Tag Archives: surprise

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 4

Creativity Exercise: What Can You Do With…

A little exercise in creativity – be you a writer or not:

What can you do with…a pencil?

Write down – as fast as you can – ten different uses for a pencil.

When you’re done, click on the pencil below. By clicking on or hovering over the image before you’ve written your own list you are cheating – on yourself, not on me 😈

My guess is that (unless your name is Lisa) this use will not be on your list 😉

pencil tip close-up

image via wikimedia

Hope you have fun!

Maria

My word count Day 3: blog posts: 1,361 – novel: 0,000

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

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Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only.

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 3

Approach To Writing = Approach To Life?

Looking back at the past 15 years of my life, this certainly rings true for me.

I don’t think I ever was a control freak (although my family used to know me for making elaborate lists and creating complex organisation systems :confused: ), but I needed a certain minimum of stability and mental order to cope with existing chaos around me and within myself.

The past few years, that carefully constructed structure – and the illusion of safety which came with it – has become brittle and given way to a flexible balance.

Me, The Outliner

Most of my “serious” writing was non-fiction: material for classes and the occasional article. Almost always I worked from an outline.

Some years ago, when I had the sudden urge to write some fiction longer than a flash, I searched the internet and found Karen Wiesner’sFirst Draft in 30 Days“. I planned, plotted, tagged scene by scene, creating all the capsules = scene content and timelines “by the book”.

I gave the manuscript the required shelf time and revised – and was happy to discover that most of the threads worked out, or if not, corrections were easy to trace. As an outliner, I liked this 🙂

Then I started writing the full scenes. By page 50 I got bored (because I knew the story already; in my head it was finished), ten pages later I began to deviate from the draft (the characters developed their own lives) and just after page 70 I gave up – so much in my story had changed, and I had no idea how to go on or fix it. (I should add that at the time I dreaded revisions and editing, and my amateur mind had mistaken Karen Wiesner’s method for a fool-proof no-revision guarantee-to-finish-your-novel system – instead of recognizing it as the excellent blueprint it is.)

The Loose Outliner

Inspired by Randy Ingermanson’sHow to Write a Novel: The Snowflake Method” and Holly Lisle’sNotecarding: Plotting Under Pressure“, I wrote “Magnifica” – the first time.

The loose notecard outline and the gradual development from idea to fully written scene left loads of space for imagination and surprises, changes were easy to integrate. The story didn’t quite work out, but I liked it – that was when I began to change my attitude towards revision: If I ever wanted to finish this novel, I better accepted the whole process.

I left the manuscript for a couple of years before I started a first read-through. After a few chapters I understood that this may have been the story I had wanted to write – but I had changed, and New Me didn’t fancy revising what she read.

Scrap.

Rewrite.

Under influence of Lazette Gifford’s It’s Just a Phase – in an attempt to regain control over my story – I proceeded quickly, but I found it difficult to convert short statements into imaginative, inspired writing. Maybe through writing non-fiction from detailed outlines I was too much conditioned to sticking to my plan; in any case, the scenes were  more an account of what happend than storytelling.

Needless to say I soon gave up, although I outlined all the way.

Turning Pantser

A couple of weeks or so before NaNoWriMo 2010 I plotted a new story, did character interviews and a bit of world building. On 30th October (and motivated by all that buzz and excitement on the NaNoWriMo site)  I decided to use this opportunity for an experiment: Pure “Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure”. Using the storytoolz Story Idea and Random Conflicts Generators and with Holly Lisle’s “Plot Outline Minicourse” for a guide (note: this course is not available any more, despite the link on the storytools page) I built another new story from scratch, just to get started.

I loved it – although way before the 50k I already knew I was going to scrap 20k, because 1) the story had developed in a different way and 2) I didn’t edit the least bit, that is the writing itself is “basic English” at the most. But I made it all the way to 50+k, have a good story to build on and, best of all, I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

What I also learned – and warmly recommend – is to keep a pre-revision story manual at hand right from the word “go”  (spiral bound notebook or loose leaf and a stack of tags or sticky notes, even if you write on the computer). It allows you to change your story any time you want without interrupting the flow of your writing, just take a note to check & align later (=  after November) whatever you’ve written previously. You can also collect in your manual any other notes on characters, story world, ideas for alternatives, research-to-do-later, inspiring photos for characters, worlds, items and so on without  switching back and forth between files.

