NaNoWriMo Newbie Jitters

In less than two weeks time begins 30 days of literary abandon. A month where writers come together in mass insanity to churn out 50,000 words before midnight, November 30th.

Insanity I tell you.

And yet, I feel obligated to inform you that I have decided to participate in said bedlam and join the others at the loony bin. This year I’m going to pop my NaNoWriMo cherry and attempt the (seemingly) impossible.

For those of you unfamiliar with this annual phenomenon, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and every November writers are challenged to writing 50,000 words before the end of the month.

What do you win? You win a 50,000 word first draft is what! Along with what I’m guessing would be a new found love for time spent not writing, an envy of eight-handed aliens (think how much quicker you could type!), and of course the pride and absolute joy at having achieved the unachievable.

Being my first NaNo I have to admit to some nerves. Never have I ever written anything so monstously long in my life. Do I even know 50,000 words? What if I get writers’ block after day two? Will my fingers fall off if I type so much? God forbid, what if I FAIL?

All valid concerns, in my opinion. But none of them compare to the biggest issue of all; What if my story is rubbish and I realise that I’m not, in fact, a writer at all?

Cue teary break down. Pass the tissues will you?

I’ve been reading a lot about how people prepare for the challenge. Plotters and Pantsters, chapter outlines, character profiles, synopses, writing prompts, calendars, word counters, daily goals. The list goes on and yet what is resoundingly clear is that, like with any type of writing, no one way will work for everyone. You’ve got to find what works for you.

So, what am I going into this challenge with? How have I prepared for the ultimate writer’s test? Well, my plot goes something like this:

Chosen one.

Imminent evil.

Kingdom in peril.

It doesn’t look like much, huh? That’s because it isn’t. Whilst I’ve got a few ideas lulling around my bizarre little brain, I’m going to take the ‘pantster’ approach, eg, write by the seat of my pants. I suppose you could say this is an experiment of sorts, seeing as those of you who have been here a while will know that I like to plot. I NEED to plot. But I’m not going to.

Mostly, it’s out of fear that I might realise it’s rubbish before I even get to November 1st and give up before I give myself a chance. But it’s also because the idea of NaNoWriMo is not to write the next best-seller or to start December with a polished piece of high literature ready too submit to publishers and competitions around the world. It’s to overcome inertia, to not over think it, to just WRITE and have something to work with once the month is over. The website explains that:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

To build without tearing down. What a great strategy, who would’ve thought?

I’m going to have a decent go at ‘winning’, but if I finish November with just one page, one paragraph, one sentence even, of perfected prose, the root of an idea that will lead to a better one, or even 50,000 words showing how not to write a novel, then I will have gained something.

It’s certainly not for everyone, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Any other newbies out there giving it a crack? Want to hold hands and weep at the insanity of it all together? Please tell me I’m not alone here!

For anyone wanting advice on how to get through November with some semblance of sanity, head over to Terrible Minds where Chuck Wendig gives some writing advice to help you stay on target during NaNoWriMo.

Happy writing!

~storytelling nomad~

Advertisements

Top 10 Writing Distractions

We all have them.  Those little blighters who woo us away from the actual work, tricking us into thinking it needs to be done, like, now. Here are my top 10, in no particular order because let’s face it, procrastination has no standards.

