Tag Archive | NaNo Tips

How I benefit from ‘Word-sprinting’

Yesterday, I logged about 1,000 more words than my usual daily goal for Camp NaNoWriMo (getting around 3,000 words done in all the day). I didn’t work any extra time on it, and I didn’t really labor over it, either – those are things that I usually end up doing to finish an entry in my novel per day, and sometimes just to hit my day’s word goal. I got these words through wordsprints.

I don’t usually do them – I tend to prefer to stick to just having a good ol’ writing session twice a day to log my daily 2,000. But I’ve been following people who are doing wordsprints for JuNoWriMo, and they seemed like a lot of fun. Yesterday, I wasn’t able to have my first writing session because my 2-year old nephew came over and was hell-bent on watching Thomas the Train, making me play with giant dinosaur toys, and punching me in the face, so I didn’t really have the time to get the writing in. My mother, who was also being forced into the torture of watching the terrifying Thomas the Train and punched in the gut, asked if I wanted to go to Starbucks later, after supper (and after my precious, vicious nephew was back at home), and of course, I took the high opportunity – I seem to write best in a Starbucks. I decided to take a chance and try to do some wordsprints instead of write straight through my Starbucks time.

I was able to do two sprints at Starbucks, and got 1,280 words there in all. Not bad – I got interrupted a few times and still managed to get a pretty good count. When I got home, I did a few more sprints (around three) and logged the rest of my words then (aside from about a hundred outside of it, but that’s not too much compared to the rest that I got down). While I do still want to keep going through with my two writing sessions with my lovie on weekdays, there’s no doubt that when I’m a bit behind on my schedule or having something the next day that might hinder my count a little, I’ll turn to wordsprints.

How I was able to get so many more words so much quicker through sprints I don’t exactly know, but I think it has something to do with the fact that it was narrowing down my time to get some words in, sort of like a race, and that there were other people doing it that I could share my success and problems with in-between sprints. I could talk about how many words I was able to get, how I got interrupted or distracted and by what, and there were the occasional silly prompts for things to put into our work that sprint (the only one I went through with, though, was mentioning a donut. No one can resist that one, though). I had a lot of fun doing the actual wordsprints, and the mini-breaks in-between.

If you’re behind on your word-count or need to write with little reward breaks in-between, I think wordsprints are the way to go. I’m not sure where else people run them, but I’ve found the ones I participate in on twitter (I personally follow the JuNoWriMo account and have been doing sprints from there, but there are people in the hashtag who run them, and during November, there’s an account that runs NaNoWriMo wordsprints, as well). If you’re a little iffy about it, I suggest you at least give it a chance when you have some time on your hands – it may just give you a hand in boosting that word-count.

How has June been going for you all? If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo, what’s your word-count and how have you been managing it?


Managing Writing Time During NaNoWriMo

I’ve seen a lot of posts around about making time to write, and I know there are people out there who can get a lot from these posts – but for me, it’s not so much finding time to write as finding time for other things while writing, specifically during times like these – basically, what I’ll call ‘NaNo season’, which, depending on whether you want to tie Script Frenzy in or not, is April or June 1st to November 30th, plus the aftermath and the time spent preparing beforehand if you do any prep-work, where I personally focus a lot on writing. I’m using NaNo season to get a story I’ve been working on and off on since November 2009, myself, but that’s a post for another time. During all of the hype about writing during this time, it’s easy to forget, at least for me, that there are other things I need to get done.

Writing is basically the center of my activities in life right now – aside from spending time with my lovie, it’s probably what I do the most out of all of my usual activities. But how, when I have the ability to bend all of my other things with my schedule, do I make sure I give myself time to do things important to me other than writing? A lot of the time, I find myself getting caught up in writing and not finishing other things that I either need to get done or would benefit from finishing, but I do have ways of managing my time so I can get all of that writing in and still finish the other things I need.