Me, this year…?

My main aim is to get “Magnifica” written, revised and edited as fast as possible – before I change my mind again 😉 I’ll try to combine what I’ve learned up ’til now, finding a balance between having a direction and being open to surprises and fun, and “writing for revision”, that is plan for retracing my steps.

Obviously I got a lot of material to build on,  I know what my new Magnifica will lead up to and how I want the story to be – but I have absolutely no idea how to get there…

This is what I’ll try:

Last Sunday, I brainstormed a notecard each for the first 20 of 80 scenes (estimated at a 1,000 words per scene, which seems to be my scene average). On Tuesday, I wrote a bit more than one “nice” page of the first scene – letting it flow – and have already stumbled upon an interesting new plot thread (one that will contribute to rather than distract from the main story) and discovered a different side to my MC. (Took notes on this in my manual.)

The next few days, I’ll write the scenes – letting it flow where it flows and in form of summaries where inspiration fails me. I will tag  scenes (written one way or the other) immediately after I finish them.

Once I’m through with my notecards, I’ll do a quick review, see where the story is going and whether I like the direction it takes, and write the next batch of notecards accordingly.

Rinse and repeat. – Let’s see how it goes 🙂

How about you?

How do you write, how do you approach your life?

Are there parallels, or is it a case of balancing extreme opposites?

How has your approach to Life or writing changed over time?

Whatever and however…enjoy it as much as you can 🙂

Maria

My word count Day 2: blog: 742 – novel: zilch

TIP-TIP-TIP: If you have problems getting your story into gear, you’ll find an abundance of kickstarters (= generators) for characters, names, worldbuilding, and so forth on Seventh Sanctum™. Although the site tends towards Science Fiction/Fantasy/Anime, browsing the different categories will lead you to whatever you need for more “realistic” scenarios, too.

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

Related Articles:

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only.

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 2

On Pacing | What You Can Do To Pace Yourself And Find Your Life – And Writing – Rhythm

Definition of “pacing

(see The Free Dictionaty)

v. paced, pac·ing, pac·es
v.tr.

  1. To walk or stride back and forth across: paced the floor nervously.
  2. To measure by counting the number of steps needed to cover a distance.
  3. To set or regulate the rate of speed for.
  4. To advance or develop (something) at a particular rate or tempo: a thriller that was paced at a breathtaking speed.
  5. To train (a horse) in a particular gait, especially the pace.

v.intr.

  1. To walk with long deliberate steps.
  2. To go at the pace. Used of a horse or rider.
The sequence is set to motion using frames of ...

Image via Wikipedia

To pace

  1. In fact, walking or striding back and forth across the floor releases nervous energy, brings stress relief and helps with sorting one’s mind out. You can accelerate this process by focussing in on walking and deliberately slowing down your steps the more you relax. Allow 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Writing: your daily and total word count towards The End of your first draft. — Life: what you have achieved. What, you are depressed because you haven’t saved the world today? In that case, allow youself to scrap your ancient definition of achievement. You may be surprised to find out how “saving the world” really works: One small bit, one second at a time… How many times, today, have you smiled at yourself – at someone you knew – at a stranger? have you sent a feeling of peace and kindeness towards those around you or into the ether? have you looked out for the beauty of a leaf, a pebble, a cloud, the person in front of you, your nasty colleague or neighbour, yourself? have you enjoyed what you were doing?
  3. Regulate the speed of your life (which may or may not include writing) according to your energies – don’t skimp, don’t waste, use your energies consciously  (for a new perspective you might like to read”#NaNoWriMo 2011 (#disability #spoonie #mentalhealth) – #amwriting” – and the true story hiding behind the Spoonie link there).
  4. During (but not limited to) the first draft, ignore your author’s ego. Go with the flow of your writing instead, open up for inspiration. Description, dialogue, sentence length and construction, expressions which slow down or speed up the heart rate of your reader – forget about them, at this stage. Tweaking pacing is one of the most fun parts of revision (!) — For non-authors: Right now, which project or life area is in first-draft mode? How is your egoic, imperfect but perfectionist Me-Self interfering with realising your dreams?
  5. 2. and 3. make great habits 😉

