Hey! I thought I’d pop in and say hello! If you’re a writer and you’re participating in NaNo 2016, drop a comment and share your word count! We’re on Day 2! I’ve already got over 11,000 words written. Admittedly, I had a lot of the plot worked out and some rough draft text done…could not hold off starting that until November 1 or I’d have lost the flow, and as you probably well know–when you get in the zone, STAY IN THE ZONE!
Anyway, I just completed a HUGE project at work, it’s near the end of the day, and I thought I’d pop on the interwebs for a bit and see just what exactly 50,000 words adds up to when it comes to novels. For the record, it’s roughly 200-250 pages. I think mine’s going to be more than that because at this point, I have no intention of stopping at 50,000 words. That’s not really the point of NaNo anyway. What is the point? For starters, the point is just simply to WRITE!
I found a great article (*link at the end of the post) and as soon as I read this excerpt, I knew I had to share it here on my writing blog:
NaNoWriMo, then, did not shave time off of the process of writing my novel. So why bother with this hectic November ritual at all? I’ll explain.
Many writers, myself included, suffer from a gnawing perfectionism that can, at its worst, torment us over the placement of a single comma. Forget completing a first draft; perfectionists have trouble completing even a paragraph. NaNoWriMo forces us to ignore our incapacitating inner critic and keep going. The genius of NaNoWriMo is that it obliges us to (temporarily) lower our standards.
In the article, the author explains that even though she completed her first NaNo novel in 2007, it wasn’t actually published until 5 years and 15 drafts later. The excerpt above, though, is what I wanted to share because I know that I often have trouble motivating myself to write, and even more often, I get so frustrated when things aren’t coming out “perfectly” that I lose momentum, push the projects aside, and then have trouble finding my way back to them.
In this instance, in my case, it actually worked to my advantage because the NaNo novel I’m working on was sort of a perfect storm of sorts. I have written at least a half dozen stories going back about 20 years in the same genre (post-apocalyptic fiction), but I could never actually complete anything. A few weeks ago, when I started thinking about this year’s NaNo, I started reading through some of those stories–looking at my characters, my plots, my settings–and I started playing What If with myself:
- What if I took this character and added her to this story?
- And what if I took this story and made it the prologue to this one?
- Oh, and over here I’ve got this made-up fanfic character with an interesting personality who doesn’t really fit anymore in my Supernatural fanfics…what if I stuck her in this story over here and did this?
Then, in the same vein, I looked at my fanfic stories and started wondering why they were so much easier to write than my own stories and realized a couple of things:
- the world’s already there;
- some of the characters are already there;
- I know and love these characters
So. Looking back at my new story, there’s my world, but these characters I’d created. I didn’t really know them…so I Googled their physical descriptions and found people to represent them in my mind’s eye…then created Twitter accounts for each of them and had them start tweeting each other. It wasn’t much; a few Tweets and I had their personalities in my head.
But now–sure, I’m 11,000 words in, but my book is a mess. The story’s there, the characters are there, but I have a lot of holes that I need to fill in–not holes in the story (I know exactly where the story’s going), but holes where I’ve put placeholders of what’s going to happen in that spot so I can go back and write it later since I’m on a freakin’ roll in another part of the story.
NaNo isn’t a miraculous “write-like-mad-for-30-days-and-publish-a-book-on-Dec-1” kinda thing. It’s more of a reminder to us as writers that sometimes the best way to get it done is to just do it–screw the formatting, screw the order, screw the punctuation, spelling, and grammar (totally hurts even typing that…), to hell with the flow and the neatness and the research (there are notes in my text to myself like this: RESEARCH 19TH CENTURY BATHTUBS, FOOL!).
To be a writer, sometimes you just have to write, and screw the “right” or “wrong” of it. THAT is what the point of NaNoWriMo is.
*Excerpt above from Doing 50,000 Words in 30 Days
So, I am gearing up for this year’s NaNoWriMo, and I am feeling so motivated this year, I can’t wait! I’ve got my story. I’ve got my muse. I’ve got the bones of my story outlined…sorta…most of it anyway!
If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, here is the description from their About page:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.
On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.
National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light) that believes your story matters.
