July Update

I didn’t blog in June.

Part of that was lack of impetus with Once Upon a Time having finished until the fall. However, I was going to blog about Captain America: Civil War – the best marvel movie yet!! It’s just my arm has been playing up again and I can’t really type right now. It’s super weird dictating a blog post, even weirder than dictating my novel and that’s saying something – I really loathe dictation.

So what have I been up to? Well the answer to that is mostly getting used to dictation. I love writing, it’s my life really and so stopping until my arm is better is a non-starter. I have no idea what’s wrong with my arm or why it hurts so much, it could never get better. However, given how frustrating I find dictation, it has been slow going and the goals I set myself have had to be quietly pushed back.

It’s Camp NaNo this month. I just checked and I didn’t blog about April. Back in April I tried a redraft of Book Two of my Crime/Sci-Fi series and it went very badly. That book two was cursed from the beginning. I started the first draft April 2015 and had to stop 2/3rds of the way through because of illness. I didn’t finish it until the October and then when I went to revise it in February I found it was un-salvageable and needed to be completely rewritten. I started the redraft this April and got halfway through but I just couldn’t do it. I’ve decided to scrap the whole series I wound up hating it so much.

However, last November I wrote book one of a new Military Science Fantasy series and I love that more than anything. Again because of illness I didn’t finish it last November, instead I finished it in March. Last month (June) I was supposed to write a prequel short story but because of my arm I didn’t manage to finish it.

Therefore for Camp NaNo this month my goal is to finish the first draft of the prequel. I will also start Book Two of the series and hope that this book two, will go a lot better than the last sequel I tried to write. Given how I feel about the series generally (I love it), I’m hopeful that it will be ok but it’s still quite scary. I harbor no ambitions that I will be able to finish book two this month but I hope that I will finish it by the end of August. It’s technically possible as I’ve averaging about 2k a day with dictation (it is so much slower than typing, I miss typing so much) but we’ll have to see.

This blog is probably going to go on a hiatus for the summer. I might drop back in and say how Camp NaNo (July) went but anything else will be dependent on my arm. This is so weird dictating like this. Once Upon a Time (Season 5) premieres on the 25th of September, hopefully I’ll be able to blog about that. I’m certain I’ll have a lot to say, I nearly always do.

NaNo 2015: Retrospective

It’s December 1st so November and NaNo is officially over for another year. There is of course Camp NaNo next April and July, but let’s forget that for the moment.

Before the month started I had two clear goals:
– Have a completed first draft by the end of the month
– Write every single day

At the start of the month I admitted that I would ideally like to go further:
– Beat last years total of 61k at a minimum
– Finally crack triple figures (100k) to make a good lifetime achievement total

Well how did that go? The answer is pretty clear if you take a look at the widget on the sidebar to the right. The total – 55,618 words. Do I have a complete draft? No. Did I beat last years total? Nope. Which obviously means I didn’t get my 100k. Did I write every day? Well, that depends on your definition, more on that under the cut.

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NaNo 2015: Midseason Update

Apparently skipping all normal NaNo rituals results in it not really feeling like NaNo. The magic just disappears, or never appears, it’s like a regular day with all the regular annoyances and distractions.

  • I didn’t stay up till midnight and write a few lines before I went to bed.
  • I didn’t complete my outline.
  • I didn’t have a title, series title, universe title.
  • I didn’t create a temporary cover.
  • I didn’t have an opening line so I was stuck at the start line.

All told it was not the best start to the month. However, I dutifully started writing the prologue and I reached the 50k pace for the day (1667 words) before the prologue was finished. That I hoped boded well for the length of the rest of the story but only time would tell on that front.

I finished the prologue and I was feeling good. However, I’m familiar with the emotional highs and lows of writing a first draft. I knew that high wasn’t going to last, the same as I know the inevitable lows will end. It’s a rollercoaster journey every single time.

What is somewhat miraculous is throughout the whole process, while there are parts of the draft I dislike, I don’t loathe anything AND I still absolutely love the idea. That’s new, usually I wind up hating everything and want to kill it with fire. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time. We’ll see how I feel when I reach those immortal words – ‘The End’.

