NaNo 2013 Advice, Part 2

My advice for this week is simple.

You actually need to write.

Needless to say, I have not been very productive recently.

Is your NaNo going better than mine?


NaNo 2013 Advice, Part 1

I’ve already made some silly mistakes as part of this year’s NaNo adventure.  In the spirit of last year’s advice (“Let me tell you the things I’m doing that aren’t helping…”), I’ve decided to go ahead and do the same this year.  It’s not so much advice as admitting my mistakes, but advice sounds so much better.

Don’t turn on the television.

This should be common sense.  When you’re trying to write a lot, the TV should be off a lot.  Notice, however, that I said should be common sense.

I started this year’s NaNo with one advantage and one disadvantage.  As I’ve already mentioned, filling in gaps is setting me up for a limited word count, but I started off this year with four days off from work.  The disadvantage is working well to make life difficult, but I totally blew my advantage by turning on the television.

It will be fine, I thought.  I’ll just put on a movie I know by heart and let it be background noise, I told myself.  Really?  I can’t even listen to music and write successfully!  Why on earth did I think this was a good idea?

The honest truth is that somehow the television and my recliner are now linked in my brain.  Turning on the TV when I sit down in the recliner is reflex.  That means I need to either fight the reflex or sit somewhere else for the rest of NaNo!

NaNo Advice, part 2

Last Friday I started writing down some advice to myself that I thought other Wrimos might benefit from as well.  It turns out that I have at least one more piece of advice that I can add to the list!

Don’t be afraid to write out of order.

I try, in general, to write in chronological order.  I find that it helps the story flow more and I have to do less work incorporating scenes later.  This is not always the easiest way to write, and I’ve addressed the benefits of writing out of order before.  With NaNo it actually helps even more.

When I hit moments when writing the next scene is like pulling teeth, it can be very satisfying to move to something from later in the story that is well-developed in my mind.  Instead of fighting for each sentence, the words pour out and suddenly I’m ahead on my word count again!  Of course, if I’m going to finish the novel in a complete form, I am going to have to write those difficult scenes.  I know this.  But struggling for words every day does not make NaNo fun, and if it’s not fun, why are we doing it in the first place?

NaNo Advice, part 1

As a previous winner of NaNo and a competitor this year, I’d like to share a little writing advice with you.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m in the same boat as you!  There’s nothing about me that makes me any more or less of an expert on this thing.  To be honest, this is really advice for me.  (As in, let me tell you the things I’m doing that aren’t helping…)  I’m thinking we could do this weekly, but we’ll see how it holds up.  So, with no further ado, here is today’s “advice”…

Stop looking at your word count and just write.

Checking your word count when you finish a section or stop for the day is fantastic.  That’s how you update your word count on the NaNoWriMo page, after all, and how you track your progress.  Looking at the end is helpful.

Glancing down at the end of each paragraph is less so.

I don’t know why I’m doing it, and I’m trying to stop.  Really, I am trying to stop!  Somehow I am more obsessive about the word count this year, or perhaps I am just noticing the checking more, but either way it’s getting a bit in the way of the creative process.  The true goal here is to write a novel, right?  So the running total shouldn’t be the focus, the actual words should be.

Instead of my original idea of putting a sticky note over the screen where Word shows the current word count, I changed the size of the window and shifted it down so the word count is off-screen.  We’ll see how long that lasts, but it should help for the moment.

And now, back into the fray!  Once more into the breach!

Happy writing!


Getting Wrapped Up in Reading (my own book)

There are two frequently heard pieces of writing advice that I believe are true.  1. Write what you know.  2. Write a book you want to read.

I was reminded again today that I was successful with that second one, at least with Butterflies.

I’ve figured out some more pieces about the new girl.  Two of those pieces required a bit of research in the text of Butterflies.  I do not currently have a hard copy of the novel in my possession (two of my coworkers each have one of my copies) so I loaded the document on my computer.  I searched for a specific term (Travelers) hoping to find the information I was seeking.  I read the first section about the character who is a member of the gypsy-like people, then found the second section.  Once I read that section, I had answered my questions, but I kept reading.  I ended up reading three more chapters before I convinced myself to stop!

It’s probably a good thing when you struggle to put down a book you wrote (and have read through at least three times).  It means you were definitely successful at writing a book you want to read!

Giving Advice

Recently I’ve discovered that people have a lot of questions when they find out I’m an aspiring author.  Maybe they’re just being polite, perhaps they are just curious, but sometimes it’s a real desire for advice and information.

The most common questions are about the publishing process, specifically what I’m doing to attempt to get published.  Friends want to know why I can’t send letters to agents and publishers at the same time, or why I’m choosing to go the “traditional” route rather than simply self-publishing.  I get a lot of questions about where I am in the process, and what my next steps are.

The riskiest questions to ask are about my book itself.  If you want to ask about it, be prepared to listen for a while; I get very passionate and involved when talking story and characters.

I’ve also gotten a few questions about writing.  Some people I know have story ideas, or concepts, or a desire to write a book.  The answer is different depending on where the person is in the process, but I always recommend one thing specifically: get to know the people and the place before the plot.  Take the time to research or develop (depending on your genre) the location for the story, and put forth the effort to develop the characters.  Start with the main character – you need to know this person very well, so you can accurately anticipate her response to situations.  Then work on the people around the main character.  You’ll be surprised at what comes from this.  All of my stories have come from the people in them, and some of my short stories have grown from the process of developing someone’s back story.