Thursday, November 3, 2022

Revisiting my NaNoWriMo Approaches from 2015

Hello my fellow creatives!

I'll aim to update the list of deadlines further this weekend. For now, a NaNoWriMo focus. Plus, some related images I've put together with the likes of midjourney, canva, gimp, krita, etc. Enjoy.

My Latest Stories Coming Soon

Another reminder, my stories are being published soon! I should have a story out this month in Clamour and Mischief, available for pre-order now.. Hopefully I'll have a reading promo with music out for that soon as well (everything is recorded and my musician friend has incorporated the music; I just need to pair up the video properly and send it to the editor to put up on YouTube). In December, look forward to my story in Tales and Feathers Issue 1. Go check out the stories they've already released!

Doing NaNoWriMo 2022

So, I am doing NaNoWriMo again. I felt way too swamped with work to do it, so almost decided not to, but then at the last moment, I realized it had helped me finish a short story last year. In fact, the story being published in Clamour and Mischief was drafted during NaNoWriMo (no, I didn't write a full 50k, but instead wrote about 15k and edited all that into about 5000 words for the editor Narrelle Harris at Clan Destine Press). The project is here: I hope you decide to purchase a copy so you can see the result. I really love this story world and hope to do more with it soon.

This year, I'm returning to one of my fictional worlds from the Hum in the Highways novel, but completely different focus and characters. I'll use the energy of a NaNoRebel project to push out several short stories, four going to the Zombies Need Brains anthologies (deadline: end of December). Project posted here:

NaNoWriMo: What Worked for me in 2015?

For those that want to muse over better approaches to NaNoWriMo, I decided to revisit some of my old blog posts. I've done NaNoWriMo every year since 2012. I was successful in completing the 50k-word goal in 2012, 2013, and 2015, with a fourth year in 2018 that was only 400 words short of 50k. I've posted about my success in a few blog posts.

In 2015, I made two blog posts that may be of interest. First, in October, I made a post about what I was using to prep for NaNoWriMo, here: The list includes: (1) Pens, Pencils, Portable Notebook, Lined and Graph Paper; (2) Scrivener(3) Snowflake Pro(4) Write or Die 2; (5) Svenja Gosen's NaNoWriMo Word Tracker Spreadsheets.

And I did successfully draft 50k words for a novel titled Hum in the Highways. I made a post about it in December, trying to pinpoint what worked for me and what didn't. This was at a time before my divorce, so I was busy with family obligations and a full-time job (honestly I'm still just as busy now for other reasons, but this may interest those who might otherwise avoid NaNoWriMo or other writing projects).

The full blog post is here: If you just want a quick glance at what worked and what didn't, the positive takeaways are in aqua green highlight below, and the negatives are in red.

With that in mind, I wanted to consider what brought success on my best writing days, to help increase word output in future months. I hope this will help readers of this blog consider how to best increase their creative efficiency as well.

My best writing day was 5193 words. Musing over some of the positive factors involved, here is what I came up with:

1) I woke up early, perked myself up with fruit and milk, and then sat at the desk and only got up for restroom breaks and nothing else (quick breathers or bites to eat aren't bad per se, just as long as you don't get carried away);

2) I wore a dress shirt and tie, like I would to a business office, to help myself treat the writing time as something separate and more official than other periods of the day (making it even more important than my day job, as I don't wear anything like a dress shirt and tie to my current day job), and it also felt great taking the tie off after finishing some major writing;

3) I visualized and reviewed what the purpose of this session would be before I started, by glancing at scene summaries or other plot/structure plans I had written up, and I had several back up scenarios to get written for when I finished what I had visualized;

4) Even though I had visualized and did have a brief summary of what the scene(s) was supposed to be, I also allowed myself to generate unplanned for new characters and new ideas on the spot and did not cut them out or hesitate, seeing as that unplanned for material could be exactly what I need to push the story;

5) I timed myself (with Write or Die software) for 30 minutes, breather, then another 30, and so on;

