A NaNoWriMo [2011] Journal

November 20th 2011

We’re on the cusp of week three, on this most enjoyable yet slightly insane, of journeys. There are less days left in the challenge than when we started – funny that, I know – but it’s a mixed bag of emotions as I realise it’s all coming to an end and rather fast too.

Ten days left… *cue the Benny Hill theme*

I have become quite philosophical about NaNoWriMo in the last week. This being my first shot at it, I had few expectations of what the month would hold, or just how I would feel about it as the days ticked over.

I’m a sucker for a challenge, you see. I work better well under pressure and while I tend to bemoan deadlines, I secretly crave the bastards. NaNoWriMo has been one such challenge for me – a perfect storm, if you will, of deadlines (both the overall and the daily), internalised pressure (maintaining the integrity of what I am writing day after day) and an almost fanatical dedication to my short stories and their characters (to the occasional detriment of my children, husband and the cleanliness of our home).

 

Harry helping me with my NaNo

 

You see, I want to “win” NaNo – I’d love to break through that 50k word count by November 30th… But I’ve realised that I don’t need to.

Yes. Because NaNo doesn’t or won’t define me or my writing, nor will the world fall down around me if I don’t hit the 50k.  And you know, acknowledging this has been intensely liberating. I am still very much in the grips of a NaNo fever and I am determined to see out the final leg of the trek. But I won’t beat myself up or feel I’ve let anyone down, if I don’t make it to the “winners” ranks.

Because;

  • I’ve committed to something new – something different, exciting and rewarding.
  • I’ve admitted to myself and my loved ones, that I take writing seriously.
  • I’ve developed a routine of writing every day and it feels damn good.
  • I’ve learned more about MY what/how/why and who and I’ve found me along the way.

And

  • I’ve connected with a bunch of writers who are consistently and unselfishly supportive of me and each other.

They are some of the funniest and fun to be with people I’ve met in my short time as a self-acknowledged writer type. And what’s more, these guys have gone through the same ups and downs, experienced the same doubts and fears and the same heady highs that have come along the way – and they’ve been wonderful enough to share it all with me. There is nothing more honest and comforting than someone else who gets it.

So that’s me for the week. I cracked the 30k mark yesterday and am sitting on par currently. Now I’d better get off the blog and back into my stories or I’ll be whinging to myself later.

Yours in NaNo harmony,

Laura

 …

November 14th 2011

It’s the end of week two – three cheers for the half way mark! Hip, hip, hooray! I passed 25k words yesterday in the heady haze of writing a first sexual encounter ; as my two MC’s got a bit hot and heavy in the kitchen. The scene was so much fun to write I completely forgot about my milestone until later in the day.

I think I’m falling into more of a rhythm now. I’ve also discovered that words are flowing far more smoothly when I write long hand into my little NaNo journal. The act of putting pen to paper is such a joy I wonder why we don’t do it more often. Yes ok it takes longer and cramp sets in pretty quickly, but the flow starts up and you’re not inhibited by clickety-clackety keys or the delete key and you can focus on getting words on the page straight from your head without the interference of technology. I find it really cathartic. It’s soothing and it is especially helpful when I’m stuck in a story and have been staring at my laptop screen for hours; getting out my notebook opens the floodgates and I’ll often surprise myself at how quickly I can move things along.

My trusty NaNo note book

I’m not necessarily talking about writing your entire NaNo long hand (although I know someone, a legend in these here parts, who has done just that!), but a scene, or plot notes, maps, random doodles of nothing in particular – anything – just give it a whirl. You might surprise yourself.

Progress check: I’m in the middle of my fifth short story. I have three sitting at approx 5k and one at 3.5k. My current short is proving to be something of a challenging child in that it is not content to fit into the 5k mould and is presently sitting at around 7.5k and will need at least another 4k. So there goes my plan of having 10 shorts of 5k length. Rather, I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how bloody long this story is, or the others are (or will be) – what matters is that I get the story out the way I want it to come out. It’s no good if it’s crammed into too small a word count or stretched into an unreasonably long one. I’m just going to let the words flow and see how it all looks by December 1st. And after all, that’s what December (and very likely, January, February and March 2012) will be for; the tweaking, rewriting, editing and finessing. I enjoy these processes so am trusting in myself to just write now and fernangle later 🙂

How are you going as we kick over into the second half of NaNo? Are you still in love with your story? Or is it turning into the cranky old woman who lives above you and bangs on her floor with a broom, every time you open your computer?

