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Monday, November 23, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Twenty Three

Words Written Today: 0
Total Words Written: 32643

Well, the bad news is that this weekend has been something of a washout, with a couple of 1000-ish days, and then nothing today (my birthday, to be fair). The good news is I'm now only about 20 words behind where I was at this point last time. Of course, there were 31 days in January...

Still, I'm feeling pretty positive about it all. My daily count is now about 2480, which is a bit of a bugger, but still achievable. Definitely going to be some after-work sessions, but that's to be expected in the final week. Also, 50,000 words may be the required count, but that doesn't mean my story will magically end at that mark. Last time I came in a little over 52,000. As with last time, I've got the final two days of the month off (pure coincidence this time), so I'll be able to give a big push then, if necessary.

Anyway, back to my lazy day!

Carry on reading...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Nineteen

Words Written Today: 2254
Total Words Written: 26548

Yabba dabba doo!

Past the halfway mark and things are kicking off! Now if I can just figure out what's going to happen at the end...

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Eighteen

Words Written Today: 2432
Total Words Written: 24294

Surprisingly, although I forgot to do my blog post yesterday, I did actually hit my word quota. Anyways, things are skipping along at a good pace now and the halfway mark looms tomorrow (a mere 4 days behind schedule). I'm sure I'll hit a hiccup in the final week as I try and tie everything up in a way that doesn't feel forced or rushed, but I have the next few scenes vaguely mapped out in my head, which is always nice to know. It means a few minutes less wasted time in the morning as I try to figure out what the hell I'm going to write.

I keep trying to think what the experience was like last time at this point. It's nice to go back to my blog entries and reread what I was doing each day. I'm certainly finding the scale much easier this time around. The story works better for having room to breath. Last time I just tried to pack too much into 50,000 words, whereas the narrowed focus here feels like a much better fit. I can let the characters have a little more room to breathe in a story that, basic though it is, feels much more salvageable than my last attempt. I'm in a positive frame of mind about it all, and about what I might do next, so it's serving its purpose so far!

(Unless I come crashing down in the last week, in which case it'll be a dispiriting kick to the balls.)

Carry on reading...

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Sixteen

Words Written Today: 2355
Total Words Written: 19509

Well, here we are, the second half. Needless to say I'm somewhat behind schedule. The last couple of days weren't banner ones. Around a thousand on Saturday, then yesterday none at all as we visited Alex's granny. Today is back on track, but it is a day off. Really I should have around 26832 words right now, so while the wheels haven't come off the wagon yet, they sure are feeling a little shaky. Not about to give up though. After today, my daily quota is 2178 words, still within manageable proportions. My worry is that my daily average is well below what I was doing last time. I was at 22417 words at this point, and I also had an extra day in the month. Still, I'm able to write Thursdays now, which were a write-off last time.

So, I need to start hammering through things. The story is still pretty nebulous, though it took a turn today which I hadn't expected (a supporting character became much more important due to an act of cowardice which I hadn't planned on). I have a basic idea of where it's going, but the specifics aren't quite there. There's also far less room to pad this one out. My last was a big epic thing (in 50,000 words, haha), whereas this is meant to be an anti-epic. Lean and driven. So I can't start introducing extra characters and subplots now, or witter on about some world-building mythological nonsense. At best I can delve into small-town history, maybe do some kind of internal monologue about someone's troubled past with the law/women/gambling/alcohol in order to build sympathy before I knock 'em off (Stephen King stylee).

Still no social activity with the NaNo thing. Not the end of the world, but I hope to do at least one thing before it's all over. Even just one write-in.

Okay, now for afternoon of regression, listening to Transvision Vamp while playing video games. Oh, and making my lunches for the week. Big pot'o'pasta here I come!

Carry on reading...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Twelve

Words Written Today: 773
Total Words Written: 15103

Oh, shitsticks. Now 1939/day required (I miscalculated yesterday). On the plus side, I'm only about 1000 words below where I was at this time in January. Not a disaster! On the other hand, I was doing well over 1000 words per day by then. Best not to dwell!