It’s generally a matter of knowing that while writing is a very important thing in my life, I can’t neglect the people and other things that I love. When it comes down to it, the people I care about are more important than getting as much writing as possible done. When someone needs me, I won’t force myself not to be there for them because of writing – that’d be ridiculous. I make sure to keep in contact with everyone, and to spend time with them, as well. I may love writing, but it’s not as important as these people are to me – it’s a matter of keeping your head balanced and knowing that you need to make time for other things and for the people who matter to you.

I make sure to give myself times that I dedicate as a whole to writing, to assure myself that I get it done, but give myself time to also nurture the other parts of my life, such as my relationships and hobbies. When I know there’s an event that may take away from my writing time, I give myself a little bit of extra-time the days beforehand so that I can make up for writing missed, and generally write a little bit more than necessary to hit my month’s goal anyways per day just in case.

I give myself a daily goal for my writing – I personally aim to finish at least one entry of my story and hit a certain word count while I’m at it, and I split that word-count in half, giving myself two separate sessions of writing, where I don’t stop until I reach at least that half-count. As I mentioned in my Camp NaNoWriMo plan post, I’m doing these sessions with a friend, and try to stop when he does rather than keep going until I’m burnt out if I can’t rip myself away after I personally hit the goal. I try to keep these sessions separate, and spend the time in-between doing the things I need to get done outside of writing.

Some things I use as a writing reward when I hit my half-count. For example, I let myself catch up a little on my reading when I finish my first writing session, and go on with the other things I need to catch up on after I finish with that, mainly art and schoolwork. I take my tests, which a bulk of my schoolwork is due to my homeschooling system, once a week, usually doing one on either Tuesday or Thursday, and spend extra time working on sketching or doodling, while going with my schedule and working on my paintings after I hit my daily weekend word goal on Saturday/Sunday nights.

I reserve two parts of the day to hit certain writing goals, and use the rest of the day to deal with the other things I need to finish up on, which can be applied to tighter schedules as well with some adjusting, perhaps to free-time or waking up earlier/going to bed a bit later or any other way that you’re comfortable adjusting it. Since I have a more flexible day, I give myself bigger goals (2,000 words per day in the week, 840 words per day on weekends, 1,000 words per weekday session and 840 in a sitting on weekends) and only break it into two blocks, but it’s a matter of preference and how much time you want or need to set aside for other things.

Now, there are more things here than getting other types of work done – yes, I’m talking about the social life (that term doesn’t really rub me the right way. It sounds a bit standoffish for some reason). That’s a bit simple for me – again, I have free-time that is flexible, mainly during weekdays, so I make my plans beforehand and give myself more time to write around the days before so that I’ll be able to make up for words and goals missed.

Since I’m giving myself a weekly reward for writing, I also use that as an opportunity to do things with friends – in this case, I’m going to be watching movies each Sunday this month, mostly with my writing partner, but there will be times that I invite some other friends to spend that time with me, one example being my birthday – since it falls on a Sunday, I’m going to write a little extra the day before and spend the entire day as a ‘reward day’ rather than just take a little block of time to watch a movie as reward, inviting all of my friends to essentially spend the day having fun. Using writing reward-time as a time to keep up with friends/family is, for me, a good method, so long as I make sure to set aside reward-time as time that they can work with as well.

How has NaNo season been going for you all?

Camp NaNoWriMo: My Plans and ‘Supplies’

I’ve already mentioned a few times before that I’m going to be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this June. I’ve never participated in either of the Camp NaNo’s before, and I’ve only participated in November’s NaNo once, which I wound up giving up on. This year will be different – I’ve got time, goals, rewards, and inspiration. I’m building up more and more excitement for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I plan to go through with this. I’m outside now as I write, sitting on my porch and enjoying the fresh air – something I’m sure I’ll be doing during most of my writing sessions during ‘camp’.

My project this year is the same one I tried to go through with last time, and the same I’ve began several unfinished drafts on, even completing one of them. None of them quite had the right spark – and after a while of immersing myself in a different project along with reading up on the craft of writing a lot more, I’ve figured out how to make it work for me much better. The plot’s being twisted around and recreated, new twists have been added, and I’ve gotten heaps of ideas for new character development, something that was missing from the older drafts (despite my absolute love of it – my characters and their relationships as a whole are some of my favourite parts of writing). Instead of sticking to the same old story that I usually try to tell, I’m starting at the same place and allowing myself to branch out to whole different levels of the story. It is, as I mentioned in a previous post, a continuation of an edited version of a short story I posted on here a while ago, The Angels.

