Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On NaNo-ing and Twittering

Yes, I'm on Twitter now. So if you're a twit, too, please feel free to follow me (link on sidebar). I'm fascinated (and slightly overwhelmed) by the tidbits and soundbites from those whom I'm following. I'd love to follow you, too.

As if none of us has anything better to do.

Fridays are normally my days for asking you about things, but this one can't wait. I want to know how many of you are participating in NaNoWriMo this month.

And that's not all I want to know. I want to know how you do it. How do you make yourself write a certain amount of words each day? How does it turn out being anything close to coherent? Do you begin with an outline? Do you drink two Black Russians and go to town?

What about the finished product? Does it end up being a "real" first draft that you go back to later to fine-tune and polish? Or is it purely an exercise in self-discipline and tenacity?

I really do want to know.


  1. I'm not doing a NaNo so much as a NaNoFakeMo. I've got so many projects on my plate (3 unfinished novels and 5 short stories), that it would be insanity to try to start up something new.

    So I'm taking my fun project (the one I kept convincing myself had a lower priority than the other projects) and plan to finish this novel in the course of November. That includes editing the 55,000 words I currently have, and adding about 30,000 more to complete the novel.

    How I get it done? Writing group is a huge help. We're not an official NaNo group (though we did start out as one two years ago), but we meet 2-3 times a week and encourage each other to finish our projects. We're also all there for each other to bounce ideas off of, or brainstorm plots and characters and such.

    It's really easy to get 1,667 words a day when your writing group/friends all challenge each other to see who can get the most done in 30 minute segments of time, or who can best work in random phrases or ideas, such as "chocolate velveta cake" or "naked writing."

    No, we're not abnormal at all...

  2. I'm curious about this myself.I might get a couple of days in a row when I can write, but then something comes up that blows my plans out of the water. I know some of the writers participating have small children, too. They must be sooo organized! (not one of my strong suits)

  3. This is my first NaNoWriMo. I decided to to do it so that I can put aside my other novel for the time being. I couldn't walk away from it without something else intense to work on.

    And NaNo is intense!

    I've started with a sketched outline and characters.

    I simply sit down and make myself write, whether I feel like it or not. But writing is something I've never had a problem making myself do. It's too fun!

    I have to admit that this project is daunting in the fact that I cannot edit as I go. And my outline is brief and not in-depth at all, so coming up with stuff to keep the story going at a reasonable pace, can be hard.

    I'm at 6,800 words so far. Hoping for 15,000 each week. We'll see.

    What will I have at the end? A manuscript that, although sloppy, will help me create an outline so in-depth that "editing" the novel will be a pleasure.

  4. I'm NANO-ing. :)

    Q. How do you make yourself write a certain amount of words each day?

    A. Easy - I don't worry about the words. Instead, I keep the focus on the scenes, action, and character and situation development. Since there's no pinch to keep my words down, I feel like one of those millionaires who can throw money around without worrying about budgets. In my case, I'm throwing words around and quite enjoying the freedom. Heh. No worries about getting to the point in 250 words....

    Q. How does it turn out being anything close to coherent?

    A. At first it doesn't - at least for me. What I usually do is write a couple of different first chapters, playing around with the point of view and settings until it feels right.

    I also commit the cardinal sin of both writing new scenes each day, and going back and playing around with the previous scenes, organizing them, rewriting them so they are less blabber, slip some hints and setups for later events in.

    When you do this, this point is not to cut everything out and start all over. If you are like me, editing a first chapter means you go from 3000 words to 5000 words with more in depth descriptions and setups, and more dialogue.

    Q. Do you begin with an outline?

    A. Usually I don't. I did this year, because I didn't really have a set plot idea in my head last month. If I know what I want to happen, I play it by ear. This time I really didn't know much else except that I wanted to write about X. The outline helped develop side plots and character traits. <- I started outlining mid-last month, so I was ready to go on Nov. 1.

    Q. Do you drink two Black Russians and go to town?

    A. Nope. I go into hermit mode, vanishing from society, emerging only for supper and to feed the dogs. Vanishing again and sitting alone with my laptop until my eyes go out. The double vision usually starts by 2AM, which means I have to pack things away for the night.

    Q. What about the finished product? Does it end up being a "real" first draft that you go back to later to fine-tune and polish? Or is it purely an exercise in self-discipline and tenacity?

    A. Both.

    For me, it's going to be a really rough first draft. Before I start submitting it to critting sites even, I'll have to go through each chapter and cut out some of the narrator meandering, wallpaper descriptions, combine or cut scenes where needed, and prune out the passive tenses and adverbial excesses.

