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Thursday, October 05, 2006

NaNoWriMo is coming

Something fun is about to take place: National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) is approaching. NaNo is a world wide write-fest in which participants attempt to knock out a 50,000 word novel starting on November 1 and ending on November 30. Only prose penned for the first time in November is allowed - no pre-written material. This year about 75,000 people are expected to take part and less than 20% are likely to finish their novel. It's like ... er .. marathon running for writers. So I'm 'in'. Complete madness, I know. But sometimes you should just spend time doing something really silly - just for the sake of it. Be a kid again (for a while).

Don't expect anything exciting to come of this particular literary venture. As the blurb for NaNo says, "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." If you finish, and are really lucky, you might have something worth spending the next eleven months turning into a passable novel - but don't bank on it!

Anyway, I have a bit of planning to do this month before I launch into the write-fest on 1st November. I'll keep you posted.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

On your marks ...

Well, the writers are all ready. Thinking time is nearly over and in just over 48 hours tens of thousands of writers will start writing. This afternoon, eight of us (including Andrew) met up at the Arts Centre in Christchurch, talked about writing, NaNo and what we were all doing. Then we listened to "AJ" (our 'Municipal Liaison' guy) giving an interview on National Radio. If you want to you can find the podcast here at: http://www.radionz.co.nz/podcasts/artsonsunday.rss (at least for the next two or three weeks - look for for the item "(Inter)National Novel Writing Month".

We have all been given our instructions; "don't log on to the Internet, don't read email, no instant messengers, if you blog, don't - in fact, for November, any time spent at a computer when you are not writing, is wasted time." So, if you don't hear from me for a while, you will know why and if you find something here that makes even less sense than usual, then I have probably posted part of my novel in the wrong place!

See you out the other end (unless I fall of my bike at the first corner).

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ready ... steady ... type.

Another five hours and it will be heads down, ready, steadyeee ... Type!

I am starting with not a great deal of confidence that I will be able to keep up the pace or won't run out of words. But, hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say (who was it came up with that one?)

Anyway just to make me more embarassed to fail, my "NaNo Meter" is over on the left so everyone can see how I am doing (or not). And, if you haven't the faintest idea what I am talking about, then you haven't been reading these pages for a while so go and check out NaNoWriMo - I am on my way towards that elusive 50,000 words and being one of the 15% who make it.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

I don't have time ...

... but my NaNoMeter tells only half the story. The rest of it goes something like this:

November 1, get up early and complete nearly 1,000 words before work. Complete another 1,000 at lunch time. Fall of bike on way home from work and disrupt my shoulder joint. Get home and go to doctor; suspected broken bone at AC joint - large bony lump on shoulder. Arm in sling. Right arm in sling.

November 2, go to hospital. X-ray, torn ligaments, end of collar bone flapping around in breeze looking for a home. Off work five days, sling for two weeks, recovery about six.

November 3-10, Searching for new ways to type faster than one finger on left hand. Some success; well ahead on word count thanks to days at home and inability to do anything else.

November 11, Arm out of sling already, pleased with progress, took time out to type blog. Wants medal for dedication to 'art'.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Time out for good behaviour

Tonight I take a break from writing my story. Today my word count passed the 32,000 mark with eighteen days left. That means I have averaged over 2,680 words per day so far and only need to average 990 per day for the rest of the month to complete my 50,000 words during November.

Considering my initial fears about keeping up the pace or running out of words, and then feeling that I would be forced to quit after the November 1st accident, I am pretty pleased about where I have got to. Pleased enough that I lodged my last words today at about 3 o'clock (32,182) and awarded myself the rest of the day off. My characters however are less kind, they haven't stopped nagging me to carry on telling their stories.

My main character is about to embark on period of discovery in a virtual world, my other MC is currently locked up for a murder that he may not have committed (I suspect that he wants me to get him out quickly) and National Security seem to have a finger in the pie, but no one quite knows what finger - least of all the police inspector who is beginning to think that there is more going on than she has been led to believe. Of course, that's just the surface story, underneath there's a more fundamental question about the responsibilities carried by someone who creates a life.

