Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lessons from NaNoWriMo

I don't have a lot of time to post, as I need to get cracking on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I'd thought I'd list some interesting strategies I've learned while trying to write 2000 words a day:
  1. It is perfectly acceptable to plagiarize yourself. If you character wants to talk about something you've already written about in your blog, copy and paste it into the novel, rearrange the words a little bit, and voilà! 66 words!
  2. It is perfectly acceptable to plagiarize quote someone else. Hey, maybe your character likes poetry, so quote the last stanza of a poem and lookee! Another 65 words!
  3. It is perfectly acceptable to use horrible crutch words that you would otherwise search for with an eagle-eye and prune ruthlessly, like an overzealous topiary gardener. If you use words like "so" "just" or "little" ten times in one paragraph, who cares! That's ten extra words! (Besides, since my novel is told in first person, those words are my characters' crutches, not mine.)
  4. It is perfectly acceptable to play with structural quirks to build word count. As I mentioned before, my character is telling her story in encyclopedia format. She gives a kind-of real definition, then writes a couple paragraphs explaining what the subject means to her. I'm prefacing each of these explanations with the phrase: "Editor's note." I may delete those if I decide to revise, as they may be unnecessary; but for now, I start each day by listing 6 to 8 words to define, each followed by the phrase "Editor's note." That's an extra 12 to 16 words, even before I've started engaging my brain.
After four days, I have over 8000 words, which is the kind of progress I'd hoped for. Even better, I'm having a lot of fun writing those 8000 words, which means I'm getting something out of the whole NaNoWriMo experience. We'll see if I feel the same way at the end of the month, after I've probably fallen behind and feel horribly pressured to reach 50,000 words by the 30th, but for now, the experiment is going well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This is only a test...

... had this been an actual blog post, you would have been notified by your emergency broadcast system. Or something like that. I know my posts have been few and far between over the last month, but I've been very busy. This year I've invoiced ten times more assignments than last year, and there was another deadline last week, so I was busy focusing on that rather than the blog.

I'm currently between assignments (November's hasn't arrived yet, although I'm already booked for December, January, and half of February), but there's something else taking up my writing time: NaNoWriMo! For those of you unfamiliar with this weird acronym, it stands for "National Novel Writing Month." The idea is that for everyone who ever thought, "Gee, I should write a novel," to take the month of November and scribble down a 50,000 word novel. (Which is very short for novel, but not so much for the kids/YA genre, which is what I'm working in.)

Now, I'm not one of those who has never finished a novel—I have two finished (and revised at least once or twice), and a third that is three-quarters written and all the way plotted. But I have found it difficult to find time for writing fiction, among all the extra assignments I've taken this year, so I see NaNoWriMo as a chance to get back in the fiction habit, as it were. If I were to write every day in November, I would need to write around 1733 words a day; since I know I'll have days when I can't write (chaperoning band nationals next week, and during Thanksgiving), I'm aiming for at least 2000 on the days I do write. So far I've got 3750 for the first two days, which isn't on target but is better than I thought I'd do since I played a concert on the 1st and I spent half of yesterday working on sign lists for the marching band craft fair.

So you can see I may not have as much time this month to write in the blog; NaNoWriMo is blatant permission for me to write meaningless blather, which mitigates the need for the blog. But I'll pop in with some posts here and there; keep posting weeking travel photos; and maybe occasionally write an actual blog post, even when I'm writing about not blogging, as I've done today. I will be reviving Janespotting soon, having checked out Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (!) from the library, so look for that when I have a few spare minutes. But for now, I'm off to write a crappy novel! Wish me luck!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Photo of the Week--11/2/09

Ah, Ireland. For good reason it's called the "Emerald Isle," what with all the grass and moss and lovely natural things. Out in the countryside there weren't any pigeons for Boy to chase; instead he took this opportunity during our visit to Achill Island, off the west coast, to goof off for the camera. More likely he was just glad for a chance to get out of the little lime green car we drove all around the country ... for some reason, that car is one of the few things he remembers from our early travels. Maybe because it was a very, very ugly green ... unlike the beautiful green landscape here.