Nanowrimo update

Nanowrimo-2017

It’s the second weekend of Nanowrimo and I am trying to catch up on my backlog. I’ve been behind this whole time and I have no idea if I will catch up in time for the end of the month. I guess we’ll see what happens on November 30th, there are still 20 days left in this month and I’m going to make the best of it. I’ve had some good days and some bad days writing wise, yet so far I have not exceeded the daily word count in fact my daily word count as of this moment is at 850 words. And if I don’t start doing better soon, there is no way I will ever catch up on my back log. Especially knowing that I probably miss out on writing time in the last weekend completely.

Yesterday we had our second library meeting and it was fun, especially good to see that three people who were new last week joined us again for this meeting. And two others had told me beforehand that they couldn’t come but they’ll be back next week. It’s good to see people come back for more meetings, it means we must be doing something right. I guess we are doing good as a group. We, the ‘Epic Blue Unicorns’ have been going strong for five years now every year we have a couple of people who stay with the group.

This morning I decided that I was going to the movie theater first, I wanted to see Thor Ragnarok. I actually had wanted to go last week on Sunday, but I became ill on Saturday night and I was forced to stay at home. This morning I decided that I was not going to take any chances. I wanted to go see that movie today. I loved it! There is much humor in the movie – I really like those Marvel movies. When the movie ended I had some shopping to do and when I came home I started writing.

Will today be the day that I will catch up? Even if it’s just a little bit. Right now it’s close to seven in the evening. It’s Saturday night, so I still have some time left before I have to go to bed. I’m sitting on the couch probably not the most productive way to write but it’s what feels good at the moment. I don’t feel like sitting at my desk. I have the television on, which probably for most people doesn’t help either but to me it feels good. I live alone and I struggle with that fact. When I get home there is no one waiting for me, no one to talk to and if the television isn’t on there is no sound and no movement. So I’m used to the television being on like all the time when I’m at home. Lets face it I’ve been falling asleep with ASMR for the last couple of years. I need sounds around me. I can’t stand the silence, even when I’m going to sleep. I get that there are a lot of people who like to write in silence but to me it feels comfortable when I hear sounds around me. And it doesn’t really make much of a difference to me whether it’s music, a television show or a documentary or if it’s the sounds of people around me when I’m at the library or in a cafeteria. Right now I have Guardians of the Galaxy playing on the television. While I’m writing this post. And right about now I’m doing pretty well. I am almost at the daily word count and I have almost reached ten thousand words. Granted I should have been a hell of a lot closer to twenty thousand words but that is only a number.

For tomorrow we have another write-in planned, this time at the Ikea. We always do that during the month of November. On one Sunday we go to the local Ikea and we sit there for hours to work on our stories. It’s easy, there are drinks and food for a pretty low price and they have enough tables and chairs with electricity outlets for us to make good use of. Expect another update tomorrow.

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How do I tell stories?

Nanowrimo-2017

The reason for writing this post is not because I’ve found the holy grail of writing or something. I think either J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin have that in their possession. This is merely something I thought of after reading through a whole discussion on the Dutch Nano Facebook page (if you are Dutch and participate in Nanowrimo, join us).

First I want to throw one of the biggest myths out of the window. No, writing a novel is not easy! Especially since most of us ‘writer wannabees’ do this next to our study or work. So it is often done late at night or in the weekends. Writing stories is difficult and in my honest opinion sometimes a tedious task. But everything starts to come together it’s what makes it all worth.

There are just as many ways of writing as there are writers. What works for one person will not work for the next. That is why it’s so hard to tell someone how to do it. I have been writing stories for at least the last fifteen to twenty years and no I’m not a published author. But over the course of time I’ve used many ways to write stories – some things worked for me some things definitely didn’t. The key is to see what works for you and to try and incorporate those things in your workflow. If you do that over time you can find your way to write you next story.

Triggered

I know one thing for sure I need to be triggered! And by triggered I mean that I can not sit down at night with no idea at all and just start writing. I can get triggered by almost anything. Most people see triggered as a negative word, but what I mean by triggered is that I need to get my idea from somewhere, sometimes that might be from a song, a news item or a television show. What you must know about me is that I was originally a fanfiction author. And I’ve been trying for quite some time now to write original stories, but it is a difficult transition. The main reason why it’s so difficult – for me at least – is something I didn’t realize while I was writing fanfiction. When you write fanfiction the characters are there, the setting is there and the back stories are already written. You might not know everything there is to know about the characters but we fanfiction writers are really good at molding and bending the stories to our likes. In my case that was very obvious, I think there is a need for more lesbian or bi-sexual characters so I’ve made quite a few ‘originally’ straight characters gay. And I don’t need much to accomplish that. For the most part the original information is still valid, but I changed little details and created my own story. I loved writing these stories, the whole creative process of it as well as the reaction you get from readers.

Moving on from fanfiction

So when I started writing my first original story I had this really simple idea – similar to the type of ideas I would have while I was writing fanfiction. I had a female character, a lesbian female character who had lost her girlfriend in an accident of some sort and she would do basically do everything and anything to get her girlfriend back. But dead is pretty final even in this world that I had made up. And then she hears about a group of scientists who think that they can travel to alternate universes. And she wants to become part of it and as a journalist she claims that they need her skills to tell the world about what they had discovered.