    *** Should mention, I still haven't completely edited 2007's NANO WIP. I got halfway before I reached the conclusion that I wanted to twist the plot around a little, change the ending. I full expect the same thing to happen with this year's WIP.

    I love NANO, mainly because it's the NEEDED break from the daily grind of editing. Writers need to write fresh material at least once a year to keep the spirits up. ;)

  5. Ha! NaNoFakeMo--I love it. That's exactly what I'm doing.

    I'd hoped to have my first draft of my first novel finished, then use NaNoWriMo as a way to get started on my second novel while I let the first sit for a bit. But of course, I'm behind and haven't finished the first novel and it's...Nov. 4, yikes!

    But I love checking out the forums--they're my favorite part of NaNoWriMo. I've participated for the past two years, never once completed 50,000 in that time, but enjoyed it all the same--especially connecting with other writers in my genre.

    I know, this makes me look lazy...I prefer to think of it as taking a "laid back" approach. The biggest thing about NaNo: just have fun and learn something. If you don't finish, no sweat. No one's judging you. And there's always next year!

  6. I'm NaNo-ing!

    Last year, I found out about NaNo about a week after I started my novel. I discounted the 10K I'd written that far, and wrote another 67K during NaNo. I finished the first draft during the week after NaNo with another 20K.

    After several rounds of edits, I started querying it in May. I have several partials and a full out, so hopefully that means it was a viable draft. :)

    This year, it's coming much less easily. Partly because I haven't decided the ending yet, and partly because I think my inner editor is stronger now and harder to stifle.

    Incidentally, I have a forum on Rallystorm for NaNoWriMo (and NaNoFakeMo) folks. We're not really about the rules as much as about the writing. All are welcome.

    Link below:

    NaNoWriMo Support Group

  7. I'm on the NaNo train!

    This is my third year and my second year coaching a group of fifth graders through the young writers end of NaNo. So my answer to 'how do you make yourself write a certain amount of words each day' is: You do it because you don't want to look bad in front of seventeen kids. Yes, I rather roped myself into this coaching thing as my version of live guilt monkeys.

    Is it coherent?
    Yes, for the most part. I don't so much lock my inner editor away as toss her in the corner with a loose gag. :)

    Outlines are my kryptonite. I let the story write itself. Just when I think ideas are drying up, my character will do something and the next step of the plot becomes clear.

    A few drinks and going to town:
    I just sit and write. When I find myself staring at the cursor, I get up and go do laundry, clean, etc. and then sit back down. Sometimes I write a hundred words, sometimes a thousand. Yesterday was all in five minute chunks throughout the day. There are days I might make or exceed my word goal and days I may not. As long as I reach 50k at the end, I don't stress over daily goals.

    First draft:
    Pretty much, with some tweaking of course. Yes, all that internal monologue gave me ideas but didn't really advance the plot.

    I do NaNo because it gives me a vacation from revising/finishing my other WIPs. Nothing like a fresh splurge of pretty words on a page to clear out the cobwebs and make writing fun again.

  8. How do you make yourself write a certain amount of words each day? How does it turn out being anything close to coherent?

    Yes, it can be coherent.

    Do you begin with an outline?

    This year I have an outline. Last year I didn't and I failed. The year before that, I had an outline and won. I'm pro-outline.

    Do you drink two Black Russians and go to town?

    If Black Russians have vodka in them, no, because vodka gives me a headache. My muse feeds on peanut M&Ms and York Peppermint Patties.

    What about the finished product? Does it end up being a "real" first draft that you go back to later to fine-tune and polish?


    Or is it purely an exercise in self-discipline and tenacity?

    Also yes.

    Sitting down and writing 1667 words isn't hard for me because I'd rather do that than, say, laundry. Therefore, we'll be running out of clean clothes sometime around Wednesday.

    A huge part of NaNo success is being part of the local NaNo scene. We have weekly meetings and write-ins at local cafes. Word wars, challenges and other goofiness geared toward producing word count help a lot not only with quantity of words, but with keeping the positive attitude you need to win.


  9. I'm not NaNo-ing either, but I'm curious to see from other writers how much weight they gain spending all of that time in front of their keyboards rolling out this beastly project.

  10. No to Na-No.

    I have kids and a husband who doesn't think writing is "work." So for me, it's a no-go.

    What I would like to do is be able to start querying before the Na-No's do! But even that seems on the edge of fantasy.


  11. "I'm not NaNo-ing either, but I'm curious to see from other writers how much weight they gain spending all of that time in front of their keyboards rolling out this beastly project."