This may not be the final draft, but I have a feeling it will be the best version yet – complete with new dimensions to old characters, and a plot much more fun to get into than before. I am 100% sure that when this draft is finished, it’ll take tons of revising and rewriting to make it into really something, but that’s not really the point – you can’t edit a blank page, and if you don’t start with anything, you won’t end with anything either. NaNoWriMo is a tool to get a draft started/finished, not a tool to complete a polished, ready-for-publishing novel, after all. Now, without further ado, my supplies for camp:

  • A few pre-written entries to the novel

I’ve been doing some pre-NaNo writing, to get the ball rolling on my story so that when the event actually begins, I’ll be past the opening and ready to delve into new and exciting dimensions of a story that I’ve been through several times. My project is going to be written in journal entry format, seeing as it’s one of my favourite formats to both read and write in. It’s a blast getting into my character’s head and it’s a way to make the story very personal – it’s not just his story, it’s his thoughts and his emotions weaved into it on a different level. Journal format isn’t right for everyone, but for me, it makes writing the story much more enjoyable, and that’s what matters at this point – I have to enjoy writing it as much as possible to be able to get things down so quickly.

For camp, I’ve decided to try out a software made for journals, called ‘The Journal’. It’s working very nicely for me – it took a little bit to get used to (which was another reason I started doing some pre-NaNo writing, in order to get used to the program) but it’s easy to get in the hang of and use. Since I’m writing in journal entry format, I’ve created a category for my NaNoWriMo novel and am using the journal features that the program was primarily made for. It logs each entry per day (which I will have to change the dates when I save the draft as a whole, but it is useful) and has a little calendar that you can manage and click through to each entry on, even allowing you to add onto days that have already passed or start entries for days that have yet to come, which is also useful for novel-writing in some ways. It saves your entries periodically, and also has a ‘save as’ feature under the export file section where you can save each entry (or even the entire thing) as a different file-type (I go with .rtf’s for the time being while I just save an extra copy of my work).

Dropbox is how I manage to keep all of my files backed up and in-order. I haven’t had it for long, but it’s a great help – if you save a file in the dropbox folder, it will store a copy of it on your account online and on every computer, phone, etc you have connected to your Dropbox account. It also allows for easier sharing of files and folders. This is where I save my extra .rtf copies of my entries for my novel, in it’s own little folder in my Dropbox. Not only is it easy to use, it’s very useful and helps you keep your files on-hand as easily as possible! I suggest it to anyone who wants to keep their files safe and sound and would like to be able to access their files not only from any computer or phone that they have the program on, but anywhere so long as they can get online and into their account.

  • Drinks and snacks

While I’m not much of one for snacks, I love to have a drink while I write. Coffee, sweet tea, green tea, Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, anything I like, I’ll drink it while I write. It helps keep me comfortable and energized, and the occasional snack is great too. As I write this, I’m sipping on some very, very sweet tea, expecting a little bit of supper in an hour, which will be around the end of a pre-writing session. I’ll also probably go to Starbucks every now and then like I did during November to enjoy some of their delicious little snacks and a mocha while I write (this usually helps me get a lot of work done – going out into a different environment specifically to write both gives me some fresh air and a change of setting, along with motivation!).

  • A friend to participate with

This June, both my sweetheart and I will be participating. Having someone else to participate with is actually very exciting for me – especially since we’re going to be sitting down and powering through some writing sessions together. We have our goals set for our days and will both work towards them together until we both reach the minimum word count goal we’ve set, meaning that if one of us has hit that goal but the other hasn’t, both of us keep writing regardless until the other has. Not only does that encourage writing more than our daily goal when it happens, it also has some motivation for the other person to get their draft down faster (again, as NaNo is a tool for getting things down, not getting a polished, publishable draft, getting the story down quick is a goal for most) since the other person will continue to work despite hitting their daily goal. We’ve also decided that after we both hit our goal, we’ll discuss the work we got done today and whatever problems we encountered/things we discovered during the process.

