Tag Archives: NaNo

We’re All Crazy

It’s getting late. Have you validated yet? No? Are you going to be able to by the end of the month? You’re not sure? Are you letting it get to you? Yes? Don’t. There are only a few days left in the month and then you can relax, for this camp at least.

If you have already validated, congratulations! You did it. You rock.

Well, we all rock just for attempting such a foolish thing. But we never claimed to be sane, did we? I know I didn’t. If you did, what are you doing in camp with the rest of us loonies? Either you are too insane to realize you are insane, or you don’t belong here. Only crazy people need apply for NaNo.

I didn’t offend you, did I? I didn’t think so. You know how writers are with words, at least the written words. We tell it like we see it, even if it does offend anyone. Sometimes, we do it in order to offend. That’s just how we are. The spoken word is another matter entirely. We may or may not be good with that.

What? You’re not good with words? But of course you are. No, not all the words you write will be great. They might not even make sense. But they are words. You have created something. I don’t care if it is a mess. You can clean it up later.

So, let’s get this straight. You were crazy to start this. You were crazy to think you could do it. You are totally insane by this time of the month. You are wondering why you ever did this to yourself? You are ready to get back to the real world , if you even remember what “the real world” is. To you, the people you write about ARE real. You won’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Did I miss anything? I’m sure I dd. There are simply too many possibilities to put them all in one post. There are even too many to get them all in one book. If anyone ever did manage to get them all written down somewhere, someone would come up with another one, and we would need to start all over.

So, now that I have told you how insane you are, it’s time to get back to all that insanity. Your readership awaits.


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My Characters Are Weird

Are you in control of your story, or is it in control of you? Do you tell your characters what to do, or do they just narrate their own stories?

With me, it is a little bit of both. I generally tell the story but, sometimes, the characters don’t like what I am writing and scream at me to change it. I can drag them kicking and screaming into what I want them to do, or I can just follow their lead. My characters have been known to have minds of their own.

What? Those voices in my head aren’t real? You want to send the guys in white coats after me? You think I’m nuts? You mean everyone doesn’t hear those voices?

Go ahead and send those guys with the looney house over. I have some questions for them.  I think one of my characters might be schizophrenic. Or is that me? No. I’m not schizophrenic. It must be them.

The characters with mental problems are fun to write and hard at the same time. They don’t act the way most of society does but, at the same time, I have to make them believable. One of my side characters is looney tunes. I keep changing her, trying to make her fit into one category better. Right now, she is just a plain old wacko.

Even the main characters need to have quirks, or they won’t be believable. Readers are only willing to suspend their disbelief so far. Once that limit has been reached, you have lost that reader forever. Cardboard characters don’t give them much reason to do so.

Are your characters talking to you? Are you listening to them? Are you incorporating their ideas into your story? The rough draft is the perfect place to do that. You can take it out later, if it doesn’t work.

Don’t get so stubborn with your story that you don’t let it take a few twists and turns. Those may be just what the doctor ordered. If they aren’t, you may need another doctor.

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Writing With Hand Pain

Yesterday was the first day to validate. Did you validate? I didn’t.

In fact, I have done very little writing the last few days. I printed out my manuscript, then punched holes in it, so that I could put it in a notebook to see it better. Unfortunately, I strained my thumb. Have you ever tried to write with an injured thumb? Let me tell you, it isn’t fun.

That got me thinking about injuries writers are susceptible to. The main one is probably carpal tunnel, but there are others. My sister had to get carpal tunnel surgery. I hope I don’t ever have to have it. But, I could have a touch of carpal tunnel myself, so the possibility is out there.

The pain in my carpal tendon (muscle?) started when I was writing by hand. That is why I haven’t written by hand in years. It doesn’t hurt as much to type. I wish I could write by hand more. Words seem to flow better when I write them out longhand. Something about typing stifles my creativity.

I wonder what percentage of writers deal with hand pain at some point in their lives. It has to be a much larger percent than in the general population. I also wonder how many give up writing because of the hand pain.

One thing I noticed about not being able to write is how much I missed it. I don’t always write when I am able, but it never affected me the same way. It seems that the very act of not being able to do it made me realize how important it is to me. I’m a writer. I want to be able to write.

I’m curious about how many others out there feel the same way when they can’t write, for whatever reason. Do they miss it? Do they think longingly of the day they will be able to write again?

