NaNoWriMo: Fri 17th, 2017

NaNoWriMo

Take a breather. Five minutes. Get up, stretch your legs, take your eyes away from your screen or paper. Take a walk in the woods. Play with a ball of string. Get something to eat.

NaNoWriMo is a taxing time. It’s stressful. We’re attached to our writing utensils and we can’t part ways for long. But honestly, we really have to do that, once in a while. But taking our breaks is important. It lets our minds rest, distracts us for a few minutes. But the thing is, we’re very rarely actually not progressing forward. I’ve taken time to catch a breather and my brain has pieced together parts that I was struggling with, despite doing a completely unrelated thing.

Sometimes our brains can make logic leaps when we’re paying attention to it… and sometimes it only makes those connections when we’re not actively focusing on it anymore.

I know it seems like we have to hammer away hard at what we’re working on, and that we can’t do anything else. But between NaNo and our responsibilities– housework, actual work, chores and remembering to eat and sleep– there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time left just to take a wedge out for ourselves. And we really need that. The human mind isn’t designed to focus hard-wire on one thing without distraction. Single-mindedness is great for short term and drive, but after a few weeks you really just need to take your moment.

Take your moment. Look after yourself. Let your brain have an moment off, to do nothing except rest. Maybe you’ll thank it for the help.

–Natasha

Wordcount: 31,898/50,000

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NaNoWriMo: Fri 10th, 2017

NaNoWriMo

About this time last year, I had some truly awful breakups. And at least one of them was caused by speaking different languages.

I don’t mean English versus French or anything like that. I mean, the words we use don’t quite mean the same thing to the pair of us. I’ve talked about the phenomenon before, but never for NaNo, I think.

Last year was hectic for everybody. It was a difficult time, especially for hermits who don’t get out much, and I won’t rehash what went on in the world at the time. There was distance between my friend and I– and maybe it was on me, maybe it was on them, it doesn’t matter. But when everything came to a head, the distance had cost us our understanding of one another’s nuances. Or perhaps we had never truly known them. But I said what I meant, and they said what they meant, and both of us heard what those words meant to us, which wasn’t either of us had quite meant, I think.

That’s going to happen to characters, too. Especially those who don’t know each other well, or come from different walks of life. Of course, on the other hand, there’s always going to be those characters who just know one another. They know every little twitch and nuance of their partner, they can practically read one another’s thoughts. They don’t have to have words, anymore, to know what would have been said and follow through with the words that weren’t.

Drift compatible, anybody? You’d be surprised how often that happens in real life.

Maybe you have characters like the first set, or maybe you have characters like the second. Both are super fun to write and even more fun to read. But everybody isn’t going to go without having errors all of the time, and those errors might help boost your word count and enhance your story rather magnificently. Can’t hurt to try it, right?

–Natasha

Wordcount: 11,246/50,000

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NaNoWriMo: Fri 3rd, 2017

NaNoWriMo

We’re three days into the biggest writing ‘fest of the year, and it’s kind of a nightmare already. But one of those awesome nightmares; it’s hard, it’s grueling, but it’s so, so worth it, just you wait.

One of the things that is hard for me, especially in the month of November, is time.

Now, time is a nebulous concept, but I get paid by the hour to whittle away at it. Some days it takes forever and a half to get through my work schedule, and some days it’s like it’s gone in the blink of an eye. Some days I have a whole wealth of energy, and some days I just can’t barely move. (Ironically, on the days of the second, it almost seems like I get more work done.)

Time is something we all likely find tricky in November. It’s the holiday season, just after Halloween, coming through the crunch for Thanksgiving, ready to steamroll on through Christmas and New Years. A lot of us are home, preparing for all of this nonsense; family dinners, gifts, end of the year bills, trying to figure out how to wrap everything up for Tax Time next year.

(I need a filing cabinet.)

How do you find time to write in all of that?

I cheat. I cheat like a boss. I have scrap papers everywhere, in every pocket, I carry a pen in my hair to scribble with. I inch out spare moments in the lulls between work, I write ferociously on breaks and lunch, and I subsist on nearly nothing but sugar and water throughout the month. Sleep? Sleep is for the weak. Writers don’t need that.

(Pro tip: yes we do.)

Some days, you’ll find time to write. It’ll just happen. Some days– like most of mine, because adulting is hard– you have to sink your teeth into it and not let go until you’re ready. Real life doesn’t always accommodate you, but you would be amazed at the measure of words you can get if you train yourself to quickly scribble down a few half-dozen lines during your luncheon. You don’t have to horrifically neglect real life and responsibilities for it.

And if you can, try to write more on the days you have the time, so you can get away with a little less on the days where you just can’t snag more than a handful of moments.

I know not hitting the goal isn’t the end of the world… but we wouldn’t all be here if we weren’t hoping to hit it.

–Natasha

Wordcount: 2,247/50,000

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NaNo Camp July, Friday 21st (2017)

NaNoWriMo

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: be kind to yourself, especially during something like NaNoWriMo. Did you remember to drink water? No? Take a few swallows. I need to do that right now myself. Did you rest well? If you’re caught up on your words, take a breather– you don’t have to sleep, but taking five or ten minutes away from the computer or journal you’re working with can do loads of wonders.

Not completing NaNo isn’t the end of the world. And NaNo isn’t over yet, anyway. Pace yourself, but don’t burn yourself out. Procrastinate when you have to. Take breathers. Remember to give your eyes a rest– reading, and by proxy writing, stresses the eyes.

And don’t forget: Every word you have written is a victory on its own, one word you didn’t have before.

–Natasha

NaNoGoal: 17,753/20,000

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NaNo Camp July, Friday 14th (2017)

NaNoWriMo

I went to a private school as a girl. It wasn’t a large school, only a couple of students, but it was legalized and I have a copy of the Board of Education’s recognition of it as such.