Yours in NaNoNess

Laura

 …

November 9th 2011

Well wont you look at the time…

It’s week 2 of NaNoWriMo and I’ve been reading all about the clouds of doom that typically descend over WriMo’s at this stage of the journey and I’m pleased to report, the reports of doom and writers block doom seem to be true. To some extent anyway. In my case, I’ve had a crappy couple of days but I’m not prepared to call them a total loss as I seem to have come out the other side, stumbling across some sunshine and a young girl in a gingham dress bearing my borked NaNo stories in a woven basket. With flowers and bird song.

It’s true.

But I think rather than airing my not-so-attractive dirty NaNoKnickers (because nobody wants or needs to see those), I’ll tell you how today went instead (with a little bit of background to set the scene)…

If only I had one of these nearby...

I’ve been in the middle of my fourth short story for a couple of days now, not really going anywhere, seemingly happy with the little tale I was telling, and not overly concerned with the direction it was going (or in this case, not going). But then yesterday I hit that invisible brick wall that writers talk about. You know the one where you’re ambling down a lovely country lane, listening to the birdies chirp chirping and sheep baa baa-ing and all of a sudden you’re sprawled flat on your arse wondering what the hell you just walked into. And why the hell didn’t you see that… that invisible… what the hell did you trip up on? Because of its often transparent nature, it can be real hard to work out just where you’ve gone wrong to have arrived at this point. So yes, that’s about where I found myself yesterday. On my arse in front of a borked laptop keyboard, with no words and nowhere to go and certainly no picturesque country lane way in sight (which may have placated my frazzled nerves somewhat).

‘Tis not a nice feeling. A bit like standing in fresh dog poo that you didn’t see in front of you – and you forgot to wear shoes.

This morning, after a sleep-in (thanks amazing ‘I-can-sense-you’re-having-a-shit-time-of-it-so-I’ll-stay-out-of-your-way-and-do-nice-thoughtful-things’ hubby), and a handful of coffee’s I decided to review the story so far. I’ve been trying to avoid re-reading my NaNo stories so that my inner-editor-monkey doesn’t get antsy, but this time I needed to take stock and determine whether it was a total mess and in need of scrapping (or at least a serious slicing). Thankfully, my characters Kayla and Mark, two teenagers who have been through the wringer and are embarking on a life of their own, still wanted their story told. I just worked out that they needed a little bit more (yes more) tragedy in their short lives. And there was my saving grace. Or rather, their saving grace. I tossed over who was going to cop the pain and came across the answer in one of those “Wahey there it is!” moments – and from there I sat and wrote and finally finished their story in at around the 5.5k (which is a bit over the limit I wanted for each short story, but it needed it).

So now I can move on to my next short – I haven’t decided which one is next though. That might be tonight’s task; which photo/story outline (those handy little morsels I prepared in advance of November), is screaming “my turn!”…

Yours in clean NaNoKnickers,

Laura

November 2nd 2011

Day two of NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close. The kids/cats/dogs/hubby have been fed and the light outside is subsiding with a stunning pink tinge. This little writer has had one of those mixed-bag kind of day’s today – after getting off to a fantastic start yesterday, with 4100 words at the end, I went to bed feeling that I could do it all again tomorrow and then some.

If only my muse had been listening in to that drowsy thought…

It turns out the internal machinations of my body had a little surprise in store for me, when I woke this morning to even more congestion than usual (thanks to the chronic hay fever I suffer) underlying a distinct asthmatic wheeze. Mmm perfect writing conditions. I dragged myself to my weekly catch-up/coaching session with my mate Janette (we’re yet to distinguish between the coaching bits and the friendly banter bits – though I’ve suggested Janette get a hat to put on when she’s in coach mode…) and we got stuck in to all sorts of stuff (as is per usual), losing track of time while enjoying Eggs Benny and a decent cup of coffee. I really do believe that our regular catch-up’s are what keep me chugging along, because the girl sure does make me feel more alive after an hour of her company. OK so thanking gods for Janette’s, coffee and Eggs Benny, because I was heading for a big fat zero word count for NaNo:D2 and it probably wouldn’t have taken long before I’d have gone back and edited what I wrote yesterday. Egads it’s tempting!

When I finally found the energy to sit in front of my computer and not log in to Facebook, I realised I had to snap out of the shit-pit and bloody well write something. After all – I have outlines, I have ideas, I have characters and locations and even photo prompts – so just f*cking write, Laura (>_<)

*headdesk*

…Ghn. Another three coffee’s, a toasted sandwich, half a dozen cigarettes and a cuddle from master five later, I finally managed to write a sentence to carry on from my second short I started last night. I sat and stared at that for a little while and contemplated another coffee and a Facebook break until *eureka!* my muse decided to show up. If my partner hadn’t been frittering away near my workstation, I would have sworn at the tardy bitch. But I withheld, took a deep breath and cracked a whip over her arse. We managed about 400 words.

