This is all I have to say for today. Woohoo for me! I slogged through the crap of the other day and have a renewed excitement for my piece. Don’t be jealous. I’ll fall off the wagon again tomorrow. It’s the nature of the NaNoWriMo beast.
My word count is not where I want it to be and my story is getting worse by the day. Welcome to NaNoWriMo, my writing friends…lol.
I am hating the writing with each passing sentence. I feel as though I’m slogging through muck to get to more muck. This is not exciting writing and it is not real storytelling–at least the kind that I like to do. I need the structure to my education memoir to keep me in line with the sequence of the story but the reality of the details are horridly boring. I want to be diving into the stories of my students, the kids who’ve made me the teacher I’ve become today, not the classes that gave me a degree. But there’s gotta be some balance there, a good with the bad and a spine to the story, if you will.
Argh!! Is this how you fiction writers feel, too? I generally read your posts and think those of you who aren’t enjoying every second of NaNo are just whiners, but I think I’m getting a dose of reality here. I won’t let it stop me…I’ll keep writing (garbage) if that’s what it takes. I don’t recall feeling this bogged down last year. Food is more fun to write about than teaching anyway…
Ok, enough griping. Just wanted to make the point that it ain’t all rainbows and unicorns in this challenge. I’m a little behind in word count and have enough time to make it up tonight–which is when I hope the engaging, exciting, fun-to-write part of my story miraculously appears on my doorstep in a UPS box.
Stop by later and see…in the meantime, commence writing my NaNo friends!
I need a break, that’s why! I’ve wrangled a little over 1000 words so far this morning, a day I had not anticipated writing from home but am still in a lot of pain from my recent dental fiasco, so I took the day off.
And I’m not bragging about the 1K words thus far. Heck, I’ve written sentences longer than that. I just know how I write, and that for every thousand words, I generally need something to eat and a moment of peace and calm.
So that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. But just because I’m here doesn’t mean I’m done writing for the day. I have mentally chalked myself up to being able to do 4K today–no real excuses unless the pain meds wipe me out. From the looks of Twitter, my NaNoWriMo friends abound today and are there for moral support and butt kicking, should I require that. Plus, I’m still working on the introduction to the memoir–haven’t even started the meat of the piece yet, and that’s where my energy will come.
All in all, I think I’ve earned a piece of chocolate, a refill of coffee and another three Advil, in that order. And then I’ll be back where I should be…writing. How are you doing with your newly-minted NaNo piece?
Mind you, mine is drastically different than most of you. I’ll be doing another nonfiction piece (like last year), this year an essay/memoir type book on education. At this point, mostly memoir but I’m sure I’ll have a few essay pieces in there as I can’t keep my (excellent) opinions to myself LOL.
Anywho, last year I prepped for November by making lists upon lists upon lists–on chart paper–of possible essay topics. It worked well for me but that blue-lined-yellow chart paper started looking more like a curse than an inspiration near the end of the month. I’m all about color, and I’m especially all about pink and purples, so this year I did something a little more vivid.
I started on the chart with a solid blue marker line (it’s there if you look) signifying my “journey” through education. This is a valuable trick to help keeping a memoir flowing if you’re inclined to do something chronological, as I learned from the wonderful Lisa Dale Norton in her “Shimmering Images” book.
Next, I used yellow flower Post-Its to signify the huge chunks of time and place in my teaching career. Those were basically just a post-it with a university name or a job location/title. I started with high school and ended with my job today.
The last bits I added were the pink flower Post-Its. Those are all of the stories I’ve been saving over 17 years of teaching to write into a book at some point. Better NaNo or never Above the yellow flowers are Post-Its containing individual names of the students whose stories have meant the most to me and jar specific memories and stories; below the yellow flowers are the people and teaching ‘events’ that have happened to shape me into the educator of today. Some are good, some are bad, some will not like me telling stories they thought had been forgotten in my rusty mind–but they have all had an impact.
Yes, I did blur the picture because I didn’t want to show all my secrets, like the name of the place I was most unhappy teaching, the administrator from hell who should have been relegated to mowing lawns instead of working with kids and the student of mine who is now doing a life term in prison for murder. It ain’t all sunshine and roses, but it can be pink and yellow Post-Its….;-)
How are you brainstorming for NaNoWriMo? Do you have photos? I’d love to hear your plans and see your ideas. Leave me a link & I’ll stop by your blog for more motivation! In the meantime, happy NaNoing!
