Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo Week 2: Halfway There

This morning's NaNoWriMo post is brought to you by the garage, where at the moment I'm hiding so I can write. My house has been in a state of utter chaos for going on three days, all the furniture shifted, every floor swept/mopped/vacummed, the bathrooms sterilized, part of my book collection relocated and objects precious to us wrapped up and stowed away for safekeeping. I personally shifted a two-hundred-pound table through three rooms by overturning it on a quilt and dragging the quilt (which is another reason why quilts rule.)

All of this effort is because in less than an hour the carpet cleaners will arrive, and then I'll have three more days of clean but damp rugs before I have to put everything back. Thanksgiving is next Thursday; the family is due to arrive on Wednesday and so far all I have is a turkey. The guest room is wrecked, I haven't yet tested the inflatable airbed to make sure it isn't leaking and the laundry room looks like, well, linen Armageddon. P.S., I started coughing on Monday, I felt like hell all Tuesday and last night I was running a fever.

For all my efforts to turn my house inside out and manage this domestic nightmare, you know what I am most proud of? At midnight last night I finished a chapter, edited three days' worth of work, and hit 25K with my NaNo novel. I wasn't going to bed until I did (and the fact that I could throw my protagonist off a bridge at the end of the chapter helped. I wasn't missing that.)

I think most writers dream of that lovely future in which we occupy a tidy, quiet sunlit home office where we can spends hours spinning our stories and enjoying our writing life. I'm still waiting on that one; right now I'm pecking out this post on a smart keyboard atop my guy's scarred, stained wooden work bench. I'm surrounded by tools of his trade, not mine. There's something in here that smells like a gymnasium. Maybe it's me; I can't remember if I took a shower last night.

NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty sent out a pep talk to everyone on the NaNoWriMo site that addressed the struggles and slogging most of us are experiencing right now (which you can read in the archives here.) I think the second week of NaNo is the toughest because the thrills of starting a new project have mostly evaporated and the delight of spending every day devoted to storycraft has likewise packed its bags and fled. Even if I wasn't currently living in homemaker hell I'd still be struggling to keep up. The finish line is still very far away. I'm only halfway to 50K, and I'm tired. I haven't hit my daily quota for three days, and today isn't looking too promising either. My back hurts, my head hurts, and all I want to do is stay in bed for 24 hours.

I won't do that. After I finish this I'm going to get my words for the day done. If I can keep at it without interruptions (ha) I'll try to write past my quota and make up for some lost time, but no matter what happens I'm writing two thousand new words of my novel today. Those of you who are ahead of me with your progress, send some positive energy my way when you get a chance. Those of you who aren't yet halfway there, I'm sending good thoughts your way. Just write today, and know as you're struggling and slogging and trying to get through that 300,000 other writers (including me) are right there in the trenches with you.

I have a little NaNo incentive to offer, as you see here: an official NaNoWriMo tote and a 2 gb usb bracelet on which you can store a novel and lots of other stuff. I will also be putting some stuff in the tote bag to surprise the recipient. If you'd like a chance to win it, in comments to this post name something you do to keep going during the toughest times by midnight EST on Thursday, November 15, 2012. I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner the tote, the usb bracelet and some surprises. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

40 comments:

  1. Tea with friends is a great thing during tough times, as is going back to reread old favorites. And flannel pants. Definitely flannel pants. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Walks outside, either alone or with friends and family. Many times, it just takes a much needed change of scenery to recharge my battery. Heck, just standing out on the back porch can help (I call it my 'time out' space).

    ReplyDelete
  3. During the toughest of writing times I get rid of all the distractions. I encourage my wife to go shopping and I put the cat (Abby) out. Then I tap away at the keyboard with reckless abandon.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just before I started this project (this is my first nano) I watched a televised segment of the Triatholon in Hawaii. I saw a film of a woman crash just before the finish line. Her body just plain gave out, and she was in the lead. She watched the number two woman pass her and she forced herself to get up and wobble across the finish line to finish the race even though she knew she wasn't the winner. Decades later she was competing again, and so was the woman who beat her all those years ago. I have an index card on my nano bulletin board "Remember the finish line" it says, and I think of that woman pulling everything she had together to get up and cross the line. and I think of her going back to do it all over again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. During tough times I head out to the foothills and walk, enjoying the sunshine,blue skies and beauty that stretches forever on the horizon. It clears up my woes and alters my outlook.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Reading and becoming immersed within the pages of a novel that grips me is always the best therapy and the hot mug of tea soothes the soul.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I take a walk then I open a can of Coke Zero and get back to work.