To pace oneself

  1. By taking life in long, deliberate and confident strides.
  2. By doing it – act upon your dreams 🙂

Special NaNoWriMo pacing tips:

Last year I knew before I even signed up that during the last week of November I might not have any writing time. To me, NaNoWriMo lasted only 25 days, so I calculated 50k : 25 days = 2,000 words per day. As it turned out, I had more time than I thought – and Newbie-Me desperately needed it, for

  • converting my handwritten manuscript into bits and bytes using a Lore Ipsum text generator)
  • validating my novel by entering the whole text into the NaNoWriMo validator (Should you think that this is one simple copy-paste operation, think again. There’s a reason why you’ve got 5 days to do so: site capacity overload, and the validator prefers small servings.
  • writing two more paragraphs, and another one, to get to the 50k – the NaNoWriMo validator is known for it’s greediness = lower wordcount than what you think you’ve got. I suppose aiming at a total of 51k or 52k will do.

More pacing tips in bullet format (more details in later posts):

  • types of breaks – and how to integrate them
  • time & sanity savers
  • why and how to limit your time
  • using opportunities – living and writing in the Flow
  • getting the best out of distractions

My word count Day 1: 868 (618 blog post + 1 page – I write by hand and will correct the estimated page word count once I’ve counted them)

Enjoy the Flow – and may you find what you are looking for 🙂

Maria

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

Related Articles:

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 1

Invoking The Spirit Of NaNoWriMo

Taking part in the (inter)National Novel Writing Month is an experience, to say the least 😉

  • You can do so by signing up and participating officially – or run along wearing an old pair of slippers or an invisibility cloak.
  • You may have worked up to 1st November plotting and planning or researching for your novel – or spent not more than a few days brainstorming ideas and sketching a rough outline.
  • Perhaps you are excited by the idea of doing a literary bungee jump on a 50,000 words long rope, with no preparation at all – or you just stumbled upon this page, have never heard of NaNoWriMo, and are curious what made 200,000 people sign up in 2010 (as I’m writing this, 2 hours before “GO!”, there are about 65,000 users online on the NaNoWriMo site).

Or maybe you’re not interested in writing at all? You can still benefit from this creative spirit which will hover during November all over the globe like a sparkling cloud 🙂 :

The Spirit: Writing – or Living – in the Flow

Living in the Flow is a balancing act, and a challenge to boot. Living in the Flow means to let go of perfectionism, to expand your horizon, to weave your own safety net, to cross the void on a tight-rope without knowing what you will find on the other side.

Scary? Yes.

But so are a life full of pressure, fear and worries caused by our urge to control, the illusions of safety we so easily get used to, the meaninglessness and resignation resulting from holding on to what we believe we know and from blocking off whatever might threaten our comfort zone.

“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” James G. Thurber

November has 30 days – it takes 21 consecutive days to establish a new habit 😉

This November,

  • dare to be imperfect – and to learn from the mistakes you make
  • embrace obstacles and other problems as opportunities to move on despite…whatever excuses you are used to
  • question your habitual thoughts and behaviours
  • as often as you remember to, think and act like the person you want to be – repetition brings confidence
  • overwrite the obsolete habits of your previous self with new ones: thoughts, actions and reactions adequate for who you are now
  • get used to living in the Flow

Enjoy the Flow – and may you find what you are looking for 🙂

Maria

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂

Related Articles:

What I learned through NaNoWriMo

November is NaNoWriMo – the (inter)National Novel Writing Month.

Last year I participated for the first time in NaNoWriMo. What I learned during those 30 days had not only impact on quality and quantity of my writing (fiction and non-fiction), but also changed my approach to writing – and other life areas as well 🙂

I wrote this list of “What I learned through NaNoWriMo” beginning of December 2010. When I reviewed it today for this post, I was surprised at how complete – and still valid – it was. I have not altered my last year’s statements, only grouped them.

