Update on TiNoWriMo

Okay, so I’m going to have to put TiNoWriMo down as a fail. Obviously, I don’t do well without a solid goal, a challenge and a number I can see and measure. Of course, I did give myself the general goal to write more this month and I have but, as I told you in the last post, that’s not saying much. I think I was a bit burned out from writing a first draft of a novel in less than five months. Yes, I know I did one last year in one month but that one wasn’t as good a complete draft (but is a great idea and a book with real potential I need to find the time to get at since it is very timely and, as far as I know, has never been done before anywhere). The draft I finished in early September was much better and it should be because I got a grant from the lovely and fabulous Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council to write that draft and now, I am pleased to say, just received another grant to complete the novel. This is a real show of faith when they give you money and think your project is worth funding. It is quite the morale boost for me and I am tickled and thankful. As for writing more, I know this will happen now because I have had a break away for a bit and been picking at Unnamed Fun Novel so getting back to work on Rewriting History will be great. I have a renewed passion for it.

My second goal for TiNoWriMo was writing every day and that has been an epic fail. Completely measurable and for sure I didn’t do it. What else is there to say? Excuses, yeah, I have them but so does everyone and I had way worse get in my way last year during NaNoWriMo and succeeded so excuses don’t matter now.

I hope all the NaNoers out there are doing better than I’ve been doing and, if you’re behind, don’t give up. Now is the time to change your main character’s name to something long and unwieldy. The longest name ever, according to the websites I searched this morning, is Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Jack Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorft Senior. If you really need it to catch up, take it and run. And if people say you’re not playing fair, ask them where their novel is.  Write on!


Last year this time, I was starting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) as thousands of others are this year. I made it clear last year that I didn’t think I’d ever do it again. Not that it wasn’t a great thing to challenge myself and to force all my writing muscles to work hard but it just didn’t seem the best use of my time. This may change if I ever get around to editing the book I wrote then and it goes anywhere but for this year, I am content to not paricipate in NaNoWriMo. But, I have decided to start my own writing goal this year and it’s TiNoWriMo–Tina’s November Write More. I gave myself a goal of writing every day in November and writing a lot more than I have been of late (which, quite frankly, wouldn’t take much). I was going to give myself the goal of writing 50,000 words this month in my various works in progress but decided against it. A word count goal means typing which takes away time from writing or means I have to type while I write which stifles me. I could count all the words I write in longhand but that seems a giant waste of time. This writing every day thing works for me as I would usually write a couple of thousand words at a setting anyway so it should work out. Finding extra time to write is my goal and also getting those writing muscles built up again. So if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, good luck and don’t give up. You can do it! And if you just would like to write more, feel free to join up for TiNoWriMo. Or make your own NoWriMo. It’s about what works best for you so get at it!

Reflections on NaNoWriMo

nano_09_winner_120x240Phew, it’s over. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words (50,044, to be exact) and made a novel with a beginning, middle and end in one month. And what did I win? The picture you can see in this post and a certificate I can print out and fill out myself. Not even personalized. But, of course, I got more than that. I learned a few things from doing NaNoWriMo.

I learned that I have a lot of determination and can do most things I set my mind to. Some people have seen this in me before (my husband has been telling me it for years), but I consider myself much more of a doubter. I like to hedge my bets and always lay out the possibility that I will fail, so as to prepare others  not to expect too much of me, but also to not set myself up for too big a fall. So, normally, when I got the H1N1 followed by pneumonia four days after starting NaNoWriMo and couldn’t write anything for a full week, I would have said, “oh, I really wanted to do NaNo but, with everything else going on this month, I’m way too far behind to catch up.  I’ll keep trying and we’ll see.” Might have thrown in a “doesn’t look good”. But after I got well enough to sit up and write again, I didn’t say that. I said, “I can catch up and I’m going to do it.” I didn’t have a doubt I could or would do it. If it meant staying up every night until 1:30 or 2:00 writing, I would get it done and there were a good few of those nights, especially in the last week. If you could see me, you’d see those nights in the ugly, black circles under my eyes. But look up above those circles and you’d see a bit of pride in those eyes. Not that I wrote the 50,000 words, but that I didn’t doubt myself.

I learned that I can write a full novel on a keyboard. I also learned that I don’t like it. I found myself longing to write with a pen and notebook. But I needed to keep a word count and pen and notebooks take up a lot of time manually counting the words so I typed into my Alphasmart Neo. I don’t know how people do NaNo on laptops or dekstop computers. My Neo went everywhere with me and I could type almost anywhere. Well, except the bathtub. I love writing in the bathtub but I didn’t trust myself not to drop my Neo in the water (although, from what I hear, a good drying out and that thing would run perfectly again–another reason to love the Neo).

