Monday, November 26, 2012

I hope all of my American readers had a happy Thanksgiving.

My word count was much better last week. I managed to get 2200 on each project despite Thanksgiving, working on black friday, a couple of killer headaches, and The Civil War game. That's still 300 short of my weekly goal on the novel and 800 short on the novelette. I think it's safe to say that I've found my word threshold when it comes to doing two projects at once. They're still good words, they just took a little more effort than normal.

Over the years I've discovered that I can't write when I'm sick, but I can push through a tension headache. I don't like doing it, but I can if the occasion calls for it like it did last week. In addition to becoming a victim of the attack of the killer headache, it was also the Saturday after Thanksgiving which is always a crazy day at work since it's Small Business Saturday, and it was the day of the Civil War Game. So, how did I manage it?

Sheer. Willpower.

When I got home from work I just wanted to curl up in bed, watch the DVR'd game, and be comatose for a few hours. Unfortunately, I also knew how far behind I was (I didn't get nearly as much done Thanksgiving day as I would've liked). So instead of getting comfy I took some painkillers, powered up the laptop and pounded out another 600 while I watched the game. Normally I can't write when the TV is on. It's too much of a distraction. But this time it worked because I could completely focus on the book when the enemy had the ball and take a short break whenever my team had the ball. I may have to employ this technique next year. That way I can watch all of the live games.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tired writer is tired

Last week's word count took a dip. I focused more on the novel since that's where I've been lacking and managed to get 2400 words. Not bad, but on the flip side, I was only able to get 760 words on the novelette. Granted, part of that was that I had two social engagements. All right, they weren't so much social engagements as they were "oh my gosh, I can't pass up on this" activities. (I told you that not even NaNo would make me pass up something like this.) Friday night was Brom's signing at Powell's and since I was in the area, I had dinner with Lee Moyer and the lovely Venetia. The night before, I drove out to St. Helens (the city, not the mountain) for an evening of music and merriment with Ken Scholes. Yes, both nights took me away from writing. Yes, they were fun and I don't regret taking the time off, but it shouldn't have decreased my word count that significantly. After all, I spent every spare moment in the preceding days bolstering my word count.

The wrench that really threw a monkey into my week was the day job. Holiday sales have begun and therefore, Kim is a very tired bookseller. It killed my word count last year and its done it again this year. There are few things that can hinder my wordcount faster than fatigue. However, I plan to soldier on. In the immortal words of Superchicken, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. I rested up yesterday and for the rest of the week I will drink my supersauce (Dr. Pepper and/or Twinings English breakfast tea) and see if I can do better (Thanksgiving withstanding).

If there's one thing I've learned from past NaNos is that when the words don't come as fast as you need or want them to, you can't stress about it. Stress only makes it harder and you spend more time and energy worrying than you do writing. Yes, the deadline is coming and at this rate I won't finish (especially since I've got a day trip to Seattle coming up) but I'm going to ignore logic for the moment and believe that I can because if I push hard I can still do it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cattle prods and penmonkeys

So far I've been doing reasonably well on my NaNo. My benchmarks for each week are to write 3K on the novelette and 2500 on the novel. Since the first week of the month was short I only shot for 1K on the novelette and 500 on the novel. I've made the mark or exceeded it on the novelette both weeks. The novel however has fallen short by about 300 words each week. I am a little disappointed that I haven't made the mark but the words I've put down are good words and I can be satisfied with that.

I know everyone says that it doesn't matter if the words you write during NaNo are crap. It's just a first draft. Well, for me, my first draft isn't just words thrown onto a page. I hate wasting time and I hate wasting words. I want every syllable I put on the page to be the best that I can make it at that particular moment in time. Sure, some of it is lost in the various editing passes that I do before I kick it out of the nest, but about 75% of them are still there. That includes what I write during NaNo. It's another reason why I can justify doing my own thing every November. Yes, my over word goal is half of what everyone else is doing but what I'm writing is good (for the most part). I don't see the point in writing 50K in a month if only 10K is going to survive the first edit. If I was going to do that, I may as well twiddle my thumbs for three weeks because I'd have just as much work to show for it.

However, even with a combined word count goal of 23K for this month, I still have problems staying focused. There's some very important PAC-12 games this month and my DVR can only hold so many TV programs before its little circuits explode. Plus, when you spend every hour that isn't tied up in the day job or in some other vital daily task, you get tired of it. Not in the "I never want to do this ever again" kind of sense but in the "I still like this cereal but I really want bacon for breakfast today" kind of way. To keep myself motivated I parcel out my programs and such as treats. When the writing is going well, I'll reward myself with a TV show while I eat dinner or a chapter from whatever book I'm reading (right now it's Poison Flower by Thomas Perry). If I make my benchmark for the week then I get to watch a football game Saturday night. However, if the writing isn't going well than I have to sit at my computer and forgo social activity and entertainment in favor of writing.

In addition to that I also have little daily reminders that I am capable of doing this. These reminders aren't sweet and fluffy motivational posters. They're more like cattle prods. I have two or three images that the very talented and lovingly fowl Chuck Wendig did for some of his blog posts. If you haven't checked out Chuck's website than you really should. He's awesome. He has a knack for removing all of the bull shit and getting down to the point. He's also a lot more blatant than I dare to be, which I admire.

The handful of images I have I use as my desktop background and rotate through them during the month (I've also been known to do the same when I've got a deadline nearing). It gives me the daily poke in the butt that I need during NaNo to keep me focused on what I really need to be doing. Writing.

With that in mind, I'll bid you adieu because I've got words to make. Good luck fellow NaNo participants!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

All is fair in Love and NaNo.

First off, my Halloween costume was a huge success! No one recognized the uniform but I expected that. It's an oft overlooked show. Some of the finishing details on the great coat weren't completed in time but I'm ok with that. It's still pretty darn awesome.

As for my NaNo, so far so good. I've set a bit of a crazy goal this year. I want to write 10K on the WIP (which shall be henceforth known as the Cyberfunk book because cyberpunk-that-wants-to-be-a-thriller is far too long) and a complete first draft on a novelette (I estimate that it'll be around 13K) that's been brewing in my brain since July. The novelette is in part a sequel to the piece I submitted to Writers of the Future but it's also the completion of that same piece. I'm not going to go into detail as to why that is because I can't talk about it freely until the judging for that quarter has finished. What I will go into more detail on is my NaNo process.

I know I've talked before about setting goals and that I like to do my own thing when it comes to NaNo. What I haven't spoken about yet is how I break it down. On November 1st I write my starting word count at the top of my calendar so I know exactly what mark I have to hit. Then I break down how many words a week I need to complete in order to make my goal. Since I have two projects this year I've got two benchmarks to reach every week. I haven't set daily word count goals just because I know that with the holiday season starting, if I have a crazy day at work I won't have the energy to get much done. I also have a few fun things planned this month that'll cut into my writing time: a much needed makeover, black friday sales, and attending book signings for Brom and Jim Butcher. With the exception of work day fatigue, I can budget my time in advance in order to get it done.

That may make me look like an anal retentive control freak -- which I'm not -- but that's what I do. I like being (somewhat) organized and knowing where I stand in every aspect of my life. Why should my writing be any different?

Some of you have added me to your NaNo circles on G+ and for that I thank you. I love being a part of the writing community and hearing about everyone's struggles and successes. I need a steady stream of reminders that it's not just me that's having a hard time with ___________ on any given day. If you, dear reader, haven't added me on G+ or FB, feel free to post updates about your NaNo progress in the comments of this or any post for this month. I'd like to know how you're doing.