Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is it possible?

A million words in ten days? Is it possible?

I got an email today from someone writing to tell me how she had written one million words by the end of yesterday, and ha ha ha don’t we all feel dumb for being so slow and writing crap instead of working to her high standards. NaNo, plainly, is filled with losers.

Ummm. . . .

Well, first is the fact that I don't care if you've written a million words or a thousand for the first ten days. Are you writing something you wouldn't have done otherwise? Are you looking at the way you work and deciding if writing is something you want to do at all? Good for you. You're winning.

But let's look at Lady X's claim of one million words and do the math.

1,000,000 words divided by 10 is obviously 100,000 words a day

100,000 divided by 24 hours is about 4167 words and hour

Or about 69 words a minute. Doesn't look bad, right?

Except that no one can write for 24 hours straight for ten days. So we have to readjust there. Let's say that Lady X sleeps for only six hours a night. That drops it down to 18 hours a day to work. However, there are still the other little things that take time -- eating, showers or baths (we would hope) and using the bathroom -- things that can't be avoided. So let's say that only takes 2 more hours out of her day because she's driven to do this writing and doesn't have anything else to do. We are now down to 16 hours a day to write.

100,000 divided by 16 is 6250 words an hour

Divide that by 60 minutes and we have about 104 words a minute.

That still doesn't look bad, right?

Okay. Sit down and write 104 words every single minute for the next 18 hours. Then do the same for the next ten days.

I won't say it's impossible. People do things I would never dream could be done all the time. I will say that it doesn't look very probable, though. Hell, I would be hard pressed to copy/paste 104 words a minute for 18 hours, let alone write them, and I'm not exactly slow (I'll hit 100,000 words today on my NaNo). Even using a speech to text program like Dragon Speaking Naturally would be difficult if not impossible. Try talking for an hour straight and see how your voice is by the end.

So, if you see people making outrageous claims during NaNo, pay no attention to them. If they did manage it somehow, good for them and they have reason to be proud -- but it still has nothing to do with what you are doing. If they're just making the claims to show how superior they are and trying to make others feel badly about their work, then they're trolls. Simple answers.

Me -- I'm working on a set of novels I adore and I'm having so much fun that I have trouble stepping away from it. I haven't enjoyed NaNo this much in the last couple years and it's really fun to feel the wind in my face as I race through the words. They aren't perfect 'high standard' words and writing. The works are first drafts and they're going to go through a couple revisions before anyone sees them at all. But I am having a great deal of fun and I hope the rest of you are, too.

So you know, ignore the trolls. Enjoy your work. And remember that we're just over 1/3rd of the way through the month. We can do it and you know, we can have fun at it without making (apparently) outlandish claims.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ten days

The boys

This is the tenth day of NaNo. I have been having a remarkably good time this year. I'm not sure what happened that it finally clicked into place. I have finished the first draft of Team Work at a little over 82k and I'm working on the second book, Farewell to Summer, which is already almost 6k. Yeah, I'm having a wonderful time!

Work is kind of taking a beating -- but I do get it done eventually. I've finally worked out how to fit it into the writing this month. Who knows? Maybe this will even work in the future and I'll be able to write even more!

Yeah, like I need more first draft novels piling up to be edited. Okay, so next year I'll start implementing more editing time. I can do that. Good plan.

I found a very nice review of NaNo for the New and the Insane:

But this year -- I am very much enjoying the rush of writing in ways that I haven't done in months. Maybe in years. I know I fought my way through last year's NaNo, but I don't remember it being this fun, and I'm trying to figure out what the difference might be. I'm still depressed about Russ living on the East Coast and hardly getting to see him at all. I still have some serious issues with the house I am in and I know it's going to be a long miserable winter --

Let's not think about that right now. Instead, here is a fun little snippet from the second book. Remember -- First Draft, mistakes, bad wording, etc.:

Devlin took lunch at The View, a very popular restaurant with another expansive view of the dead Martian world. It appealed to her tonight, all that emptiness -- but even as she watched, a tourist shuttle trundled across the ground and disappeared down an incline, probably heading for the old mines.

Humans everywhere.

