Saturday, October 18, 2008

Secret Weapons for Nanowrimo

While some of our Nanowrimo virgins are doubting their ability to write 50,000 words in a month, I'm here to assure them it's more than possible...with the Nanowrimo secret weapon - Word Sprints (or if you're feeling competitive Word Wars).

Sometimes writing 1,667 words each day can seem like a mammoth task and easy to put off and put off until you've reached the end of the month and you've got a huge number of words to write to catch up. So here's how to write, write fast and forget about the word count goal.

We run word sprints every day on the hour and half-hour on the RWA Nanowrimo group. Anyone is welcome to start the thread (I rarely start sprinting until night-time due to that day job that gets in the way of everything). For a word sprint, you choose whether you write for 15 minutes or for 30 minutes, and during that time you WRITE AS FAST AS YOU CAN! You will be suprised how much you can write in a short period of time. In fact, you may find that you can meet your daily quota with just two half hour sessions in a day. Then at the end of the time, report your word count back on the thread. There may be others cheering you on, there may be others sprinting as well. If you wish, you can then have a friendly word war to see which of you can write the most words in the agreed period of time.
I use a Talking Alarm Clock for my word sprints. At the end of the time, the wizard says Well Done and plays a song for me. You can download him here:

I have a few extra weapons for Nanowrimo in case inspiration strikes at times when I'm not in front of the computer.

For the middle of the night inspiration, I have my special pen and notebook sitting on my bedside table:

And now I have my new (old) Alphasmart which I have fallen in love with. (Sorry Sandie)

Plus when we move into our new building at work, I am claiming this room as my own.
It's actually 'The Quiet Room' as opposed to the Dr Phil or Oprah room or cricket room depending on what time of the year it is. I can guarantee that Alphie and I will be spending my teabreaks and lunch breaks in here during November.

So those are my secret weapons. Do you have any Nano secret weapons to share?

BTW, tomorrow we start HUNK week on the blog and just to get us in the mood, I have searched my photo archives. Enjoy!

I'll be back next week for Saturday Spunks with photos of inspiration for my hero Dylan.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reaching the Goalpost

50,000 words - that's FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS. Ok is it just me or is anyone else freaking out (just a teeny bit) about that number? I know Nat won't be, because just to rub it in she mentioned on her post how she managed to knock that over in 9 days. Just trying to make me look bad hey Nat lol. So am I on my own here?

As a newbie (just thought I should get that on the record early on) I haven't written a full ms yet. I have completed short stories, children's stories (all much much shorter), but not the longed for ms yet. I worked out some statistics:

50,000 words in 30 days = 12,500 per week = 1,667 per day = 556 words an hour for 3 hours per day

556 an hour for 3 hours per day doesn't sound that bad, I can do that right! Hmmm but then life doesn't stop for NaNoWriMo. Take into account life and suddenly finding that 3 hours I desperately want to put aside to do this seems tough. It means I have to find 3 hours - 3 hours with no disruptions, 3 hours with no procrastination, 3 hours writing NEW words.

So for any chance of success I need two things. 1. Be confident 2. Be prepared

It is really hard to have confidence in yourself when you are untested. I have never ever written that many words... at least not ones that are meant to link together, I don't think the grocery, housework and renovation lists count. In the back of my mind that horrid little devil voice has whispered to me so many times in the last few weeks "What if you can't do it? What if you can think of a plot, go through all the right motions preparing, but when it comes to the crunch you CAN'T do it?" Now don't get me wrong, the nice little angel voice that floats around my mind has countered with thoughts like "What if this manuscript is brilliant and in no time at all you are published?" - it's just that the little red guys arguments are a bit more plausible.

So to convince myself that I CAN do this, I have put together some positive thoughts which I'd like to share with you.

Those who win are those who think they can.

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes.

It's hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.

An obstacle is often a stepping stone.

Finally, in the immortal words of Rudyard Kipling:
Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Need A Hero!!

Characters and how to find them:
Now when I'm about to start a story I usually have a character in mind and a situation. Say a oceanographer and tectonic plate tearing (EarthFall) or Secretary torn between two war time lovers (Time to Dream) or Girl finding out her dad's a Selkie and she is one too! (The Same Skin). And Girl Pirate in Alternate Space Reality.... well that's the working title right now so lol let's just go with it.
I usually do a quick scroll through pictures to find one that looks like the character I have in mind, say for instance Gwen from EarthFall:

or Jack Coyle from EarthFall

oh okay I'll give you another of Jack, just coz I'm noice...

