National Novel Writing Month 2020 update

Update: Many people are still writing, while many others have met their 50,000 word goals or exceeded them.

I have continued to not write a novel and actually feel pretty good about it. In the past I’d argue that making the effort and stumbling was still worthwhile but…been there, done that. I’d rather write something to my own schedule now. I think I can do that now and NaNoWriMo is more a barrier than an aid at this point, because it forces you to write a story in a specific time frame, which is arbitrary and a little weird. It’s great if you’re just starting out, or desperately need some kind of external discipline to get you started.

But I no longer need those things, so maybe I won’t participate next year, or ever again.

Now I just need to prove how smart this decision is by, you know, writing and maybe even finishing a novel. It could happen!

National Novel Writing Month 2020 Day 23 word count: 38,341 (minus 38,341)

Yes, if I had participated in NaNoWriMo this year and had stayed on track, I’d be closing in on 40,000 words as of today, or possibly have already moved beyond that upon entering the final week home stretch.

Instead, my word count is zero. I have written nothing, nada, zilch. I have not had to wonder if the Windows version of Scrivener 3.0 would finally be ready for NaNo this year (spoiler: it isn’t), I have not had to wonder how I will fix giant plot holes, barely-there characters or gaps in logic that an 18 wheeler could rumble through.

Do I feel bad about this non-effort, especially since I had originally planned on participating?

I do not. If I think about it in some detail I can move the needle to “a little bad.”

And yet, I am trying to get moving on writing again, in the same way that a man who has to walk a thousand miles starts his journey by checking Amazon for a nice pair of comfortable shoes. I wrote this post! I wrote another post! More writing may occur!

We’ll see where it goes.

I did happen to come across this post while searching for something else on my blog and I call to Inspiration Cat to help me like you’ve never helped me before! (If you read the linked post you will see that Inspiration Cat did not, in fact, help me at all.)

And just because the image amuses me and this month’s unofficial blog theme is Funny Cats, here is the happy little typist again:

National Novel Writing Month 2019: I could still win

Yes, I could still win NaNoWriMo this year, with just four days left. Let me use this handy computer calculator to see what my daily word count would need to be to pull off the feat:

12,500 words per day.

This is due to having written no words at all this month.

On the one hand, there is a perverse sort of temptation in trying the impossible to see how far I’d get (my guess is maybe 10,000+ words, though the last day is a Saturday, which would lend itself to binging, were I so inclined). On the other hand, the only thing of value I’d get would be to simply exercise the ol’ writing muscles.

Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Words are words, after all. Not to be confused with “Deeds, not words,” the credo adopted by Ace Hunter and his elite group of freedom fighters as featured in the all-time classic Megaforce, of course.

But on the third imaginary hand, if I was going to do something like that, it would probably be a better use of time to revisit one of my existing stories, or work on something new that wouldn’t be subjected to NaNoWriMo’s hellbent-for-metal approach of write now, edit later (maybe never, after looking over what the NaNo method produced).

Realistically, I’m probably not going to writer much over the next four days, but life is full of surprises and one of those surprises could be me writing stuff over the next four days. Who doesn’t love a surprise, except for maybe someone with a heart condition standing next to a giant fireworks display, not knowing it was about to suddenly explode?

NaNoWriMo 2019, Negative Day 2

Here it is, the second day of NaNoWriMo and I haven’t written a thing.

It feels great. So much time to do other stuff. I went to Costco today and bought a 20 liter jar of mayonnaise.

I am thinking I should keep up on the drawing now, because it’s fun and relaxing. But what to do? Possibilities:

  • Finish that book on learning how to sketch
  • Go back to one of the earlier Inktobers and do all of its prompts, either one per day or following whatever whimsical order I decide
  • Go back to my 2019 prompts and fix/rework the ones I’m not happy with or just try coloring all of them like Ted Turner
  • Start a gum gum person comic
  • Something else
  • Or maybe write something, just not something for NaNoWriMo

A lot of possibilities. I will choose by…tomorrow.

‘Twas the night before NaNoWriMo…

And all through the condo I was breathing a sigh of relief over not taking part this year.

Honestly, I’m looking forward to having a bunch of free time for other stuff in November. There may be a cure for my writing ills, but the last few years suggest to me that the cure is not National Novel Writing Month.