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Eleven

Words Written Today: 725
Total Words Written: 14330

Did I say I wasn't going to do well? Well, even I didn't expect to do quite so poorly. Not a banner day, following a couple of underwhelming days. It now leaves me with a daily quota of 1982. I know from my previous experiences that going to around the 2200-2500 mark is about all I can really manage on a working day, and then not really consistently. I need to make sure I hit targets now, or I'm going to have to put in a couple of serious catch-up days.

Anyways, it's new comics night here at Salmond Central, so we'll speak again tomorrow!

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Ten

Words Written Today: 1251
Total Words Written: 13605

Not great, but better than I thought I'd done, actually. I had an abortive attempt at getting things finished over lunch when my laptop ran out of juice, crashing mid-sentence. I'd thought I had more left than I did, so went to Costa. Costa don't have any powerpoints, so I started up on 10% battery power, which doesn't last me quite as long as it used to. I love my little EeePC, I really do, but it's starting to feel a little tired on the keyboard and battery life front. Still got some life in the old girl yet, though. The joy of these early netbooks is that they were made to be cheap, portable and durable.

Tomorrow will be a little tough, as I'm meeting someone for lunch. Not yet at the point where I feel the need to make up for lost time in a day, but that'll be coming soon enough I think. The beginning of the evening sessions. I do need to make sure I'm over the 20,000 mark by Sunday, though, or I'll be getting well off track.

I'm still flying by the seat of my pants at the moment. Each step forward in the story feels like a leap of faith, with little idea how it should progress. It's an interesting test of my storytelling intuition, or lack thereof. We'll see how it pans out in the end. I'm sure it'll take things in an interesting direction anyway. I do have what feels like the luxury of knowing the major event I'm currently heading towards, so that's nice, but naturally building one particular relationship and actually getting those two characters involved in the main plot might take some doing. Coming along, though.

Still enjoying it. The feeling at the end of the day is nice, though the feeling when I push myself out of bed is less so. I do feel like it's all in a good cause, though. It helps cement the idea that I do want to write, that I do need to write the things I enjoy, and that I do really, really need to get some practice in.

Carry on reading...

Monday, November 09, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 9

Words Written Today: 1810
Total Words Written: 12354

Well, been a bumpy couple of days. Yesterday was my worst, only racking up around 500 words, but Saturday wasn't much better at around 1000. Various reasons, but the end result is a revised daily requirement of around 1800. Not terrible. Less than the 2000+ I was needing toward the end of my last go around and certainly manageable within my normal writing time, but still more than it needs to be.

They say the second week is the toughest. The thrill of the early days has worn off, but the end is nowhere in sight. Furthermore, the story has begun to take on its own life, probably leaving the best laid plans at the side of the road. "Where the fuck is this going?" starts to become the dominating thought. I'm making this up as I go, so that's been the dominating thought for me from the start, but I'm at the point where I can't pad things out with introductory exposition any more. Gotta start moving some kind of plot forward.

Still been completely uninvolved with any of the social aspects of NaNo, other than a handful of forum posts. Must try and get involved, although I am a terror when it comes to alien social situations, grumpy, anti-social old bastard that I am.

One thing of note that I did today. I started a little late, as I was catching up with the estimable J Chandler, recently returned from Japan. So I went all out at the start, challenging myself to get 600 words written in 15 minutes. Didn't quite manage it, but only by about 3 minutes, so that was a buzzy start to proceedings. Then took me another two hours to write the remaining 1200, but I'm guessing they were probably a little better.

So how am I feeling on the whole? Well, once again it's going to be a terrible pile of rubbish, but as I said before I do think the story has some legs. I'm also feeling inspired to get stuff done once this is over; to not lose the momentum. Well, when I'm not feeling like some kind of club-languaged buffoon, that is.

Carry on reading...

Friday, November 06, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Six

Words Written Today: 1337
Total Words Written: 9079

Super-quick one today.

