We’re already over halfway through September, which means November is fast approaching. For many writers, November means Nanowrimo, the annual challenge to write a novel in just one month. This blog post gives you some tips to help you make the most of the month, and improve your chances of success. Is Nanowrimo for you? […]
I’m baaaack! Yeah, I wasn’t gone long and as I stated last week, you know what this quick return means. Details below.
How ’bout that NaNoWriMo experiment?
So what did I learn within my first couple of days of NaNoWriMo?
- My new fiction prose is VERY rusty. I seem to be sharper when working on my previously written prose when revising and editing. And I can flow here in a nonfiction or even a journalistic mode with ease. I suppose my previous years in the role of a fiction editor as well as spending the last 5 years mostly writing nonfiction will do that to a fella’s fiction flow.
- Contrary to my optimism, I can’t use a first-person POV for a long-form prose narrative like a novel.
- Aside from very short fiction, I am far outside my comfort zone when stuck with the lack of narrative control that is 1st person POV. That lack of narrative authority.
- My best prose writing days might just be behind me, or so my mind, lacking confidence, has been whispering to me. At least in terms of long prose fiction. We’ll see how it’s looking once I (someday?) shake the rust off.
- It turns out that what I’ve been writing for one long-term character of mine has actually been the story intended for a different long-term character of mine who belongs to a different and even more aged unfinished project of mine (which originates as far back as the mid-to-late 1990s).
So what does this mean moving forward?
- Well, at a mere 1,426 words in the first week on a troubled project, it’s safe to say I’ve failed NaNoWriMo 2016 and have effectively bowed out of the initiative/contest.
- You can say that all of this is a litany of excuses, and that’s fine, but at 43 I know full well how my psyche works against me.
- Serialized fiction seems to be the ideal setup for my wayward, unsettled self. I’ve been telling that to myself for a while now. Get in quickly for a short intense burst of creative output, get out and back to life, come back to do it again, rinse and repeat.
- My online library, archive and de facto publisher RUCKERPEDIA could be the perfect venue for that mode of operation. Stay tuned.
It is almost here… NANOWRIMO – http://wp.me/p5VuTN-6u
Old writing buddy and ‘friend of the program’ Reggie Lutz shares some sage words. She’s on-point as usual, so do yourself a favor and have a read of her post regarding NaNoWriMo.
Here’s an excerpt:
One of the most important things around fiction writing is learning how to finish work that you start. This is a road toward a complete first draft. While the word count requirement to win NanoWrimo is not, strictly speaking, book length, it is enough word count to determine, at the end of it all, whether your story idea will work once you’ve polished it.
Whether or not you have something workable at the end of it, you will have learned whether the kamikaze approach to writing 1,700 words a day works for you. That’s not nothing. if you are a person who has already started and finished long work then maybe the challenge for you is producing content at a relatively blistering pace. Doing this can teach you how to work with deadlines and how you, as an individual writer, work under pressure.
So this past weekend I got myself signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016. I’ve been wanting to do this since about 2008 or so, but have never fully committed. When I first became aware of this National Novel Writing Month I was hosting a novel writing workshop over on Zoetrope.com (the Virtual Studio) where we posted novel chapters weekly for reads, reviews and discussion. It was a basically a support group for new novelists
The novels I was flirting with writing back then simply would not have been ideal for something like NaNoWriMo because I am a meticulous plotter and in order to realistically reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month’s time (whew!), you have to embrace writing with little-to-no editing as you go along. Pantsing, it’s called — writing by the seat of your pants completely untethered by the act of editing and revising.
I’ve been in hardcore, OCD edited mode since the first days of being an editor in 2000. You see, when you’re an editor of other people’s work you become HIGHLY aware of what you believe to be exceptional writing and what it takes to achieve it. Which means you also become hyper-aware of what that means in your own writing. You begin to practice what you preach, so to speak. And that’s just one reason why I’ve become such a slowpoke writer over the last decade or more — I get caught up in revising as I go because the belief is it’s better to do the hard work — the editing and refining — early rather than have to do so with hundreds of pages later. That’s one half of it. The other half is not wanting to write yourself into a corner. Sure, outlines help with that, but with only that.