Thankfully, my hiatus was a short one. I think I might have gone insane if it had lasted much longer.

I know. I know. There is a touch of insanity in every writer. That’s where the creativity flows from. You don’t really think people who plot perfect murders every day are sane, do you? I can assure you, we’re not. But there is no reason to make it worse.

So, go ahead and write. But, if your hand hurts, ice that sucker! You don’t have to be a hero.

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Grab an Accountability Partner

My motivation is gone. I don’t feel like doing anything. I need a kick in the rear.

Do you ever feel the same way? Find yourself an accountability partner, or more than one. My cousin dropped me a note asking me to do something to keep her from going all off track on her editing. I offered her a kick in the butt. That was all she needed.

Don’t have someone that will be your accountability partner? Does no one in your cabin hold you accountable? Go to the forums. You are bound to find an accountability partner there, if you really want one. Otherwise, just post in the forums and you will have a lot of people holding you accountable. You will also have a lot of encouragement.

The point is, you don’t have to do this all alone. Oh, the actual writing you have to do alone. But a good support system will work wonders. That is one thing cabins are for. Unfortunately, they don’t always work.

In my cabin, we all know each other, so we feel comfortable asking for a good kick in the rear. And we feel comfortable giving it. We are equally comfortable giving heaps of praise. Often, this is what is needed the most. Sometimes, what is needed is a combination of both.

Are you crying over your characters? Laughing when they make fools of themselves? Cheering them toward the finish line? You are doing it right. You have become connected with the story. You are a writer.

If you haven’t felt this way yet, you will. Just give yourself permission to feel. Your characters will come alive for you, if you let them. They may begin to feel more real than the people around you.

Feel free to give your characters a kick in the rear, if they need it. Hold them accountable to you. They belong to you. You don’t belong to them. You are in charge, even if they try to convince you that you aren’t. The final say is yours. Make sure you hold on to that.

So, grab that accountability partner and take that story by the horns. Or pen. Or computer. Or typewriter. Or whatever. Just grab it and go. There is no time like the present.

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Time For the Second Half

So, here we are, going into the second half of the month. Fingers raw from all the typing, red with all the ink from editing, cramping with every word. Heads aching. Bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. Wondering how we are going to get through another two weeks of this. But look how far you’ve already gotten. Words on the paper or screen that weren’t there at the beginning of the month. Red ink, like blood on the paper, as you splice and dice that story mercilessly.  A gem of a book forming, or being polished. A dream being born.

We are writers! Say it with me. I am a writer! I can write! And I am! Have you remembered to give yourself permission to write crap? If you haven’t, do it now.

The first step is to dump those words that are in your head on to the screen or paper. It’s only later that you begin to make sense of them. Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it. You have made it this far and you will make it to the end. It doesn’t matter if you don’t reach your goal. You have still accomplished something. That’s more than most people ever do.

Some people say all writers drink coffee while writing. I drink tea. Does this make me any less of a writer? Nope. It just means I don’t drink coffee. Not all writers are the same. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t a writer just because you don’t fit their preconceived misconception of what makes a writer.

I just used the term “preconceived misconception” in a sentence. That has been one of my goals for years, but this is the first time there has really been a place for it. I have accomplished a goal. I’m going to celebrate.

Whenever you reach one of your goals, you should celebrate as well. Don’t kill yourself writing. Don’t completely shut yourself off from the world. But don’t give up on your dream, either. You can do it. Believe in yourself. I do.

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The Agony of Revision

Tearing apart your work is never easy. It is like tearing yourself apart. Every word ripped from the story can feel like it is being ripped out of your heart. Yes. I know it’s hard. I know it’s tedious. I also know it has to be done. But my work will never be worth sharing if I don’t.

When I printed my book out this month, my first thought was “I wrote all that?” My second thought was “I have to revise all that?” I think revising and editing can be even harder than getting something on paper the first time. I mean, what if it was better before I started fooling with it?

If you are afraid you will need something, or just can’t bear to let it go, cut and save it in another document. You can visit it from time to time, until you are ready to let it go, or find a place it wants to live. And live is what your work does. It has a life of it’s own. You may be the creator, but the work often dictates where it wants to go.