See what's going on here; I might have stopped writing the story, but these fingers are still in motion :-)

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Friday, November 24, 2006

The insanity has ended

Last night at ten o'clock, I finished my NaNo novel with seven days still in hand. I have started several novel length projects before but this has been the first for which I have written a complete first draft. And, believe me, after NaNo that's all you have - a first draft.

The whole experience has been both challenging and exhilarating The challenges started on November 1st when I had a cycling accident and wrecked my shoulder (prognosis: sling for 2 weeks, no driving for 3, recovery in 6). After trying to type with one finger on my left hand, I thought my NaNo was over. But, with a bit of cheer-leading from my fellow NaNo participants, I hung on in and, at some point, a dogged determination to finish come what may, set in. Writing a 50,000 word story (I won't call it a novel yet) in such a short space of time, is the writer's equivalent of running a marathon. Perhaps NaNo is harder than a marathon; certainly fewer percentage of people seem to cross the finish line.

From a writing perspective, I personally discovered how to tap in to my 'inner writer'. The inner writer is the little guy in your subconscious who sits there in the background quietly weaving intricate plot ideas and then feeding them out to you a bit at a time. When this guy is in the driving seat it is hard for the fingers to keep up with the flow of ideas that he generates. My best day (the last day) my 'inner writer' generated well over 5,000 words and I was still in bed by ten o'clock.

If the inner writer' is the friendly guy, then the 'inner editor' is his nemesis. He constantly tells you that what you have just written is no good (agree with him and tell him you'll fix it later) and is always trying to get you to read what you have just written (tell him you are writing, not reading right now). The inner editor is the reason I have never got past chapter three in any story I have previously attempted. Now that I have got to the end of this story I can, of course, let him back in to do what he does best.

Some things surprised me during NaNo.

  • The first was how the inner writer took over the story. I had the basic idea and a handful of characters, but the little guy just kept having them say unexpected things and taking them in directions I hadn't intended. I had ideas for scenes drawn up before I started writing, but half of them never got written and many new ones just popped up out of the blue.
  • The creative paralysis that set in around 33,000 words. That inner writer took a holiday or, more likely, I forced him out of the picture. The problem was that I started worrying about how I was going to bring all the threads of the story together for the end. The more I worried, the harder it all seemed. I decided to just write my main character towards the end and leave all the loose ends for a later edit. But still I only inched my way from 33k to 43k words. 10k words of drudgery.
  • The third surprise was that around 43k words, the inner writer came back and took over. I just wrote as fast as I could and in a final frenzy of writing all the story lines merged in an unforeseen and synergistic climax. That final day was a frantic 5k+ words fitted in around my day job bring the story screeching to a halt at 50,124 words.

Was it hard work? - You better believe it! Did I enjoy it? for the best part and ultimately, yes. Would I do it again? Try and stop me, I can see a sequel on the horizon already.

Here are the stats:

  • Started writing = 1 November 2006
  • Finished writing = 23 November 2006
  • Days with no writing = 3
  • Average words per writing day = 2,506
  • Best writing day = 5,196
  • Worst writing day = 850
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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Kiwi Writers, open for business

It's great to see that Kiwi Writers is now up and running. A spin off from the highly successful 2006 NaNoWriMo Kiwi participation, it aims to foster the NaNoWriMo spirit all year round. Pay them a visit, fordy may well be lurking there.

Look out for the kiwi or the worm on other writing sites.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's NaNo time ...

NaNo time? No, that’s not small increments of time. Though perhaps it is – is a month a sufficiently small increment of time in which to write a 50,000 word novel?

“National Novel Writing Month” shortened to “NaNoWriMo” and further truncated to “NaNo” is upon us. The name is, in fact, somewhat incongruous - it should be ‘International Novel Writing Month’ as people from around the globe will be taking part (last year, 119,301 took part, writing a total of 1,643,343,993 words). NaNoWriMo is now in its eleventh year and was only truly national for one year, when the first 21 people took part in the USA. By year two, there were 140 participants and it had already crossed the borders of the USA. I participated in my first NaNoWriMo in 2006 (year 8) with another 79,812 people.

This year, both my Son and daughter are participating, so it’s becoming something of a family thing. Lift off is midnight Saturday night as we tick over to the first of November. Then, its fingers to the keyboard for a month of literary abandon.

Find out more at: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

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