I learned that writing (almost) every day, does make you write more and it does make the creative side of your brain work more. Now, maybe it’s my usual creative procrastination, but I thought of three new ideas for books while writing my NaNo novel and jotted notes to remember my ideas about them. They’ll be going in notebooks soon to see how they feel and if the characters talk to me enough for me to know I want to hang with them for a few months or years. I think I’m going to try to write more often and not hold back the muse as much (now, see, that was the kind of doubt-filled statement I’m used to).

I learned that I might not do NaNo again. Right now, I have no great urge to do it again. It was just something I wanted to prove to myself I could do and I did. I came out of it with a 50,044 word novel that is really, really not good. I know it’s not supposed to be good, but there were many times during the process when I kept thinking that I would either never look at this manuscript again or look at it only as an outline, that if I wanted to write this story (and I would like to), I should ignore the NaNo novel and start out new. So, I’m not sure it’s a great use of my time, this 50,000 crappy words in a month (check out this cartoon at Will Write for Chocolate). It’s been a good use of my time this year, since it helped me learn all these things and again, to prove it to myself that I can do it, but I’m not sure doing it another year is something I need or want to do.

So, it’s been quite a November, what with writing the 50,000 words, promoting my new book, the women’s work contest (winners will be picked and revealed soon), H1N1, pneumonia, sinus infection, H1N1 lineups for vaccinations, birthdays, and just the regular day to day. Now, that it’s all done, though, I can relax. What? How long until Christmas? Oh, crap! Gotta go!

NaNoWriMo Day 13

Yes, I am behind. I am really, really behind. But I think part of NaNoWriMo means having to be behind at some point. Other than that, I’d just be annoying and going on about how easy it is to do this NaNo thing and you’d hate me. And, see, I have a good reason, or reasons. First the flu laid me out. Two solid days in bed. (I don’t know how people who think they have the flu can get up the energy to go to a flu assessment clinic. I figure it would have taken the house being on fire to get me out of bed.) Then follow that with a sinus infection and pneumonia and you could say yes, Tina, you can be behind. Thankfully, I was ahead the first couple of days so that might just save me. Either way, I ain’t giving up.

And it seems that I am doing well with the whole hating my NaNo novel as well. Seems that’s par for the course, as is hating everything I’ve ever written, at some point while writing it. Just don’t usually hate this much, this fast but then again, don’t usually write this much, this fast. I have requested, in writing, to some friends that they destroy the manuscript if anything happens to me for fear someone would read it. And unlike Nabakov’s crowd, I know they’ll do it.

Having lots of ideas seems to help with NaNo. I started the novel with one idea and then another that had been burning in my brain came up and by gum if I didn’t figure out a way to put both of them in. I’m still learning to just let the writing go, don’t think about it, try not to cringe (even though much of what I’m writing is cringeworthy). If you think maybe you want to throw in a long dialogue about a hair piece one of your characters saw or a journal entry from your character’s diary in 1973 (both examples I’m not actually using but feel free)–go for it. Put it all in and we’ll sort it out in December. Meantime, I have antibiotics to take and lots of writing to catch up with. I’m behind, and if you are, well, let me tell you, you’re not alone. Let’s just keep trying.

Lessons from Day One of NaNoWriMo

Good day one. Thankfully it was one of the nicest days outside that we’ve had in a long time so hubby took the kids outside and I got some writing time. 4867 words. The number of words you have to write every day in order to make 50,000 words in November is 1667  so I have a couple of days worth there and will always try to keep ahead because you never know when something will slow you down or stop you. There are some lessons I learned from day one, some things I need to remind myself as I write. They include:

  • Forget the backspace key is there. If you find yourself hitting it, stop it. If you made a mistake, just keep going and fix it in December.
  • NaNoWriMo is the opposite of most writing in that if two or three words can be used instead of one, go for it. Edit later. For instance, “almost” becomes “just about”. It’s not good writing practice but probably neither is churning out 50,000 words in 30 days.
  • If you go off track and veer off the story (see, I’m being redundant all over the place), just restart without going back and taking all that stuff out. In December, when you edit, that might fit in somewhere else or you might have a great line there that will work. Let it stay. (No backspace key, remember?)
  • I heard a few people say they have a 0 word count. There is absolutely no reason for a 0 word count. Type the word “the” and you change your word count to one. Or write the word “I” or “she” or “he” and then a verb and you have two words. Then let the rest come but 0 means you just didn’t show up.
  • I think twitter is fantastic for procrastinating NaNoWriMo but is also, you know, unfortunately fantastic for procrastinating NaNoWriMo. Tons of constant updates with the tag #nanowrimo (yet, oddly it is not a trending topic on twitter). So myAlphasmart Neo is even a more important tool for me to write on since no Internet=no twitter.