  • Rewards

I guess this kind of ties in with the last two here, but I have worked out a rewards system for the month. Every Sunday, if we’ve hit at least our minimum goal in weekly word counts, we’ll be able to watch a movie together to relax for a little while. The movies are generally less serious ones and moreso ways to relax and get a laugh after a week of hard work. We’ve also both chosen something to get the other when we finish writing these drafts, which might not necessarily be during NaNoWriMo, but still provides incentive to keep writing. Another reward I’m planning on giving myself is being able to read a little bit once I’m finished with my goal for the day.

  • Twitter/this blog

Yes, they’re distractions – but being able to escape and get distracted every now and then is okay, especially when you’re doing a lot of work around the time. Not only will tweeting and blogging document the experience and how it’s going, it allows me to reach out to others who are experiencing/have experienced the same event before. One of the most enjoyable parts of NaNoWriMo is, to me, learning about other people’s points of view on the event and how it’s gone/going for them.

Daily word count goal for weekdays: 2,000 words

Daily word count goal for weekends: 840 words

Are you going to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are your goals and “supplies”? And for everyone in general, what have you been working on lately in terms of your writing, and how’s that going?

Fiction Writing with Officer HerpDerp at 5 AM: Gathering Ideas

So, we’ve all sat down and decided to write a novel before, be it because we want to or because it’s one of our sources in which we make money for a living. Some of us have already been struck by an idea for a novel, some of us are inspired but we don’t have any idea what we want to write, or some of us just need an idea or more regardless of the situation (I.E needing an idea for something like NaNoWriMo, which is this month – good luck, if whoever’s reading this is a NaNo-er).

Some of us come up with the general plot or idea of the story first, then come up with the characters. Some of us come up with the characters, then the plot or general idea of the story. Some of us come up with the general idea, then the characters, then the full-on plot. This, my first blog article on giving tips for fiction writers, is for those of us who are on that stage, be it first, second, or third, where we need that spark of inspiration, be it for the general idea or plot, or a concept for a character.

This will consist of the ways that I, and other people, have gotten ideas – none of which are confirmed to work for you or anyone, but have worked for others, so it’s worth a try if you can manage it or it seems like a good idea to you. These will be from my own personal experiences, the experiences from writers I know, and the experiences of random people on the internet. If you have a way that you’ve gotten ideas – be it the general story, plot, or a character concept – that you think could help people out, please feel free to put them in the comments! The more the merrier, after all.

I tend to get my ideas from research, or just hearing about whatever interesting concept I get lucky enough to find. Since I love to know more about things that tickle my fancy when I hear of them, when I hear or read about an interesting concept or event, I get to researching, starting at wikipedia and going down into things that are generally accepted to be more reliable if I find it interesting enough from there on. This research goes on, until suddenly, an idea may spark for something that I could use to base a novel, novella, or short story on!

This first worked out wonderfully for me when I got the first sparkle of inspiration for the original idea of the current universe I am writing in. I was watching the I.D. channel, and some of the people involved in the cases they had been going over were involved in a cult. I found this interesting and started to look it up, delving deeper and deeper into reading about cults and things similar to them until I was specifically reading about cults that were involved in religions and ritualistic concepts. I ended up reading a lot about different religions, magic, and different cults in one or two nights.

I ended up getting an idea the next day for the main group of characters the first few novels in my series are centering around. They were originally a cult led by a maniacal man who believed he had found a way to summon the former ‘Angel of Light’ and current ‘Prince of Darkness’, Lucifer. As the years went by, the characters developed, changed, and fixed themselves to hold a place in my heart, the story changing to something only vaguely similar to what it was on that 28th of November two years ago. This way of getting ideas has worked for me countless times since, be it for roleplay characters, short stories, new characters for the universe my novels take place in, or new novel ideas as a whole.