She turned back to her food and nibbled at more of the lasagna, made with ingredients from earth and real meat. She liked to make it last, this one extravagance she always tried to enjoy on Mars. It was done to perfection, and the garlic bread made her mouth water just to smell it.

She was not the only one in the restaurant. She clandestinely watched the others -- hey it was her job! -- and could name a few of the ambassadors who had wandered in after some meeting. She hoped that two of them didn't recognize her, though. She was surprised that one of them still held his post, in fact, considering what she had uncovered on him during a job four years ago.

Marquesa came in and sat at a table across the room from her. This one was Private Line's top reporter, a woman for a flair for finding scandals and bringing down fools in her own way. Marquesa gave Devlin a bow of her head in greeting -- oh yes, she did know Devlin was one of the top Inner World Council Security Agents. They'd come to an understanding though: Marquesa didn't report anything about Devlin when she came to the Mars HQ and Devlin didn't have her drugged and shipped off to the farthest reaches of the fringe without any ID. So far the arrangement had worked well.
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Friday, November 05, 2010

Negative Things

Hello NaNo people! Welcome to day . . . 5? I've lost track of time. I woke up this morning wondering if I was going to survive this year's NaNo. It's been harder for me than usual in many ways.

But let's talk about a different sort of NaNo thing -- the usual negativity within and without the NaNo community.

My goals are not the same as most of the people doing NaNo. For many people, being able to write 50k in one month is a very difficult, and finding the time, energy, and understanding how to create something of that length is difficult and challenging. Challenges are good.

And that's why I challenge myself to do more. I have taken NaNo at its name -- to write a full novel during the month of November. For me, and the genres in which I write, 50k would not be enough. My goal is always to write at least one novel during November and I am using it to kick start off a long series of works. I'm having a great time leaping into the work. I have outlines, of course. I couldn't write this much if I didn't have a good, solid map of where I want to go.

So, of course, there are always the people who are angry and accusing -- you're cheating, you're lying, you obviously don't have a life or a job, etc. What they don't accepts is that anyone is willing to dedicate more time to writing (whatever their situation) then they can, will or even want to. Yes, my situation allows me to write more often -- and because of that it would be cheating to say I'm going to write 50k and it will be oh so difficult for me.

Some people have higher word counts. That's their personal challenges and they're having fun. Why should you belittle it? They're working hard to get those counts because that is what challenges them in writing.

Which brings us to the outside negativity.

You know, if NaNo was a month long cheese eating marathon, no one would make much of it. But because we are taking part in something that uses our brains, we're being ridiculed by elitist snobs who think they have any right to tell anyone how to spend November.

For many people, NaNo is a test flight to find out if they want to spend the time to grow wings and fly through their stories all year round. Many people never do more than come and leap off the cliff with us each year, writing for one month of 'literary abandon' and then waiting for the next November to join in the fun again. Others discover that writing 'fast' is not for them, and they step back from that cliff and find other ways to explore creativity. Not a few find out that writing is a lot more work than they thought and not for them at all.

And because of this, some people will rant about what we're doing.

They're being stupid. Straight out, without any doubt, stupid. Let them rant and wave their pathetic little "I be a real writer" banners for their other snobs to gather around. But don't forget to point them to this list: (Hmmm... none of my works are on there. Should get those added), and this:

When you think about it, it's obvious that some of these people are just jealous. They will never allow themselves to stand on the midnight line and leap in with thousands and thousands of others from around the world, doing something creative just for the joy of it. They've bought into some college professor wannabe writer's idea of 'literature' and what it takes to be a real writer because it makes them feel oh-so-important when their own writing can't. For others, it's just a case of 'it's not what what I would do, so it can't be right.' They're being blind and judging an act and not the end result. Yeah, a lot of total crap is written during NaNo. It's never going to affect their lives. They'll never see it. It's unfortunate that some people writing during NaNo think they should send their first draft book off to the agent/publisher on December 1. But ya' know -- I read submissions for a while. The number may increase during November, but they're no worse than the majority of things from the rest of the year -- meaning badly written first drafts.

Let them have their little rants. It makes them feel smug and important.

To me, quite honestly, it is the negativity within the NaNo community that is worse -- the belief that if someone isn't doing exactly the same as the others, they shouldn't be allowed to take part.