My first draft of my novel didn’t have a subplot that worked. I had to come up with another one. I came up with a subplot I liked, which involved introducing a new character that wasn’t in the original draft. I was trying to come up with a name for him.

Sam. No. John. No. Jake. No. Doug. No. Peter. No. William. No. Doug. No. I already said that didn’t go with his last name. I couldn’t change that because he was the brother of my main character. I tried again. Larry. No. Tim. No. Doug. I said no! Pat. No. Joe. No. Roy. No. Doug. Okay. Okay. I get it. Your name is Doug. Geez, you don’t have to be so insistent.

That is the kind of thing I am talking about when I say the work dictates. The characters tell you if they are acting out of character. They can tell you what they want to do. They may even name themselves. Go with it. They won’t let you ignore them anyway.

Does it sound like I am insane? I don’t know anyone in this world that is completely sane. Writers, even less. It’s part of the makeup required to succeed as a writer. After all, what sane person thinks they can do it? It’s too much of a long shot. Do something that pays the bills.

That’s why most writers have another job. They have to pay the bills. Very few make it to the point they can make a living by writing. For every J. K. Rowling, you will find a million more writers who could only dream of her success. Don’t aspire to be J. K. Rowling. Aspire to be you. If you don’t do it, who else will?

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Caution: Plot Bunnies Inside

Have you heard about the books for soldiers campaign? It is where writers donate signed copies of their books to be sent to soldiers who want one. I am donating a few copies of my poetry book this time. Next year, I should have my mystery novel from NaNo 2011 out and ready to donate. So, what do you plan on doing with your books?

That isn’t to say anyone has to do that. Not everyone will even want to publish their stuff. Yet, those who do often wonder who is going to read it. Just how do you get it out to the public? How do you get it noticed?

Don’t worry as much about that right now. When the time comes, just do it. Every little bit helps you and can help those who you want to help.

Have you ever thought about reading your stuff aloud? Have you ever read it aloud to yourself? Why not? It is a great way to get the feel of your story. Listen to what your characters are saying as you read aloud. They will take you where you need to go.

Yeah, I know. That sounds corny. Writing is about putting words down on paper, or the computer. It isn’t about reading them out loud. But that is a good way to bring your story to life. It is a completely different feeling reading aloud as opposed to silently.

Often, when I need to understand something I am reading, I read it out loud. It is easier to remember that way. The neural pathways are different. At least, that is my guess. Yours is just as valid.

I have supplied you with several plot bunnies in this article. How many did you pick up on?

The service person who receives a free book – what is their story? Why did they want that book? Does it make a difference in their life? How?

Reading your stuff aloud – will people like it? What would their responses be like? Why do they feel that way? Does it remind them of their high school English teacher, who they thought was a monster? Does it remind them of their best friend, who just got married? Would it mean the same thing to them that it did to you? Ask them their stories.

Those are only a couple of plot bunnies you can pull from this post. Can you find anymore? Catch those little bunnies and put them in your story. Or in that little notebook you keep in your purse (or back pocket) that you keep all the ideas you intend to use someday. Just be careful. Those little critters multiply fast.

Don’t think you have to use all of the plot bunnies you have stored. They might not be what you want, but their offspring might fit the bill perfectly.

Now cuddle up with one of those plot bunnies and write. I dare you.

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Keeping What is Left of my Sanity

When I stopped to think just how daunting a task doing 50,000 words in about two weeks would be, I decided I would only aim at 25,000. I had already committed to doing 50,000 words in December, and another 50,000 this month would be a bit much. I’m not sure my sanity would survive.

It’s not as if I don’t already know I can do it. Two wins has proven that I can. I just don’t like the idea of not finishing what I started. I guess that is why I decided to do it in December. I had committed to writing a novel in a moth this year, and November wasn’t going to be that month. I wasn’t ready to give up that commitment.

Does that mean I’m a quitter? Nope. It means I am willing to accept my limitations. Writing 50,000 words in a month is doable for me. Writing it in less than two weeks is not. This is about losing my inhibitions, not my sanity. I would like to keep at least a small portion of that.

I saw one woman posting about how she is aiming for one million words this month. All by herself. She already has over 750,000. How is that even possible? My mind is officially blown. My sanity would be too, if I tried that. Heck, 100,000 is more than I can handle.

