A Confession

I have a confession to make. I didn’t write tonight. I did open the document, but I sat staring at the screen for half an hour without writing a word. My only excuse is that it’s hot…too hot to concentrate, but that doesn’t really cut it for me because it’s the beginning of summer and we will be having a lot of hot days in coming months. Does this mean I won’t be writing on any of them? It better not mean that.

I’m not going to beat myself up over this terrible thing. I didn’t write. I’ve admitted it. Now, I just have to hope that tomorrow will be different. (And yes, tomorrow is going to be another really hot day.)

Halfway Mark

This will be a short post. I’m not well and need to go rest, but I wanted to confirm that I’ve hit the half way mark on my manuscript and I’m also on target with Mini-NaNo. I didn’t quite get the words today, but considering how I feel, I’ve done extremely well (I was only 100 words off target).

I won’t linger. My nose is dripping profusely and my throat isn’t sore, it hurts like crazy. I’ll be in bed by the time my computer finishes shutting down.

Good night.

Notepad to Notebook

Struggling Writer has shared some photos of his NaNo efforts, which show how he is writing in longhand in his notebook (meaning the paper variety, not the electronic kind).

This got me thinking about the “old” days (and I’m about to show my age here). Way back in the times before computers and mobile phones, yes, those times did exist, I wrote longhand too. I hand spiral notebooks, which were ideal for ripping out pages of dribble and starting again (when necessary; and it seems that it was often necessary).

I used to write at strange times: a page before I turned the light out at night, half a page while waiting for dinner to cook, a sentence during the ads whilst watching TV, sitting in a deck chair while the family did some fishing, during my lunch hour, even during my boss’s lunch hour (when I was supposed to be working). 🙂

Then I got another job and was introduced to a computer. It was love at first sight! But…at that stage, all my typing was still done on a typewriter. I was unaware of software that allowed letters to be typed on the computer.

A few years passed, I changed jobs again and what do you know? WordPerfect became my new best friend. It was at that time that my manuscripts were half written in longhand and half typed in WordPerfect. In case you can’t figure that out, let me put you out of your misery.

At home I wrote by hand, but at work, when I had spare time (usually only during my boss’s lunch break, I might add), I wrote in WordPerfect. I would usually try to write a page during these slack times at work and I would take that page home and stick it in the appropriate place in my notepad.

Two more years passed. Then, one day my boss announced that we were getting new computers. Oh, glee! But hang on, what would happen to the old computer? My eyes lit up. I had a plan.

My family are not rich, never have been. At that time, we struggled to put food on the table. There was no extra money floating around for a computer, not even a second hand one. But I approached my boss anyway. He could only say “yes” or “no” and I was hopeful. I could pay it off in instalments, wash his car, kiss his feet (OK, that might be going over the top).

I arrived home from work that day with a computer sitting on the passenger seat. My boss had given it to me because “it’s not worth selling”. Well, that was debateable, but I nodded in agreement. It was nothing like the computers you get today. There was no internet, although I’m told that the internet had been invented at this time, but I had never heard of it. This computer had building industry software on it … and WordPerfect. I was in heaven.

From that day on, I used the computer to write. Writing in longhand was only a consideration when we went on holiday. I still sat beside a river, while the family fished, and wrote, but other than that, I had gone over to the other side.

Around 1996 I finally replaced that old computer with a Windows machine. What’s that Internet Explorer thing, I wondered, but that’s as far as the thought went. It would be another five years before I had my first experience with the internet. WordPerfect was replaced with an assortment of other writing software programmes, but I finally settled on Word (because it seemed to be the “in” thing).

Then, two or three years ago, I bought myself a notebook of a different kind. This one didn’t have spiral binding and I didn’t have to use longhand to get the words down. This notebook plays music if I want it too, it holds copies of all my work in lovely neat folders, it is not connected to the internet (and never will be) and I can even sit beside a river while the family does some fishing and write.

Why would I want anything else?

Mini Na-No Update

Time is of the essence. I think that is a saying which means that something has to be done right now, it’s of the utmost importance. For me, it means that every second of the day seems to be accounted for. There is no spare seconds. So time is of the essence.

This would account for the complete draining of my energy. Why my brain is working in slow motion. There is so much I want to do because life is so short, yet the days whiz by in a blur, leaving me in wonder. What do I have to show for those 24 hours?

Not a lot.