So why do I need pictures? Because I'm a visual girl, I like to see who my people are, imagine they way they'd walk/talk/interact with others. It helps me when I need to write facial expressions or how the hero/heroine fit together that sort of thing.
For Time to Dream I actually saw a young electrician in my local super market and I followed him around for a few minutes watching how he moved, what he did, etc etc... No it was not strictly classified as STALKING... I was researching, and yes I did receive looks from strangers as this weird woman pushing a twin pram around the aisles ducking in and out as she tried desperately not to be seen by the electrician. It's something I did in the name of my art... Hubby advised me not to do that sort of thing again, apparently you could get arrested.
My hero for The Same Skin looks like this:
Ronan Beaumont.... he's actually got a few secrets of his own that Jane eventually finds out about...

So these pictures help me formulate ideas and movements, and generally help me get to know my people. Another great resource I use when I'm working out who the story is about is Lynn Veihls The Novel Notebook which helped me flesh out The Same Skin in three days and I wrote it in NINE... yep 50,000 words in 9 days... it can happen. She takes you through working out who the story is about and how your different ideas will affect not only them but those around them. It does help tremendously.
Even if you're not a plotter having a detailed character description can't hurt.
Anything that helps November roll around smoothly is worth the effort I think.
And you can call all that time spent drooling I mean searching for Heroes as research time and kick everyone else off the computer while you go look.
What does your hero/heroine look like? Do you have a favourite real live person that you base characters on... oh note to self: do not allow the other girls to get hold of the latest Hugh Jackman pictures, it'll just get too steamy around here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesdays Words.

I know you all missed me while I was away. After all there's no other excuse for the fact that your lives stopped without me. LOL Yeah, right. You all but forgot me! So to make myself feel better I'm gonna say to all those that wish they had someone to do all the cooking and cleaning during the month of November.... ha ha!

Enough nonsense! This is not the time for silliness, it's serious business writing a novel in 30 days. I want no procrastinating, no web surfing, no distractions, no deviating from the course and definitely NO FUN! **screech** What? No fun? Since when is writing not fun!? Think about it. By writing you get to play God. You say when things happen, how they happen and to who they happen. You can kill someone off or give someone a baby. You can have someone enjoy the flush of new found love or the sorrow of letting love go. You decide what bad habits you hero has and whether your heroine is strong enough to stand them. And when it's all said and done you've crafted lives and a world you know better than your own, a world you've come to love. And then you get to do it all over again!

Writing for me is about passion. And no I'm not talking about the kind that happens in the bedroom, although a good amount of that is part of my writing it's not ALL of it. No, the passion I'm talking about is for your story, for your characters, for the skills it takes to craft a tale real enough to grab your reader and suck them in until they're cross-eyed at 3am because they can't put your book down. Without the passion and desire to tell your tale you can have all the skill in the world and not spin a great book. Sure it might be a good book and people might read it and enjoy it, but a great book will have them thinking about it long after they've turned the last page. They'll be talking about it to their friends and putting it on their keeper shelf to pull out over and over again. I want to write great books, I want my books to be the ones on the keeper shelves, I want to hear people talking about them. But most of all I want them to fall in love with my characters and if I don't love them that won't happen.

Passion is such a big part of it. There's the passion you have for your story, the passion your hero has for your heroine, the passion they have for their goals. And lets not forget the passion YOU have to share your story with the world. It's easy to lose sight of it when you're stuck in a scene that just won't work or you've used the same phase to describe an emotion five times on the one page. When you hit that wall or pot hole in your story that you just can't seem to get past and when you're tired and your fingers are cramped and your back aches and the number on your word count just doesn't feel like it's big enough you can easily lose the passion. So what do you do?

That's where we come in. Together we can keep the passion going because when one of us has numb legs and just can't walk anymore the rest of us will carry them. We'll reach down and grab their arms and drag them back onto their feet. We'll push them on, support them when they stumble, we'll mop up the tears and sweat, we'll pour the drinks and serve the food for thought that sparks the embers of passion and we'll damn well kick their arses over the line if we have to! If you've signed on to this with us then you need to know that we're passionate about the team. Yes we write our own stories and each of us is at a different stage but we're all after the same thing. Telling stories. Telling great stories. And I don't care who writes the story, I want to read all the good ones and I want to keep all the great ones. Most of all I want to know that I helped get those stories out there.

The writers life is a solitary one and the support and friendship of our fellow writer is just as much a resource as any how-to book you read, any research you undertake or skill you might learn. It takes a writer to understand a writer and when you shut the 'real' world out in November remember that we're just as real and always here. So when you find yourself getting cold as the flames of passion die down give us a shout, one of us will have the fuel to get the fire roaring again.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday's Tales

Hi All,

I’m up early this morning doing the Muse Online Workshop. I’m not sure how I’ll go with the live chats as most of them run from about 1am, if the insomnia is playing up I’ll be right. Somehow, I think by the end of the week I’ll be a mess if I try to stay up late every night. Anyway, they have a forum, so I thought I’d post the link here for anyone interested in having a look: there are quite a few good discussions on there so it might be worth a look.