The NaNoWriMo Mission Statement:
National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.
Are you planning to participate? If so, let me know in the Comments! If you’d like to add me as a writing buddy, here’s my profile page! I’ve been participating for nearly 10 years now, but I think this is the first year I’ve been this motivated and had a clear story in the works that I think – KNOW – I can finish!
Before I end this post, I thought I’d share a few links here that might be useful:
- Discovering Your Writer’s Muse
We could all use a little inspiration now and then, right? Sometimes all it takes is that one little push to get our creative juices flowing. Maybe it’s a photograph or a memory, a thought or a person; whatever shape it takes, your muse gives you the inspiration and the motivation to share their story. Find yours today!
- Scrivener [NaNoWriMo Special Trial Edition]
I’ve used Scrivener in the past, but this is the first time I’ve gotten it installed and ready to use before Nov 1. I am absolutely loving this software! It’s really helped me make sense of my very disorganized way of writing. If you’re like me and you write sections “out of the timeline” of your novel, this software is a great tool. Check it out, and be sure to search YouTube and watch a few basic tutorial videos to get started. This special NaNoWriMo version will continue working through December 7 instead of stopping at the 30-day mark as most trials do. So you don’t have to worry about the trial ending before the end of NaNoWriMo! Also, if you reach your goal of 50,000 words and “win” NaNoWriMo (completing 50,000 words is winning NaNoWriMo; it is not a contest), you can purchase the full version for 50% off (Windows version only; apparently, Apple doesn’t allow discounts?). And even if you don’t achieve your 50,000 goal, you’ll still be able to buy the software for 20% off! (Reg. price is $45 for the Mac version; $40 for the Windows version).
- Word Count Helpers
If you look in the top right corner of my site, you’ll notice I’ve posted a widget that will show my word count as I make my way toward my Nov. 30 goal of 50,000 words. You can grab the html code for the widgets from the link above. We writers sometimes need all the motivation we can get, right?
Finally, some inspirational quotes:
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!
When I was a kid, I was bullied a lot and therefore spent a lot of time alone. Some of the greatest friends I had and the most exciting adventures I took part in were through words on a page. They took me away to places I’d probably never go, some of which don’t even exist other than in our imaginations.
I think sometimes readers read and writers write for much the same reasons – to escape to another place or time, to dream and experience things that are beyond their reach, to peel back the fabric of reality and peek at the unknown or the unbelievable, the impossible or the unreachable.
Jules Verne took me 20,000 leagues beneath the ocean; Jonathan Swift let me travel along with Lemuel Gulliver to lands of giants and lilliputians; Betty Smith let me experience the life of a simple girl in New York City through the Great Depression.
Stephen King scared the shit out of me with clowns and aliens and skinwalkers; JRR Tolkien introduced me to elves and
dwarves and orcs; HP Lovecraft reminded me that Cthulhu still waits dreaming…
And it’s not always fiction that opened my mind…Anne Frank broke my heart and made me wonder why humans are so cruel; Ann Rule showed me just how cruel people can actually be; Jim Morrison made me less ashamed to be strange because “five to one, baby, one in five; no one here gets out alive;” Kurt Cobain’s diaries made me realize that we don’t always know the whole truth about anyone.
I sometimes wonder if many authors realize the power they have in their pen or keyboard; how many minds they’ve set free just by putting pen to paper or fingers to keys.
Which authors sparked your imagination or gave you an escape just when you needed it the most?
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole
world around you because the greatest secrets are
always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who
don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
How about some writing prompts? Pick one (or two…or more!) and write something! See the menu at the top of the page if you’d like to have your writing posted on this site.
- Use this plot: reporter arrives in town and asks odd questions
- You wake up, go to the bathroom, and look in the mirror; a different face stares back. Begin your story here.
- Include this line anywhere in a poem: “…the roughed coals languish long after midnight…”
- Begin a story with the line, “The clock winked.”
- Begin your story with this line, “It was the one thing he coveted the most.”
