Experiments

The really interesting thing about NaNoWriMo this yeear is that I’d decided I wasn’t going to try to write another novel on the 23rd.

What happens next is that two days later I start getting this itch. I made a map, you see, of the world of my Camp NaNos this year. In June, when I wrote Perfume, I had the idea for the stories of two other characters, dubbed them sequels, and wrote the first sequel, Incense, in August. I was going to write the third, Spice, in November, but that fell through as I wasn’t feeling very enthusiastic about it.

Well, now I’ve started Spice, and instead of making it my priority, it’s my reward for all the other work I’m doing in writing blog posts, selecting pictures, reading Silent Spring (one of the most depressing books I’ve ever encountered), and clearing out my e-mail archives and action folders. I started this on the 27th, so we’ll see how far I can get in writing it by the 30th.

I find it fascinating that my brain, once I tell it it’s not allowed to write at all suddenly comes up with all sorts of ideas. What would happen if I didn’t allow myself to write on Wednesdays, for instance? Or I could only write on Sundays? I can’t wait to experiment on this in December, or perhaps even 2013.

I’ve experimented before, but I’ve never actually put that name on it before. I’ve found that if I only allow myself to do push-ups every other day, I can’t wait for my push-up days. (This plateaus at about 7 push-ups though, when I start getting angry at the fact that past 8, I start collapsing). It would be fascinating to see what bearing this has on writing.

What sort of experiments do you conduct in your own writing?

It Gets Easier

140,200.

My word count is high.

Higher than it’s ever been before. In fact, I think the last time it approached these heights was when I was 14 and my maximum speed was 75% of what it is now. I’m 17 now, but it’s not as if I have more free time than I did then. Though, at 17, I can stay up till 2am if I like, instead of going to bed at 10pm. Or I can wake up earlier. The upside about being in a different hotel room than your parents. ūüôā

Yes, it amazes me too. It took me 30 days to hit 100k when I was 14, in 2009, and since then, I haven’t gotten past 70k in a NaNo event. (The novels, of course, were longer).

So what’s different now? I think it’s a combination of things:

  • Pantsing.¬†The stories are solid in my head, but that makes them flexible. Eloise from¬†Settling the Accounts¬†took 40k to realize she was going to poison her husband. I’m at 70k now and their in-laws are moving in.¬†Detailed planning doesn’t work for me.¬†It’s taken me five years to notice, but now I’m putting it in practice.¬†Finally.
  • Time.¬†It takes about 4-8 hours a day to hit the word counts I set for myself (about 10,000 words a day).¬†Give yourself time.¬†Turn off the internet, or war with friends. Do the¬†NaNoWordSprints¬†on twitter.
  • Few expectations.¬†My first year the idea was to hit 50k, hopefully before the end of November. The second it was to hit 100k (I got both of these). The third it was to write an entire series. I didn’t even finish the first book. The fourth year I wanted to aim for 300k in one novel. (I know what you’re thinking… “wut???”) I failed categorically. Didn’t get past 60k in November.In Camp NaNos I aim for a finished novel of about 60k. And I hit it every time. So the goal this year was:¬†Write novels, 50k or more each. Write every day of November.¬†That’s it. I’m on track to write 300,000 words this year, but that’s not because I’m aiming for it.
  • Faster typing. I’m doing these one minute bursts to try and hit 100 wpm. I get about 80-90, and there are typos, but it definitely helps.
  • Wars.¬†Two hour wars? Super. Getting words you’ve never gotten before, and able to say that you did it in two hours? Fantastic.
  • Writing every day.¬†Here’s a secret:¬†It gets easier to write enormous amounts of words if you do it regularly.¬†Especially once you get past the first block of the day. (For me that’s at about 5k. They wreak havoc on my brain, those first 5,000 words. After that it gets easier for some reason.)
  • Wrist exercises.¬†Wrist pain is no fun. I have a timer on my laptop that forces me to mostly pause writing and work through exercises for two minutes. I should turn the opacity up on it so I can’t see what I’m writing, though. That would be good; I tend to cheat on it and keep writing regardless.

Um, what else?

I guess… I’m not stressing about this NaNo like I usually do? It’s ridiculous, considering that on five days of NaNo I’ve written above and beyond 10,000 words a day (hitting 30k and 24k on two of those days, and 20k today). I’d expect me to stress about it, but… I’m not.

So, lessons to take away.

  • Don’t stress it.¬†The words will come.¬†If you’re behind, focus on the next ten minute sprint.¬†Or do 1-minute sprints to up your word count quickly. Aim for 5 words more each time you do it (So if I wrote 90 words, I’d aim for 95)
  • Commit online. Go on FB or Twitter and state that you will write for the next 30 minutes and you will wriete 1000 words that were not there before (adjust for your own word count, but make sure to push yourself. If you write 500 words an hour, aim for 300 in that half hour).
  • And, I cannot stress this enough,¬†TURN OFF THE INTERNET!¬†If you war online, turn off all websites that do not correspond to that warring center. If you’re on Twitter for word sprints… turn off the net during the sprints. Turn it back on when you finish the minutes.

Please don’t feel discouraged by the enormous number stated at the beginning of this post. remember that NaNo is a self-challenge, and remember how crazy I’ll be by the end of these 30 days of nutsiness, alright?

And, now you’ve finished this post, go knock out 100 words, alright? (Or if you’re adventurous, make it 1,000)

Ciao!

