Saturday, November 22, 2014

Drowning in the Sea of Nano

The goal is 50,000 words in one month.
Not that hard, they say, that's only 1500 words or so a day. 
Even if you fall behind, you can always catch up. 

Pretty, pretty lies, but LIES nonetheless. It is HARD HARD HARD.

It's November, after all. Kids are stir crazy and possibly still bouncing around from Halloween's sugar overdose. Thanksgiving is coming.

If you had teens (or volunteered to help) in the Phoenix Temple Cultural Celebration, then you were driving kids, sewing costumes, buying black pants, black shoes, then white shoes, white socks, no, wait, now it's black shoes again. Oh wait, now it's both. Back to the store. Then the Celebration itself, then the dedication of the Phoenix Temple! Veteran's Day, spring cleaning (It's spring here in the Valley of the Sun, by the way. Yeah, spring is in November). So much to do, and hey, let's write a novel!

Does anyone else have little keyboard shaped dents in their heads from the frustration? Okay, so that's established.

How about writer's block? Yes, that nasty beast FEEDS on NanoWrimoians like blue whales on plankton. I'm sitting here trying to write, and I've veered so far off my outline (yes, I OUTLINED) that I am now pantsing, even though DID I MENTION I OUTLINED??? The story went fabulous places, and then crashed. I don't want to go back to the outline. The pantsing version is much more awesome. AND also terrible and I hate it but I love it--

Yes, I am in the throws of the mid-Nano slump. Many of my colleagues are, as well. It's even got to the point where I have visions of Mork every time I say Nano (technically he says "Na-NU" but still). So, in honor of that, here's a little visual inspiration (it's no Avengers, and if you've seen that you know what I mean):

Okay. Got that out of the way. SO,

Here you thought I was just going to complain and not give you any tips for breaking writer's block.  I wouldn't do that to you, gentle reader.  I have a few things that have helped me. Yesterday I did these things and got to a place where I could write 4000+ words over the course of a few hours.

1) Remember. It's not about making time,it's about protecting our time. I don't take credit for that. Deirdra Eden Boyd shared it. I had to remind myself and others that I had made a goal, a commitment, and I need to do what it takes to keep that commitment, to reach that goal. I sacrificed some much-needed relaxation time and skipped family movie night to write. It kinda stunk, but they got to watch a movie I wasn't very interested in, and I got almost unimpeded writing time.

2)Forget. Expectations have no place when you are writing for volume. I tend to edit as I write. I think about the words I want to use, sometimes a little too much. My first drafts are more polished than some people's second or third drafts. Nanowrimo isn't about that, though. In order to be able to write 50,000 words in a month, I have had to forget that expectation that what I write will be up to my normal first-draft expectations. The point is to get the novel out and ready to work with.

3)Inspire. What inspires you? If what normally inspires you isn't working in the throes of Nanowrimo, then maybe you can find something else, change it up a bit? Some little tidbits of inspiration suggestions I've found. I'll tell you about any of them I've tried, and how it's worked for me.

  • Music:  this is a huge one for me this week. I usually don't like to listen to instrumental music, but I needed a change, so I googled "melancholy instrumental music" and discovered an artist named "Hauschka" who just... wow. It fit the bill and then some. I jumped on Pandora and let them pick out music in the "Hauschka Radio" station and I've found it fits the tone of what I'm trying to write, perfectly. Here's a little Hauschka: 

One person shared their multiple playlists that help them in certain situations, including breaking writer's block. Here is a link to their post, maybe it has some musical ideas for you: 
  • Sprints:  Opening up Facebook (BEWARE! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!) and having friends to do sprints with has helped immensely.
  • Write-In:  doing a write-in is always helpful. I have a faithful write-in group, that used to be part of the same ANWA chapter, but has since been scattered to the 4 corners of the globe. Okay, Texas, Buckeye AZ, and Louisiana aren't exactly foreign lands, but they don't lend themselves to all-night potluck write-ins, either. SO, we opened up a Google Hangout and did it online. There are virtual write-in's as well as Nanowrimo-sponsored ones, or organize your own. Everyone working on the same thing is synergistic and it helps me immensely. Having someone to give you instant feedback, or suggest a word here and there can break the ice of the impending writer's block. 
  • Timers: the sprints are one take on timers, but there are other ways to do this, even alone. "Write or Die"is a software application that rewards you for meeting a goal, and if you don't, it punishes you. It might eat your words, or zombies may show up at your door. Well, maybe not zombies. Even just setting a Google Timer, and when it goes off, if you've typed your goal, you get a Coke. If not, no soup for you. 
  • TURN EVERYTHING ELSE OFF!! This one probably won't work for me. It might just make me angry. But for some, it has to be distraction free. Having my music in my headphones helps me to really enter the world where I am writing, and sometimes I even have my eyes closed, which really creeps out my son (thank you, former career where I had to type and look at a million other things all at once). Kill Facebook (unless you are using it for sprints, then just have it open JUST for that. No need to check any updates or anything). Remember--PROTECT your time. 
These are just a few little ideas. What works for me may not work for you. Heck, you may not even need it. Maybe your muse is sitting right there next to you and you are having a great laugh together at the poor whiner with her Mork and her Hauschka, just trying to finish her Nano novel in 2014.  

Oh, I almost forgot. 

4)JUST DO IT! Don't delay. Write. It's easier to write, when you're writing. You know what I mean. Good luck. May the force be with you. May the odds be forever in your favor. All that good stuff. 
And my favorite:


Discussion time:  how's your Nano-vember going?  What antidotes to mid-Nano venom do you have in your writer's first-aid kit? 

1 comment:

  1. This is my first NaNo and first novel writing experience in general and I have loved it. My draft will take months to revise before it is ready for beta readers, but I am okay with that because I finally have something to work with. I am at 41,000 words. I have used write-ins on Saturdays at my local library and when I sit down to write I don't open anything on my laptop other than scrivener. I get up at 5:30 am to write before my baby wakes up, and while sometimes one or both of my boys wake up early or I'm too tired to write much, the morning session gets my mind thinking about my novel so I can write better in stolen moments later in the day.

    Good luck! The month is almost over!



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