    ReplyDelete
  8. When I start to struggle with my writing I take a break and think about other stuff for a while, it can even be a silly day dream where I meet some fictional character that I love.
    If that doesn't work I'll go into the city and visit a second-hand game store and buy a cheap game. I'll start to play it until I really get into it and then I'll force myself to stop. I won't let myself finish playing it until I hit a certain word-count.
    I find that promise of a lovely reward that I'm desperate for really helps motivate me into finishing or at least to aim higher.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A chat with my best friend keeps me going during the hard times. She is so supportive, positive and a good listener.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I bought a 12 cup coffee maker even though I can't even drink coffee. I make peppermint tea in it, and it's within arms-reach of my desk.

    When my pen is really dragging I go to Hulu and watch something I don't have to pay too much attention to (like Cupcake Wars) while I write. I don't get as many words when I do that but at least I'm not stopping.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Watching a funny movie or reading a really good book.

    amysmith98@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is my first NANO and I am hanging in there. I like what Jiro Ono said about occupations: "Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably." So I have this quote where I can read it near my computer, and I have not been complaining but have been immersing myself in the writing of a novel. I am a retired educator now with time to pursue my new occupation--novelist! Thanks for your post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I take a bath or a shower and spend the entire time thinking about the next scene I wanted to write, or a scene that was coming up that I wanted to write. I go over the scene in my head, play it out so I know what my characters are saying, what they're likely to do, how the scene ends, and by the time I step out of the shower I'm so excited and filled with ideas that I have no other option but TO write.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Halimua1:34 PM

    Having some of my toughest time right now. I am way behind on my word count, partly because I'm bad at doing things on time and partly because last week I found out that I'm pregnant (for the first time ever). Yeah. But to answer your question: what am I doing? Reading your blog! Ha! No but really, usually I turn to my friend who is also doing Nano, she can be very inspiring (mostly by saying she'll wring my neck if I don't write...).

    ReplyDelete
  15. During tough times I take a nap...I do my best thinking while lying in bed. I also read over pep talks and other inspirational words about Nanowrimo

    ReplyDelete
  16. First I pull out music that reminds me of my story. If that doesn't work I go to writers meetings/events. If those are unavailable I pull out writing videos. I really like Scribes. And, So, is it done? Finally, I work on another writing project or find something else for me to do for that day.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Shizuka2:11 PM

    I cross cultivate by drawing or sewing or something else creative for a short while -- something that has a more immediate payoff.
    If I'm really desperate and my mind can't focus, I go to a coffee shop or library with my laptop.
    Which forces me to work because I'm too bored to do otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm sending lots of good energy your way. During tough times I scrub the floors, eat a little dark chocolate, and make myself count my blessings. I've also been known to sing a lot of Bon Jovi. Very Loudly. (I'm abstaining from the draw.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. The tough times are ground though thanks to my many writer friends on Google Plus who keep me chugging along.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Tough times for me usually involve getting up VERY early (before the man and the dachshund puppies), hunting down a cup of something hot, putting on favorite old warm clothes, and listening for my characters to talk to me. I have only about an hour or so before the guys begin to stir, so I have to make the most of it and be as productive as possible in that time.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is also my first NaNo. When I'm stuggling to stay focused I take a break, then switch from typing to writing by hand for a while. When I switch back to typing what I just printed the words keep right on flowing.
    My reward for finishing NaNo will be buying a laptop. That's been a pretty good incentive to keep writing too.

    ReplyDelete
  22. One thing that keeps me going is to check my friend's word counts...

    ReplyDelete
  23. Take a walk, punch and kick the heavy bag (shadow boxing works too without the pesky aches lol), hot shower, Skittles and Starbursts. This is what I have found works for refocusing myself to the task of grinding out wordage when wordage is not wanting to be ground :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I try to save up rewards for the tough days. Maybe it's an evening dining out with my guy, or maybe it's watching a movie. But I have to make my daily goal - not necessarily the NaNo goal, but my own goal.

    ReplyDelete
  25. When I get stuck, and the goal seems just too far or my mind is thinking about everything but the story, it's what I call the toughest times.
    I usually put my earphones on, lay in bed, listen to music and relax. That helps me to think about the plot, look at the scene I'm working at from a different angle, work out how can I go through it.
    Most of times, too, I pretend to talk with my characters. I would have a large meeting where my Muse, my characters, another kind of friend and I sit and discuss the story. It's a lot of mess and a lot of voices, but when every part of me works together we usually come up with good ideas and I can write. They give me the courage to keep writing, almost yelling at my ears the words I need to put on paper.
    I also avoid distractions like the internet so I don't procrastinate a lot. ^^

    I'm sendind you a ton of good wishes and the best of luck to keep going on. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I do housework. Really. Go clean something, leave my brain free to work through the problem, and then sit back down with my laptop. You can tell how much I've been writing by how clean my house is. Weird, but true.