The next few are quotes from a survey I conducted here on the internet with people I have never met or spoken to before (they will remain anonymous due to this fact), perhaps with my opinion or insight added afterwards.

Well, the more creative your mind is, the more ideas you’ll get.

I personally can examine a simple object or word, and create a nice poem, or even a wicked short story about it.

Most of the time, I just think of different stories completely out of random.

The first one is one that a lot of, if not all, writers thrive upon, or at least attempt to do so – creativity. Everyone has it somewhere in their mind, although some people seem to have more than others. Use it, even if it’s not as apparent as it is in someone else – just because you don’t feel as creative as others doesn’t mean you can’t be if you delve deep enough into yourself! The second is a fun and interesting concept which I have tried before, and have written a drabblet short story or so as a result of, along with a few poems, that speaks for itself, as is the third.

I refer to my notebook of “ideas” where something struck me as interesting and I noted next to it “look into this” or “would be a good subplot for a fantasy” or “nice characteristic for an antagonist”

I also ask “what if” constantly. What if people aged much slower? How would that affect our society (years in school, years in retirement, marriages, etc). Or what if the FBI was never formed and the mafia still existed in full force to this day? How would that have affected society? Or What if a modifier was discovered that could control the rate at which your cells replaced themselves? What if you could clone body parts? What if humans evolved from aliens? What if the Bible is really a story of our original planet before we colonized Earth? What if Iraq was the world’s leading super power.

Etc. That’s basically how I generate ideas. All the little details I steal from real life.

I really like this person’s outlook and how they ‘generate ideas’, in their own words. I think the “what if” manner could really help people struggling to put together an idea, and keeping track of little details that come to mind such as good ideas for plots, subplots, character traits, names, etc can help manage said ideas (that’s mainly the only thing I use my phone for – memo’ing little ideas when I don’t have access to my notebooks or computer).

1.) Ideas. Use imagination.

2.) Find ideas. Use five senses: Touch, taste, smell, see, hear. Mix ’em for originality.

3.) The five ‘w’s. Who, what, when, where and why. Find the story.

4.) Story elements. Setting, rising action, conflict, falling action, end. Usually needed.

5.) Action. Use active verb forms, active settings, active characters. Good writing.

6.) Description. Describe in small doses. Use action and observation. It’s the best way.

7.) Experiment. Stories can be great when “outside the box” and “the comfort zone.”

8.) Edit. Check spelling, grammar, sentence structure, flow and format. Always.

9.) Publish. Use “The Writer’s Market” or “Writer’s Digest” to learn “How To Publish.” 

10.) Keep trying.

I like this person’s ‘check list’ of sorts. It’s not something everyone has to follow or use every thing on, but it’s simple, down to the point, and although it’s not JUST about gathering ideas for things, as this is about, it gives some good tips for writers.

Unfortunately, none of the people I know who write at least on the occasion who have any ways other than these to get ideas are awake right now aside from “lul i don’t really know” and the whole “IT’LL COME TO YA!” (reference cookie) deal, so I’d like to request even more that, no matter what time it is you’re reading this, be it tonight, a few weeks from now, a few years from now, whatever, comment with the way that you personally get your writing ideas.

That’s all I have for now and I apologize for not putting too much content into this post, but I hope it’s at least helpful. Next time I do something on writing and give tips, hopefully I’ll be in more of a state of mind to give more opinions, insight, feedback, and general comments. Thank you for reading, and I will probably end up updating this to fix any horrific mistakes I’ve made in my tired mess, make it more proper of a post intended to be helpful, and just make it overall better than it is now.

National Novel Writing Month 2011: Introduction

Hello, folks! Two days ago was November first, the beginning of a month that means a lot to me, and one of the reasons it does so is simple–it’s nation novel writing month! For those of you who don’t know about it, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), November, is a month where many writers start a goal to write at least 50,000 pages of a novel by the end of the month. It, to me, seemed like a wonderful opportunity to finally finish the first novel in a series I’ve been planning for two years, and, ironically, I began working on this novel long before I knew about National Novel Writing Month and just so happened to begin planning it in November of that year!