NaNoWriMo is a lot like Christmas:
-we can hardly sleep the night before (unless you’re one of those who start writing at midnight on Nov. 1st. Sorry, I like sleep)
-we make lists (of ideas) and check (and add) to them twice (sometimes more than a dozen times)
-we’re usually happy with what we get (in terms of word count) on a daily basis, but we always want just a little more
-we get candy. Sometimes every day. For the entire month.
Well, the final notation might not exactly be true for everyone (I only speak from my own experience), but the pending NaNoWriMo challenge is on that has me giddy, excited, nervous, anxious and hopeful all at the same time–much like Christmas. Last year, after finishing my first 50K word challenge, I emerged from November a much different writer than I went in. I suspect my co-NaNoers feel the same, whether they’ve finished one, two or four challenges or ended up sobbing in an unfinished manuscript along the way.
The best thing about this? I’m not alone. Spend any time searching hashtags on Twitter and you’ll see there are lots of us tweeting about our NaNo prep, state of mind, planning and excitement. Each one teaches us a little bit about the process of writing 50,000 words in 30 days that helps make this daunting task on our to-do list a real possibility.
In no particular order….
12. Alison Wells’ How to do NaNoWriMo when you don’t have the time
Excellent forethought on how to prep yourself and shoosh the demon voice in the back of your writing mind whispering that you don’t have the time–from an author who’s been there.
11. Jess Rosen’s My Pre-NaNo Tradition
Short, snappy and straight-up good advice from a multi-year NaNo chick who’s found a way to battle NaNo-induced illness and win in the word count.
10. Anne R. Allen’s NaNoWriMo–Seven Reasons to Join in the Silliness
Seven terrific benefits of doing NaNo that have nothing to do with publishing your work or winning prizes–just improving yourself as a writer. (Didn’t I mention that above? GMTA…)
9. Samantha Anderson’s Guest Post on Dun Scaith blog: Distractions: The Handicap of the Procrastinator
While she doesn’t specifically mention NaNo in the post, the post was hashtagged with Nano, so I bit. Glad I did. Good stuff. She’s the self-proclaimed queen of procrastination (I’m the princess) and shares tips to get and keep your butt in gear while writing.
8. E.F. Danehy’s Tips from a NaNo Veteran
Similar stuff with a few different takes. I like her idea that NaNo is meant to benefit the writer as much as possible, so consider what will help you most: a new project or revamping an old one.
7. Paulo Campos’ Countdown to NaNoWriMo blog series
Taking things one step further, Paulo Campos has a series of advice-type blog posts for when you NaNoWriMo crisis mode. My link above takes you directly to the Day 6 countdown, but be sure to check out the series by visiting the NaNoWriMo tag at the bottom of his post.
6. 7 Novel Writing Tools for NaNoWriMo by Sam Schlinkert
While the layout of this page makes me slightly crazy–you have to dig through Stumbleupon stuff to get to the real meat of the article itself, it’s worth it. Especially if you, like me, are a writing-techie nut. I already use EverNote and often text myself snippets of ideas on my cellphone, but there are a few more new things I’m gonna try. Maybe when NaNo is over. Still, can’t hurt to have more help getting down ideas whereever possible…
5. Agent Nathan Bransford’s NaNoWriMo Boot Camp: Goals and Obstacles
Just so you don’t think I don’t remember where I’ve come from and where I’ve been–fiction writing–Nathan’s put together a post on how to keep the story part of NaNo working when characters won’t cooperate. Interesting…almost makes me want to write fiction again. Then again, I’m sticking to memoir…for at least the next 30 days.
4. Looking for a NaNoWriMo Buddy? Find One Here from Roz Morris
Let’s face it–half the fun of NaNoWriMo is in making friends–both virtual and real-life–who are as crazy on the inside as you. Roz has a good idea here, bringing together NaNoers from all over to find and add friends to their own buddy lists. As of this blurb, she had 48, soon to be 49 when I add myself. I’d like to see how many she manages to wrangle…
Awesome stuff from an editor’s point of view on what not to write in your NaNo piece. Of course, we all know that word padding happens…or at least I’ve heard of it….
