Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Quit Your Day Job

I'm still working on the site design, but in the meantime, fate or karma or the spirit of the Easter Bunny or the Ghost of Christmas Past - someone - is conspiring to get me to try NaNoWriMo. (I wrote an outline last night, people. A real, honest to goodness, I know the ending outline.)

Anyway, I've been collecting NaNo links, but this one came up from Paperback Writer today, called Pro-to-NaNo. It's a list of advice from professional writers to NaNo novices.

This one amused me:

11. Writing can be exhausting, both mentally and physically. Try to get eight hours sleep a night, minimum, and if you're writing all day, take a one-hour break to rest in the afternoon.

Um. Seriously? People doing NaNo are writing all day? Do these people have children, jobs, pets, significant others or watch Bones - all those things that prevent you from writing all day? And if they are writing all day, probably aren't they not novices?


  1. I've successfully won NaNo four years in a row, and I can't imagine putting in that kind of time. I may write more quickly than most (I think I write faster than I read), but I was getting my word count done in under two hours a day, on average. Some days were better than others, of course. I had some 5,000 word days and some zero word days every year.

    This was with a full time job, volunteering as a scout leader and soccer coach. Most of my writing happened from 9 p.m. to midnight, and on my lunch breaks.

    Here are some of my tips:
    Know what your goal for each writing session is before you sit down. You won't have time to noodle around trying to figure out what to write--you just need to get words down.

    Do NOT edit what you've already written. Keep a separate notebook if you have to of things to go back and change (e.g., "change MC from cute puppy to alien space monster in first four chapters"), but don't go back to make those changes when you should be writing.

    Don't get too bogged down in the web site and forums. Participate a little, but don't get sucked in too deep.

    Attend write-ins, but don't count on them for major word count progress. I found them terribly valuable from a social standpoint, but the most valuable write-ins I attended were when zero or one other people showed up and I wrote for two hours straight.

    Trust yourself and let it flow.

    Plan around other events--you know Thanksgiving is at the end of the month, so don't get caught needing 10,000 words that weekend. It ain't gonna happen.

    Oh, crud. Now you've got me thinking I might try it again this year, even though my new job does not allow time for it and I really should spend what little writing time I have on revising and submitting my last NaNo novel.

  2. Um, pete, I don't think I'm alone in saying that I kinda sorta hate you a little bit right this second. A 5k day? In like 2 hrs? While working full-time plus?

    I think I might cry.

  3. No, no! Never 5k in two hours. There were some days I managed to write for 3 or 4 or 5 when I combined (a) lunch hour with (b) train commute time with (c) an hour at home with (d) a two-hour write-in. Also sometimes I travel at Thanksgiving, and airplane rides give a ton of good writing time when your children are occupied with gameboys or movies.

  4. Not you too! I'm Anysia on NaNo too if you want to be one of my writing buddies (it lets me see a bar of your word count so I have extra incentive to write which I really, really need because I have NO PLAN!).

    I like Lynn Viehl's blog but I haven't been there in a while. I'll have to check out her article.

    I love the new site design (okay, I don't remember what the old one was even though I must have checked it out when I added you to Here Be (Book) Reviews (HBR).

    It might clash a bit, but don't forget to check out the widgets and badges for HBR. :-)

  5. Eerie 'twas having you pretend to be me and getting things right... NaNoWriMo? See you in December...

  6. Now the header looks great (at least on my machine). There are still some tabs overlapping in the sidebar.

  7. Hey Aerin - everytime I come over you've done something new to the place. I love it. The starlit sky is gorgeous.

    Pete - you are a writing machine (and in case it didn't come across right - I mean that as a compliment.) I think that point you made about not self-editing is probably key to success here. I re-started my WIP five times because I got so bogged down with creating the perfect beginning I couldn't get past it. My breakthrough was when I left it to write scenes that came further along in the book that were burning a hole in my head. Even though I left gaps the plot then started to have some structure and watching my word count finally go up gave me a big boost.

    I've set myself to goal of getting my WIP finished in November and I'm using the energy of NaNo to carry me along but I'm not signing up. Well - I don't know - maybe - the thing is I'm so indecisive.
    And I have a job, three children, a husband, a dog, a house and I'm not a writing machine.

    Anyhoo - Good Luck!

  8. Oh, okay, that's a little more realistic, pjd. I can stop hyperventilating and self-flagellating.

  9. I'm a ghostwriter, and I can't even write that fast for money. It's a great exercise if, as you say, one doesn't have to do a million chores, known as living life. That having been said, Ray Bradbury wrote the first draft for Fahrenheit 451 in seven days. I think NaNo might be good to help people get beyond overthinking a plot, which seems to me to be a real danger. (Nice web design, btw.)




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