But despite not being a large school, it had all the trimmings. We had a School Mascot (the Mustang), we had school colors (black, maroon, navy), a school flower (the magnolia). We had regular classes, or what I assume is regular because it was normal for us. We had our subjects and the tests for those, book reports and writing classes, schedules for tutoring, though we didn’t call it tutoring, of course..

We had very few sick days because there were so few of us, so it wasn’t like the flu came in waves or anything. We never had to deal with a lice scare, and we had both inside lessons and outdoor lessons. I learned how to balance a checkbook, how to build an animal pen, how to make a quilt; complex mathematics, base sciences, human history. When we were done with class for the day, we were cut loose and left to our own devices. We had our field trips– one time, we went to an auction in another state. I saw a zebra in real life.

During the summer, the local public school had a type of summer schooling, which any child that lived in the area could attend. I only went one year due to the difficulties caused by it, but it provided me with more than enough social interaction for several lifetimes. Those of my school were outliers  to those of public school; they did not take kindly of us, and we fit in none of their pre-established dynamics.

Our school didn’t have dances. I went to one at the public school, invited by a young ma’am who attended, and I had one dance with a young man who also had no date. I bristled at a lot of people. It was strange. Not really a dance, not really a party, just… a bunch of awkward not-yet-teenagers. Three teachers tried to get me to change schools, further making it more awkward.

When I graduated, I spent the next year or so trying to figure out how to test for the GED. Some businesses counted my diploma as sufficient schooling, but a lot of them called private schools as fake, accepting only diplomas from the local public schools. No college in the area would accept it at all, since my school hadn’t been required to do standardized testing and we didn’t have GPAs. The Adult Education Center gave me the run-around on GED testing, asking “why was my primary schooling not sufficient?”

We never got Letterman jackets (a fact which I hope to rectify, eventually) and we never got high-school rings.

I remember all of these things when I write a character. The character’s history matters. From where they were born to where they went to school to the school colors and school pride they carry. Sometimes it’s just a token, a throw-back to way back when, but the little details are important too. Even if we never use them in story, it’s nice to know a little extra color about your cast.

–Natasha

NaNoGoal: 13,706/30,000

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NaNo Camp July, Friday 7th (2017)

NaNoWriMo

One of the most important things to do in Camp NaNoWriMo is set a reasonable goal for yourself.

I, uh, may not have done that this July.

In my defense, I told someone I’d do Camp July back in the beginning of June, and I decided way back then that I’d do a 30k count, completely ignoring how tight the month in question was going to be, between three jobs and trying to balance the rest of real life. One of those jobs, the full-time non-negotiable one which shall not be named, is having a bit of a do and thus requires me to work extra time than I normally would this month.

I do kind of need the money… but it means less time writing, and more time tired. It’s also the middle of summer, and I do want to enjoy the summer. Plus I have the summer harvest (raspberries and blackberries are both a thing right now) and a whole mess of kittens. Some of them need more TLC than I’ve been able to give them while being away at work, so my free days are often spent doing that.

That’s a bit working against me. Both my other paid jobs are more flexible, since I’m a subcontractor and I take the work I want to, but I really can’t neglect them even though they only truly make me pocket change. I could put them down for a bit if I wanted to, but then I have a bad habit of not picking them up again for a while.

I swear I did consider dropping my count to a measly 15k throughout the month of June. I just couldn’t get myself talked into it, though. Go figure. So here I am, in July, crawling my way to 30k. I don’t know if I’ll try to stretch beyond it. That’s a thing to cross when I get to that bridge.

Set yourself a reasonable goal. Be stubborn about it. When you break through it, set yourself another.

I believe in you.

–Natasha

NaNo Goals: 7,109/30,000

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NaNoWriMo, Friday 11th (2016)

NaNoWriMo

Some people say kill your darlings, and some people say don’t. Now, I’m not going to say one way or the other about it. The reason for this is because, one way or the other, I’m going to be a hypocrite.

I kill a lot of my characters. I save a lot of others from the neck of death.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that, when I hit a road-block in my path, an excellent way to jar the story and myself is to kill someone. Or, at the very least, trip over a dead body. Corpses are excellent motivators for characters to find themselves. Even if you decide to rewrite the scene without a death– not erase! Remember, there’s no erasing during NaNoWriMo– it works wonders for getting you moving and ramping up your word count.

Now, you may be asking why. I think I’ve covered that, but if you need another reason, well, consider it a personal challenge inside NaNo.

How could you kill them? Well, I understand that the Traveling Shovel of Death (TM) is a staple of the NaNoWriMo faculty, and many writers I know. Barring that, a good ol’ fashioned murder is always on the card table– and bonus points if it’s on or over a card table. Lots of deaths occur in games of chance.

When? Why not right now? Go ahead, you can do it. If your character is outside, they trip over a body– or witness a murder. If your character is inside, hey, why not? If there’s on one around, maybe they hear about it on the radio, or read about it in the news. Maybe it’s a shock and maybe it’s not. Who knows? Who can say?

Where? Not in real life, please. Do not go out and kill people with a shovel.

*

But inside the covers of your book, on the pages you and only you know how to craft, by all means. Kill as many people with shovels as you’d like. Make a sentient murder-shovel, watering the ground of graveyards with the blood of its victims. Make a serial axe-murderer, but instead of an axe, give him a shovel. The possibilities are endless.

No shovels in your world? That’s okay. Everybody knows a pointy rock will do in a pinch; after all, we’ve been killing people that way since prehistory.

–Natasha

*Image sourced on Google.

NaNoGoals: 24,132/50,000

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