((insert dramatic sounding sighs and intermittent table thumping here))

This was around the time I worked out I needed a big old “you can do it!” cheer routine from my writer buddies and fellow NaNo-ers; cunningly disguised in the form of a sad-sack word-count tweet. Don’t get me wrong, I was pretty low at that point and wishing the Word Fairy would whack me with her magic wand, but I really needed my supporters (of which I have great ones) to pick me up and shake me up a little, pull out the pom poms and give me a W, give me an O, give me an R, give me a D, give me an S – wooooo! *streamers*

It worked. Of course it worked – I told you I have awesome supportive writer friends and fellow NaNo-ers. I sat down and knocked out 1000 words in the next hour. Huh? Yeah, I don’t know – I’ve learnt not to question because it’s likely to scare whatever inspiration you’ve got away. So that gave me the impetus to update my word count on the NaNo site, which made me smile, which made me write some more (another 400 or so), which meant I could update again – so exciting! I’m discovering how easy it is to get so hooked up on that bloody word counter tool at the bottom of your word processor that it becomes debilitating, an excruciating reminder that you’re not writing and not hitting targets. I don’t know why it doesn’t come with a whacking great red alarm that goes off in a deafening whine every couple of minutes while you’re not writing. Oh wait. That’s Write or Die (seriously people – why would you put yourself through that pain?)…

As for tomorrow… well, I think I’ve learnt my lesson on expectations and setting unreasonable intentions. So instead, I intend to write something on NaNo:D3, but as for what that is, well I’ll just wait and see and not go into a tizz if it’s not working out – I think I’ll just go read a book and reconnect with my muse… I may have been just a little a bit harsh on her today.

Till tomorrow – hopefully happy NaNo-ing all.

Laura

October 31st 2011

‘Twas the night before NaNo, and all through the house the sound of frantic last minute preparations, could be heard… (which included one very short and sweet journal entry ‘cos much stuff was still needing to be done)…

Yes, tomorrow it all begins – the fabled ’30 days and nights of literary abandon’. The panicked word counts, plot holes, bland characters – and  that’s just how I see my first week turning out! I still have 3.5/20 short story outlines to finish and I’m hoping to have them done by bedtime tonight. I’m still feeling relatively cool, calm and collected, but as of tomorrow it’s anyone’s guess!

In other news, my 10 year old daughter signed up for the NaNoWriMo Youth Writers Program on Saturday – am so excited that we can share this experience together. I can only hope she gives it a bloody good shot and enjoys it 🙂

And just quickly (because to be honest, I’m feeling a little flat tonight – too much NaNo flavoured cordial in the last week?), I have set up a Facebook group for my writer friends – a suggestion made by Jodi, my editing guru who is doing her fifth NaNo – which so far has been recieved really well. We’re a bunch of writers who have collaborated on Literary Mix Tapes anthologies together and I am so pleased to see everyone being so generous with their support and advice to fellow NaNo-ers including plenty of first-timers. I highly recommend you getting involved in some form of support group or subscribe to a forum – it’s amazing how all of those niggling fears and internal freak-outs, aren’t just exclusive to you…

Well I’d best stop faffing about and get those last three and bit story outlines finished. I have to say this exercise in planning has been rather enjoyable – not at all what I was expecting being a loud and proud pantser. Although admittedly I’ve focused on 100-200 word outlines and very basic characterisation with the aim of keeping me on track once writing begins, so what I’ve been doing couldn’t be considered hard and fast plotting or planning. I don’t think I could stomach that if I tried!

A final last minute GOOD LUCK to all my fellow NaNo-ers and stay in touch!

And as the masters of not-so-old once said;

“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends”

Yours in preparedness,

Laura

October 28th 2011

Eeek! Three days till NaNoWriMo madness begins!

I’ve got ten of my twenty interconnected short stories outlined. Phew! The way I’ve planned my 30 days, means I have two days for each story. Sounds like tons of time! Of course out of those 48 hours per story, there’s about 15-20 hours of sleeping to do, at least five hours of every day housework and maybe 4 hours of dinners, lunches and miscellaneous meal making to be done. So now we’re at approx. 19 hours for writing. But wait – I’m not factoring in the school drop-off’s and pick-up’s, the 30 minute drives into town for errands, coffee dates and coaching appointments, helping with homework projects, playtime with my five year old and I’d better pay some attention to hubby…

*gulp*

I think I’m begining to see why some of my writer friends are avoiding NaNo this year due to time constraints. “But I’m not working at the moment, so I’ll have time to spare!” I’d squeeked.