That was the idea I had, but what I didn’t take into consideration is the fact that you need a setting, characters and backgrounds and in this case an alternate setting and doppelgangers for my characters – at least for some of them. I had literally only thought about my main character, what I wanted her story to be. But before that was all I needed to worry about so that was my first mistake. I started writing with not much information to go on. And I thought that I could wing it. Somehow I did make it to 50 000 words, don’t ask me how. I knew that I was just making stuff up as I was going along. In the end those 50 000 words were riddled with plot holes, one after another. And I can assure you of one thing, I never did anything with it. Problem is that I could never get the science part down – not even a little bit. It was the idea of alternate universes that really spoke to me but I The Doctor has his sonic screwdriver and in Stargate they have obviously their stargate. However thinking of some ‘new’ technology without sounding like a total nut, that is so not my forte and I realized that I could never do it any justice at least not the science part – the terminology and all that. So I decided to skip that idea even though I still like it.

The next year I still had this story in the back of my mind, I wanted to do it justice and I had figured out a way to write the story differently. Focus more on my main character and her struggles. I started the story earlier on, so you could see the relationship bloom between my main characters and feel the pain the pain when she lost her love. I wanted to write a love story and the whole science thing would still be part of the story but it wouldn’t be something I would be focusing on. Again I made it to 50 000 but I never worked on it past November. I am so done with writing once November is over that I struggle to continue in December of course December is also a busy month at work and in general with the holidays and all that.

I have tried different ways to prepare for Nanowrimo, I’ve tried the snowflake method. I read several books and followed websites, to try and find the perfect way to get a good story going. So far I haven’t succeeded. But I’ve figured out that there is no guide to the perfect story or outline. One method might work for that particular person, but it might not work for the next. I try it but if it doesn’t work, I move on. I take with me what works for me and  and I hope that one day I will find what works for me. In my opinion there is no guideline on how to tell your stories. When we start Nanowrimo we basically pledge to write 1667 words a day for a month. Let’s face it that is a lot of words. Of course you can technically write them in under and hour if you do three twenty minute word sprints of about six hundred words each. Sometimes words sprints work and sometimes they don’t – in my case I can often chuck whatever I wrote into the bin and start over.

You can even see it with very well known published writers, some might write thousands of words a day, while other writers take years and years to complete a single book. Like I said no two writers are the same or follow the same steps. I have been reading some books on writing and how to do it, I have tried different methods from those books and websites with varied success. Yet, from everything I read and tried I took what worked for me. And using those methods is how I try to write my stories.

There is no simple answer on how to tell a story or how to write one for that matter, you just have to sit down and try it.

Nanowrimo the first week

Nanowrimo-2017

So… we’re at day seven and the first week of Nanowrimo is officially over. So yep, one fourth is done. Gone forever, time we’ll never get back and the results are … not quite were I hoped they would have been at this point.

I knew that I wasn’t writing enough to stay on schedule but I had good hope to catch up this weekend and I did make it through a good day word count wise on Saturday, I made it to the daily word count. However I had some appointments on Saturday which used up some of the time, and actually all of the evening. But during the night I got a fever and I barely slept. When I got out of bed – way to early – on Sunday morning everything hurt and I was feeling miserable. All I did was just lay on the couch and watch Netflix – I couldn’t be bothered by writing or reading for that matter. I can truly say that I’m almost completely caught up with ‘Once Upon A Time’ at this point but other than that I didn’t get anything done. I was too tired, even sitting up was too tiring and I was back in bed by the time the clock hit eight in the evening. I had a good nights sleep and when I woke up on Monday morning I was feeling well enough to go to work. So since I didn’t get any writing done I was even further behind.

But let’s forget all about that and move forward into week two. Also known as hell week! Hope that doesn’t prove to be a huge issue this year. I’m only six thousand words behind on schedule. That should be do-able! I’ve done it before and I still have some time to catch up.

Are you participating in Nanowrimo? How are you doing, are you on schedule, behind or did you do better?

 

Nanowrimo kick-off write in

Nanowrimo-2017

Our first Nanowrimo meeting of the year is a huge success, next to the usual suspects their are currently five new people who joined us at ‘our table’ in the local library. The first of our group arrived around four in the afternoon but most of us joined in around five or six – with work and all that other grown up stuff earlier isn’t an option for most of us. We completely took over one of the tables, even sent someone away who was already sitting there away – sorry! There just wasn’t enough space! It’s fun so much fun – everyone is talking about their novels and stories. As usual, all of the people in our group are so divers but when it comes down to it we all have the same passion and that is what makes it so much fun.

It’s in my opinion the best thing about a write-in, to hear all the different ideas everyone is working on. I’ve heard so many different story ideas from across the table its amazing. I feel a bit left out because I don’t have a story nor do I have an idea of what I shall be writing about. I’ve heard all about aliens and zombies, super heroes, a story with a historical aspect and a storyline set in the Harry Potter verse but set at a different and new school. There is so much creativity flowing around me.

