November 9, 2011

Rewards on a budget?

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 11:30 am
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I’m a big fan of rewarding yourself when you do something good, something you don’t want to, or better than you expected. This philosophy has got me through countless dentist visits, exams and heavy deadlines.

When I was little, I used to get trinkets: plastic rings, clothes for my dolls, pencils. When I hit the teenage years, I got make-up, hair dye, and fancy fragrances. When I hit my twenties, I mostly gave myself cigarettes and alcohol. But now that I’ve stopped smoking, I don’t want more stuff in my house (except curtains, but that’s not a reward, that’s a chore) and I can’t dye my hair again without it falling off, I’m lost.

This past week I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo and I’ve rewarded myself with wine and chocolate. As I stepped on the scale this morning, it became instantly obvious that this approach has its pitfalls. Therefore I come to you. I need a list of prizes for completing my word goals that won’t add calories to my daily intake, won’t cost too much or turn me into a hobby alcoholic.

So how do I reward myself without spending too much money, drinking too much alcohol or eating crap? How do you motivate yourself to reach your word goal every day?


November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo: week one

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 3:50 pm
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As previously mentioned, this is my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, the month long writing challenge.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
– Even with the pressure of a ticking clock, it can be hard to start the story. I learned not to beat myself up about the word count on day one, and just let the story come at its own pace. Once I got a solid start, it was easier to continue writing. I made up the words on day two.
– Stats make everything better. Seeing my word count trickle in every day, and having that graph telling me how far I’ve gotten, and which date I’ll finish on if I continue in the same pace, is genius.
– Rewards are important. The ticking clock and the accountability of a website are great ways to get you going, but sometimes it’s nice to have some carrot with that stick. I got to see the original Psycho at the cinema once I hit 10000 words. It was amazing.
– Friends are more important still. I’m always a fan of twitter, but for the past week, I’ve fallen in love with the 140 character community. Plugging in and seeing little messages asking me how it’s going, or telling me that I can do it, or that they’re there with me, is a tremendous help. Seriously, check out #NaNoWriMo on twitter.
-There’s a certain freedom in not having time to edit. I’m a slow writer. It took me three months to write 20K on my novella. In the past week, I’ve written 11K. In one week. For me, that’s close to impossible. I don’t know how much editing will go into this manuscript once November is over, but letting the story flow without worrying too much about sentence structure or getting all the hints in just right is not only liberating, it’s downright fun. I’ve let go of the reins and I’m watching my characters go wild. And I’m loving every minute of it.

What have you learned from NaNoWriMo so far? How is it going for you?

November 1, 2011

Words Are Cheap

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 10:26 am
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My creative writing teacher once told me that about 10% of what anyone writes is usually any good. So don’t get too attached to your words. I nodded sagely, thinking I knew it all. I had, after all, edited my first novel. I knew all about killing my darlings, or so I thought.

But then I tried something new: branching conversations for computer games. It was hard. I spent hours plodding over the characters, their motivations, the plots and what I wanted the outcomes of the conversations to be, not to mention how to get there. Finally, I got a decent draft done, I looked it over, and I knew I could make it shine. Proudly, I shared it with my significant other, who, being an honest and insightful man, mentioned the one thing that I hadn’t noticed: the plot didn’t match what the assignment asked for.

And I got pissed. Hell, I went through the five stages of grief before I could let those words go. I’d poured all my creative energy into that draft, and I knew this was what my characters wanted to happen. If it was a novel, I’d hold on to that plot for dear life, so how could I start from scratch? Turns out the answer is easy: you just have to save the original, lie to yourself and claim that you might be able to use it for something later, and move on.

This might sound sad, at least if you’re a writer, but it is sound advice. Especially for us who’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Because if only 10% of what you write is good, then there’s no need to nitpick across your draft while you’re writing. Just let it flow. And even if only 10% of those 50K are good, those 5K will be awesome.

Oh, and about that: the clock is ticking! What am I doing over here? See you later guys! Good luck!

October 20, 2011

Warm-up for NaNoWriMo

Filed under: Uncategorized — nascentnovelist @ 1:18 pm
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For the last four years I’ve been envious of the dedicated people who take on the crazy ambitious goal of writing a novel in a month. Somehow life, work, deadlines and exams always get in the way for me, and I haven’t been able to commit to NaNoWriMo.

Not so this year! This time, I’m part of the hip crowd. All my current projects have been shelved as I ponder the set-up of an urban fantasy murder-mystery that’s been spinning in my head for a few months. I’m not writing a detailed road map, but I’m giving my characters a few sign-posts in case they get lost along the way.

All this to say, I might be a little slow on the updates in November (and all of them might be about this project). Wish me luck!

Are you planning on attending NaNoWriMo? Share the pain excitement!

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