    Hmmm.... I think it depends on the writer and their crutches.

    I can't write and eat at the same time, and I forget and skip meals when I sink deep enough in the writing and don't want to be bothered.

    So I actually wind up eating less in November, and sometimes lose a little weight - which is perfect with the Holidays approaching with loud sugarplum footsteps.

    Probably the problem is my dogs are getting fat, because they still eat regularly this month (they demand their food on time or else) and aren't going out for their daily walks....

  12. This is my second time doing NaNo and I love it. I came out of the first experience with a middle-grade novel that I'm proud of. I've had to edit and revise, of course, but that first "throw up" version would never have existed without NaNo.

    I write middle-grade fiction so the word count was irrelevant to me. (The novel I wrote has about half the NaNo standard at just 25,000 words). With two small children and a part-time job, having the deadline really motivated me to actually sit down and write.

    I'm not one of those people who can spit out a certain number of words every day. I always outline on note cards so I have a general idea of where I'm going. The story may end up changing along the way, but I like to have a guide as a starting point.

    NaNo gives me almost an adrenaline rush, kind of like that heightened feeling I get from going to a conference. That deadline really gets my creative juices flowing, too. Weird, I know. But I've now got three concept floating through my brain, begging for equal time. It's exciting!

  13. I'm retired, and my schedule is structured by the days we go to exercise in the morning. So on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, barring the occasional committee meeting, I can write all day. ISH (Incredibly Supportive Husband-man) calls me for lunch and dinner, so I don't starve. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I keep up with my other projects.

    I always work from what I call an "e-line," which is not exactly an outline, but a sort of synopsis thing that I send by e-mail to a close friend. In explaining the basic plot to her, I get enough detail to keep me going from scene to scene.

    I also budget words: for 50,000, the first 10K go to setting up the characters and situation, the middle 30K are the main action, and the final 10K are about how it all sorts out and resolves.

    I save the drinks (whisky neat, thanks) for when I've reached my writing goal for the day, which is usually somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 words. Although my first NaNo day this year (Monday the 3rd) I only did just under 5K.

    My finished product is usually coherent, but spare. I do tend to police myself about tangents as I go, but normally I just highlight them in a different color so I can find 'em more easily when I go back to edit after I've finished the first draft.

    I spoke with an editor at this year's Wrangling with Writing (the Society of Southwestern Authors' annual conference, here in Tucson) and she asked to see the synopsis and first three chapters of the novel I wrote last November, but she said that since it's only 60K-ish words now, it'll need another 15K. That's not going to be too hard, though.

    I'm really excited about NaNo's deal for last year's winners: they've arranged for Create Space (I think that's the right name) to provide us with galley copies of our 2007 novels, and we have 6 months to take advantage of the offer. (Winners should already have e-mail about this.) Woo hoo!

    For me the main "problem" is that when I'm on a deadline for anything, I get all kinds of ideas for other projects, which I find very tempting to deal with on the spot. The discipline I aspire to is jotting enough of the idea not to forget it completely, and then getting back to what I'm supposed to be working on. E-mail and other such computery (like this) tend to distract me, too, but this is part of the writing process ... isn't it?

  14. This is my fourth year doing Nano. I completed 50,000 words the first year, but not the other two years.

    Those first three years I wrote from the hip, nothing but an idea of where I wanted the story to go so there was a lot of stopping and problems with where the story was going. I have revised the first year's 50,000 words and am polishing it for submissions. I haven't finished the novels of the other two years, but I will!

    This year I am working from an outline and have 10,713 words right now so things are going well. I don't worry about the specific words, just write what comes to me. Some of it may be crap and have to be completely deleted on the revision, but I think at least 97% is worth keeping and pretty darn good.

    I have a writing group that helps keep me motivated (and I do the same for them). This really helps!

  15. I've never polished a NaNo novel, but I did win last year and I intend to polish the story when I get there in the series' time line.

    What I'm writing now... we shall see. I like it, the story is fun, but I'm not sure what the market is.

  16. Warning: this is the NaNo season so I'm more long-winded than normal. ;) All I can say, Authoress, is that you asked for it. O:)

    I want to know how you do it. How do you make yourself write a certain amount of words each day?
    The deadline helps. I'm doing two novels with a projected goal of 130k (what? you should have seen my attempt last year if you think this is crazy...) and I know I only have so many days off where I can try to catch up, so I more or less freak myself out about failing and the mental pressure forces me to at least write something every day. :P

    (I think I tend to work better on an enforceable deadline.)

    Plus, there are rewards. A few friends I roleplay with have decided 2k written that day is required before we can play. :P So the promise of fun if I get something done helps along with the looming deadline.

