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Daily Update: NaNoWriMo Postmortem

Winner-180x180

First of all, I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. That was one of my many goals for 2012 was to finally win NaNoWriMo. I’d only done this once in 2007 when I was working on the first V&A Shipping novel. This year I was working on the sequel to V&A Shipping and I had a blast writing it. Writing goals I’ll discuss later this month when I do my 2012 postmortem. There’s a lot to discuss on 2012 and NaNoWriMo is just one small piece.

Coming into NaNoWriMo I was trying to finish up Of Gnomes and Dwarves Book 1. I’d written and re-written and edited this book to death over about a ten year span. One of my goals for 2012 was to use the first book as an outline and write it from scratch and not try and edit the book to be better. I started that effort in mid-September and thought I would be able to finish prior to NaNoWriMo starting.

Heh heh

So as it got closer to November and I needed to get an episode of Golden West written and produced as well as assembling the Action Pack Podcast I had my work cut out for me. I still had a ways to go with Of Gnomes and Dwarves and I also needed to get a plot written up before I began.

I finished Of Gnomes and Dwarves on October 30th by writing 4000 words per day the last few days. It was a blast to write the end of that book and coming off that high I needed to be ready for another marathon of writing all of November. I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off. I was spent after the end of re-writing the first book I’d ever written, but I was excited to write V&A II.

October 31st 2012; Halloween. Lots to do as it was a work day, Halloween, and much to do that night. I had a rough plot in my head and I had a vague idea of where the story was going to start and where it was going to end. I knew I was going to be introducing an unexpected romance, a new character from Earth, and a Dyson Sphere in trouble. I even had the first line in my head.

“It’s kind of hard to lose a planet, kid.”

This, of course, would be Vic talking to Joey. What did Joey do wrong? How’d they lose the planet? Where was the planet going? How was B.T. Justice going to be involved? How were they going to get out of this pickle? So many questions.

I wrote 25 sentences to get me just over halfway through the story and a few questions that I knew needed answering in the long run. Some answered in Book 2, some will carry over in the series. I didn’t have any names for anything. That was a major frustration, but I’m good like that and I’ve gotten better in not letting something like that slow me down.

So the day before NaNoWriMo I wrote around 400 words of plot. That was it. I felt weak in the knees. I felt like I rushed Of Gnomes and Dwarves. I didn’t think I could pull off 50,000 words in November with Thanksgiving, volleyball games, practices and everything else going on. It’s a short month and so much going on.

nanogoal

Here’s a screenshot of my excel spreadsheet to show the NaNoWriMo word goal. You can see I had a great first day, then nada the second day. Yeah. I was worried, but I knew I could pick up the slack. I did great for most of the month. You can then see things fell apart toward the end of the month and a couple days where it was touchy and others where it was plain nose to the grindstone and go for it writing. This is just how I work even though I try to write daily.

It wasn’t an easy month. A lot happened. I lot went on in my head thinking about things I needed to take care of. Plans beyond December into 2013 and so many things I need to take care of. But this was one goal I promised myself. I was going to knock NaNoWriMo out of the park. I didn’t knock it out of the park, but I had a solid showing and I’m proud of that. A hit is still a hit even if it wasn’t a home run.

One of the biggest things I learned in NaNoWriMo that I’ve tried to stick with throughout the year is to keep on writing. Don’t worry about what’s broke, just keep going until you hit then end and THEN worry about what’s broke. I can always re-write scenes, chapters, sections, and in the case of Of Gnomes and Dwarves, entire books. Everything is fixable. Pushing ahead in spite of your internal editor and your own self doubts is what matters.

I’ll admit one thing. Before NaNoWriMo I deleted all the games off my tablet and phone. Angry Birds, Temple Run, couple tower defense games, everything. Gone. Zap. Done! It wasn’t easy, but I did it. This was the best thing I could have done for my productivity during November. No longer did I have the excuse of “Oh, I’ll just get three stars on this one level and then I’ll get to writing. Okay, one more level.” That kind of mentality ate away many hours prior to NaNoWriMo and I wasn’t about to let it eat away my time during November.

