NaNoWriMo distraction

[caption id="attachment_155" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="NaNoWriMo comic from PVP Online"]NaNoWriMo comic from PVP Online[/caption]

©2009 "Write Fight" at Player vs. Player, by Scott R. Kurtz

In personal NaNoWriMo news, I am finally digging myself out of the Boring Hole I had put myself in.

I should really listen to myself more. I had created a female protagonist who was that most deadly of all sins in fiction: dull.

Dull and good. Ugh.

I have made her a Liar McLyingPants, and now all is much better. There is conflict, there is tension, there is motivation, there is...romance!

NaNoWriMo 2009 participantThe words are flying. Except, you know, when I'm writing posts featuring NaNoWriMo comic strips or checking Twitter to see if anyone's mentioned me (have they?) or compiling coupon lists (why did I do that?? Oh, right, because I was procrastinating from NaNoWriMo. I don't even want to tell you how late I stayed up doing that, because it's just sad. I am so tired that I just spent precious minutes combing my desktop for a file I hadn't yet downloaded. And, also, this parenthetical note is way too long).

Only a few more days, kiddos, and I've finally broken 40,000 words. We're in it to win it! See you at the finish line.


NaNoWriMo write-in: Kids welcome

NaNoWriMo.org interviewed Ian Dudley, founder of the Kid-Friendly Write-In.

I've so far attended one write-in, in which I didn't introduce myself and wrote alone at a nearby table with my hot chocolate and brownie (woot! double fudginess!), because I'm like that.

But, whether I'm going to an organized write-in or just to a coffee shop for a write-in-of-one, I have to do something with...the kid.

Ian Dudley came up with the grand idea of welcoming kids to one of the South Bay, California, write-ins. It's a pioneering thing to do, but here's hoping it catches on and spreads to Seattle and the rest of the novel-writing nation!

Go to NaNoWriMo.org for the full interview, but here are some juicy excerpts:

When I became a dad this year, I realized how limited write-in options are for parents who can't find babysitters. We've heard about NaNo widows and widowers, but NaNo orphans aren't an option (unless you enjoy frequent visits from CPS).

There have definitely been some hazards. One boy is fully mobile and tall enough to grab things, such as my camera, off of tables. He also climbed onto his mom's vacant chair and merrily started 'adding' to her word count before she caught him. (I don't know if she kept the words.) Typing with your laptop on the floor is an even greater hazard, with outright key removal being a risk.

Another mom wrote 188 words at our last meeting, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that her daytime word count would otherwise be zero. She says this is the only write-in she can attend, and that alone makes it worth having.

Yea for parent-friendly, baby-friendly options! Before I became a parent, I thought that the US was a family-friendly country. And then I had my little one and found out just how excluded and universally mistrusted and outright disliked we are. So if you are childless (child-free/pre-child/post-child) and don't relish the idea of children in your coffee shop, please try to have a little compassion for the (literal) little guys. You were a child yourself once, unless you are a cyborg, in which case, 10001010010001001000. Because if you are a writer, someone inspired you to start writing. Maybe for these kids, it's their write-in-attending, NaNo-attempting parents.

Peace to all, great writers and small.

Photo courtesy Patricia Dekker on stock.xchng


NaNoWriMo elation deflation

I was meaning to blog a few days ago about how upbeat I was feeling about NaNoWriMo. I really should have done it then, because now my balloon has popped.

I assume I'll get it back, so don't feel too bad. It's just that I took a hard look at the facts.

Fact #1: Despite being almost caught up to where I need to be to finish the month at 50,000 words, which is to say just over halfway there, I am nowhere near halfway done with my story. Furthermore, I looked at some statistics of average word lengths for romance novels, at least of the particular kind I am writing, and I got an average of 100,000-130,000 words. That's right. If I finish my 50,000 words, I will be at best halfway through my novel.

Fact #2: Hmm. I thought there was a Fact #2. My mistake.

NaNoWriMo 2009 participantThe NaNoWriMo rules state that you must have 50,000 words and a beginning, middle, and end. What this means is that I have a few options for finishing out NaNoWriMo and WINNING (if I could put sparkles around that word, I would, I swear):

Option #1: Finish up the story arc of my novel in 50,000 words by doing the writerly equivalent of skimming, at least as I get near the end date. Skip scenes, skip details, skip description, and just tell the bare-bones story.

Option #2: Write a whole heck of a lot more to finish the whole kit and caboodle by Nov. 30.

I have a 2-year-old and another blog and a home business and a life. I think Option #2 is off the table.

But this means that I will have to spend December and perhaps January (and if I'm really bad, let's pray not, February or more) writing the rest of the lost words to my novel.

Just to compare, last year I wrote a murder mystery, a jovial little thing that could clock in in final draft at 75,000 and be dandy. Once I'd done a first revision of my winning NaNoWriMo attempt, I had that easy. There were several scenes I needed to add, characters I had to flesh out, and descriptions to add in, because I hate descriptions (reading and writing! Sorry, all you describers of lovely sunsets!).