Didn't hit word count, which was disappointing, but I thought that might happen with lunch taken up. Also, felt I was spinning my wheels a bit today, and that I really need to get things moving forward. I delved too much into the history of one the lead characters and it slowed everything to a crawl, when really I needed to get some more action in there. Still, done now, so things can move on again.

Not sure how tomorrow will be. May not update, as I'm out tomorrow evening. I should get some done, but don't know if I'll hit quota.

Right, gotta watch something before bed!

Carry on reading...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Five

Words Written Today: 1739
Total Words Written: 7742

Quota! I was a bit worried this morning, as things seemed to be going particularly slowly, but somehow I managed to limp into touch with a 40 minute burst at lunch. It was the first day where I've been tempted by my evil, lazy side, though. Evil, lazy bastard.

On the NaNo experience, I'm finding myself in a curious relationship with the whole networking side of things. Certainly one pleasing thing has happened: in the first two days, I found seeing other people's word counts next to their usernames a little intimidating, with many clocking over 10,000 by day two (and some flying past the 20,000 mark). Yet over the last two days I've been starting to narrow the gap, and that feels good. I'm like a slow and steady writing tortoise. But otherwise it all feels a little distant, like I'm not really a part of anything. I may attend a couple of the write-ins, just so I can see if that aspect of it will help me connect to the idea that I'm participating in something bigger. I mean, it's not a big deal, but I sort of feel like I'm missing an aspect of it.

Tomorrow I'm having a work lunch, so no lunchtime catch-up session. It's a late start again, so perhaps I'll be able to get it all done in the morning. I doubt I'll have the energy in the evening and to be frank, Alex is out tomorrow night, and that means movie and Left 4 Dead. Or maybe Dead Space. Or something else entirely.

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Four

Words Written Today: 1451
Total Words Written: 6003

Well, not a complete disaster, but not quite up to word quota. Still, tomorrow is the first day of what will be my biggest advantage this time over my experience in January. I do the bulk of my writing in the morning before work. I get into town at about 8am and hammer away until shortly before 9.30am, then usually give it another blast at lunchtime. Very rarely did I need to do the evenings last time. But one thing that did work against me last time were the early starts while I was working on a Thursday. Thursdays are pretty intense at work. I'm constantly busy and on my feet and it would wear me down, so that by the end of the day I was in no mood to write. But I was starting at 8am, so nor was I writing before work (I'm a morning person, but not that much). My days and shifts have all changed since then, so Thursdays and Fridays now I don't start work until 10.30, which is great. I've gone from Thursdays being a total write-off, to Thursdays as a (hopefully) banner day.

Story-wise, things are shaping up okay. I nearly sent the story in a completely different direction today but decided against it, though I've still got the latitude to do it if I change my mind tomorrow morning. A lot of mundane stuff today, though. Lots of "get person A to point C to meet person G".

Anyway, must dash. Gotta go read some comics! Oh, and for those keeping score (like me), my daily word quota is now 1692!

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Three

Words Written Today: 2205
Total Words Written: 4552

Nice! Well, much happier today all around. Getting to the word quota was a breeze after a bit of a false start this morning finding somewhere to actually write. I did two sittings today, one first thing which took me to 1300 words before my laptop battery ran low, then another at around 3pm this afternoon. I do still prefer to get it all over with in the mornings, but I must admit that everything feels a lot less stressful if I also allow for another hour or so at it later in the day. Also, a couple of sessions a day is, I think, beneficial to the output.

Speaking of output, I'm still not thrilled with the state of my prose, but I do think the story in this one has legs. It's not high art, but I think it's salvageable into something which could be fun.

Also of note today: I had that great feeling of liking the protagonist. Enjoying spending time with him and his thoughts. That always helps!

Anyway, gotta keep it brief. Back to work tomorrow, so we'll see how that all works out. Night!

Carry on reading...

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day Two

Words Written Today: 1317
Total Words Written: 2347

Another difficult day. Really, you would think that with a three day stretch off work I would be making the most of my time and getting a head-start on things. You would think that, but then that would only show how little you know me. So it was a couple of hours writing this morning, followed by a day of wanton abandon. Well, a day of lunch dates, window shopping and X-Box anyway. Honestly, what a terrible time to buy Left 4 Dead.