  1. Food
    Argument: Because I need to eat to LIVE!  Right? I think that’s a pretty good argument, don’t you?
    Reality: Getting up for chocolate, or to open the fridge door and stare for five minutes only to find that it is still stocked with the same products that were there 20 minutes ago when you last looked and decided there was nothing in there you want, is not the same as eating your three meals a day so that you can, you know, live. Get in, do what you need to do, then back away. Also, if you are like me and convinced that chocolate is a plausible energy booster, keep it by your computer so that you don’t “need” to get up for it.
  2. Housework
    Argument: Because a clean house is a clean mind.
    Reality: The wardrobe that has needed cleaning out since 1982 can wait another day while you write your damn novel.
  3. Reading
    Argument: Because Stephen King said that “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
    Reality: Reading is so very important to writing, but if you spend absolutely ALL your time reading then you won’t have any time to use all those new skills and words in your own writing. Balance your time between the two.
  4. Staring at Walls
    Argument: Because I can.
    Reality: They’re not going anywhere, look at them later.
  5. Sleeping
    Argument: Because I can’t write with my eyes closed…and I’m tired! And dreams make great fodder for stories.
    Reality: You slept the required seven hours last night and another nanna nap is just not necessary. Yes, bed looks so good right now and it’s cold and rainy outside, but hey, you can sleep when you’re a hundred and eighty and after you’ve published your 50th bestseller.
  6. DVDs
    Argument: Because eight day Buffy & Angel marathons are totally legitimate methods of studying the fantasy genre and excellent examples of brilliant writing (thanks Joss Whedon).
    Reality: Moderation is the key. Get creative inspiration and watch an episode (or four) but then get back to business.
  7. Blogging
    Argument: Because I’m totally honing my writing skills and getting constructive feedback from a wider audience.
    Reality: While you’re blogging about writing you’re novel, you’re not actually writing your novel. Do what you need to do, but don’t forget about the bigger picture.
  8. Social Media
    Argument: Because I have to connect with my readers and get my name out there.
    Reality: Twitter and Facebook and Google+ are your frenemies. They will help you get your name out there and act all nice to your face, but just when you least expect it, BAM! Those good intentions of yours to spend a mere half hour replying to tweets and promoting your blog, all of a sudden turn into the Black Hole of Evil Time-Sucking Badness. Before you know it five hours have gone by and you come to your senses only to find that you’ve been watching ninja cats and talking unicorns called Charlie on YouTube for an unspecified amount of time. How did you even get there? The Black hole of Evil Time-Sucking Badness has ways, and social media is its minion. Don’t be a sucker.
  9. Exercise
    Argument: Because keeping healthy and fit is important.
    Reality: Thinking about exercise, buying gym clothes and talking about exercise are not the same as actually doing exercise. Or so I’m told. 30 minutes a day is all it takes. Do it, then get back to the writing.
  10. Time
    Argument: He’s my arch nemesis and purposefully made it so there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything just to spite me.
    Reality: Time is an asshole. He always has and always will be an asshole. When you have two hours to finish an assignment, he thinks it’s funny to go at the speed of light just to keep you on your toes. When you’re at work with nothing to do he slows down so the minutes drag by and you end up death staring the clock. He ain’t gonna change, so your only choice is to work with what you have seeing as the bastard is not gonna budge.
What are your biggest distractions and time wasters?
~storytelling nomad~

10,000 hits! Milestones & Head Explosions

Kodak Moment - 10,000 hits

BEWARE: Ego on the loose. Proceed with caution.

Last week I reached the 10,000 hits mark on storytelling nomad, which I felt was occasion enough for a kodak moment and a mild case of head swelling (see below for evidence of head explosion).

September was actually a bit special as far as months go with milestones hitting me left, right and centre.

In particular, I had a strong suspicion that I was being stalked by the number 100 after receiving my 100th subscriber, my 100th Twitter follower and WordPress very kindly exclaiming “Sensational!” at my 100th post.  Add to that my 100 words on revenge and I was just about ready to take out a restraining order on my three digit stalker (who I actually kinda like).

Once again, thank you all for the love.  You may have reduced me to a head-exploding-with-fireworks crazy happy person, but as long as there continues to be no complaints, I shall keep on keeping on.

Look what you have reduced me to dear readers! (this picture is not to scale)

~storytelling nomad~

Mind blowing cover art

If you’ve been feeling at all like something is amiss in your life of late, it is in all likelihood due to the absence of my Robin Hobb idolisation posts. Never fear, dear readers! Today I came across Jackie Morris’s cover art for City of Dragons, the soon to be released third volume in Robin Hobb’s Rainwild Chronicles.

And can I just say WOW.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love the cover art for the re-released editions of Hobb’s books.  Jackie Morris is responsible for them all, and not only are they stunning, but they also look pretty damn good on my bookshelf.  I would frame these covers and hang them on my wall if I could.

Head on over to Jackie’s blog to see the newest Hobb cover art in progress, or her website to see more of her amazing work.

Cover art for City of Dragons designed by Jackie Morris

I’m a self confessed judge-a-book-by-its-cover person. I’m not proud of it, but I can’t help but be mesmerised by good cover art and be completely put off by the less appealing covers. When the excellent quality of a book matches its cover, my life is complete.

I’m currently restraining myself from purchasing some of the new Penguin Clothbound Classics, which I already own in other editions but which are soooo pretty!  I was also lucky enough to work at Penguin with designer Daniel New when he was putting together Maggie Beer’s Maggie’s Harvest, an absolutely stunning cover.

Have you got any judge-a-book-by-its-cover moments? Favourite covers?

Penguin Clothbound Classic collection

Maggie’s Harvest by Maggie Beer – Designed by Daniel New

~storytelling nomad~