I also got back in the habit of “I’m not feeling it” and forcing myself to get up and come back in five or ten minutes and start over. Basically doing a reset in my brain so I would not focus on a blank page, but start typing. I even started with my Daily Updates again which are a great primer to get all the funk out of my head. It helps me work through what I’m doing, keeps my goal in front of me, and forces me to address the day at hand.

If I looked at 50,000 words, that was overwhelming. I won’t lie. It’s daunting. But when I look at 1667 that’s not a daunting number. I can type that many words in one sitting no problem. I’ve done 2500 words an hour before if I’m excited enough or motivated enough. I just need to focus on the task at hand and go for it.

Looking at something so big in smaller chunks helps even when looking at my annual goal, but we’ll cover that when I do my 2012 breakdown.

All in all I wrote 67,830 words during the month of November. 50105 of those words were new fiction. I’m excited about that number. I’m looking at November and I know I won’t write 50,000 words for a couple of reasons, but we’ll get to that in another post.

I took the entire weekend off from writing. I read a lot of short stories. I read a good chunk of a new book (How I slept Myself to the Middle by Kevin Pollak) and I relaxed as much as possible. The new few weekends will be PACKED and even though I have the last two weeks of the year off, I will not be getting as much writing done as I’d like.

That being said, it’s time to do the day job.

Until Tomorrow!

WO WOO!

Daily Update: NoNoWriMo Day 26

Wow, we’re in the homestretch of this NaNoWriMo thing. Just a few days left. The pressure to finish has begun. Will I get finished? Won’t I? What will I feel if I do? What will I feel if I do? Does it matter that I still won’t be any closer to having a completed novel? So many questions.

I’m actually more excited to be writing my 2012 postmortem. I’ll do a NaNoWriMo postmortem first to explain the little I learned over the course of November, but it was nothing that hadn’t come to me during the year already. Honestly, I could probably type it up now, but I’ll hold off. There are many other words to write first and I need to get to those.

So Yesterday I sat. I wrote. I knocked out just over 1000 words. Yeah, I was behind yesterday and now I’m more behind today. My Favorite Daughter had a volleyball banquet and spending time with her, or any family, or friends, is more important that shoving my nose in the the computer and typing like a madman. Sure, I think writing is one of my priorities, but there are choices, and then there’s life to live.

I read a post by J.R. Blackwell (yes, I find it funny that she and I share the J.R. of our names) and her post was insightful. It’s something I really needed to think about. There are a lot of people out there that write. Most are not comfortable with their level of writing ability. Some have life happen and just stop writing. Still others never even try and give up before they start. If you want to be a writer and see work published, you need to take risks and one of those risks is getting your work in front of people. It’s scary, but if you’re persistent talent be damned, you will find an audience.

There are some terrible authors out there. No, really. Some are just plain awful. I can’t count the number of books that have explained a story to me that had me so bored I had to put the book down. There are others that have stories that either make no sense or have plot holes that drive me mad (there are a lot of movies like that, but I digress). Finally you’ll find authors that just plain can’t tell a cohesive story. What do all of these have in common? They’re all PUBLISHED! Someone saw their work and loved it and decided it needed to be in print.

You are you own worst critic. If you write, don’t judge your own material against someone else’s material. Allow others to judge your material on its own merit. That’s the best thing you can do. When you sit alone and write it’s difficult to tell yourself that what you’re writing is any good. Trust me, you’ll see every flaw and learn to hate your writing unless you can get another person to read it and even then you’ll still tell yourself that it sucks and it could be better and and and…

Stop and take a breath. Realize that 1) no one is forcing you to write and 2) you should be having fun writing that story.

If you’re not having fun then I think you should reassess why you’re writing in the first place. If you’re having fun and don’t want anyone else to read your work, that’s fine. No, really. There’s no rule you need to write something for other people. Just know that someone somewhere will like what you’ve done. There are a lot of people in the world and if you cared enough to write it, someone will be happy reading it.

I’ve written a lot of stuff. Some will never see the light of day. That’s just the way my brain works. Some of this stuff isn’t meant for human consumption (some I wouldn’t even let my dog poop on). Even so, there is some of it that I’m quite happy with. I had fun writing the stories and hopefully people enjoy reading them. That’s why I write. I want to entertain people. Nothing more, nothing less. In the end I’d be just as happy with 10 people reading my work as 10,000. Obviously if 10,000 people read my work I’ll be more motivated to write more, but it won’t change the fact that I’m having fun doing this.