Anyway, in terms of the exercise itself, I'm still struggling. Self-doubt is still at large, stalking the hills of my consciousness, where my writing brain is lost as night is falling. He's defenceless, scared and lacking the proper clothing for a night out in the woods. Stupid writing brain; he's little more than a cautionary tale now.

Anyway, I digress. I'm still having massive problems with self-criticism as I write, leading to long bouts of staring out the window, wondering if I can write, if I can get back into the swing of it all, if I actually have something to say. That, and looking at pretty ladies.

So, tomorrow: last day off before I have to start fitting things in around work. I'm wondering actually if that may be a good thing. Given real time constraints I'm less likely to faff about. Certainly that's how it worked for me last time. Also positive is the fact that I did more today than I managed yesterday, and I know exactly what I'll be starting on when I sit down tomorrow.

Also: I love my EeePC. It's a dream of a writing machine. Could do with a new one though. Y'know, the 900 series go for around £170 a pop these days...

Carry on reading...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day One

Words Written Today: 1030
Total Words Written: 1030

Well, here we go again. As per my previous novel writing month endeavour, I'll be doing my best to update this daily with my progress. The idea, in case you're not aware, is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in length in the space of one month. It requires (to begin with and already blown by me) a 1667 word count on a daily basis through the month. It can be about anything, in any style. It's not judged by anyone, nor do you have to actually show it to anyone (I still haven't shown anyone my last one). If you finish over the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month, you've "won". And that's it.

Now, that may sound like a waste of time. Chasing a daily word count is hardly going to garner anything of quality, and what's the point if you're never going to show anyone? Well, it's an exercise. An exercise in discipline, in pushing past the paralysis imposed by self-criticism and, of course, in writing. At the end of the month I'll have something that's rubbish. But I might, just might, have salvageable elements and when all's said and done I will have probably done more creative writing than I will have otherwise. Plus, y'know, it feels good. It's a bit of a rollercoaster, but when things start rolling along, it feels great.

So, that's what I'm doing! Each day I'll post about how the day's writing went, and how I'm finding the process as a whole. Interestingly, this is the first time I'm doing it during the official month, so I'll see how the networking aspect goes. Maybe I'll rock along to a writing session or two. We'll see. One thing I've noticed already: seeing people in the forums who have knocked down over 4000 words on their first day is a little disheartening. One guy wrote over 2500 between midnight and 3am. While I was shooting zombies. Still, I kicked some fucking ass.

So, today. Well, it was a tough start. I haven't been writing at all lately and in that situation it always takes a while to warm up. I had one of those writing sessions where it felt like I had been working at it for ages when suddenly the first page break came up. Hardly the marathon it felt like. This first day, especially after a lack of activity, is also where the self-confidence issues really start to kick in. Can I do it? Am I actually any good? Maybe I should just give up on the idea. Alla that shit.

But I managed to push past it and just force myself to keep writing, though once I got to the 1000 word mark I felt like there was a good stopping point. One thing I learnt from last time is that it's always best to leave it for the day when something exciting is about to happen. That way my mind is drawn to the subject throughout the rest of the day and when I sit down to write the next day I've got something fun to jump into.

With regard to the subject, I'm doing a fantasy thing again, although on a much smaller scale than last time. Of course, after the first page I immediately decided that, no, I wanted to do a horror instead. Or that young adults post-apocalyptic series I've been thinking about. Or the great New Zealand novel (it would have lots of birds as a metaphor for something). It's an easy trap, so I stuck with my first thought. I do wish I'd planned more though. I have some idea of where this is going - more than last time, certainly - but I would have liked to have fleshed things out a little more. Oh well, keeps me on my toes.

Fortunately I've got the next two days off, so I'm hoping one of them will give me the cracking breakthrough I'm looking for. I'll let you know. Keep an eye out for updates (which will be shorter than this, I promise), and hopefully the news will be good!

Carry on reading...