2. NaNoWriMo.Org’s Pep Talk Archives
The only problem I see with the NaNoWriMo site is that it’s chock-full of damn good stuff for writers, regardless of whether it’s November or not. When you’re in need of a pep talk from a published author, check out the Pep Talk for this year or the archives (found under “fun stuff”). Just don’t spend too much time reading when you should be writing…
1. Merlin Mann’s NaNoWriMo: A Pep Talk and a Warning
A thoroughly enjoyable tongue-in-cheek post about taking NaNoWriMo seriously, but not *too* seriously.
And now for the big question: what are you doing reading a blog when you should be brainstorming? I’m heading up to my writing room right now (say *that* three times fast!) and adding another half-dozen essay ideas to my brainstorming chart…see you November 1st!
Yep, it’s that time of year again. Leaves color, crisp up and flutter to the ground. Winter coats start going to the dry cleaners after a year in the closet. I buy two bags of Halloween candy so we can eat the good stuff and pass out the other…and another session of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is about to commence.
For the uninitiated, NaNo is a personal effort to finish 50,000 words in the month of November. Notice I didn’t say “a novel” or even “a book” or “a work”. Yes, certainly, the name is misleading, but the entire point of the activity is to get past all your excuses to writing and, well…just write.
Last year I won–a fabulous certificate I printed off with the title of my WIP after nailing my 50K words in about 27 days. Nothing glitzy or glamorous, just the feeling of real accomplishment and the thrill of proving to myself that I could do it–and if I could write that much in a month, I had no excuses not to write more in my daily routine.
Technically, you’re supposed to write a novel–which requires fiction–but I did food memoir & essay, which I’m still editing into a (hopefully) publishable piece of nonfiction. There are subgroups of all types for any genre you might write on the forum boards, and I’ve found my new group this year: I’m gonna be a Rebel. Yes, I’m doing NaNo again, but no, I’m not writing fiction. This year is a book of essays spanning all the insanity encompassed by 16 years of teaching English. Oh, yeah. I’ve got notebooks of notes. It ain’t gonna be hard LOL.
Why don’t you join us for the challenge? Hop on over to NaNoWriMo.org, sign up (for free!), add me (BuckeyeBeth) (for free!) and take a wild writing trip with some of your closest virtual friends. You’ll be glad you did. No, really! You will!
I’m always and forever telling you about my collages and story vision boards, but it struck me that I haven’t really ever *shown* them to you (at least not that I recall, and I’m not going back over 5 years of blog posts to find out LOL).
So I thought I’d give you a little treat today for putting up with me: a picture (via my camera phone–pretty good if I say so myself) of the collage I’m working on for my current WIP–the food memoir. I originally started this a year or so ago at a writing retreat but had only a smattering of photos. Yesterday I pulled out my stack of magazines and just leafed through. I need some energy and focus in my work on this book and visuals tend to motivate and energize me.
Each one of these pictures is significant and linked almost instantly to a childhood food memory for me. Pretty cool how that happens. The ice cream reminded me of my aunt who let us eat junk food on the weekends at her house while watching TV mom never let us watch. The berries are all reminiscent of picking summer fruits with grandma along fence rows in the country. The chili is one of mom’s specialties, the veggies have stories all their own from our garden…I could go on but I’ll save it.
I’m excited by this. So excited that some of the structural problems I’m having with the book itself worked themselves out after working on the collage, and I just feel excited to see these photos when I walk in my writing room. It’s not done (the collage) yet–my plan is to add to it in bits and pieces as photos strike me with essay ideas. I like the dynamic nature of it all.
Do you collage or do story/vision boards for your WIPs? I’d love to hear about them…
I was struck by a passage on page 14 and wondered what other writers thought. Here’s the passage:
” To jump over this one [the mental argument of whether anyone will want to read your particular memoir/memoir topic] you must ask yourself not ‘Does anyone want to read it?’ but ‘Do I want to write it?”
My questions are these:
Do you ever deal with this thought? (oddly, I never do. I just write to write.)
If so, how do you get past it to get to the writing?
If not, why?
If you heard another writer lamenting this, what would you offer as advice to counter it?