It feels a bit weird sitting out for the first time in ten years (!), but it also feels right. And nice.

Now to maybe write something without the pressure of 1,667 words per day…

Oh yeah, writing

December is a strange month. You are forced to listen to Christmas music in every store you go to, the days are short so it feel like it’s dark all the time, everything is directed toward the end of the month and Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. People take stock, buy presents, make resolutions. It’s a time to reflect, even though you can do that any time you’d like.

It’s also a bad time to lose weight because people are constantly plying you with sugary, fat-filled goodies. The short days, colder temperatures and general sogginess also discourage one from going out and exercising (hence the resolutions). In general, there is a sense of winding down, of biding time until the calendar flips over to the next year.

For me, it has always been a terrible time to write, for most of the things mentioned above. It’s like the spark that makes me write–a fragile thing most of the time–gets snuffed out all but good until the new year. It’s an excuse, really, just like any other. But it’s also very consistent.

This is a roundabout way of saying I have not yet picked up on my unfinished NaNoWriMo 2018 project. I think about it, I nibble at its edges, but I never fully commit to actually working on it again. And I even have an exciting scene next–a car crash! The only thing better would be a car chase. And dragons. But still, I balk.

I’ll work harder to get moving. If I can start even a modest amount of momentum this month, that will help all the more going into the new year. Excelsior, and all that.

NaNoWriMo 2018: The sad(ish) conclusion

I did not write 50,000 words.

I did not win.

But as mentioned in my previous NaNo post, I am still working on the novel and in a way I think it will be easier and the writing may be better without the pressure of the daily word count of NaNoWriMo hovering over everything I put down.

It is, then, both a time of regret–50,000 words would have been nice–but also a time of some hope, in that the writing will continue.

I’ll report back in a month to see how the current 22,222 word count has changed. (I make no predictions.)

NaNoWriMo 2018: Day 26 report

For a few days I had quite a head of steam and I felt I would actually hit 50,000 by month’s end. Now, with four days to go, I am at 22,222 words (yes, kind of weird), which is not quite half. While it is theoretically possible I could write enough in the next four days to pass the virtual finish line–at a pace of 6,944 words per day–it is rather unlikely.

But that’s okay. Why? A list!

  • Unlike so many other times, I have an outline. If I get stuck on a particular scene, I still know where the story is going
  • I’m invested in the story and will see it through, regardless of the arbitrary November 30th deadline
  • Without the deadline I may actually produce a higher quality first draft, as I’ll put a smidgen more thought and care into the writing instead of just trying to blaze through as quickly as possible

On the downside, I missed a day or two due to other issues coming up (I won’t make excuses–I still could have written something on those days) and it did exactly what I feared, derailing my momentum.

On the upside, I have started writing again, though not quite at the same feverish pace as before. I’ve also done my first real writing through voice dictation. My setup is as follows:

  • Dictation software: Dragon Professional Individual v. 15
  • Writing software: iA Write (Windows version). I chose this because it’s very lightweight.
  • Microphone: Blue Yeti, which I have previously described as big and heavy enough to murder an elephant with

The dictation was surprisingly accurate and as they say, no typos, though it sometimes get things wrong. For example, I wanted it to write:

William’s lane

But instead it wrote:

Williams Lane

It’s a natural assumption on the program’s part, and easy to catch and fix when editing. I’m wondering now if some of the weirder errors I’ve seen in some books are due to voice dictation best-guesses getting missed.

The most difficult thing I’ve found so far is not remembering to speak punctuation out loud. I got used to that pretty quickly. Instead, it’s actually speaking your writing aloud. When I’m typing I’m moving slowly enough that my fingers never get ahead of my brain. With dictation I find it’s so easy to speak out sentence after sentence that I sometimes find myself pausing to figure out where to go next.

I’m going to try more transcribing from voice dictation from the phone again soon, too. I like the idea of being untethered, as I often think out loud and almost always do it while walking around, whether it’s pacing back and forth around the condo or just strolling down a path where I don’t have to be concerned that the crows might think I’m a lunatic babbling to himself.

