Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo - 40k words and the home straight

Wow, what a climax! No friends, I don't refer to a steamy scene from one of my stories. Rather I've reached a personal milestone on my National Novel Writing Month challenge. Just passed the 40,000 word mark a few minutes ago, leaving me with a meagre (!) 10,000 words to tap out before Tuesday 30th.

So how do I mark this bruiser of a milestone? Alone I fear. Husband is working late, no NaNo friends are online, so there is literally 'no one to hug'.

Fair enough. Getting used to the solitary life of a writer. Every time I reach a work milestone like this, I mark it in three ways: shout an ickle baby cheer of triumph (always), have a cry on the landing (frequently), or if I'm feeling wild, a cup of instant coffee with a few squares of Lindt (rare).

Now need to eat, sleep, get up tomorrow, and do it all over again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNoWriMo - 9 days left but who's counting?

Me, that's who.

9 days left til D-day. November 30th. A Tuesday. I've nothing spectacular planned except the completion of my 50,000 word first draft of a contemporary novel.

At the moment, I've written 28,268 words. Quality words may I add, with a plot that is gelling surprisingly well (yes, I too am amazed). This leaves me with a rather scary 21,732 words to write in the next 9 days. Throw into the foray extra-curricular activities, like a Thanksgiving to celebrate, a NaNo meetup to attend, and a sister's second draft to edit, and the maths starts to scare the bejaysus out of me. In reality, I have just 6.2 days to finish!

Like all McKennas, I plan most of my goals with scout-like diligence. So this morning, I hovered over the whiteboard planning what's what, breaking the task down into hours. If I average 600 (quality) words per hour, I'll need 37 point something hours to make it to 50K.

Next began the painful task of working out a timetable to achieve said 37 hours without losing my sanity or husband. It's short term pain for long term gain after all, so pathetic as it sounds, I've allotted specific hours per day to achieving my desired word count. And if I get to Monday 29th and have surpassed 50k? Then we plan the next phase - the beloved second draft.

How I love the second draft stage: playing with words, experimenting with surprise plot twists and generally indulging in my own little world of fiction. That's when the craic really starts.

But for now, I will kill off one more day's work, striking off each day and wordcount as we go. In the words of Susan McCann, "One day at a time, sweet Jesus."
Bring it on back home there Missus.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo - is your plot taking shape?

A common thread with myself and my fellow NaNoWriMo writers is that most of us start off not knowing much about our plot. But one of the joys of this month-long challenge is that you don't HAVE to know exactly where you're going - instead, why not let pen/keyboard take you on an unexpected journey?

I've fallen into a happy schedule of daydreaming about the plot for an hour or so in bed, recording those ideas into the iPhone's 'Voice Memo' app, and then getting up to type. Having these two or three items to write about keeps the procrastination at bay and gives me reassurance that at least for today, I've a bit of a plot. It'll come together, right?

I am playing catchup on the wordcount stakes, but managing on average 3k words a day. 3k is small potatoes if you're a full-time writer, but my caution is justified. I want a usable first draft at the end of this, which means no messing, getting the words as right as they can be first time without letting my inner editor near the keyboard. Wordcount is important and all, but if your 50k words is complete tripe, is the challenge as satisfying? Is the first draft usable? Not so much.

This means my pace is much slower than some writers'. The ones who hammer out 1,200 words an hour scare the bejaysus out of me, but I'm smug in the knowledge that I am very happy with my work so far. As far as one can be with a first draft.

Must hammer on and quicken the pace a bit if I'm going to make 50k by the end of the month. I just know there'll be days where I can't stomach facing my characters, their conflicts, loves, and losses.

Once I've more of a plot fleshed out, I'll post for your entertainment. Bye for now, Nicola.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo Take Two

Have you ever felt like the old grey cells were veiled in a mass of cobwebs?
That your thoughts took ages to meld together, creaking in pain like an old door?
Well, this is how my pregnant brain feels right now. While welcome, the first trimester has been 'challenging', so now that symptoms are finally letting up and allowing me get on with the rest of my life, what do I plan to do with this revived 'never leave me again' energy? Why not hurl myself headlong into another 'challenge'? When it's November, and you're a writer, it means one thing: National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to the seasoned among you.

I'm late signing up, but 50,000 words in a month is doable right? Is 50,000 in 21 days doable? It feels nigh on impossible right now. In 2008's NaNoWriMo, I managed a painful 7k-odd words, but a lot has happened since then. Online class after online class led me to completing my first novella and circulating it to publishers this September. No contract just yet, but already this writer feels a lot tougher than she did in 2008. For one thing, she's learned that everyone (yes, everyone) writes a rubbish 'first draft'.

Ever the planner, I whipped out a calculator first thing this morning and did the maths: my goal means writing 2,500 words every day for the next 21 days. That's roughly equal to one high school English essay a day.

No probs, you say? Try it and see. Sign up to the NaNoWriMo challenge (yeah, you'll be late, but so am I). Look me up under 'Schmicola' and bully me towards my own golden goal of 50,000 words. Good luck!