Ah well. Time will tell. And who know’s – I may just stumble across a TARDIS in the bomb wreckage my two tween daughters call their bedrooms. Ooh. There’s another two things to add to my list…

Your slightly freaked out,

Laura

October 26th 2011

Well! Today has been a blinder! I had to take a break from my scheduled programming for the day: I was intending to be front and centre for the second day of the Eighty Nine anthology launch, but after a full day of launchy goodness yesterday and the weeks of prepping for it before hand, I desperately needed a change of scenery this morning! So instead of returning to the launch, I decided to think about NaNo for a bit…

My original plans to start planning and plotting, have kind of fallen by the way side. My worst fears of being a planner were realised. I lost interest in my story – waaaah! It’s not a total disaster, though. I’ll definitely go back to it; maybe I’ll drag it out and dust it off for NaNo next year. Either way, all was and is not lost.

I started a conversation with my partner about how exciting the next couple years are going to be for me, in terms of developing as a writer and as the first Editorial Intern at eMergent Publishing. I am very lucky to have such a supportive hubby who despite my foibles, loves me and believes in me. Lucky ducky. Bah – I digress! We merged into the topic of NaNo and how much of a time committment it will be. Which then turned into a discussion on my blahness towards my original idea. Which elicited “Why don’t you combine your photography with your writing and come up with a partnership of the two?”….

*Lightbulb*

I’d had an idea a while back about just that. And here was hubby coming up with the same idea? Crazy? Destined? Coincidence, even? I don’t know, but it immediately felt right.

“You little ripper! I’ll use a selection of my favourite photographs and write a series of interconnected short stories for each!”

So the last seven or so hours since my EUREKA! moment have been more productive and fulfilling than any other project I’ve applied myself to. I sourced my photo’s (finding gems I forgot I even had, that had been hidden away in external storage devices, as well as others that I had posted on my Flikr! account but for some reason didn’t live on any of my computers anymore), and fired up Evernote and Mindmeister – both invaluable programs that I have recently discovered and have been using religiously since – and started making notes.

I now have a master plan; 20 short stories, 2500 words per story, each inspired by one of my own photographs, woven around a small fictional town in country Victoria. I’m not assigning a genre – I decided when I signed up for NaNo that I wouldn’t barricade myself into a style that I wasn’t comfortable with. So slice-of-life, urban realism, descriptive narrative, general fiction (whatever you want to label it) is what I want to write.

And now here I am, a lovely roast beef and salad dinner (that I didn’t have to cook – score!) and a bottle of bubbles (appropriate!), with an idea that inspires and excites me – what a wonderful thing!

Yours, in a state of NaNoWriMo zen-ness,

Laura

October 23rd 2011

Hmm… My earlier entry from today has mysteriously disappeared…

Well then, to recap (from a non-caffeinated memory) what I wrote earlier; I had really vivid dreams last night in which I was (seriously) narrating to myself the entire time! I don’t think I’ve ever done THAT in my dreams before! It was like I was writing and reading along to my dream as it happened – straaaange… anywho – this has led me to add a flurry of notes to my trusty Evernote and I’m planning on doing some mapping today. Nothing too serious (I’m still a pantser!), but I’d like to see where my brain takes me when I physically map a few ideas.

Thanks for stopping by! Say hi and let me know if you’re in on NaNo this year (and if not, why have you decided not to?).

Laura

October 22nd 2011

I’m signed up (well, have been for a month or so) for NaNo and it’s my first attempt! I thought I’d journal my experience here (when I find time between writing my novel, being mum, wife, domestic godess and all those things I chuck in the ‘other’ catagory). Are you doing NaNo this year? Are you a seasoned pro or is this your first shot also? Drop me a comment and let me know how you’re going – remember, there is strength in numbers!

Laura

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20 responses to “A NaNoWriMo [2011] Journal

  1. first time for me as well.. I’m excited!! I am trying to work on my plot so that i don’t get stuck at 25000 words..!! Writing is a hobby for me..

  2. Welcome to the club laura. This is time number two for me. You’ll be suprised how freeing the experience is. Just write. Don’t re-read or edit. Just write. Take a note pad with you on your errands and ad a few words while waiting in lines or at an appointment. Type those up at the end of the day and you will be suprised how many words you can get done. Good luck and most of all have fun.