I’m going to do my day job. Then I’m going to have some fun. I hope, if you write, you’re having fun too.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Dailly Update: NoNoWriMo Day 5

We’re 5 days into NaNoWriMo. My current work count is 10582. I haven’t written yet today and I should be at 10002 words. What does this mean? I means I’m more than a full day ahead and I still have a lot of time to write today. It means that I should be able to hit my goal if I stay on track. I’m happy not only with my progress, but with the story. Poor Vic just… wait a minute! I see what you tried to do there. I’m not going to tell you what’s happening in the story. Just that the most recent chapter I started last night had B.T. Justice on board the Space Cruiser Apprehension. He’s just as arrogant as ever and a blast to write.

I also met with P.G. Holyfield and Starla Huchton. We talked about NaNoWriMo and our progress and things to do during this month to help your progress. You can see our hangout discussion over on youtube. Be sure to check out Both P.G. and Starla as they have some great reading material. You can also see the other chats (I haven’t been in the previous ones, but might be in later episodes). It’s always fun to talk writing with other writers.

My Favorite Daughter had no private lesson yesterday. I don’t think she’ll have one today, and we’ll have to see how the rest of the week goes. I need to take her to a sporting goods store so we can buy a step, a band, and a medicine ball for doing core strengthening. All of these will help her when it comes to hitting, jumping, and speed. She really wants to make varsity next year and I’m willing to do anything to help her out. It’s a tough road. She knows that and she’s willing to make the commitment.

Not a lot else going on. Just a lot of work and writing. Speaking of work…

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: NoNoWriMo is quickly approaching.

If you’re looking for tips and tricks to win NaNoWriMo this year, you’re looking in the wrong spot. I haven’t won in years. But I will tell you what I’m planning on doing this year. Writing a lot more than I have in the past.

I won NaNoWriMo once. I wrote V&A Shipping during November at breakneck speed. It was that speed, I think, that made the book as good as it is. I had an idea of the story in my head and just went for it. It flowed from my finger tips like water. But why did it?

I had been writing a lot of short stories that year and a couple novellas. I had been writing a LOT that year. I think total that year I wrote over 250,000 words. I was writing in spurts and putting out a lot of work. I was happy with much of it, not so much with quite a bit. Regardless, I was writing.

This year coming into NaNoWriMo I’ve been tracking my progress. I’ve written nearly 400,000 words so far this year. I plan on not just hitting my 450,000 word goal I set at the beginning of the year, but surpassing it. I’ve been able to do this by tracking my progress. Tracking my words. Posting my journey for others to follow. I’ve had a great time with writing and I’ve treated it more like a part time job than a hobby I can just do whenever. It wasn’t easy, but I made writing one of my many priorities.

Another thing I made a priority this year is to read more. I’ve read dozens of blogs, online comics, books, books, you name it, I’ve probably been reading it. This has not only fueled my writing, but helped me to think about things I’m putting in my WIP.  It’s helped me think about things happening, events that need to occur, scenes I need to include, foreshadowing I need to include, how characters need to develop. Reading helps a lot while writing.

Something else? My typing speed has increased throughout the year. I used to type fairly quickly. I’m a touch typist. Writing as much as I have this year means I can touch type even faster. On last check I was tpying just over 70 WPM. That’s based on a test that has me typing special characters, words I don’t know and things like that. I’m sure while I’m working on my WIP I’m typing far faster than that with fewer errors as I type.

Finally communiction is key. I’ve communicated with the wife and My Favorite Daughter that I want to write a lot this year. They’ve given me their blessing and their understanding. Sure I still get interupted from time to time, but they understand what I’m trying to do.

So it’s been a good year for me so far. I know I’ll succeed in NaNoWriMo this year because I’ve made it a goal. I took steps throughout the year to be prepared for this. I’ve done everything I could to make sure I can complete my 50,000 words in November. Will I? Will some distraction occur that will prevent me from getting it done? It’s possible. I’ve done all I can to be prepared short of taking the Month of November off.

One thing I didn’t mention. I wrote 5444 words yesterday. I did this and I completed the new Angry Birds Seasons levels. All of them. Three stars. I wasted a LOT of time yesterday that I could have been writing. I waste a lot of time and I’ve still written 400,000 words this year. I’ve just wasted less time then I normally do. I have no excuses for not completing my NaNoWriMo goal.