    ReplyDelete
  27. claire cherven9:22 PM

    I go to the gym and spend an hour on the treadmill writing in my head. I pray afterwards that I can make it to the car without stopping to talk with someone, and get to where my notepad is to record what I wrote in my head before I forget it; wishful thinking but sometimes it works!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anne V.9:24 PM

    I'm spending my driving time (and there is a lot out here in Far West Texas) planning, plotting and sometimes even scheming. I listen to music that reminds me of my story, sometimes I listen to music that doesn't in hopes of being struck with inspiration. Mostly I'm just plugging away, knowing that I"m behind. I shared with my writing group all my stats, which makes me feel like I have to pull ahead and win this year so that I can prove to them that it can be done, even when you don't have time to do much of anything.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Bravo on 25,000 words.

    But more importantly, oh how I swoon for that tote...

    This is my first NaNoWriMo and I've shocked myself by finding it incredibly fun - buckets of fun, in fact. I even laughed at my own writing the other day. Not a good sign.

    That said I'm feeling the burn of the constant momentum required to keep going and I've learnt that I like days off. My advice is therefore to give yourself "hours off" each day - plan something to fill that hour or hours like reading, sleeping, eating, watching terrible TV, baking a cake - but remind yourself that it's time off. Time to enjoy doing something else. Don't think about words, or word counting. If you're aware of the time off you've given yourself, you'll be more aware of the hours when it's writing time.

    Also when I'm stuck on a particular section I stop that part of the story and jump to another. I daresay the consistency will suffer as a result but that's what rewrites are for...

    See you in the trenches!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Sending good writing thoughts your way. When I hit a snag I grab a prompt and with the characters in mind I write my way back. Pandora in the background helps keep me moving. Stopping in the middle of a thought also helps. Writing down ideas for the next days work helps also. This is my third Nano. I have produced more stuff in these three Novembers than in my ten years of pursuing the craft.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Fran K5:28 AM

    I'm not a writer and don't want to be put in the draw. I just I wanted to send encouragement and admiration to all of you out there working so hard. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  32. No need to put my name in the hat. Just wanted to say: take care of yourself. There is something more important than a clean house and getting your word quota out. No point pushing yourself so hard, especially when you're unwell, that you conk out completely. Keep well.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Technically I had to skip Nano this year due to the fact that grad school seems to have its own version of tortured planned for me all throughout November, not a small portion of it being writing -- and not the fun kind either. But I have done it in the past and plan to do it again in the future, so hopefully I am not disqualified from winning that wonderful tote! So the question remains, what do I do when I have a number theory midterm, 15 pages of academic writing to complete, two separate journals I am behind on, and a massive head/chest cold and I feel stuck? Well, I allow myself half an hour of pleasure writing. Nothing rejuvenates me quite like the freedom to write whatever I want.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Anyone can enter the giveaway, Di -- I know plenty of writers who had to pass on NaNo this year because of time/committment conflicts.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Anonymous11:40 AM

    Nothing like a walk in the park....It rejuvenates! Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Best motivating software created, Write or Die. I bought the desktop version so I wouldn't be tempted by internet distractions. I usually do three 500 words sprints for 30 minutes each, with another flurry on the end. But when I'm super-duper can't write another words stuck. I put it on 100 words in 10 minutes. It's all a mind game. Also a hot cup of green tea gets me away from the computer for a few and resets the brain. :D Good lucky, Lynn I envy your clean house. Mine is very, very not so much.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is my twelfth year doing Nanowrimo. The word count has never been the problem; narrative coherency, however, oof! The old Raymond Chandler suggestion, "In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns," only works so often and only if you can justify the thugs later.

    I primarily work on a computer, but scribbling notes on paper can shake all sorts of ideas loose, perhaps because handwriting routes through the brain along slightly different paths than touch typing? Switching musical genres on the ipod, a warm drink, stretching, a few rows of knitting, a hot shower, a snack -- the usual tricks -- also help if they're not over-used. A documentary on the History or Smithsonian channels can provide a wealth of random facts, but it's easy to get lost in TV land.

    Thank you for being so brave as to share the whole, gritty experience that is pounding out a draft in a month.

    My kitten keeps trying to eat or steal my notes. Everyone's a critic.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'm finding that attending write-ins with my local nanowrimo group is really helpful. I get a lot more done during those than I do at home by myself. I wonder if being with others doing the same thing is inspiring or if I'm just using that as an excuse to be unproductive at home (i.e. I can just wait and get my words at the next write-in...).

    ReplyDelete
  39. Margaret9:11 PM

    Congratulations on hitting the halfway point, especially with all the chaos. :)

    I'm not quite to halfway, but I'm not too far behind. To help me get through rough patches, I take mini-breaks to play online solitaire or something similar, or I crank up some up-tempo music to get thoughts moving.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Anonymous11:34 PM

    I don't know if I can put my strategy for carrying on into words -- in the face of recent difficulty, I have been finding strength in the image of a flame in the heart. Not so much the flame of inspiration, but the fire of will-not-be-defeated by what comes.

    Julia

    ReplyDelete