Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo--Noveling Without a Safety Net

November, for those who don't know, is National Novel Writing Month.  A huge number of people around the world sign up at to compose a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days that make up November.  Yes, that does include Thanksgiving, which can knock out a large number of productivity hours.

I've done NaNoWriMo many times.  I've "won" three times.  Of those, only one resulted in a completed novel (at 85k words).

One of the things I noticed about my process was that I tended to try to get a big head start, so I would have a buffer to shield me if I got sick, stressed, bored, or otherwise overwhelmed by the project.  I could take whole days off and be all right.

This time, I decided to try a different route.  I have committed to writing the number of words necessary to reach 50k by the end of the month each day.  1,667 words.  By stopping very close to that number each day, I force myself to get back at the computer the next day, and the next, and so on.  The idea is that if I start training myself to write a little bit every day, it can become a habit.

No safety net forces me to have accountability every day.  I'm finding I like this approach.  I don't feel overwhelmed.  I can write 1,667 words in an hour if I'm in the groove and not worrying too much about crafting perfect sentences.  The crafting comes when the draft is done.  Usually, it's taking me a little more than an hour of actual writing time each day, but it's showing me that this is not an unreachable goal.

So, while I'm not a winner yet, I fully expect that, come November 30th, I'll cross the finish line right on target and validate my fourth "win."  There will still be more story to write, but that's all right.  All I have to do is keep going.

I'm a writer.  That's what writers do.

(If you want to see my beautiful stats page, click here.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Finalist? Me???

On Friday, November 2nd, I received the phone call I've dreamed of for a very long time.  Joni Labaqui from the Writers of the Future contest, telling me that I am a finalist in the 3rd quarter of Volume 29.

I'd like to say that I was calm and collected.  The truth was, sadly, much different.  I believe my first words were, "You're kidding, right?"  I wonder what percentage of finalists ask that very same question.  My guess would be that it's quite high.  I mean, truly, how often does a hoped for dream become a reality?

Once I was assured that she was not kidding, my mind had gone into full-on short circuit.  When asked, "Where did you hear about the contest?" my answer was, "I don't know!"  Then I babbled on for a bit about spending a lot of time on the contest forums (which are filled with welcoming, creative, awesome writers,) and eventually I decided that I'd always known about the contest.  This is patently not true, given that the contest began in the early 1980's and I was born...somewhat earlier than that.  Still, I honestly do not remember when I learned about it, and I do remember being aware of the anthologies a long, long, time ago.

Will I win?  No idea.  Right now I'm just so thrilled to have been selected as as finalist that I'm not even letting myself think that far ahead.

In the meantime, I will await my next phone call with anxious anticipation.  I do hope that, win or not, I manage to hold an intelligent conversation without the interference of a few overwhelmed tears.

I'll know soon enough.  For now, I'm going to hold onto this feeling, and catalog it for future use, if I ever have a character learn their dreams may be coming true.