The other link I have is 30 Tip for 30 Days, tips to help you through NaNoWriMo: it doesn’t look to bad either.

  • It’s almost 6.30am; I’ve been up since 1.30 so if some of this is gibberish you’ll know why. Anyway, I thought I’d write about getting yourself prepared for the big month ahead. According to my nifty little book, I got with my ‘No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit’ there's five steps in preparing to write.

    STEP ONE: PICK YOUR MONTH: This is already done for us, we know our month, NOVEMBER!

  • STEP TWO: PICK YOUR PLAYER: Pick how you’re going to have cheering you on, giving you a shoulder to cry on or a boot in the bum when needed. You can have family members (if they write great, if not use them as a cheer squad) family are normally your biggest supports they are the one that want to see you succeed, friends – these are the one that enjoy pushing you, egging you on to achieve your goal. Then there are your writing pals, the one that understand what you go through each day trying to write a masterpiece. They understand what it is like to have characters nattering away in your head while you try to write one story and they want you to write THEIR story, RIGHT NOW!

  • STEP THREE: SPREAD THE WORD: Let everyone know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Who knows you might find someone around you that has their own story they want to write. Plus let non-writes know that you won’t have time for the weekly coffee drop-in, hour long chats etc.

  • STEP FOUR: FILL OUT THE AFFIDAVIT: I’m not sure where it is on the site, LOL. But if anyone wants one let me know and I’ll email you a copy on one I scanned. The idea is to sign it, get it witnessed and then you are locked in, ready to stick to your commitment.

  • STEP FIVE: THINK ABOUT YOUR BOOK: Take the next couple of weeks to think about what you are going to write. Make notes, outline and plot if that is your thing, do whatever you need to do so that come November 1 you are ready to sit at your computer and stat typing.

    That’s it from me for this week, I’m off to bed to try to catch up on some sleep so I can be up by 8.30 to start editing and be ready for my next on line chat.

    Catch ya later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

NaNoWriMo Madness and Mayhem

I know. It’s a little dramatic, but I wanted to get your attention!

I first heard about NaNoWriMo a few months back before joining the RWA. At the time I thought it was a great concept, but that was it. Great concept, nice idea, sounds promising, might be fun, not really for me…

Well, a few months down the track and my perspective has changed. It’s amazing how becoming a member of an organisation and developing a support network has me singing a different tune!

I’ve met (well not literally, but online) a number of wonderful people who have gently cajoled (pushed/shoved/forced) me into committing to this wonderful challenge. I’m not feeling the slightest bit of pressure (she says as the sweat drips all over her keyboard).

All kidding aside, I think it’s a wonderful way of trying to achieve a dream. It can be is as big as deal as you make it, or it can be just a hell of a lot of fun.

I’m taking it seriously this year. I want to give it a shot of reaching 50,000 words, but I’m realistic – having a holiday where writing is banned for the first week of November isn’t going to help me at all! I’m also at the beginning of my writing ‘career’, so I have limited expectations of myself. I’m not putting myself down. I’d just rather accept my limitations – if I crack the big five-o I can be proud, rather than disappointed if I don’t.

So… today isn’t the greatest prep day for NaNo for me, but I take notes whenever I can. Those of you who know me know I’m very secretive about what I write, so I’m not prepared to share my story ideas(boo hiss). But I PROMISE I’ll let you know when I’m ready… Who knows, I might tell you what I wrote for NaNo 2008 by the time NaNo 2009 comes around! Lol.

I’d like to hear how everyone is going with their preps. You don’t have to share your story ideas as such, but I hope you’re all brimming with ideas and are full of excitement, not terror! :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Where do you write?
I don't just mean physically, but where does your writing flow from, too?

Do you need an empty, clean office with absolute silence? Do you need a bustling cafe with lots of characters, errh, patrons around you?
Do you have a ritual you need to go through before really getting in the zone?

As we're all gearing up for NaNo, cracking necks and sharpening pens, cleaning crumbs off the keyboard and taking notes or daydreaming (or both!), one thing is perfectly clear: all writers need a space.
A space to write. Space to dream and think. A space to jot down ideas safely from prying eyes and destructive hands, claws, feet.
But above all, a head space where story ideas are allowed to bloom and become actualised.

Me, I can't write at home. i get distracted with everything there is to do and with things that are fun or are clamoring for attention. I'm easily distracted. Which makes it ironic that I write best where there are the most distractions. Outside. in cafes. In food courts.
I work best when I feel like part of a crowd. Blending in. Drifting through. Absorbing the stories around me.

Where will you be spending most of your time in November?
Me, I'll be in the two big food courts in the Melbourne CBD, as well as Singapore and Saigon.