Word of warning about this post. I wrote it in 5 separate updates over the course of the beginning of the month. Therefore I can’t vouch for how understandable it is, think of it as a live blog almost of the writing process.

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All NaNo-Eve

The 31st might be Halloween which is important to some people. However, for me it’s important because it’s NaNo-Eve, the day before NaNoWriMo begins again. I know it’s not the 31st yet, I may do another post before then, or maybe I’ll do a mid month post. Last year I forgot to do a pre-NaNo post so I did one on day ten, that could work for this year too.

Anyway, last year I wrote a NaNo retrospective, as I often do, and I listed some goals for myself.

The Writing Plan
– To write a minimum of 1000 words, five days a week.
– To finish Book Two by the end of January
– As a bonus work through the flash fiction course
– Make plan for February at the end of January, probably in my new house.

How did that work out for me?

Well consistency has gone out of the window completely. Forget that, even when I was writing it wasn’t on a regular day to day basis. The first draft of book two has been completed – this month. Yup, I didn’t finish that until October. I also haven’t touched the flash fiction course.

All told those goals didn’t happen. Ok, so what did happen?

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November NaNo Retrospective

I’ve done NaNo seven times now, Camp NaNo a couple of times, you would think that whatever lessons there were to be learned, I would have learnt them by now. However, after each November I learn new things, or I relearn lessons that obviously didn’t stick the first time.

This November I set myself some stretch goals, as November was going to be the start of a brand new year. I wanted to do things better, to take a positive step towards a possible future. It was a lot of pressure to put on one month but as I’ve said before NaNo has ceased to be a challenge in some respects. I need to ask more of it, in order to continue to get the same out. It is definitely still my favourite time of year but that doesn’t mean the sense of accomplishment remains the same. I’ve reached 50k several times now and as I said I wanted more.

So how did it go?

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NaNo 2014: Day Ten Update

It’s November which means it’s time for NaNoWriMo. Usually I post about it before the month, and then I do a post in December about how it went. In October I should have posted about what my goals for the month were. I will do that now with a look at the first ten days.

This year I decided that NaNo was going to be the start of a brand new year. 2014 sucked for a lot of real life reasons, it was a complete write-off in so many respects. I love NaNo, I’ve likened it to a holiday and it is without doubt my favourite time of year. Starting off a new year, or launching my new intentions in November rather than January just made sense.

NaNo’s official goal is to write 50k within November. I wanted to go beyond that this year, to use the magic of NaNo to get a jump start on my future plans. With that in mind I set myself some additional goals:
– 12.5k on Day One
– 25k by end of Day Three
– 50k by end of Day Seven
– 100k by the end of the month
– Two finished first drafts
– Write something, however little, every day to get into the habit of consistency.

This is how it went:

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Minipost – NaNo Site Relaunch

It’s Sunday, which technically means that the site relaunched on schedule. They said last week that it would be this week, the fact that it was anticipated and intended for the beginning of the week is immaterial, it made the week – barely.

Launching on a Sunday was unanticipated but on the surface not much is new. The homepage has had a slight re-jig, there’s still no countdown which is disappointing but it does look very nice. The forums are a different story, they didn’t do a hard wipe this year. They kept all threads that had been posted in since August 1st, so there’s a lot of old threads knocking around. Personally I don’t like it, they don’t have that clean, fresh start empty feeling. It’s messy and that bothers me. Thankfully the only part of the forum I really use is the Beyond 50k area and that was almost completely wiped. I’ll just stay there where it’s comfortable.

Anyway what the site launch mainly brought was the ability to officially sign up for this years NaNo. Creation of 2014 novel profiles, the donor halo for this year etc. all become active. This always gives me such a burst of enthusiasm. I rather predictably spent the day logged into OA chat, refreshing the forum and planning my novel. I managed to get pretty much all the background ironed out, so I understand the world and how it works, which given that it revolves around time travel took a while. I also needed to get a consistent backstory because it’s going to set up a series. The revelations about the past won’t all be told in this first book but I need to know them, so I don’t contradict myself later.