I’d better get to finishing Of Gnomes and Dwarves Book I so I can be ready to start V&A Shipping Book II.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: That feeling of frustration

I haven’t written in a couple of days. That’s frustrating. It’s not from a lack of desire. It’s from a lack of time. I know this will occur, but hey, I can still feel frustrated, right?

I know that I shouldn’t. I’m still thinking of what I want to/need to write so that means my writing sessions will be more productive.

There’s also the upside as to why I haven’t written. 1) Getting a lot of work on the day job done (even at night) and 2) My favorite daughter’s volleyball team is kicking ass!
My favorite daughter loves volleyball. I love that she loves volleyball. I love to sit on the side next to the wife and other parents and cheer them on. I feel great (for them) when they win. I suffer when they lose. Monday’s game was against a team they’d beaten earlier in the season. In two games (best two out of three). Monday they lost the first game 20-25. They won the second 25-23. The third game was a stressful back and forth and back and forth that finally ended in a win of 18-16 (a game to 15 points that must be won by 2 points). The girls all fought and even if they’d lost, they had nothing to be disappointed about.

Then I watched the Chargers choke on Monday night football and decided to just go to bed knowing that my favorite daughter is on an awesome team.
Last night I had to go to the store a couple of times and do some late night work to get a bit ahead on the project I’m working on. I’m ahead now and I feel good about that. The past two nights have left me spent. So rather than try and write, I watched a couple speed painting videos (I’m learning Photoshop and Illustrator). These helped relax my brain and I’m trying to do something every day with regards to learning how to draw.

I’m learning that drawing is much like writing. It’s all about layers, one on top of the other. It’s a recursive process that you need to go over, and over, and over to get it right. You can just BANG done. I think that’s always been my problem with drawing in the first place.

So I haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked in the past couple of days. That needs to change as I want to have the first draft of Of Gnomes and Dwarves completed before NaNoWriMo starts. Why? During November I want to Start on V&A Shipping II. Yes, after all these years I’m going to write a sequel to V&A Shipping. I’ve got the story in my head, I’ve got a plot in my head, I just need to get some words down, a chapter by chapter blow, then prepare for November where I’ll be writing at least 50,000 words which will be a great start on V&A II.

Before I can do that, I need to get through the work day. I’d better go do that.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

Daily Update: Today is a good day.

Initially I was Sneezy and Grumpy. I took my Doc’s advice and was Dopey and Sleepy. What I really want it to be Happy. Heck, I’d even been glad to be Bashful.

Today is a good day. My sinuses are feeling a little relief. It’s dark, it’s a little chilly (I’m still wearing shorts and a t-shirt) and it looks like rain is on the horizon once again.

My nose, on the other hand (or would it be other face, hmm) is red, raw, and sore. My ears hurt from all the nose blowing. The residual headache is a bother, but hey, I’ll get over that. At least I don’t have a leaky nose. Well, not as much as it was.

Yesterday I wanted to go see my best friend’s daughter run track. She’s really good at the hurdles even though she’s only just begun. She’s got those crazy long legs. Being that I used to run track, I miss watching all the events. I will make it to at least one of her meets this season.

I also missed my favorite daughter’s volleyball practice. Hearing her talk about it, I missed a good practice. I will be practicing with her later today and a little tomorrow. She’s got a tournament on Sunday and I want her to be prepared. From what she told me, she will be.

I’ve wanted to record. I think I’ll do that tonight or perhaps tomorrow. I need to record the latest episode of Golden West for the Action Pack Podcast. I need to record my story for Tee and Pip. I need to record the promo for the Action Pack. Unfortunately with my head as congested as it is (was) it just wasn’t going to happen. Even though I had an awesomely low voice because of all the snoring I’ve done the past couple of days, I couldn’t make it though more than a few words without coughing. That would have been an editing nightmare.

On the plus side, I knocked out 2500 words yesterday. Most of that in My Teacher is a Werewolf. This will be the next story in the Teacher series. I need to come up with a good title for the series. Something like Unnatural Teachings or something like that. I’ll give it more thought. I plan on doing more of these stories. Why? Because they’re fun to write and I can get into the story quickly. This one might be a little longer than the first, but hey, I’m good with longer. I already like where the story is going and I’m confident I’ll plow through the first draft quickly.

