This year, I’m the official NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison for the Pakistan region. I’m not totally unaware of the curious juxtaposition of myself as an American ex-pat representing Pakistan for NaNo and vice-versa, so I’ll be working in concert with The Desi Writer’s Lounge, a fantastic organization dedicated to supporting and promoting South Asian writers. I’ll be leading write-ins for them, as well as posting on their blog and forums, and crossposting between Persephone and DWL throughout the month. I highly encourage our Persephoneers to wander over and say hello to them, as well as welcome those DWL’ers who might come here. Continue reading
I’m late (but not that late!) to this round of RW80. I could have put off my objectives post until the Sunday check-in, but considering that my major writing obstacle is procrastination and that I already meant-to-but-didn’t get my goals up on Wednesday, I should probably strike while the motivation iron is hot.
My ride literally just texted me while I was typing that, so this will be a down and dirty post.
- Write 20,000 words for Camp NaNo in April
- Write at least one post per week for Persephone
- Write at least two posts per month for Powder Room
- Finish weeding out inactive writers on PR and respond to the rest of my current applicant pool
- Update and edit my personal blog (this one!)
- Craft three pitches for outlets I am not currently writing for
Camp NaNo has started. Have you?
As mentioned last week, I’ll be here every Friday with a Camp Nano 2015 check in thread. Like our NaNoWriMo series, this space is an opportunity for you to let us know how things are going, brag about your progress, or complain about the lack-there-of to sympathetic ears.
Camp only started two days ago, so if you haven’t begun yet, there’s still plenty of time. Given the self-defined goals of camp, a late start won’t be the anvil around your neck it is in November. Two days of non-writing during NaNo puts you 3334 words in the red. During Camp? Well, maybe you’re not behind at all. This month I’ve opted for a breezy goal of 20,000 words on my ongoing WiP, A Town Called Leviathan. That works out to a reasonable 666 words a day, which is totally on purpose, because I am a twelve-year-old at heart.
What goals did you set for yourself this month? How on track are you?
Need some writing related mood music? Our friend Linotte has some suggestions.
Every November, I run a series of NaNoWriMo posts for Persephone, offering encouragement and accountability for fellow writers as we progress through the grind of National Novel Writing Month. The single unifying theme of these posts over the last four years has been one of ‘just write it;’ the single most important act of writing is getting your ideas down on paper. The language, the skill, the storytelling — all these are things that develop out of the practice of writing. You get better, but only if you start.
Then, for the next 11 months, I spend a lot of time not writing. Continue reading
Earlier this week, Salon published an essay by writer Ann Bauer about, as she says, “the masquerade” that some writers put on — that is, the fact that writing doesn’t pay a lot of money and it’s easier to do if you happen to have access to a lot of it. Most writers — and friends and families of writers — know how hard it is to sustain yourself solely on a writing career. Those that manage to do so are a small and lucky bunch. The rest of us keep working day jobs or picking up as many freelance assignments as we can, or putting together piecemeal extra careers teaching a couple of classes here and a writing retreat there. And then there are the others whose careers are supported by the “sponsorship” of others — their spouses or significant others who happen to earn enough money to allow for the uncertainties of the life (and paycheck) of a writing career, or who may have some family money to fall back on. Continue reading
It’s now December. For many of you, that means the hellish challenge that is NaNoWriMo has come to an end. Perhaps this was the year that you won and printed yourself out a winner’s certificate you can display with pride on your fridge’s door. Or maybe this is the year that you had very good intentions of winning, but the flu decided otherwise. Or you’re a non-participant and looking forward to the next eleven months where you mostly aren’t inundated with posts about this damn novel writing month. Continue reading
We’ve reached the third week of NaNoWriMo, friends. How did your writing go over the past seven days?
I’m at a place that might be generously be described as ”horrendously” behind. My third week word count is hovering around the day 10 goal. I did this to myself by doing one of the things I vigorously advise against — I allowed inactivity to snowball. One day where I couldn’t find writing time became a three day stretch, with the patently false promise I would “make it all up on the weekend.” I’ve had a lot of “making it up on the weekend” self-promises over the course of my life and they never work out. But NaNo is hard and being lazy is easy. And, frankly, here I am in a conundrum of my own making.
I know from private discussions and many years of NaNo experience that some of you are in the same position. It’s a disheartening place to be in. This is where a lot of writers drop out. That 50,000 word goal is daunting when you’re starting the month and more so in the middle of it when you’re decidedly trailing the pack.
Here is where I’m going to advise you not to do it. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t put down the pen.
Ostensibly, the goal of NaNo is to end up with 50,000 words at the end of the month. But that’s really an arbitrary finishing line for people to aspire to. The real aim of the program is to encourage writing. And if you have 2,000 words at week three, that’s 2,000 more words than you had at the beginning of November, or hell, even the beginning of this year. And that’s what NaNo wants you to do. They want you to write. So, write! Put another 2,000 more words down by the end of the month. And then do 4,000 more words next month. And keep going. Make your default state one of writing not not-writing. You don’t get a publishing contract at the end of November if you make goal. You get some coupons and bragging rights — and those are plenty of motivation for me, because I’m ridiculously competitive and like to ‘prove’ that I’ve won stuff.