    On the days when the words are coming well, it's fun and I get my goal done quick enough... and then there are the other 30 days of November where it's work ;) so the deadline and rewards are really the prime motivator.

    How does it turn out being anything close to coherent?
    Wait, you mean it's supposed to be coherent? Dang...

    An idea of plot ahead of time helps. *shrugs* By this time I at least hope I understand enough about plot and structure and connecting scenes that at least I can read it at the end. :P It's never overly coherent, but what first draft of mine is. lol.

    You'd have to ask the people who (insane beings that they are) read my drafts as I write and ask them how the coherency is. :P

    (Although I will admit, the "Lawbreakers" novel I wrote in, er, roughly two weeks, is an incoherent MESS.)

    Do you begin with an outline? Do you drink two Black Russians and go to town?
    Yup, I try to. (No drinking while writing. I've ruined my monitor enough already. :P) How detailed an outline ends up is the question. This year, um, I'm sort of... winging it. I know the basic concept of both novels, but no clue how they end. :o *gulp*

    What about the finished product?
    The drafts have been known to cause aneurisms by any who read--it's like, "the Ring" only a Merc novel instead of a video! Bwhaha ha ha ha!


    Usually a bit less cohesive and rougher than most of my rough drafts--it always depends on the novel, of course. My first NaNo novel, back in '04, is only readable five rewrites later. :P I've not even looked at what I did in '05 and '06 (not really a point, since one was scrapped, a novella is scrapped, and the only workable draft won't be reworked for a long time since it's the end book in a series). The sheer madness in '07 didn't turn out that bad (relatively speaking)...

    I mean, one MG novel turned out well (I'm proud of it), the SF one was a lot of fun and I want to finish, and I got enough material from the one I finished (my urban fantasy) to figure out the series. :P

    Does it end up being a "real" first draft that you go back to later to fine-tune and polish? Or is it purely an exercise in self-discipline and tenacity?
    Depends completely on the novel. First one, like I said, five drafts later I got it where I wanted. A lot of '05 and '06 was an exercise. '07 is debatable. At least three of the novels will work eventually (the MG fantasy, the SF, and the UF).

    And that's only "offical" NaNos. ;) I've done quite a few in other months that have been a mix of useful product and drafts and just crap that is getting shelved. Totally depends. :P

    My hope this year is that both novels will end up workable--provided I survive the narrator in one and can beat the plot into submission in the other...


    ~Merc, who needs to finish her quota for the day, urk...

  17. I don’t have time for Nano this year. One year I will though/ I have too many commitments at the moment. Looking after injured wild life and working too. I have my two year old grandson coming to stay for two weeks this month so I think I’ll be pretty busy. I don’t have any trouble writing though. I have ten chapter books going at once. They’re about 12,000 words each and all have the same characters. They’re for children aged seven to ten. I’ve completed and submitted one to a publisher and I’m working on the others. I can’t wait to get them finished, but I’m enjoying the journey. It’s great to write your own entertainment.

    I don’t have any trouble finding words. I write every spare minute. I sit up writing till 3.00am, sleep for five hour, and then get right back on my computer, unless it’s a work day. I have a supportive husband who will cook, clean and help with the animals. That comes in handy when I can’t pull myself away from my office. I do have to drag myself away from the computer from time to time though, and go for a bush walk or mow the acre of lawn we have.

    I find writing quite exciting. It’s taken over my whole life, so has editing.

  18. This is my first year doing NaNo, and it's been going okay so far. I also don't focus on the words, I just write what I have in my head. So far I've done pretty well and have written above where I need to be at this point in the...thing.

    I'm not sure it is coherent, but that's how I've always written. An author said at a conference that you have to turn off the internal editor and I've written that way ever since.

    I never write with an outline. Ever. So this is no different.

    Since this is my first NaNo, I don't know about the finished product. I have to say, that this whole NaNo thing isn't that much different than how I write anyway. Except for the insane word count. So I think it's be a viable draft that I can revise later on.

    I'm doing NaNo because it's a positive thing that will help boost my confidence. And my writerly friends are a great support. You really should join the forum at RallyStorm (see h.l. dyer's post). It's awesome.

  19. Yup, doing NaNo! How could I not?! :)

    Thanks to NaNo, I got my first ever complete novel last year; I didn't finish it in 50k or the month, but it gave me enough of a boost to realise - hey, I can DO this!

    Since it was my very first novel, it's coherency is... iffy. I have plans for fixing, but the series is a little way down on my list of priorities.