I really need to get my shit together. Let’s be honest here I used to love creative writing – don’t get me wrong I still love it but I’ve been struggling for so long now that I sometimes wonder if I ever get that creativity back. Sometimes I wonder if it’s an age thing. I mean I’ve been changing so much I like different things now. However I still feel like writing is part of my life. But I really haven’t done it in a long, long time. It’s itching … I want to write but I feel empty. It’s strange how you can be so blocked, so closed off. That really is my goal this month. I want to get back into creative writing – will it get me to 50 000 words. I’m not sure, maybe with a combination of different things. There must be some writing exercises I can do.

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of Once upon a Time on Netflix, I’ve been catching up on the show. I stopped watching it when they decided to no longer air it in the Netherlands. The only way to see it would have been if I had gotten HBO. And now that I’m catching up on it I realize how much I love the show. Right now I’m thinking of writing fanfiction again, I’ve been doing that for years and it has always given me a lot of joy to write. So maybe I should just start out with some easy add ons to the show. Or search for some ‘Once upon a Time’ story prompts. I’m sure there should be enough to go around. That is what I’m going to do. I’ll search for some prompts and see if that’ll get me writing again.

Anyway during our first official Nanowrimo 2017 meeting we had homemade blue unicorn cupcakes and brownie cookies. And we talked and talked a lot. Of course that doesn’t really help your word count when it comes down to it but that doesn’t matter we talked about writing and in the end you feel rally inspired to continue once you get home. I for one continued writing this blog post with a smile on my face. I’m already thinking ahead of the next blog I’m going to write.

If you have a chance to join a write-in in your area if you’re participating in Nanowrimo I can only tell you to do one thing and that is to join them. It might not be the thing for you, but join them just to see if it might inspire you. I once didn’t have a very good experience with a write-in in a different city but I’m glad that I didn’t let that stop me from trying again a couple of years ago. When we initially started this group there were a few of us that stuck to it, the main group has been going strong for five years now and every year people have joined us. Some stay and some leave again but all in all our group has been growing and right now I can assure you that I have gained some amazing friends through my writing adventure. We’re not only just meeting up for writing during November but all throughout the year. And also for trips to different Cons – we’re all nerds – the movie theater and workshops or courses. And it looks like we’re meeting up for New Years Eve as well. A whole new world can open to you if you join a writers group. So do it, give yourself that chance to meet like-minded people.

Nanowrimo 2017

Nanowrimo-2017

It’s November! You know what that means, it’s time to sit down and write those novels. Because they won’t get written if you don’t choose a time to start, and what better time to start than right now? It’s November first and I am sitting behind my computer starting it up. I opened Scrivener and I looked at my file which is all ready to go.

Nano_statsI love Nanowrimo, and I really like writing but it hasn’t been easy for me lately. I haven’t done any prep and I am completely blank right now. I don’t a plan, not even an idea what I’ll be writing about, I don’t have a story in mind. But maybe that is the charm about Nanowrimo. You can do what ever you want and write what feels good. Chances are that most of my writing this month will be in the form of blog posts just like this one.

I have some ideas in mind for blog posts. I’ll also be focusing on short stories. I want to get back into the flow of writing – especially creative writing since it has been a while.

This is my ninth year of participating in Nanowrimo and I’ve won seven times so far. Only this past year I didn’t make it. In all honesty I was in a similar situation last year as I am in right now. I didn’t have a story idea then either. Nevertheless I feel better this year about the situation. Last year I was struggling with myself, I wasn’t feeling right. And that is different right now, I feel good. And a lot more positive than I was feeling last year.

Since this is my ninth year of participating I do think that I have some tips to share with you;

  •  Nanowrimo is perfect to finally get that story on paper – or your computer screen whichever you prefer. Because writers come in all shapes and sizes. Lots of people have the idea that they want to write a book someday – however if you keep calling it ‘someday’ that day might never come around. It’s better to choose the moment right now and start.
  • Nanowrimo is not about quality but about quantity. It’s about getting that first draft on paper – don’t read back what you’ve written leave that for December. Just keep typing all the way through November.
  • What works for someone else might now work for you, sometimes it feels like there are just as many ways to write as there are writers. Some people prep before starting November while others sit down on November first and just start typing. Even I after all of these years of writing haven’t found the perfect way to write that novel.
  • You can find inspiration in many places. It might be that song you hear on the radio, or that story you read about in the paper. Or maybe that television show you watch during you Netflix and chill evening gave you a perfect idea for a story.
  • If you have the chance see if you can find a writers group. They can really motivate you in your writing. It’s always good to bounce ideas of off one another. And you might find some really good friends. I am part of a writer’s group and every year we add a couple of people during November some stay, some won’t but all in all we have a very helpful creative bunch of people.
  • If you need more writing tips follow this link, here I collected useful links on my Pinterest. If you’re looking for writing prompts I have a separate board for that on my Pinterest as well.

To all Nanowrimo participants I want to say good luck this month. Get those novels written, now is your chance!

If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry it’s not too late. You can still add that novel and join in.