I compared my (other) unfinished romance novel to the NaNoWriMo length, and I am at 85,000 words in it, and I know I am about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through my story there. See what I mean? Because I ain't never finished that 85,000-word one, so that's not a good track record, is it, now?

So I'm all intimidated and rightly humbled and all that.

But I soldier on. Keep writing.

Photo courtesy OkayCityNate on flickr (cc)


Ways to procrastinate from NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2009 participantIf you're a prior NaNo-er — or, really, just a writer at all — you already know the obvious ways to procrastinate from working on your novel: housework, real work, writing a snail-mail letter when you haven't done so in years, posting on your blog (ahem), drafting cover letters to agents, researching how many words your final novel should ideally be and how much you might get for an advance when it's as superbulous as you imagine it will be...

But sometimes we want something NaNoWriMo-specific to occupy us while we're not writing our 1,667 words for the day.

Herewith I provide you with a helpful list, from which you can choose your current NaNo-approved time waster:

     • First, you need to upload some NaNo bling to your blog. That's clear. Find various word count widgets and web badges here, and proclaim your NaNoWriMo affiliation. That will take some fiddling as you upload to Photobucket[your image host], choose your favorites, and test out the widgets to make sure they're working.

     • But then you'll probably want to upload your badge or widget to Facebook. Well, now you're in for a bit more procrastination, because it's not as easily done as said (thanks a lot, FB). Here's a tutorial on a workaround, and here's a helpful application to take the place of a clumsy posting of a widget, and here are instructions on how to make that application box appear on your wall rather than in your boxes tab. Now your friends can be envious of your daily NaNo progress. You're welcome.

     • It's not enough merely to brag about your progress, though. You also need to keep track of all those words you're (not) writing. To spare you the headaches of lengthy calculations and Excel fiddling, NaNo-ers have come up with and disseminated spreadsheets to do the math for you. I've found this word count calculator from Hillary DePiano to be the most useful for me. (And she's named the same as my favorite instrument, so you really can't go wrong! Also read her article "My 12 Step Guide for Succeeding at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)" for some can't-miss tips.) You can open her spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs. One change I made was to swap around a couple things. Because I write in Word, a running word count is easier for me to gather than a daily (it's right there on the bottom bar all the time, whereas I have to select each day's writing then go to Tools to figure out my daily), so I made the column that you enter a word count be the total word count. Then I switched the next column to subtract each day's count from the previous, thereby getting a daily count. I also find I have to reset the "I'm at" box each day, but it's no biggie. If anyone wants my version, with Hillary's credit still intact as the brains behind the operation, let me know and I'll upload or email it. It really does make me giddy to update with each smattering of paragraphs and see how much closer I am to my daily goal, and how high a percentage of my novel I've written so far. (To be thorough, this calculator from Heim Binas was intriguing as well, and good if you like to track hours written and mood in addition to words, and if you want to see visual charts tracking your progress. The downloading was a little tricky, though, and included some unsavory advertising [not the blogger's fault but the download site's], so be forewarned.)

     • You'll want to make sure you're regularly saving the brilliance you're (not) writing, so be sure to consider a backup strategy. I mean, a literal backup strategy, for your files. This way looks nice and complicated and like it would take a lot of your time. My methods are to upload and copy/paste to Google Docs and email attached and pasted copies to myself every day or so. Eventually, the files get too big to upload to Google Docs, but copy and paste still works. Or you could copy and paste just the new bits. But my way doesn't take as long, so you might want to try something fancier.

     • There's always goofing around on the NaNoWriMo.org forums, of course, and there's lots of procrastination to be had there. One of my favorites is the dares thread, because you can pretend you're totally going to write from one of those dares while you instead just keep reading and chuckling. There are even genre-specific dares threads, such as this one for my romance friends. I don't know why, but this one keeps cracking me up, and generally I tend not to find rape all that funny ["BPs" are bonus points]:
"Dare: have someone say Rape is always the answer
(this was here before, I'm adding BPs)
BP if this is to a completely innocent question
DBP if rape is the answer
TPB if this is a major plot point."

Because I'm just trying to imagine in what fictional circumstance the double bonus points in particular could credibly be earned.

     • In the same vein, apparently there are also local challenges that should distract you. For instance, the Seattle Region routinely hides ducks in their novels as a sort of U of Oregon-baiting. This year the ducks must be upside-down, and this thread is a hoot to peruse if you want to get lots of great ideas of how to insert upside-down ducks into a novel (hunting scenes, bathtub scenes, neon café signs, etc.) while at the same time not actually writing your own scenes.

     • Finally, go to NaNoWriMo.org and consider thoughtfully your donation, which you should make, by the way. Each level of gifts comes with its own booty, such as posters, stickers, and gift certificates, so click through and see where your generosity and selfishness collide. That is the correct donation level for you.

All right, that should keep you busy not writing for a few hours, particularly if you click around while you're on all those other pages. Don't say I never give you anything.
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