How to Write More Words Than You’ve Ever Written (NaNo’12 Day 1)

I decided to aim for 50k day (the act of writing 50,000 words in one day).

This, I knew, was a stretch. The last time I’d written 15,000 words in one day was in 2009‚ÄĒ in the middle of NaNoWriMo‚ÄĒ and the last time I’d written 15,000 words in a 24 hour period was in August. 10,000 words a day show up more frequently, but never on the first day. My first day totals tend to be terribly pitiful drops in the bucket.

But I wanted to break through my barriers… and I did.

How?

  1. Shut off the internet. The internet will kill you. Slowly. You’ll go on to check something and come away with‚Ķ 2 hours of watching other people hit their word counts. Luckily the apartment we’re staying in now has no internet, and the iPad did not have internet either.
  2. Make five minutes of internet your reward for hitting the midway point. I would not recommend this, though, if you’re not super-disciplined. Luckily, my siblings wanted the iPad at the same time, so I was able to get off with only a quick wordcount update throughout the day.
  3. Plan ahead. I planned my 50k day about 48 hours ahead‚ÄĒ I went to bed super early two nights in a row, and napped all through Halloween. I woke up at 10:55pm to plan a bit more before 12am, so that I could sprint through a lot of words before we left home. Beyond this, I knew where the story was going, and I’d pause every once in a while to draft out the scene before writing. This makes it easier to type quickly.
  4. Write. Once NaNo has started, just write. Don’t censor yourself, set a timer if that helps you (I set 15 minute long timers and challenged myself to hit 1k by the time the timer ran out. Then, 14 minute timers, then 13 minute timers. Soon it will be 12 minute timers.)

 

If you need a break, hit the next milestone and then get up. Stop in the middle of a sentence. Or the middle of your favorite scene. Run around, drink water, put on some really energetic music and dance to that… tell everyone your word count and/or make them push you back to the laptop/computer/pen and paper/typewriter… you get the picture.

So, what’s my wordcount for Day 1?

30,000 words.

Because I’m now keeping records, I know this took me about 9 hours and 56 minutes, and that my most productive moments were bursts of 35-50 minutes, at about 4-6pm, sitting on the bed with lots of elbow room.

 

What’s your first day total? And how are you planning to beat it later this month?

What NaNoWriMo Has Taught Me

As NaNoWriMo is coming up in a week… here’s a few tips gleaned from four years of NaNoWriMo and 4 months of Camp NaNoWriMo.

I started participating in NaNoWriMo in 2008, when I was 13. Since then, I’ve participated in each NaNo and each Camp NaNo‚ÄĒ that’s 4 NaNoWriMo’s and 4 Camp NaNoWriMo’s.

And perhaps the interesting thing is that I’ve won every single time. Most years were not easy. In fact, most months I was continually forcing myself to sit down and write. Maybe the fact that I’ve always been a touch-typist helped. Maybe it was the fact that I had (and have) a lot of free time. Maybe it was the fact that I like writing.

In any case, no challenge went by without my learning something. Here’s the list.

  1. Writing 50,000 words in a month is possible. It may take you an hour a day to write the 1,667 words. It may take you the entire day. It may take you only 30 minutes. But it’s simple to get this time in. Shut off the TV. Restrict FaceBook, Twitter, and any other social media until you’ve finished the word count. Give yourself candybars (or carrots) when you’re done. Anything to stop the 1,667 words per day from piling up.
  2. You have to persevere. There will be days when all you want to do is give up. Or start the story again. Or start a new story‚ÄĒ the bright shiny one with proper characters who do what they’re supposed to. Don’t do it. You’ll just be allowing yourself to give up. Keep going on the first story. Set aside the second one for later. Work at the story you started on the first of the month until you reach 50,000 words and the end of the story. Finish it in the month you started it. Type THE END. Feel the accomplishment and the relief. Then start the second story.
  3. Don’t be too strict. Don’t set a goal to write X words per scene (or chapter) and kill yourself trying to reach it. It makes things so hard you feel the need to procrastinate on them even more. And that’s no way to finish the novel.
  4. Plan less rather than more. I’ve tried planning out every scene, every chapter, every event before the novel was even started. It doesn’t work for me. It kills the story before it even starts. Of course, this may or may not work for you. You may be one of those uber-talented people who can plan out an entire novel and still like it at the end. You may be a person who can sit down and write an entire novel without a plan and still have coherency. Test things out. See what works for you.
  5. Plan a little. I’ve also tried writing with nothing but a vague idea of ‘what happens next.’ It works. It’s the greatest fun I’ve ever had (usually). But when it comes to editing, or describing the book‚Ķ all you can really say is, “Well, this happens and that happens and then they do this,” instead of “The Traveling Shovel of Death and the Spork team up and go on a quest to kill anyone that has ever celebrated Valentine’s Day. Along the way, they meet the Catapult, an abusive umbrella, and a ghost dog, and learn that Valentine’s Day isn’t really so bad.” Planning a little helps structure the novel. It makes things a bit easier if you ever want to edit. But, again, test things out. Find what works for you.
  6. Know when to give up. This is in direct opposition to #2, but at some point you may hate the story so much that just thinking of it gives you wrist pain. Finish the story quickly‚ÄĒ kill everyone off, or something, to get closure, and then write something else.
  7. Have fun. Don’t make life too hard on yourself! You’re doing an amazing thing, so enjoy it!

What are your NaNoWriMo lessons?