If I’m lucky, I’m past that little sticking point. I didn’t like struggling to write words. I still wrote every day and I know why some people might not write while sick or when they don’t feel well. But I’m happy I did it. I worked through a difficult time and I have more words. Even if some days it was only a slight amount, it was still words I didn’t have before.

Speaking of words, I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo. That should be no surprise. But I found something called JuNoWriMo. It’s basically NaNoWriMo in June. I’ll do both this year. My goal right now is to work on Of Gnomes and Dwarves book 1 in June, edit it in July, and work on Book 2 in November, and edit it in December. Then I’ll release those in 2013. Possibly sooner depending on how I feel about where the stories are at. Each book currently is at around 60,000 words. Both I wrote very quickly on the first draft so I’ll use those plot outlines as a guide, but I’m going to completely re-write them both.

These were the first two books I’d ever written and they’re rough. Very rough. But when I’d written them I had a vision of where I wanted to go and I did just that. I will revisit the universe and this time I’ll keep a character list as I go as those books have a lot of characters and I’m sure I’ll get lost if I don’t keep track. Even typing up this paragraph I’m remembering how much fun it was to write those stories. Maybe I won’t wait for June. J

There’s a lot of writing still to come this year. I’d better get on it. So…

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

 

Unorthodox Writing Tips 2: Take a Shower

I work at home three or four day a week. To most this sounds like a dream come true. Well, I ain’t complaining. It does come with its perks. Like being able to work in my pajamas from time to time. Well, ok. Most of the time. I can honestly say that I love my job and the freedoms it offers me. Yes, there are times (and many of them) where I’m up early and working late. Being that I enjoy my work, I don’t mind.

But there are times when I get up, roll over to the computer, slog through my email and have a tough time getting started. Even when I’ve gotten into a routine things don’t always flow as smoothly as I would like. If I’m in a particularly bad mood I’ll just try to keep working through the funk.

Then there are days where I find myself sitting and staring at the screen willing the code to write itself. I don’t want to write that piece of code. I don’t want to edit that file. I don’t want to upload that data.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m a computer programmer. I do web applications that interface with databases. Ninety-Nine percent of the time I am excited to sit down and start working. I love getting up at 5:30am and I’ve worked twenty hours straight.

So what do I do on those days when I just don’t feel it? When I can’t get myself to start typing? I hop in the shower.

Sounds silly? Well, for me I usually don’t shower until midday. I like to get up and dive into my work. I’ve gotten into a routine and around lunchtime I’ll grab a quick bite and a shower and I’m ready for he second half of my day. So I’ve gotten it in my brain that shower time is wake up time. Even though I’ve been awake for hours before I do that, I know that when I go back to the computer I’m ready to go. It wakes up my brain and I’m firing on all cylinders.

Why should this be important to you? Why should you take a second shower or even a third? Well, before I got the job I currently have I would get up in the morning, take a shower, and go to work. I would work my job, come home and be too wiped out from the day to write. So I’d put it off and flop down in front of the television and say to myself, “I’ll get to it later.”

I didn’t.

So I started coming home and after dinner I would do the dishes and then take a quick shower. Initially I just wanted to wash off the day. Really. I had no other motives. I just wanted to feel fresh before I went to bed. What I wound up doing was thinking about the story I was working on. The shower would be telling my brain, “It’s time to go to work.” So I would get out of the shower and sit down at the computer and I started writing. My brain had been engaged and was ready to get to work. I no longer felt like just sitting and watching television. I wanted to do something.

So I know that it’s November. It’s NaNoWriMo time again. So when you get home from that daily job. When you’ve done your house work. When you feel like it’s time to crank out those 1600 words for the day, take yourself a quick shower, get into some comfy clothes, and get to work.

Even beyond NaNoWriMo this can help you whenever you feel the need to write. Even it it’s just washing your face and then sitting down to write. This is a little something that’s helped me many times when I feel ‘stuck’ or have even used the excuse “I have writer’s block.” So if you’re feeling sluggish or just can’t get into that writing groove, give it a try. Let me know what happens.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!