I am not saying my sanity is completely in tack. It isn’t. I doubt anyone who attempts NaNo is completely sane. Fully sane people would know it can’t be done. Those who aren’t completely sane do it anyway.

I’m sorry if I have shattered your ideas of being fully sane. If we were fully sane, why would we become writers? After all, we have characters who talk to us, and insist on us doing thing their way. Our minds go into strange and dark places. Or light places. It depends on what type of novel we are writing. I’m so weird I can’t settle on just one genre. The first one I did for NaNo was a mystery novel. This one will be a sci-fi novel. My short stories tend to be psychological in nature.

We writers have one thing sane people don’t. If someone makes us mad, we can take it out on them in our novels. Those might even be the best scenes we write.

So, pick up a pen, or grab a keyboard and start writing like what is left of your sanity depends on it. Then, take a break. Your characters will be glad you did.

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You Are An Inspiration

Did you know you were an inspiration? Yes, you are! Just ask Lilo Abernathy, author of The Light Who Shines. No, her book wasn’t written during NaNo, but NaNo was an inspiration. She says “I was hesitant about my ability to write. But when I saw that with NaNo regular people were writing a book in a month, I said ‘Hey, I can write a book!’ It gave me the confidence to go forward.”
Yes, that’s us. Regular people. You don’t have to be Superman or Wonder Woman to write a book in a month. You just have to be persistent. You have to be willing to give up a social life. You have to write, write, and write some more. You have to write until your fingers hurt. You have to write until you can no longer stay awake. You have to write until you can’t write anymore.
What does all of this get you? Well, it gave Ms. Abernathy the confidence to write a novel which is going to be a Kindle Daily Deal on Amazon tomorrow, the 20th. You might not get to have a Kindle Daily Deal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your potential. You just have to believe in yourself. That is one of the main goals of NaNo – to give you the confidence to take that first step and then another, and another, and another, until you have done what you set out to do. You might even find that you can do more than you ever imagined.
I haved decided I am starting today and seeing how far I can get in my novel by the end of the month. Whatever it is, it will be that much more than I had at the beginning of the month. Will I win NaNo for the third year? I don’t know, but I will still be a winner. Why? Because I tried. So many people are afraid to try. They are afraid of failing.
Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before inventing the light bulb. It might take 1000 submissions before someone finally accepts something you wrote. You might publish it yourself. Just don’t give up. As my grandfather used to say “Old I can’t never could do nothing.” My grandfather was a smart man.
Do people think you’re nuts? Great. You have to be nuts to try something like this. People who are not a little nuts are boring. I don’t want to be boring, do you?
So, what do you say? Can I do it? Feel free to cheer me on. I will be happy to return the favor.


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The Story Goes Where It May

NaNo. The very thought is mind-boggling. I mean, 50,000 words? In 30 days? Who am I kidding?
These were the thoughts that went through my mind the first time I did it. Now, I think, 50,000 words. I can so do that. Piece of cake.
Of course, it isn’t. 50,000 words is a lot. I thought about just aiming for a lower number the first time I did it. I’m glad I didn’t. The success was invigorating.
Now, I look forward to NaNo. Yes, I still wonder what I am getting myself into the first day but, then, I settle in and just write. It took a while to get to the point that the editor in my head didn’t pop in every sentence or two. She still shows up. My muse just runs her off.
My muse has a mind of her own. She makes my story run off in directions I didn’t intend for it to go. Last year, for instance, I had about five extra murders that were committed. My MC was devastated. Especially when I killed off a whole family.
I was dreading that scene. I knew it would be emotional. I didn’t even realize how emotional. I took off a couple of days before writing it. I was drained when it was over.
Are there any scenes in your story that are like that? Do you dread writing certain parts of it? I was told this scene would be cathartic. It wasn’t. It was just hard.
Don’t let the parts of the story that scare you stop you from writing. They may be the best parts of your novel. I know this scene changed the MC completely. It is interesting to think how she will change by the time I finish the next novel in the series.
Does every story have the potential for a series? No. But a police procedural does, and that is what I wrote. The one I am writing in December is going to be a series as well. I was planning on it being set in the contemporary world, but it works better as a sci-fi novel, so that is what I am going to write.
Let your story take you wherever it may. A good story is one that has room to grow. You might grow as well. Don’t fight it. You will be glad you didn’t.

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