I’ve sprung head-first into my NaNo novel and am currently nearing 8,000 words. It’s not much, but seeing as it’s so early into NaNoWriMo, I’m proud of myself for that. I’m very excited to participate, so tonight, I’m going to share my plan for the month and how I’m going to get through it!

Since I’ve got relationships to sustain, I’m trying to get a plan that works with my schedules and will let me keep free reign over my life rather than let NaNoWriMo take over  it. How am I going to do this? Well, I’m naturally a fast typer, so, obviously, I’m going to start off by working on the computer in one document for the most part, so that I can get in as many words as I can in during the free time I have. I’m trying to set aside an hour or two per day to just focus on getting ideas and increasing the word count as much as possible, without going so much that my mind turns to mush for the night and everything gets shitty.

I don’t want my NaNoWriMo project to make me cringe at every other word when I finish, so I don’t want to be working on it to the point where it stresses me out, makes me run out of ideas and lets my brain run dry. I want to take the time with wording, plot, and making sure I’m not just using a pen filled with shit to write it. I’m not going through and taking the time to edit it all, only taking the time to make sure what comes out in my first draft isn’t a bunch of shit so when it’s done, I can edit it into something worth publishing.

If I can’t get a lot of writing in for the day, if any, then that’s okay. I’ll just make up for it on a day when I’ve got some extra time. Family and friends come first for me, so if it comes down to it, I pick them first, maybe try to get a little writing in right before if I have the time. If it starts to stress me out too much, I won’t force myself to keep writing, instead I’ll take a break and just calm down by doing something I enjoy, like spending time with people or watching a movie, reading something, taking a nap, watching the ID channel, or if it’s got me so stressed out that I’m feeling aggressive, I’ll try to get some work done on other things, since, for me, aggressive, stressful and frustrated feelings make it easier to be productive.

An important part of my plan is making sure I’m inspired to write. What tends to inspire me is being away from home, somewhere I can relax, so I’m going to be going to a nearby Starbucks every day or two to have a mocha (or if I’m feeling adventurous, a latte) and maybe a scone, piece of banana chocolate chip coffee cake, or even a double chocolate brownie, sit down and type away. My cousin, who’s like a sister to me, has gone with me during the preparation period, and earlier tonight, and once or twice, to get her college work done or catch up on her reading, so it’s both being productive and spending time together for us both.

If I’m feeling particularly inspired for it when I’m at home, I’ll get cracking. Of course, when I’m at home working on it, I will be much more ‘chill’ over it, talk to my family if they try to talk to me, chat with my beau, dick around tumblr, watch a little investigation discovery, you know, so that i’m not risking what I enjoy or any relationships while I take some extra time out of life for my NaNoWriMo project. If I’m not at home, but I don’t have my computer with me, and I’m getting all of these ideas on lines to use or new scenes, I won’t hesitate to whip out my trusty cell-phone and make a few memos containing whatever ideas I get.

It seems like some of the worst things to do during NaNoWriMo, at least for me, is to take it on too strong and spend so much time on it that you don’t have any or much time for the things and people you love, stressing yourself out about it and trying to force yourself to keep going, and not giving yourself a break. Don’t be hard on yourself, or your life – you CAN do it! It seems overwhelming at first, but if you try hard and keep in mind that you can do it without sacrificing your life or things you really enjoy for the month, you can do it, or at least make a lot of progress in your novel. If you don’t hit 50,000 by the end of the month, who cares? You can still finish it! It’s not like you’re forbidden from it, so just chill out, give yourself a break, and let your mind flow–do what’s best for you, not what’s best for pumping out a bunch of words faster, and don’t let writing become something that you have to do whether you like it or not rather than something that you WANT to do.

I’m going to try to post something about NaNoWriMo on here every week, be it about the event itself or my project, and I’ll probably be including word counts and updates on how it’s going no matter what in my NaNoWriMo related posts. I hope whoever finds this enjoys reading about my experience as it goes, and hopefully my plan can at least help someone else manage to do their NaNoWriMo without it getting out of hand for them.