That’s all for now but please feel free to add your own NaNo lessons or advice.

Countdown to the NaNoWriMo Countup

Okay, I know countup is not a word but why should that stop me? I officially signed up for NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words in one month. My husband has been told it’s single parent time for him as much as possible and has been warned the housekeeping will decrease (can housekeeping be quantified in numbers less than zero?). He probably won’t see any noticeable difference in the housekeeping anyway since this is, ahem, not my strong suit. My friend gave me a magnet one time that said “Both Of Us Can’t Look Good At The Same Time, It’s Either Me Or The House”. I keep it on the fridge and I know he must look at it and wonder which one is supposed to be anywhere near looking good. Anyway, I digress. So with less than 24 hours left before NaNoWriMo starts, I still am wavering between two novel ideas and haven’t 100% committed to what I’ll be doing. (I know, shocking from someone who took only 21 years to marry her boyfriend.) I’m still leaning toward the one I think will be easier to write but I don’t really have a plot for that, just more characters, not that I have a lot of plot for the other one. Ah, who needs plot? That should really come from the characters anyway. And, as I keep telling myself, these words written in November don’t have to be good words. They just have to get out of my head and onto a keyboard.

Ah, the keyboard, another potential problem with writing 50,000 words in a month. As I’ve told you before, I like to write longhand which then means I have to type that handwritten stuff up later. This will double my work if I don’t type my novel as I go, so I’ve decided to use my beloved AlphaSmart Neo (Neill) for NaNo. But can I write a whole novel on a keyboard? Every time I’ve ever tried to write a lot on a keyboard, I always go running back to my notebook to scribble happily.  Not in November. In November I commit to writing more and writing differently than I ever have before. And publicly because I will do (short) blog posts about it and have a word count somewhere on my web site here. So win or lose, sink or swim, I’m putting it out there. Let the games begin!

Committing to a NaNo Novel

Okay, so the decision to NaNo or not to NaNo is made. I’m going to do it. What the hell. I had planned on what to write, a novel I have barely started so it would be no problem to start it afresh (rules say you have to start a new novel). The characters are alive and well and chatting in my head. BUT then yesterday I stupidly decided to go looking through some docs on my computer and there it was: three pages of another novel, an easier novel to write for me and a more light-hearted one. Much more easy to write in one month. And I was tempted. More than tempted. I started writing notes about it and the words, well the words they flowed out like endless rain into a paper cup (sorry been listening to Fiona Apple ) and it felt right. I know it’s probably just creative procrastination but I’ve never tried this NaNo thing before and if I have to commit to a novel I don’t know yet, to spend 50,000 words with it, I better be interested. And then I remembered other manuscripts partially written (at least four) and thought maybe I should resurrect one of them. But I also remembered the two completed novels in my drawer: one a psychological thriller and one a sci-fi novel, neither or which may ever see the light of day. Do I want to invest 50,000 words in a novel I won’t follow up with and will leave in the drawer?

So, I have eight days to figure that out. Right now, the one I wrote notes on yesterday afternoon is the most likely candidate but tomorrow is another day and maybe I’ll feel different then. This, as I’ve told you before, is why I usually write at least three books at once, because I can go back and forth to them, depending on mood–another thing that NaNo will prevent me from doing. I was thinking that NaNo is kind of like a wedding–You have to agree to commit to this one thing and the idea freaks you out. But, on second thought, I think it’s more like agreeing to go on a tropical vacation with a guy you’ve only recently met. What if you get there and you suddenly realize that he has a large bottle-cap collection at home and shows you pictures of them all the time while talking incessantly about bottle-cap history, asking random strangers if he could have the cap from their lemon-lime Jamaican pop? Or maybe he wears a too tight speedo and thinks that rating the breasts of other women on the beach from one to ten out loud to you, is a great pasttime. And there you are, stuck with him in that resort until you’d rather smother him with a pillow than to have to spend one more second with him. What if the novel I pick is like that and I’m stuck with it? Or maybe the guy, er, novel,is the perfect one and the time will fly while you spend time writing it. Yeah, that could happen. And if it doesn’t, well, at least I can give it up without murder being an option (although, in my tropical vacation scenario at least I’d have the sun and the beach and with the weather around here lately, that’s a huge plus–breast-rating man or not).