The reward — the prize — is really your words, your thoughts, your dreams — existing on paper or a screen somewhere and not just in your head, in a file labeled ‘maybe someday’.
Inspiration – real, published novels from NaNoWriMo projects:
Two weeks down! Don’t panic yet, fellow NaNo’ers. There’s still two weeks to go, one of which has a long weekend for most of the Americans among us, so this is still a glass-half-full situation.
November 16th is this year’s Night of Writing Dangerously, the annual fundraiser National Novel Writing Month runs to support its Young Writer’s Program. Participants fundraise $275 a piece to join other NaNo’ers in a large group write-in in San Francisco, the heart of the Office of Letters and Light. Most of us are not going to be flying to San Francisco to join in the fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate – host your own Night of Writing Dangerously with your fellow writers, or like me, with your cats! Check your local region on site’s boards for events, or sprint along with the #NaNoSprint writers on Twitter. Spend a solid five hours doing nothing but banging away at your word count. I give you permission to write indulgently this weekend.
How did you do in the second week? Tell us all about it in the comments.
Inspiration – real, published novels from NaNoWriMo projects:
Every year during November, Persephone hosts regular Friday check-ins for our readers and writers who are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. This week is our first catching up. I can’t wait to hear how you’re doing.
For a lot of writers and especially fist time NaNo’ers, while the anticipation of participating in National Novel Writing Month is exciting, the reality of getting started is awfully sobering. Lots of writers drop out the first week. Many do it without having written a single word. Why? Because a blank page is damn scary. It’s a lot easier to sit there with the same untitled blank draft you had all year long than it is to actually add something to it.
But look at it this way. Your enemy is the blank page. You need to destroy it. And this is one fight that it’s not complicated to win — you just need to type something. Anything. Anything at all. Breaking the stasis of not writing is the whole point of NaNoWriMo. Keeping up your momentum is a lot easier once you get that figurative ball rolling. So if your story idea is stalled, type out something else. Describe the view from your window. Write a recollection of your high school English teacher. Recreate your favorite recipe from memory. Most likely none of these things will make it into your finished novel. A lot that you’ll write this month is going to get jettisoned in the revision process. That’s ok. Let it go. No one is charging you storage by the word. And who knows — maybe that English teacher will become a character, or that recipe will become a plot point in a baking themed thriller. Just get it down.
I got off to a slow start this year. I’ve been doing NaNo for so long I no longer have the burning urge to start promptly at midnight on the first, and have a decent sense of my output speed, so I don’t get overly worked up in the first couple of days of the challenge. I have a respectable word count of about 7,000, so I’m manageably behind at the moment. If you asked me, I couldn’t quite tell you what my plot is. This is the first year I’m pantsing it in a lot time and I’m having fun drifting along with the woman who appears to be my main character, Caroline. I anticipate a lot of pruning of useless scenes come revision month.
Still having problems get past writer’s block? Blogger apronwarrior posted last year about one of her NaNo’ing strategies: the NaNo jar. Using decorated popsicle sticks, apronwarrior keeps 30 prompts in a jar on her desk. When she gets stuck, she pulls a stick and has to do what the prompt says. The suggestions range from new scenes to plot twists and character investigation, but they’ll all keep you moving. I liked this idea so much I borrowed it last year, combing through some of my favorite writer’s guides for prompts and putting them on scraps of paper I kept in a bag by my laptop. The jar-and-sticks is a prettier method, but both work. Hop on over to Apron Warrior to view the whole post and see what prompts she’s using.
As we say goodbye to 31 Days of Halloween, friends, we can now turn our attention to our next adventure – NaNoWriMo 2014. I don’t wish to alarm you, but if you haven’t been paying attention to the calendar (or the prepping posts we’ve been running this week), NaNo starts tomorrow. Or exactly at the stroke of midnight if you’re either a go-getter (blergh) or don’t have any costume-related activities planned for the evening (also blergh).
For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a sacred rite of passage in which people with more ideas than sense attempt to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. “Sure,” you say, “that sounds easy. 50,000 words? I tweet that much a month.” To you, I reply, “Shut your gobhole.”
50,000 words in thirty days is approximately 1,667 words written daily, which is generally easy to achieve in the heady rush of the first week, and becomes progressively harder as one settles into the actual grind of writing, which is way less romantic than the idea of writing. The Romantic Idea of Writing involves, like, garrets and endless cups of tea, and inspiration that arrives fully formed like Athena popping out of Zeus’s head, a birth that’s high on drama and low on the pain and humiliation scale. Actual Writing is a boring grind of sitting down every day, trying to reach a word count that seems impossible, convincing yourself that all your ideas are terrible, and passing up all your social engagements because you’re finally “working on that novel.” You do get to have tea in this scenario as well.
So who’s with me? This is my seventh year of participating in NaNoWriMo and I’ll be checking in every Friday on PMag with hints, tips, and commiseration. I give you permission to look away from your word count to check in with us and let the rest of the PMaggers know how it’s going for you.
Looking for a calendar? WalkingDarkness from Deviantart offers this Avengers theme.
David Seah, investigative designer, updated his yearly word count calendar for this cycle.
JuliaAMz offers this typewriter desktop calendar.