Perfectionism vs. flexibility – dealing with obstacles

  • how to plod on even when I didn’t know where I was going or how to get there
  • apart fom finding and using small bits of time I also realized that “having to make” time for something as opposed to “having” the time to do it – makes it much more likely that I use the “made” time for the task I made it for, instead of procrastinating or doing something else – I value the time, because I made it valuable by limiting it
  • my worst enemies are my own doubts – can I write 2500 word in one day if necessary? Yes, I can. They may be crap – but that’s for revision to fix 😉
  • not to be overwhelmed by (or back off) a difficult, confusing or giant long-term goal, but to break it into achievable bits (okay, I knew and made use of that one, but I tended to avoid the real biggies)

Focussing on results WHILE enjoying the process

  • setting quantified goals = results instead of how much time I spent on it, but I do combine it with short sprints of max 25 minutes
  • I discovered many time saving techniques I can also apply in other areas, for instance not procrastinating with details while still in the draft stage
  • It’s about finishing this one step: the draft = getting the story down. If there’s no story, just ideas, what am I going to base my revision on?

My own writing preferences

  • although I type a lot faster than I write (legibly) by hand, the result with paper and pen is better and quicker in the end, as I’m not tempted to correct – and the story flows better
  • I discovered my average draft writing speed and rhythm, one I feel comfortable with at long distance – which helps me also to plan more realistically (I was surprised that when doing short sprints  I can hand-write 250-300 words in ten minutes – I focus on “writing” instead of “thinking”)
  • I found out how long I can concentrate on focused writing, and learned to recognize AND respect the signs telling me it’s better to have many breaks (as long as I’m eager to go on) rather than risk mental exhaustion and lose time during recovery
  • looking forward to revision instead of dreading it as a boring task

Switching on and off as desired

I usually don’t have problems with focus and concentration as long as I enjoy what I’m doing 😉 but for some aspects NaNoWriMo helped me to find better solutions – with benefits spreading into other life areas as well:

  • how to switch off when I’m full of enthusiasm – and still not lose momentum
  • how to get going at a time when it’s “inconvenient”, that is when I’m tired, have “something better” to do, “don’t feel like it”
  • how to get started again, especially with complex or ongoing projects, or when I hit an obstacle and get stuck
  • how to switch instantly into writing mode AND how to switch off (took me a couple of weeks, though, to learn it)
  • how to use small time spans of 10 or 15 min (“oh, I still got 10 min” instead of “10 min is not worth starting”)

Even if you never thought of writing a novel, NaNoWriMo is an experience worth having 🙂

No idea what to write? On the site you can even find titles to choose from, or adopt a plot – so, no excuses 😉

All you need to do to participate is to sign up.  (And perhaps inform your immediate social environment that you might not be quite your usual self for the next four weeks…)

Link to the blog:  The Office of Letters and Light

Stay tuned for my long list of tips on how to survive NaNoWriMo 2011 healthy and sane 😉

Maria

The Enermazing Weekly Ticker (9) 3rd – 9th October 2011

+ +++ +++ Site News +++ +++ +

You may or may not have noticed the additional page in the menu: Enermazing Quotes, where I collected all quotes from this blog on one page – it’s not that many yet 😉

I don’t know about you, but when I come across a quote which attracts my interest I want to find out more about the person who said or wrote it. Therefore I have linked the authors’ names to websites which I hope will tell you a bit more about who’s behind the quote. Click on the links, they should open up as a new page in your browser.

Hope you enjoy browsing 🙂

Maria

+ +++ +++ Quote of the week  +++ +++ +

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.  Douglas Adams: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

+ +++ +++ this & that  +++ +++ +

Are you where you want to be? If not, maybe you are going in the wrong direction? Or perhaps, like Douglas Adams, you are exactly where you need to be this moment?

Nicole (Purpose and Dream) has posted some interesting thoughts on Collective Consciousness which may give you some insight on why it’s often so difficult to choose a path and to stick to it: We are not alone…