This is my tenth year at NaNo. I have written (prior to this year) 22 NaNo novels and sold (or nearly sold -- one is pending) four of them, with several more almost ready to go out into the cold world of submissions. Three of those novels were just leap in and have fun with no intention of ever doing more with them. (Though, it turns out, one of those isn't half bad -- lol). The manuscripts from the later years are working through my long system of editing -- I don't rush anything but the first draft. I have written 1,614,217 words during November at the end of last year's NaNo. I have enjoyed every moment of it.

I hope the rest of you do, too. And I hope that you can realize we don't all have to be doing exactly the same thing to join in the fun.

And now -- yes, I'm going to go back to writing for a bit, then attack a pile'o'work -- and then write again. Because it is what I enjoy and I love flying with this first draft.

Current count? 38,748 and a little over 1/3rd of the way through the novel. Yay!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A little helpful tip

Good work and good luck to everyone!
Do you want a quick trick to help you get through a day's writing?
Write down five things that can next happen in your story. For instance:

1. Goes for walk in woods
2. Comes home to find house open
3. Goes to neighbor for help
4. Finds neighbor dead
5. Heads into the woods to hide

Now write 400 words for each of those little points. You'll have made your word count for the day. If you find that you make your word count total by #3 because what you're writing is more than you imagined, put #'s 4 and 5 on a list for tomorrow.

This kind of mini-outline is really flexible because you're never very far ahead of where you're working. Be sure to think in terms of description, too. Description can really help to fill out the story.
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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NaNo Day 2 -- 9015/22021 total

This was a more difficult day than yesterday, but I made the count I wanted, so I'm good. It will keep dropping down after this. I have work to get back to. I did a little bit today, but the NaNo novel kept pulling me in. That's good, of course.

Here is another short snipped. Remember: FIRST DRAFT

"Okay. So you trained and went into the ring when you were old enough? How old?"

"Started training at six. At ten, though, we had a choice to go into the ring or work somewhere else in the Camp. I knew that many died in the dance -- but that was years away. 21 sounds very old to a ten year old."

Damn. Damn them -- to use that against a child. To hold out what was, in truth, the only showy, exciting thing on this world and let children think that it was worth the price. He didn't speak, but Dancer must have seen the look in his face. He nodded. In this they both understood each other.

"Tell me the rest," Cha said. He sat his cup aside. He could hear distant sounds of people now -- the town coming awake, and he feared that Dancer might be right. If Devlin wasn't here, he would still try to hold on to Dancer, but he wasn't entirely sure he could.

"There were never more than ten chosen at a time. We trained in groups selected by age." A different sort of pain crossed is face this time, and Cha wasn't certain he wanted to hear the next part. He sat very still and Dancer didn't look at him. "There were nine in my group. Three opted to go to work in the camp when they turned 18, right after we started training with actual bears. Two died in training and two more died in the ring the first year we performed. Satin is the only other one left from my group, but he's very ill from Bear Poison he took a week ago. I don't think he'll survive. That makes me the last one still in the ring from my group."
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Nano Day 1: 14006

Hard day of work!

Here is a little snippet from the opening. I'll drop these in every now and then, but not likely every day, especially once real life work kicks back in again!


Devlin stood beneath the shadow of the high wooden benches that rose in tiers above her and tried not to wince every time she heard a creak or groan from the wood. It didn't help that she'd read the history and knew that the last set of bleachers had collapsed ten years ago, killing more than fifty people and maiming others. Safer, now, they told her, but she didn't believe it much. She didn't trust low tech work on backwater worlds.

And she didn't think much of Forest anyway.

Devlin hadn't intended to come to the Bear Dance today until she heard that their best dancer would perform tonight. The one Bear Dance she'd seen had been disgusting and it hadn't helped her attitude towards the locals. Pitting a human against a local animal was barbaric, and she didn't know how humans could even stand to watch.

This was not her favorite assignment and she still couldn't decide why anyone would send someone of her rank to such a backwater little world. Oh, she knew the major part of it -- Earthers' interest -- but anyone could have come in and filed the reports. She'd liked the work on Caliente better than she liked this one. Forest may be a lovely world, but she hated the people. Hated them all at this point -- and had to pull that feeling back and be objective. She couldn't let it interfere with her assignment.
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