Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

A BIG FAT F

So how did I do with the remainder of NaNoWriMo? (The title may have given it away). Not well, to put it delicately. In fact it was my least productive month of writing for the entire year. I had goals, targets, plots, characters, I had four stories I wanted to write and I wrote absolutely none of them. I think in total I put down roughly 300 or so words for the month. That’s abysmal. Now I could spout of a list of excuses, I was busy, I was on holidays, assignments were due, work got hectic, but it doesn’t matter what I say it won’t change the fact that I failed. And do you know what, I don’t particularly like failing.

Anything I would say would be an attempt to absolve myself of the responsibility and that’s not helpful. While I might not like it, failing is a part of life. If you expect to always win, always complete your goals, achieve everything you set your thoughts too then you are going to be disappointed. If you’re reading this and thinking well I’ve never failed at something I call bullshit.

Our society seems to want to treat failure as an all-consuming negative. People don’t want to identify with a failure. It’s swept into the corner and ignored, not talked about. Children are given participation medals, they don’t score their sporting matches saying that they’re just for fun, and there are no winners and losers.

But failing/losing can teach you things. It can teach you what you did not do well, what can be improved, what you can work on. In life you are going to fail, it might be a small failure, it might be big failure but I can guarantee it is going to happen.

I will let you in on a secret though. It is perhaps the most important thing that I have ever learned in my life. It is something that my failures have taught me and trust me there have been a lot of them. I won’t go through the entire list but let’s just highlight a few. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo four times and not once completed it. I have three half-finished novels, not counting the one I’m currently working on. I was kicked out of university twice. My wife refused to go on a second date with me.

So what’s the secret? It’s really very simple. No matter how many times or how badly you fail, what really matters is what you do afterwards. Just to clarify by afterwards I don’t mean immediately after you fail, I mean in the future. Will you learn and grow from you losses and failures? Will you let them teach you? Or will you sweep them into a corner, ignore them and pretend that they never happened.

I might have never completed NaNo but it is not going to stop me trying again next year, I’ve already identified a few ways to improve my chances and things to work on (More detailed chapter summaries and less obsessing over each line). I might have been kicked out of University twice; it might have taken five years to decide to re-enrol, but I’m studying again and this time I’m actually enjoying it and doing well. My wife might have refused to go on that second date with me but hey she is my wife. I might have a growing collection of half-finished novels but I’m not going to let that stop me writing, each of those stories taught me something and one day I’ll get back to them.

So what did my failure last month teach me? Well firstly I need to have a better plan in place, between work, study, family and everything else going on I need to allocate some time for writing, at least once a week or even better once a day. If I want to be serious about this there is not point setting goals and targets if I don’t give myself a chance of completing them. I need to be better prepared; my NiP is drifting a little at the moment. I know where I’m going but the details of how I’m getting there are being discovered in the process of writing, that’s slowing me down. It might be time to go back to the planning stage and flesh out a few of the coming chapters, I’ve had too many additional characters appear along the way, I need to sort things out. There has been way too much staring at the screen and thinking what happens next. I’ve also got to celebrate the little things, for instance in this post I’ve already doubled last month’s word count, go me!

Alright with this in mind here are my goals and targets until the New Year.

  1. Finish Chapter 10
  2. Start plotting in detail the next 5 chapters (or however many will get me to the next major plot point)
  3. Write for at least 1 hour on 4 days of each week
  4. Accept that I might fail at my goals but try and learn something from them and do better next time

Obligatory dog photo

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Just because I have failed to get some food with does not mean i’ll stop trying

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More Than I Can Chew

All right this is going to be a short one. So first up how did I do on my monthly goal? Am I writing chapter 10. Yes I am. Unfortunately for me when writing the previous post I mislabelled the chapters. I was already writing chapter 10 and I was supposed to be in chapter 11 by this month. That said I’ve made some solid progress in the chapter and I have a feeling it will be a big one.

Last time I mentioned I might be attempting NaNoWriMo. November has just kicked off so let’s check in and see how I’m doing. I’ve written 153 words for the month. To reach the 50,000 mark I should be writing 1,666 words per day. Of course that’s if I’m writing every day. Which I’m not. If you’ve got time to do this I envy you. I also wonder how you pay your bills and when you interact with other people. So how many days am I writing? Well November 1st to 3rd was worth 150 words so I can pretty much eliminate them. I don’t write on weekends and I’m about to go on overseas on holiday for a week (lookout New Zealand) I’m not taking my laptop so doubt I’ll be writing very much there. So what do I have left? Well I’ve got today and the last two and a half weeks, excluding weekends to vomit out those 50k words. That’s 14 days. If I subtract my measly 150 words from the target 50,000 Ive still got a long way to go. In fact I’ll have to write about 3,561 words per day. I’m sure many would baulk at the task and I’m not saying it’s going to be easy or that I’m going to be able to do it but I’m going to give it a go.