I’m at a pivotal and exciting point in the story, but I’m unsure how to proceed, as there are a few options. I should just skip ahead and write later scenes, but I have a strong preference for writing the story in chronological order when possible. I don’t know if I’m concerned I’ll confuse myself, have too much of a mess to stitch together or what, but I should probably get over it.

In the meantime, here’s to 7,000 words per day! (Ho ho.)

National Novel Writing Month 2018: Actual writing has occurred

Finally past that horrible flu thing (with only a bit of a lingering glass-edged throat to endure), I have resumed writing my novel. In the last two days I’ve managed a weirdly precise 6,800 words. I don’t even need a calculator like I normally do to know that’s 3,400 words per day or double the daily average required. I’m at a total of 14,725 words, where I should be at 23,000+, but it’s not as bad as it looks, because I now require a pace of just over 2,000 words per day to finish by November 30, something I don’t see as a problem unless I get the flu again or are hit by a blimp.

I haven’t committed to a dictation session yet and will probably hold off until the weekend, where if it backfires horribly, I will still have time to fall back to the more conventional hunt-and-peck method.

Anyway, it’s nice to be writing again, and it’s nice to see that even after long dry spells I can still find and slip into the groove.

National Novel Writing Month 2018: The flu story

I came down with the flu right as this year’s NaNoWriMo started and the effect was predictable: I didn’t write.

Now, I have written, even if you don’t count the existing words from the third version of Weirdsmith I’m using (now with the working title of The Journal), but most days I have lacked either the physical energy, the mental energy or both. And this has been one of those horrible, lingering flu bugs, with that feeling of tiredness being the most persistent symptom (others have ranged from light fever, loss of appetite, head and lung congestion, pressure headaches, and the always fun dry, hacking cough).

Normally this would be a disaster. We are at November 11th and with a daily word count of 1,667 to keep on pace, I would need to be at 18,337 words. Instead I am at 7,925 words.

To finish on time I would need to write an average of 2,214 words per day, a boost of about 547 words above the regular pace. This is actually doable, so there’s no need to panic.

More to that point, I have now finished my voice dictation setup and my coughing has settled down enough that I should be able to do it fairly reliably. I am curious to see how this can boost my word count (and how accurate the results are. Initial testing was pretty good, with a few lapses, though I’m not sure yet if it was me being mush-mouthed or Dragon being weird or some combination thereof).

I’m also going to pick up a digital voice recorder and use that during walks to also get in more “writing” time.

The hardest part in resuming actually has nothing to do with the way I am feeling, but that I had left the story off at a rather dull point–something that may be expunged in a revision–so I need to look past that and dive back in to the “good” stuff.

Onward I go. I will report as warranted, through tears of joy or despair.

November, shmovember

I am starting the month with the flu, which is sub-optimal for my health and for National Novel Writing Month, which began yesterday.

Last night I attempted to write after revising the earlier work I’d done on what is now going by the bland working title of The Journal, but by 9 o’ clock I had written nothing, had no energy, then went to bed, where I burned up and had literal fever dreams.

Today–or tonight, to be more precise, I have a little more energy and a new thermometer confirmed I only have a mild fever, but I am still lacking the energy to really put out words. Tomorrow’s weather is The Rains, so I’m thinking I’ll have a good go then, especially if I’m over the hump of this latest beating to my health that is the year 2018. Not that I’m complaining! It’s been, uh, interesting. Yes. Interesting. Grist for the mill, fodder for my writing. Or something.

Anyway, on with November and the official start of the two month Christmas blitz. Ho ho ho.

National Novel Writing Month 2018: ‘Twas the night before NaNo…

When all through the house…er, condo…not a creature was stirring, except me, making sure I’m actually ready.

As I mentioned on Broken Forum, I’ve got most stuff set up:

  • Story with actual plot outline
  • Daily word tracker
  • Updated laptop with writing apps installed

Note I said writing apps. That’s because I’m still flipping between using WriteMonkey or FocusWriter. Both are installed on any machine I’ll use and both save to text format, so there’s no issue if I switch from one to the other, or even back and forth. At this point I’m leaning toward FocusWriter because it’s been more recently updated and has fewer options to distract me.

Now to find out if I’m looking back on 50,000 words in a month’s time or a puddle of tears over what might have been.