I was reminded of the importance of knowing where things will go, and hidden connections, when I watched NCIS tonight. It was the first episode Yankee White and it was the first introduction of Agent Fornell. He was just the FBI representative in this episode and likely intended to be nothing more. However, they must have liked the actor or they just brought him back, as they do with secondary characters, to ground the world so he was the FBI representative many times. Then they decided to give him more of a backstory, and they made him and Gibbs share an ex-wife. That’s where the episode Yankee White hits an issue, as Fornell didn’t recognize Gibbs and had no idea he was NCIS in this episode. However, at a later appearance they’ve been friends for years. Gibbs warned him away from marrying his ex-wife, Fornell didn’t listen but I suppose that at least saved Gibbs the alimony. It means Yankee White doesn’t fit into the continuity, it’s been retconned and the fact that it’s inconsistent is never mentioned or explained, it likely only bothers someone like me.

However, I don’t want to make a mistake like that in my books. I don’t like logic errors, inconsistencies or the unexplained. As it’s a series I need to decide as much of the world as I can now, as once I’m committed I won’t be able to change it later. Details matter, it has to be right.

I now have a title for my book and the series – Singularity, Book One of The Nexus series. Naturally it’s subject to change but it works for now and it’s about time I had a title. Usually I find titles easy enough to find but this one was trouble. I haven’t written my synopsis yet for the NaNo site but then I haven’t got book one’s plot nailed down yet.

As always because I spend time on the Beyond 50k section I’m tempted to pledge to do more than 50k. Considering I barely scraped 50k last year, even contemplating it is stupid. Not to mention we sold the house last week, so I’m helping look for a new place to live, and then there will be all the house move type chores to do. I just wanted to acknowledge the temptation to make an unreasonable, unattainable goal. I’m good at that, jumping in with both feet at the deep end, naturally sinking as I didn’t even test the water temperature first. We’ll see how the month progresses, if I have an amazing month, then maybe Beyond 50k will happen on it’s own. It never has yet but there has to be a first time for everything. There’s still a lot of planning to do but it’s not halfway through October, there’s still time.

19 days to go and counting.

Preparation is Key

I’ve a feeling that this October blog challenge may just turn into a string of posts talking about NaNo or writing in general. This blog is not my first blog but it’s the first one to survive and be semi-consistently updated. I achieved that by giving it a focus which has pretty much just been video games with a few TV/Film reviews thrown in. I don’t exactly have a readership to alienate, and I guess if writing takes it’s rightful place as my main focus, then it’s no bad thing. Only time will tell for sure.

Anyway, today’s topic is going to be about prep work. Now personally I am terrible at prep work when it comes to anything. A few months ago I decorated my house and partway through the prep work I got impatient, I just wanted to dive in and start with the painting already. I have a similar flaw when it comes to writing. I want to dive in and start writing before I’ve finished the planning. I would not recommend this.

There are a lot of different techniques out there when it comes to planning your novel. What works for me, won’t work for other people. Some writers like to plan every last detail, others just have a general direction and write whatever comes to mind. There’s no right or wrong. However, in this post I’ll obviously just talk about what works for me.

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Minipost – My NaNo Survival Kit

A friend of mine posted in the “NaNo Survival Kit Anyone?” thread, on the NaNo forums, which I won’t link to as the forums are getting wiped next week. They wrote a long list of all the things they had been gathering ready for November, everything except planning their novel apparently.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure what to write today, I know it’s day four and I’m already having trouble – this is a bad sign – but at least I’m forcing something out. It’s a minipost and it’s on NaNo which truth be told is consuming more and more of my thoughts as the days go by. Last year it was NaNo and I should have been looking forward to it and I kinda wasn’t, this year I think I’m making up for that meh of last year.