    • You know, this is what I’m looking forward to with NaNo – the no re-reading, no editing approach – it’s JUST WRITE. I’m coaching myself to do just that! I love the idea of keeping a notebook with me (I think iPhone will do nicely) and jotting things down through the day. Thanks for the support and encouragement Bec – I can’t wait to get started 🙂

  3. Andrea S. Michaels

    Good luck, I’ve seen your tweet so I thought I’d stop by 🙂

  4. Good luck lovely! I haven’t even started thinking about mine yet, which is a tad on the stupid side…*Sigh*

  5. At least you realised before NaNo started that it wasn’t going to work. Last year I was already a week into November when I realised I had no motivation for the story I had meticulously planned and prepared for and ended up pantsing a completely new idea for the rest of the month. This time I’m feeling really good about my idea (but I have a back up plan just in case).

    Good luck with NaNo, it’s a fantastic experience. 🙂

    • Oh I realise my luck in doing all this PRIOR and not half way through! I knew all along that plotting and planning to the nth degree wouldn’t work for me – I just don’t get any gratification from it – nothing surprises me and I lose interest and motivation real quick. I’m interested how you liked the pantsed end product from last years NaNo, Jo?

      Good luck to you too! I’m sure we’ll run into each other on the interwebz once or twice through the month 😉

  6. I like the ongoing diary page – that is VERY cool. You might just have inspired me to have a crack at it. At the same time you’re making me utterly nervous as all I have are a handful of characters whose lives have been interconnecting in the past few days, since I took time out from eP responsbilities, 24 song lyrics, a handful of images.

    I’m thinking of coming up with a random prompt a day to put through the Facebook group… wonder if you’d be keen to do a random image (from that stock pile or gorgeous photos you have) as extra inspiration?

    • You? Nervous?! Pah! I am not in the slightest bit worried that you can’t do this – and I’m not trying to shirk my ra-ra duties and not be supportive of you, I just KNOW that you can so do this – it’s pish posh twaddle for you! Plus you’ve got me to pinch you on the backside if I catch you on Twitter or FB too much (and vice versa!).

      I’ll definately post some photo’s in the group – great idea 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Jodi!

      • My pleasure – I’ll try and brain storm tonight 30 random prompts and perhaps we can marry up some photos with random ideas.

        I’m such a fan of our photos and after writing a story to a visual prompt back in June – I’m keen to combine music and visual and general randomness. And guess I’m going to have to journal now… enamoured with you lovely journal here.

        Have you considered audioBoo also – a free app where you can record voice five minutes audios. Thinking I might to a combination of written word and spoken word.

        Anyway – kudos to you.. and the day I’m not longer a little freaked out about NaNo – I will need to stop doing it. A bit like editing where I’ve promised the day I stop shitting myself when I send off edits – I’ll give it up.

  7. Awesome sauce – I’m in 🙂

    And no I hadn’t considered Audioboo… I have the iPhone ap and an account but am yet to use it! I’m liking the idea… maybe I’ll set up a journal for Miss 10 on here and she can Audioboo it! You’re the idea machine, lady 🙂

  8. Hell what a nasty crash – from one day to the next. Writing is such a fickle world – especially when you are pummeling a relentless word count. And to think I quietly (and not so quietly) raged against all the massive word counts happening around me yesterday, when I had to eject and return to the day job.

    The fact you had a crap day/hard day and you made it through it possibly the best lesson you’ll have this week. No matter what you can and will write. And you know where to go to lick your wounds, and find streamers and pom poms.

    Totally believe in your ablity to do this.. and yes, will get around to reading your extract from yesterday. Playing catch up now that I’ve almost caught up on yesterday’s editing!

  9. I love the fact you’ve found a way to keep the words flowing. I thought it would be a cake walk this year and its been anything but. As soon as I mentioned editing… my bloody muse packed up and walked out!

    Why didn’t I tell you how much fun writing a sex scene could be… well, I have to confess I don’t find them fun to write. They’re my moment of confrontation on the page. I can kill and main people, I can do all kinds of things to them, but add sex to the mix and I just want to run away screaming. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And I admit, because I’ve written them more this year, I’m kind of getting to feel less inhibitied about them and even let my charactes enjoy it.

    Glad to see you’ve reached the half way mark. Go you good thing! You’ve been a wonderful cheer squad for all of us and most appreciative of it. Looking forward to celebrating your 50K in the not too distant future.

    • Thank you lovely – very much 🙂

      It’s fascinating what a writer finds confronting or comfortable – the scenes you’ve written so far come across so well that it’s hard to imagine (as the reader) that they were almost painful to write. I love your intention to let your characters enjoy their moment and not feel inhibited – go you!

      Fingers crossed the long hand mojo sticks around!!

      xx

  10. Glad you’ve found what you wanted out of the experience. May your pen never run out of ink, your notebook be always full and your ideas ever fruitful.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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