    This year, though, I'm writing stories that I fell in love with /before/ starting to write, and even though I don't have an outline per se (which is terrifying, I might add!), I know the characters, I know the themes, and I know the general story arcs: in short, I know what I want to DO with the novels (yes, plural, I'm writing two O:)), which for me is making a huge difference.

    Words every day? Eh. I didn't last year. On the 16th of Nov last year I was nearly 9,000 words behind. I made it all up at the end. For me, since November is finals and assessment month, it's not practical to write every day: I aim for an average, and it all works out in the end.

    Why do I do it? Because I /need/ deadlines. Absolutely need them. And not self-imposed ones: they work sometimes, but they're so much easier to wriggle out of.

    I can do 500 words in a 20 minute race if I'm concentrating, so that's only just over 3 sessions per day on average, though like I said I usually end up doing lots of days of 2k+ and a few days of nothing, or only 300 or so words.

  20. Unfortunately, no. I have to many end-of-year school assignments to even have time to write a bit each week, let alone every day!!

    This year, I was trying to write a few short stories as my unofficial NaNoWriMo goal, but so far, it isn't going so well :(

    However, I have made a promise to participate when I finish school, so 2011.

    I can't wait!

  21. I'm doing nano this year!....albeit in a few months :) Life stuff has come up, so I'm not doing it now. I can't outline much though - it kills my muse. I have to just write! And when I do get started, I jsut go for it now, letting my muse roam free over the keyboard. Can lead to some entertaining dilemmas.

  22. Yep, I NaNo. This is my first year, so obviously I havn't "won" one yet, but I think 50,000 words a month is totally feasible.

    I just finished my first 99,000 word rough draft, so I'm taking November as an opportunity to launch into a second book while letting the first set on a shelf and out of my brain before I go back to edit it.

    That having been said, I wrote the first 72,000 words of Book 1 in the month of September so I know it can be done.

    How does one "force" that much out so fast? Well, I don't think it's really forcing. I just imagine scenes and write them as I see them in my head. It's fun that way, because I'm only vaguely aware of word choices and I leave the editing for later. I think telling a great tale is more important than picking the exact "right" words out anyway.

    If anyone wants to NaNo buddy me, I'm http://www.nanowrimo.org///eng/user/436887

    Good luck!

  23. This is my first NaNo. I LOVE IT!!

    I wasn't going to do it, because I thought I'd be too busy with work and school and everything. However, I've written 26,343 in three days. And, of course, it's up to my standards. I cannot bring myself to write crap, even for the sake of a word count.

    How do I do it? Lots and lots of coffee. I sit for three or four hours at a time and then get up for a stretch, a run to the bathroom, and a snack.

    I've pulled two all-nighters already.

    I'm keeping really involved with NaNo groups online as well, and we have word wars...racing to see how many words we can pump out in fifteen minute segaments. It really ups the wordcount. Though, again, mine has to be up to my standards.

    Basically, it's tough...I'm tired. But I'm really, really enjoying NaNo. This idea's been bumping around in my head for aehile, and now I want to finish my novel. That will probably take about 60 to 75k.

    NaNo, in short, is great!

  24. Amusingly, I'm LOSING weight at this! I forget to have regular meals, so I'll grab a piece of fruit or a bag of popcorn and munch on that all day.

    Amazing, this NaNoing...

  25. This is my fifth NaNo. I'd meant to actually have a semi-outline or at least 30 index cards (one for each day) this year, but the edit on my novel (last year's NaNo, actually) took longer than I'd anticipated, and I ran out of planning time.

    I've reached 50k each year, though the first two novels aren't finished. The third is but is utter crap, and as I didn't much like the characters, I don't plan to return to it. Ever. Last year I got 75k during NaNo and finished the rough draft in February. But part of the NaNo write involved (I shudder to admit it) a bike-riding ninja scene that was the first to go once I started editing. So it was that type of thing I'd wanted to avoid by having a better outline this year.

    Instead I have 10 notecards and have already gone through three of them. I'm shooting for 80k this year and so far am right on task.

    As far as getting it done--I go to write-ins, where I concentrate better. I really don't have problems meeting the word count.

    With NaNo I do agree that quantity is more important that quality. But I've discovered I'm a writer who has to get out the crappy first draft in order to finish anything. It is ideal to avoid the bike-riding ninja junk, yes, but on the other hand writing is writing, and there's always the chance that what I think is utter drivel as I type it will turn out to be not half-bad when viewed without the fog of sleep deprivation or overcaffination.

    And honestly, some pretty good stuff can come out of NaNoing that wasn't outlined. It's not all bike-riding ninjas, thank God. :)