For those of you who know about my first attempt at NaNo, three or four years ago, you might be feeling a bit apprehensive right about now. Please don’t worry. My energy has not been depleted by Mini-NaNo. I am deliberately making sure that I only do the necessary words. I am not pushing myself. And the words are flowing nicely. Today, I hit 10,710 words. I’m pleased with that.

Along with my required word count for Mini-NaNo, I also wrote a post for another blog today with over 2,000 words and I still have not reached the end. Then there are the comments I’ve left on other people’s blogs and message boards. No wonder I feel all written out, but here I am writing just a few more words anyway. 🙂

And now, I must go and relax, and let my body recharge. I think someone I know will be having an early night tonight.

Writing Prompts

Here are three writing prompts:

  • Write 200 or so words starting with, “A shiver ran up my spine…”
  • You wake up one morning to find everything as you know has changed. What happened?
  • Write two paragraphs using the following words: glitter, bite, feather, discretion.

Feel free to post your creations here. 😀

Thinking Ahead

If I am successful in writing my Mini-NaNo in November, and there’s no reason (as yet) why I shouldn’t be, book 2 will be completed in it’s first draft. At that time, being December, this will give me the perfect reason to put the manuscript to one side until early 2007 and catch up on the other things that I’d normally be doing on a week-to-week or day-to-day basis during November.

Leaving the manuscript until 2007 before I start editing is perfect. It couldn’t work out better. And if I really do find time to fit in writing during that time, then I will finish planning book 3. It’s strange, a month ago, both books 2 and 3 were nothing more than a vague thought and now they are becoming a reality. I find that amazing.

NaNo is going well for me so far. I’ve managed to reach my daily word count. However, now that I’m heading swiftly towards the “middle” section of the story, I’m finding that the flow is slowing down considerably. I know what needs to happen and where I’m heading, but I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there. This type of planning allows for creativity whilst writing, which means there’s no chance I can become bored with the story.

I did manage to gag the editor. It took some doing, but persistence on my part won out in the end. Of course, this will mean my first draft will be rougher than normal, but they say “a change is as good as a holiday” and I’m willing to see how things pan out.

Talking about holidays…it’s Christmas soon. Have you started planning your day, buying your presents, organising your family? I’m thinking about it, and that’s as good as it will get for now. 😀

Must run. I have words to write…835 of them.

Recipe for Successful Writing

If nothing else, participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo (or a mini version of it) has taught me a valuable lesson. And I’m only on day 4!

As a reader, when I read, I need to be feed excitement on every page. I need a reason to want to turn the page and keep reading. Reaching the end of a chapter that ends on a cliffhanger is great, because I want to turn the page and read on, even when I know I have to put the book down and go to bed. This is a sign of a good book, to me.

Writing is much like reading. Even though the writer knows exactly where the story is heading (in most cases), the writer needs cliff hangers too. Sure, some writers can sit at the computer – day in, day out – and write with no trouble whatsoever. However, I believe that writing is hard work and most writers struggle to get the right words. In the last four days, I’ve discovered a new recipe for successful writing.

  • Never write ’till you drop. You are exhausting yourself and your mind and body will not thank you for it.
  • Set small daily word count goals, instead of huge ones that may be impossible to achieve. Reaching the small goal is easier to do, but it’s also inspiring. Who cares if you only write 500 words a day. That’s 3,500 words a week. That’s 14,000 words a month. That’s 168,000 words a year. That’s nothing to be ashamed of and at least you’ll get the project finished.
  • Stop writing, even if the words are flowing nicely, on a cliffhanger. Don’t continue writing the scene in a frenzy and stop when it’s finished. Why? Because the next time you sit down to start writing you will struggle to get started. Getting started is the hardest part of writing. But if you have stopped in the middle of an exciting scene, you will eagerly sit down and start pounding away at the keyboard without having to find inspiration. The inspiration is already there. You won’t forget where the scene is heading over night and you’ll be itching to get back to the keyboard in order to finish writing that scene. And when you do finish the scene, you continue writing until you reach another cliffhanger before you stop again.

I’ve been using these steps for my Mini-NaNo and it’s working a treat. I haven’t been pushing myself to the limit. My goal each day is 835 words, yet each day the total work count is increasing steadily. This alone inspires me, but then, because I’ve stopped in the middle of an exciting scene I feel inspired to return to my work and keep typing.

You should try it.