So why am I feeling like I’m primed to finally take the challenge this year? Well, for starters, I’m writing a novel that doesn’t utilize my preferred narrative approach, which is multiple third-person POV, limited. Instead I’m writing a first-person narrative that utilizes the noir voice that I’ve somehow come to do very well, as evident by the response to some older pieces I’ve written in the crime/noir genre over the years. In that approach I know I can get a pretty good unedited flow going because I will essentially take on the role the protagonist and narrated from his point-of-view as if it’s my true life story I’m telling. When you believe it’s your “true story” to tell, the details flow a lot easier
That said, the true challenge will be in managing to minimize distractions, which includes ignoring friends and family for a month. Devoting all free time to this task of amassing essentially 1700 words a day. Good words, bad words, even ugly words. Gotta somehow turn off that inner filter, that inner critic and just let the words exist upon the page without scrutiny.
If I can achieve even just 25,000 – 30,000 words in 30 days, that will be a hell of an accomplishment in and of itself. Everything beyond that will be extra credit for this speed-challenged writer.
Wish me luck. And best of luck to you, if you’re participating this year. Let’s buddy up.
Family vacation is over. A good time was had. But it’s over and today I deal with the looming return to work on a gloomy overcast day with some rain after a week of blue skies and sunshine. Woe is me, right? At any rate, overall we enjoyed our time in the mid-North states of Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.
On My Mind
I arrived home with a great deal on my mind in terms of stories and writing. It seems my intense focus on the launch of my Library of Works website, RUCKERPEDIA, has got me so immersed in my past work that it’s served to inspire me on to current and future work. This past year the concept of a writer’s body of work, particularly MY body of work, has been very intriguing to me. Heck, it’s a huge reason why I built the RUCKERPEDIA website – inherently as an archive it serves as a virtual monument to my more than two decades as a writer. Essentially, were I to meet an untimely demise, well, there’s RUCKERPEDIA sitting there for WordPress, Google and Bing to offer proof, that, hey, this dude actually did a little something while he drew breath. It’s not much, but it’s something, check it out.
Currently there is a variety of nearly 30 pieces of fiction, poetry and lyrics posted, with so much more to come over the next two months. Naturally there are varying degrees of form, length and even quality. I keep everything and trust me, if I’m willing to share it publicly, then you can figure it’s probably not the worst that I have to offer. Some of it is actually worthy of publication elsewhere, and a decent handful of them were published by others at some point. But as is often the case with small press, your work is not widely circulated or worse, publications become defunct, which is the case for 90% of my previously published stuff.
But enough about the past body of work. I need to simultaneously focus on the future body of work I am building.
In the past I have failed to commit to this annual activity an embarrassing amount of times. I really want to do it this year and work on PROJECT: DAME GAME, which is the codename for a crime/noir/romance novel that’s been percolating in my noggin for half the year. I think the pants-ing style of writing may actually benefit that particular narrative, especially since it’s a first-person viewpoint. I don’t think I could fly by my pants using my usual approach of multiple third-person limited viewpoints. For me that requires a great deal of pre-planning (i.e. outlining) and such so I can keep all the various moving parts and timelines straight. With first-person that’s an easier, more focused task. This is not to say that I won’t do a decent amount of prep work before committing to this year’s NaNoWriMo. I am a world-class preparer, if nothing else.
I’ve been obsessed with episodic fiction ever since I was a kid watching TV and reading comic books. This is something I still strongly want to do on a periodical basis, be it in prose, comic scripts or something new I’m developing as a hybrid of both forms. And the advent of RUCKERPEDIA helps because it’s not only intended as an archival library of my works, but also a self-publishing venue. I want to start a series of some sort at the spark of the New Year. So I continue to brainstorm on that.
Something else I’ve been more open to of late, not just because I need artists to collaborate on graphic fiction projects, but also in terms of prose stories such as serials or novels. Not every teamup can be great and it can be a harrowing task finding those you synch naturally with, but it’s an idea I continue to entertain as a viable possibility.
Be good to each other.
Have a great week.