Monday, October 18, 2010

Writing Preparation – NaNoWriMo 2010

In the lead up to NaNoWriMo 2010 there has been a lot of chatter amongst writers about what it takes to actually write a novel in 30 days. As most of you will know NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an event that takes place each November and urges writers to reach the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month. Those who manage to reach that goal are then able to enter their finished work get some cool acclaim within the writing community and of course, the bragging rights of having written a novel in 30 days! The event is something that amateur writers and accomplished authors alike are able to participate in.
NaNoWriMo_3Image by nataliesap via Flickr
I signed up to participate for the first time during last year's competition (2009) but it quickly became clear to me that it takes more than just signing up, having an idea, and sitting down to write. The month ended and I think my word count was around a paltry 10,000 words. Admittedly, I didn't start writing until after the first week was over but it wasn't time that was the major problem. Over the course of the last year I've spent a lot of time writing (though, God knows nowhere near as much as I'd have liked to) and though not all of my writing has been fiction one thing has become clear.

Planning is a majorly important facet of writing a good, cohesive story. This brings me back to the chatter I mentioned that's happening within the writing community right now. Everyone is talking about whether it's necessary to plan your story and how much planning is really important. Having failed dramatically last year, I know that if I want to succeed for NaNoWriMo this year I need to have my story planning done before November 1st.

So over the last few weeks and for the rest of October, I will be spending some time each day working on the story plan – from developing character profiles, to creating an outline for the story itself, and doing research on the topics and settings that I may or may not end up using in the story. I may discover on Nov. 30th that all that I've done in preparation is major overkill, but this year I'd rather be over prepared then not prepared at all.

I'm determined, you see, to hit 50,000 words. Hopefully they won't end up being 50,000 spectacularly horrible words but at the very least, 50,000 adequate words. If nothing else, at the end of November I hope to have a first draft for that new story I mentioned a couple months ago… Yes, I've been hoarding the idea for a while now. And as a bonus, since nearly all my time during November will be spent writing (when not off doing the Mom thing), I'll be using some of my prep/planning work to keep the blog rolling. See there's me, planning ahead again!!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Do You Write?

For anyone and everyone who writes - whether you do it purely for pleasure, as a profession, or somewhere in between the two - how you write can be nearly as important as what you write.  Primarily because the how can so great affect the what.

Have I confused you?  It's writing, right?  Just words on a piece of paper or on your computer screen.  Thoughts that move from your mind, through your arms, out your fingers and to the page.  Simple.  But no, it's not.  Not always.  

Some times it can take all day to get just one sentence written down.  Other days the words just pour out of you and it's more difficult to stop that it would be to just keep going.  Like in anything else, there are good days and bad ones but it's how you deal with it, how you cope, how you work around obstacles and through ideas that make you a better writer.  Those words, as important as they are, are only as good as the idea that forms them.  

I was chatting with Laurel Kriegler (@pegasus_za - follow her on Twitter!!) earlier today about just this concept.  We were talking about how we use our daily experiences and our observations of the world to feed our writing.  What we see, hear and live becomes fuel for our imagination to then create something, maybe entirely different, out of it.  For example Laurel wrote a very short story based on the rescue of the Chilean Miners earlier this week. (You can read her brief story "They've got one out!", it appears on her blog The Quarzite Columns.)  But that's only one way to come up with story ideas.  As I've mentioned often, my ideas come primarily from my dreams and Laurel agrees that dreams can be a very effective medium for mining story concepts.  

I told her that sometimes we just write what we know but she made an important correction to my statement.  She said that we write what we know and then modify it.

At the end of the day every writer's method is slightly different, just as everyday that same writer's method may differ slightly.  We have to use what works best for us at any given time.  If you write fantasy or paranormal's you may focus on dreams for your ideas, but the characters in your story are still living (unless of course they aren't...) and so incorporating aspects of the everyday-world is important too. 

So where do you get your ideas from? Do you look around you and see something ordinary and know that you can make it something extraordinary in a story?  Do you hear your characters in your head, demanding that you share their life with others?  Do you dream of a world entirely different than the one we live in and use it as a basis for your writing?  

How do you write?

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Writing, Writing, Writing... Right?

Writer's BlockImage by thorinside via Flickr
I think it's inevitable that it happens to everyone, that all writers experience that one thing that can knock even the best of us off our game... That's right, I'm talking about the infamous Writer's Block.  I don't know why but it seems like once or twice every year I get hit with a spectacularly horrible shot of not being able to write anything at all.  And it always seems to hit about the same time as a serious case of pessimism, which this year I allowed to get the better of me... Hence not having written any blogs in the last several months.  And yes, I know, several months is far too long to go with out saying anything.  But there it is. 

I actually pulled myself out of the pit (aka Writer's Block Hell) just over a month ago and have been fiendishly working on my novel. (Not the new one that I wrote about last.) And a couple of short stories.  And doing some editing/beta-ing for a friend and colleague.   And you know I'm actually feeling pretty good about the work now, and now, I can't figure what was wrong that I couldn't find anything to write about a few months ago.  Ah, depressions... Don't they just suck?

So what do you do when you're suffering from Writer's Block?  How do you work through it? 
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