But I am back (I really never left, just quit posting. And writing. And doing anything remotely smacking of creativity) now. I don’t know how often that’s going to translate into posts for you to enjoy but it’s worth a mention.
I’ve been in a very interesting phase of life for the last 8ish months. Nothing that anyone here needs to know about (my friend Marmot called it “pupating”) but I really doubted I had it in me to go back to writing after some of the stuff I’ve been dealing with. You know, all that life change stuff. Writing–even just the thought of it–really didn’t happen. I’m not going to lie and say I was coming up with some grand writing project–I never even got out a notebook for much of that time. I didn’t text myself notes, or connect with old editors, or even interact with my writing girls–you know, the serious ones I’m always shouting out about.
I was just in a total life slump.
But I’ve been through rough patches before and knew it would just take time to weather. Not my method for dealing with problems–the Taurus in me likes to bull my way through stuff with the horns and get on with life. This time, life wasn’t having any of that nonsense. There were days I struggled just to care about getting out of bed and putting on clothes. (Luckily for everyone involved, I did manage to accomplish that every day). Around about July, I really felt a breaking point coming close–something was going to have to give.
And it did. Whatever fog had enshrouded my head, my life, my emotions and my creativity slowly started to lift (yeah, yeah. Forgive the metaphor). Each day I felt a little bit of an urge to do *something* creative–not necessarily writing, but when you’re in the dregs of your life, you’ll grasp for anything. I started with a massive overhaul of my writing room, which now inspires me each time I pass its walls decorated with vinyl decals of quotes from writers that I admire. I started writing about my fear of coming back to writing (aren’t I always telling you that? To get through writing blocks by writing about the block? About time I took my own advice), and revisited my NaNoWriMo manuscript (of essays) I finished last year which has languished on a top shelf in my writing room. I couldn’t believe that I wrote that stuff–it was funny. It was good and entertaining and was screaming to be revised.
So I created a couple of new projects for myself, testing the waters to see if I really had what it took to get my butt back in the chair and my hands on the keyboard. One project is the Nano work, the other one I’ll share with you in a future post (but only if you behave). I am back to teaching again, and have managed to wrangle myself into the early-rise schedule of writing around 5am (where are all my Twitter writing buddies, BTW? I miss you all something fierce. Get up and stop by…you know where to find me). I’ve also been in touch with a few old editor friends who have already asked me to start contributing to their publications again. That was a good feeling.
But it wasn’t easy getting there. I’ve been through a lot emotionally over the last half-year. I see it in two ways–the do-er in my mind sees it as wasted time toward getting writing done and books published. But the thinker in me realizes I had to go through that to get my mind adjusted to a new way of thinking about the same old things I do each day. Fortunately, creativity and writing made the cut. There are parts of the old me left behind–stuff to give me some good fodder for the essays I’ve been cranking out (about 7 in the last four weeks or so), so it’s all for a point. Just took an awful damn long time to get to that point.
That’s all for tonight. Just wanted to catch you up. I hope to have a post a week, or possibly more here, if I can find stuff worth writing about that you deem worthy of reading. (I’ll take requests. Just shoot me an email…or tweet me up). If not, I’ll just blather about something. I’ve got quite a track record at that, at least LOL.
Good to see you again. How are things going with you?
The 10 Week Plan is going fairly well. I am a little behind, but that’s due to a combination of issues outside my area of control. According to this week on my big calendar, I should be doing the following:
1. Have finished my first short story of the year
2. be working on my essay for writers #2
3. Have submission #2 of 2010 ready for Sunday
In reality, I have these done:
1. Brainstorming short story
2. Tiny inkling of idea for essay #2 (wavering between two topics)
3. Have no idea of what/where submission #2 will entail. I don’t want to submit another short story to the same market–my evil plan for word domination (ha! I like that!) was to submit once a month. I want to pace myself with that market. But I do need the impetus to get in print and submission is the only way to do that…
What I need is a day off to get my head screwed on straight. THese last few weeks (and weekends, when I get a lot of writing done) have been extra busy. Busier than normal for this time of year so I’m trying to contend with that. I’d say I’m doing OK if I can get either the essay or the short story done over the weekend. I’m angling for the story–these essays are monstrous beasts that overtake days.
So where are you in your new year schedule? On-target? Slipping? Or did you already give up? I’d love to hear…commiserate with me