6) It might not be a good fit for everyone, but I really do think having a scheduled writing hour or two (or more if you can free up that time) is best. The writing time became the period of the day I most looked forward to. If I was able to get a good word count done in the morning before work, the rest of the day was much easier, and felt better, too. It also gave me something extra to mull over during the day (what to expand on in relation to what I just wrote, and start visualizing the next scene with the recently finished one in mind);

7) I had all the scene files prepped and ready to be filled, though I placed them there not to set them in stone but as temporary placeholders. That is to say, I generated scene files beforehand and placed them in the order I thought at the time, but I kept in mind that I would almost definitely be moving those scenes around a great deal, if not cutting completely. Having a file just to fill makes the writing process run smoother and more efficiently; knowing that the file is not set in stone encourages you to write without apprehension since you're in the be flexible mindset.

Less successful days usually came about when one of the following items occurred.

1) I took a quick look at social media,

2) I didn't wake up when my alarm went off,

3) I hadn't thought about what that morning's writing session would be about so worried too much about the planning aspect to jump right in,

4) I worked through material that I'd already written and so had to be more careful,

5) I wrote in a new and more messed up perspective than my main MC and so had to slow down,

6) a revision I realized needed to be made was bothering me so much I couldn't write anything else, and I didn't deal with it right away;

7) of course, when I had other writing I needed to finish, I had to cut back on writing the novel.

How Will I Approach NaNo This Month?

So all of that was 2015. Am I following my own advice from the past? Nope. I just feel too overwhelmed with my work obligations, a full week English camp with no free time, and more. I almost decided to ignore the NaNoWriMo push this month. I mean, I feel the push to write every single month anyway. But then at the last moment, I realized doing NaNoWriMo had helped me finish a short story last year, and I am having major difficulty completing four stories for the ZNB anthologies. With that in mind, I came up with my approach to this year. 

Writing Cubicles in Light

Scrivener, of course. I have one project I've been throwing ALL of my writing and stories into, including all my deadlines and blog post prep, since summer. So I adapted it to November: (1) I've made a folder with one file for each day of this month. Whatever words I write up for the NaNoWriMo project goes into the file for the particular day, then I can easily update word counts each day. (2) I have separate folders for each particular story for the ZNB anthologies, so I can add my words to whichever story they belong in, and take specific notes as needed without too much slowdown between tracking overall word counts and needs of specific stories within total word counts. (3) And the third aspect to this year's approach is that I am making another folder in which I will imagine how these stories fit together into the overarching structure of a possible novel, in case I'd like to bring them together into that after they've had a chance at being accepted by the ZNB anthologies. I'll insert general structure from previous novels with the freedom to adapt as I please.

Brainstorming Writing Methods

In terms of writing in the mornings, I will try. That approach really worked in the past. But I'm finding this week I need every spare hour to proofread every line of this J-E translation project. That said, another important approach to writing is flexibility. Write whenever you can basically. Bring that laptop, device, phone, and notebook everywhere. Have both a phone/device/laptop as well as a pen and notebook. So if writing on your device is just giving you nothing, switch to the pen and paper and add it to the Scrivener folder or other file later. Having a quick way to write on either phone or pad of paper helps adapt to whatever situation you're in. In my case, I will aim to write whenever I'm on train trips between jobs. I will also write at the hotel at night after each day during the English camp week. I will plan to write in a variety of locations: home laptop, home balcony, couch, cafe, park. This is to see if the locations help encourage more writing or deeper thinking. Also, just when walking around, I'll keep a notepad in my pocket or backpack so I can quickly pull it out and jot down an idea if I have it. I've tried speaking my story aloud to my phone before while biking but that didn't work so well, so I'll probably avoid that.

Oh, and of course, I'll use a timer and/or the Write of Die software. That's always been a help. That, or I'll do some timed writing sprints with my writer friends.

That's all from me. Time to rush to the next job, then jot down more story after. And, again, I'll aim to update the lists of deadlines this weekend. Flame Tree Press does have some short story calls opening now, so keep your eyes open for those.

Good luck to all your creative endeavors. May we all be published and read soon!


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