I don’t want to jinx myself but I’m cautiously optimistic that my brain can be retrained. It’s had a couple of years of only thinking about TV, which is probably why last years NaNo was so painful. However, everytime I start thinking about Stargate I’m forcing myself back to asking questions about my novel. I’ve actually managed to quasi-concentrate on that the last couple of days. True I’ve been working as well, so my hands have been busy doing repetitive production work which has perhaps helped focus my mind. Who knows but hopefully I can keep it up. I would like a solid plan this year. Last years fell apart about 500 words in (ok that’s an exaggeration but not by much) and it was brute force that finished it. I don’t want to do that again.

Erm, ok I just seriously got off topic. Back to the survival kit, what do I need/want to have in November.
– Previous years winners t-shirt. I have 4 of these now but only 2012 and 2013 are comfortable to wear as I may have possibly … erm … /hides … put on a bit of weight. Let’s kinda gloss over that and just say winner’s t-shirt to wear during writing time.
– NaNo sweater as I get cold and if I have to cover up my winner’s t-shirt it needs to be with this as a sign that I’m writing. I actually change for a writing session. I suppose it also makes for a visible “do not bother me” sign.
– My NaNo travel mug. I would like a proper mug but they didn’t do them when I bought this one and then the only mug they had in stock last year isn’t dishwasher safe. Anyway I like to have my coffee in this, bonus it stays hot for a long time if I forget to drink it and it’s portable.
– NaNo poster on the wall. There is a sort of theme here. I like to surround myself with NaNo paraphernalia, as if to say “yes, it is that time of year” as it’s like decorating for Christmas, only NaNo is a ‘holiday’ I actually like. I won’t be able to put this up this year as we’re selling the house, so I will have to do without.
– Apocalyptica playing on iTunes. It’s mostly instrumental and it’s also like a film score, only without that mental link to any specific film, so it works like a soundtrack to what I’m writing. Plus I only listen to this when I’m writing so I have a mental association, this is playing, I need to be typing.
– A solid novel plan, preferably bullet pointed scenes, so I can check them off and know what’s happening next. This actually forces me to write some days as I don’t have to think of what to write. This is part of the reason last year was so painful, I didn’t plan properly. I can add scenes in as I go if something needs to be put in, but I need my outline.
– Trillian running for the OA IRC chat. I don’t talk much but I just love having it open. Some say the OA crowd puts them off, as they can’t match up, well just by soaking up the atmosphere I’m inspired to try harder. I doubt I will ever join their ranks, though I would certainly like to, but they kept me going to 50k last year and I needed that.

That might be it actually; NaNo paraphernalia, a solid outline, music and OA chat. Pretty much all I have to prepare for the ‘kit’ is the outline so NaNo prep is in full swing. I really need to do a better job on the plan than last year.

Not much of a post today. I will try and think of a proper topic for tomorrow but at least I actually wrote something, maybe if I can force myself to write something everyday this month, then I will do the same for NaNo, rather than taking weeks off and crazy catch up which is not a good way to do it. Some kind of routine would be better.

The Meaning of NaNoWriMo

I first heard of NaNo in October 2007, just days before that years event began. It was on The Fanlistings messageboard. I’d always loved to write but I’d become a bit of a “one day” writer. I would occasionally write some notes on a story but I would never actually start writing. NaNo has a specific quote which targets the “one day” writer, it was enough to convince me. After all, on the surface, what NaNo provides most is a deadline.

I ‘failed’ that first NaNo and at the same time I didn’t. I only wrote 20k instead of the 50k that the challenge sets but I wrote 20k, that was 20k I didn’t have before I chose to try NaNo. Even more than that the reason I only got 20k was because the story I was writing fell apart around me. I learned a lot from the ‘failure’ and so really it wasn’t a failure, as there was a lot of progress.

I won’t lie and say that it was a revelation, that failure and success could be the same. When it comes to writing I understand that but when it comes to applying that to other mishaps in life, well they just seem like total failures. However, NaNo is different, it’s special. I’ve said a few times that it is my favourite time of year and that is true. Every year after NaNo I resolve to try and keep the NaNo spirit throughout the year, so far I’ve failed but the best thing about NaNo is it comes round every year, I can always try again.

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