Herman Melville once described writers as “…that whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving and coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.” If you’re a writer, or any creative person for that matter, you’ll understand what he meant completely. Sometimes creating comes easily, and sometimes it eludes us, and we have to dive into the ocean of our imagination to find our next idea…
Thoughtdivers was created to give aspiring writers a place to share stories, poems, and other writing pieces. I created the site a few years ago, and then, as often happens, life got in the way and I sort of lost control of it. I was inundated with 1000s of spammers a day. So…I’m trying a sort of revival, starting over from scratch. I was unable to retrieve much of what was on the original site, so if you’re one of the authors on the site previously and you’ve come back to take a peek, please forgive me! And if you’d like to come back and join again, shoot me an email. Instructions are on the About/How to Join page under the site logo above.
Below is the story I wrote in 2001 that inspired this site (which will also explain why there’s a rate at the top of the site;)
February 3, 2001
“…that whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving and
coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.”
That’s how Herman Melville described writers. When I read that, it instantly struck a “truth” chord somewhere inside me, and I understood it perfectly.
There’s a book inside me, probably more than one, waiting to get out, and every so often, I dive into my imagination and come back to the surface with a few more bits and pieces salvaged from the wreckage that passes itself off as my brain, that weird scrapyard between my ears that contains probably every meaningless bit of information that’s ever passed through it. I’ve spent my whole life trying to make sense of it, take inventory of all that’s there.
Unfortunately, more stuff comes into the scrapyard every day than is coming out. Every day, more and more pieces of cool junk are being tossed in there, as well as a lot of garbage. Granted, most of the flak gets tossed in some forlorn recess in the back of the yard. Eventually, maybe it’s forgotten, relegated to some dusty corner never to be seen again. But every so often, some lowly junkyard rat goes back there and drags a piece out and I sit straight up in bed wondering why I suddenly remember that Mary MacGregor sang “Torn Between Two Lovers” and why the Rat needed to wake me at 3AM for this bit of useless information.
Then too I think the Rats have a conspiracy going. It seems sometimes they take some of the good scraps and tuck them away in that forsaken corner, where they lay silent and forgotten, waiting for me to take that long overdue inventory. But I’m onto the conspiracy, and I’m one step ahead of the friggin’ Rats! I am smarter than the Rats!
I WRITE THINGS DOWN!
Sounds like a plan, right? Sure. Something pops into my head, and I think, “Wow, that’d make a great story” or “Hmmm, what a cool character” and I write it down, knowing that if I don’t, those fuckin’ Rats are gonna bury it in that back corner, where you’d probably find Jimmy Hoffa, Elvis and Jim Morrison having a nice cappuccino with Jesus Christ.
So I’m a step ahead of the Rats…kinda. Although while writing things down is a step in the right direction, WHERE I write it down is as bad as the Rat’s corner. Napkins, matchbook covers, page 357 of some book I was reading when the thought popped into my head, page corners torn from a doctor’s office magazine, toilet paper (don’t ask).
So I’m thinking the Rats have expanded their conspiracy territory. They’re no longer limited to the confines of the thought-diver’s realm. When I was 23, I wrote a story called Paradox Manor. POOF! Vanished! Since then, two or three days tops have passed without me wracking my brain as to its location.
Back then, I had less confidence in myself than I do now (which really isn’t saying a whole hell of a lot), but now I know – that fucking story was SELLABLE. When I wrote it, I did it in one fucking sitting and the words just poured out, flowing out of that junkyard like a dream…perfect. I hope Hoffa, Elvis, the Lizard King, and the Messiah are enjoying it over a cup of latte.
So I keep on diving, hoping that someday I’ll come across the remains of that story completely intact, either in the real world lying in a notebook or a heap of papers, or that somehow I’ll find the wreckage sitting there like a sunken pirate ship full of treasure chests spilling over with all the words that came pouring out the first time I wrote it. More than likely, though, the stinkin’ Rats will pull a Geraldo on me and, like the opening of Capone’s Vault, I’ll come out with nothing but a few dusty old bottles. In the meantime, I’ve managed to salvage a few good things here and there along the way, so it’s not a total loss;)
Author’s Note: For the record, I did end up rewriting that story, and you can buy it on Amazon right now for 99 cents🙂 I’m currently in the process of another rewrite to add more depth and make it into a longer story.