excited.

    ANY encouragement would be helpful to us, I think, especially with the second half of the month. That's when I faltered, for I fell behind and then felt like I could never make the word count up again (and I was right).

    I just like the reminders about it. Makes me feel like I'm not alone.

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  3. Anonymous10:52 AM

    I struggle to come up with ideas but then face the real mountain after... fleshing out the idea and bringing my characters to life.

    You've discussed this already but more would be great for me.
    Thanks,
    Ron

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  4. Thank you thank you thank you Lynn for posting this (and all other NaNoWriMo encouragements)! I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. I just had my daughter on August 23rd of this year and I have an about-to-be three year old son as well, but am bound and determined to accomplish my goal for November. If I can do this, I can do anything, right? Keep up all the posts - I agree with Shakespeare; it allows for a sense of community for sure.

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  5. Fun stuff would be great. It would give the author's brain time to rest and laugh.
    Then they can return to the grindstone with energy.

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  6. How do I block out the crushing doubt that stifles progress? The doubt that tells me every word I type is utter and complete drivel (The Doubt doesn't say drivel, the doubt hangs out with much more common speaking types who'd never say "drivel")

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  7. I turned in a 590-word story for my class on Monday. Writing it was like digging out wisdom teeth with a pipecleaner.

    That's the first fiction I've let anybody look at in a decade.

    One teeny baby step.

    It sucked, yes, but I've got so many other things I'm worried about at the moment that I didn't even care anymore, so long as it was done and gone.

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  8. Lyvvie wrote: How do I block out the crushing doubt that stifles progress?

    Lyvvie, I live with an older sister of your Doubt. I have a name for her, but that's private and between her and me, so we'll call her my AntiMuse.

    The first words out of the AntiMuse's mouth every morning are "You can't do this." She follows that up with all the reasons I can't: I'm too old, too sad, too uneducated, too isolated, in too much pain. Lately she adds that I've written too many books already and I've used up the miniscule amount of magic fairy dust I was blessed with (which she seriously doubts ever existed anyway; she's convinced I've been faking it all along.)

    The AntiMuse likes to dangle in front of me all the other things that are easier and more enjoyable for me: quilting, cooking, hanging out with my guy and our kids, cuddling with my furry people on the couch, and being anyone else besides the writer. Who really sucks, btw, and just has never accepted it because I'm that stupid, too.

    (this comment is too long, according to Blogger, so I'll continue it in the next one.)

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  9. (comment continued)

    Her face changes a lot. Sometimes she's my ninth English teacher, or a vicious drunk I was forced to work with, or the writer who used me for my contacts while pretending to be my friend (and giving me the worst advice I've ever received.) Most often she's the romance rag reviewer who used to call my house three times a week to harass me until I finally had to get my number changed. These are all masks, and underneath them is a very familiar face that doesn't change.

    I don't like her, obviously, but I've learned not to engage her. I let her say whatever she wants while I'm booting up the computer. I don't try to stop her from following me out to the porch for my morning meditation. And I try very hard to tune her out every time I sit down to write.

    I accept that my AntiMuse believes that I'm boring and pathetic and untalented and above all else, incapable of writing anything that anyone wants to read. She will never change, and no matter how successful my books are or how many I publish, they'll never be good enough for her.

    I don't want the AntiMuse in my face, but I've accepted that she will be, along with all her various incarnations, probably every day for the rest of my writing life. And I even know why: she can't write a single word herself. She has no imagination, no talent, no fire of her own, and she never will. I can't imagine how unbearable it must for her to sit there and watch me go at it day after day, month after month, year after year.

    I can feel a little sorry for her now, because over time I realized that she's me -- or rather, the me I would have been if I'd never found the courage to write, and keep writing, and to never give up, no matter what. Also, I know that if I ever give in to her, I will become some version of her, and to me that's worse than putting up with her crap every day.

    Writing is an art, and a war. Doubt is the general for the other side. You're not going to win every battle, honey. No one does. Some days you will listen to Doubt, and believe her nonsense, and walk away from the keyboard. Some days you'll even help her torture you a little more. She feeds on your failure, and the more you feed her, the bigger and hungrier she will become. Feed her enough and eventually she'll swallow your heart whole.

    But I can assure you of this: every time you resist her to face that keyboard, to sit down and write, no matter what comes out on the page, you punch that bitch right in the face. It's the only way you can hit back and make it really hurt. It's the only thing that diminishes her.

    No one can live your writing life for you, or deal with your Doubt. You have to make the choices that are right for you. If you're not happy with how you're writing, you know you can change that. You can study, and practice, and try different things until you get it right. Or you can listen to Doubt and believe her. Giving into Doubt is easier to handle than the work, and it's the only way to silence her, and I totally get why so many writers give up. My AntiMuse has pushed me to the edge of doing the same thing more times than I can count.

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  10. Ron wrote: I struggle to come up with ideas but then face the real mountain after... fleshing out the idea and bringing my characters to life.

    I know that hill only too well. One of my posts next week will be about ways you can bring your characters to life (and weirdly enough, has a mountain analogy, too.)

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  11. I'm sad you cant join in nano this year. Your post always inspire me. Especially watching your progress bar on the side. This will be my 3rd nano. What to do when you get stuck half way through. I have a problem getting pass the mid book hump. It starts well, characters meet but maintaining a good plot to run along side the romance kills me every time.

    reese

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  12. Your response to Lyvvie really got to me. I copied it an saved it, and I'm going to print it and keep it next to me while I write. Not just for Nano, but always.

    I've tried three or four years. I just want to finish. *sigh*

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  13. This will be my first time participating in NaNoWriMo. My biggest problem is focus and avoiding time wasters on the computer while also caring for my 3 young daughters and all my other responsibilities. I need encouragement like a marathon runner needs those people on the sidelines handing them water and cheering them on! Inspirational quotes and stories from other writers are great.

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  14. I am freaking out because last year I made it with 52,700 words and I thought this year I would pick up where I left off. After reading 130 pages with 85 to go I am not sure I can do that. Any advice on how to pick up where you left off. There are whole sections of the story I want to scrap now. Yikes I only have five days and now I am not sure what I am doing.

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  15. Kristen Haskell wrote: I am freaking out because last year I made it with 52,700 words and I thought this year I would pick up where I left off.

    Freaking out is okay. It's still October. :)

    After reading 130 pages with 85 to go I am not sure I can do that. Any advice on how to pick up where you left off.

    One of the tougher things to do is to go back and work on a pre-existing story you haven't written in a while (and I'm guessing it's been a full year since you touched this one?)

    What I do is read the existing manuscript thoroughly until my head is back in the story, decide where I'm going to pick up with the new writing and work from there. If there are significant changes to the old pages I'll mark whatever needs to be rewritten, but I don't start over or go backward.

    There are whole sections of the story I want to scrap now. Yikes I only have five days and now I am not sure what I am doing.

    I would mark the sections you want to scrap and make notes on how you want to rewrite them for later, after NaNoWriMo. That way you can write new chapters for NaNoWriMo and not get mired down with a lot of editing and rewriting on old work.

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