To make things a little easier on myself I’m going to say that anything I write will count towards my 50k. That way if I get distracted by a short story I’ll still count it. So I’m spreading the love between my Novel, my novella, last year’s NaNo project and the short story that I know will derail me (I’ve already got the idea). I’m even going to count the 500 or so words for the blog.

On top of all that I’m starting a summer semester of uni and I’m trying to finalise plans to renovate my house. Oh and don’t forget work. I still have to eat and pay the mortgage after all.

Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to share with you next month. I doubt it but I can always hope.

I may have bitten of more than I can chew this week but hey better too much to do than not enough.

Best of luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year

Obligatory dog photo

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I swear I was sleeping the whole time

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Writer with Benifits

Alright I’m a couple of days late. I said I would post on the 8th but for me that was a Saturday and I don’t write on the weekend. Saturday and Sunday are for spending time with family and socialising with friends and generally catching up on all the chores that working Monday to Friday precludes.

That doesn’t mean I’m completely unproductive with regards to my writing it just means that I generally do not have the time to sit myself in front of a keyboard and work on a story. That being the case whilst I’m cleaning the house or doing the food shopping I’m also generally working out plot details, character motivation and the additional details in my head so that when I do sit myself in front of a keyboard on Monday I’m able to dive straight into the writing.

Alright so excuses out of the way how did I do with my goal? I wanted to be writing chapter nine by this time. So am I? The short answer is no. The long answer? More excuses you guessed it. I wrote another short story. A university assignment and I did manage to do some work on my novel so felt I was productive. I’m so close to finishing chapter eight but it is getting longer and longer with each day. I’m also having trouble finding the cut over into the next chapter. I think I’m almost there but it might be further ahead or I might have already passed it. I’m going to worry about that when I finally manage to get to an editing stage.

So was I productive? Yes. Did I complete my goal? No. Alright so what now? Now I set a revise my goal for the month and try again. I’ve mentioned before that I work better with deadlines whilst I didn’t get to where I wanted I still feel I did more than I would have if I just said I’m going to do some writing.

So my goal for the… (Check my calendar to make sure the 8th November is not a weekend. It’s not but I’m going to be on holiday and out of the country. Revise my target date.) 4th November is to be writing chapter ten. That’s right an entire chapter. The pressure is on.

 

Alright so with my excuses out of the way this month I’m going to ramble a little bit about some of the benefits I have found from being a writer. Unfortunately at the moment I cannot add financial success, international fame and legions of adoring fans to the list. Maybe one day, but there have been a few occasions when my chosen avocation has been handy.

Most recently I decided I would return to university. It has been seven years since I last attended a university (I’m studying online so I’m not technically attending the university but I am enrolled in one of its courses) and this time around I’m doing quite well – yes as opposed to last time where I did not do quite well. One of the main differences is that seven years ago I was dabbling with being a writer I wrote a couple of short stories and I had a novel that I was working on (It’s is still listed as in progress I’ll get back to it one day).

That sounds similar to what you talk about now you say?  Well it is and it isn’t. True I’m still working on a novel although it is a different one and yes I’ve written a couple of short stories in fact I’ve written plenty of short stories and with each one I feel I get a little better. But I’ve also edited those short stories. I’ve submitted a few of those stories with the hope of being published (Still no luck). I’ve participated with other authors in a critique exchange.

What difference has this made you ask? Well is seems to have made quite a lot. Thinking about grammar and being critical of my literary writing has made my academic writing much more polished. My sentence structure is stronger. My spelling whilst still appalling is better. My paragraphs flow well and the feedback I’ve been receiving from my lectures is that everything is extremely well written (You can wipe the mocking smiles off your faces I’m not editing this and just hammering it out and posting.)

Also it has made me revise my thoughts/expectations with regards to word counts. I remember when I first attended university getting my fist assignment and thinking ‘they want me to write how many words’. Now I look at a word count and think well I try and write at least 500 words a day for my novel, if I do that for the assignment I will be finished inside a week, easy.

So that is a concrete benefit I’ve recently experienced being a writer. It probably a little stupid and obvious but the more I do something the better I become at it. The good thing is that it is measurable. I’m graded for my academic work. I receive feedback. But this has also had a flow on effect with the rest of my life. The letters and emails I compose during work tend to be better formulated and presented. Also when I stop and think before I talk I tend to express myself in a more comprehensible and eloquent manner.

So what are a few other benefits of being a writer? (I’ll try and keep this short as I’ve rambled far too long)

  1. I’ve done some interesting research I probably would not have if I had not been looking up something for one of my stories. Do you know why mountain goats can climb like they do? I do. It’s because of the formation of their hooves. Believe it or not this came up in a short story I wrote.

 

  1. I’ve made internet friends by sharing and posting in a writer’s forum. Thank you FWo (fantasy-writers.org) Being a novelist can be quite isolating especially when none of you real world friends share the same interest. I can here you saying being isolated is not a benefit neither is making creepy internet friends. Well I’m sure not all of them are creepy. The benefit is that Ive connected with people that I ordinarily wouldn’t and these people cover an entire gamut of countries, perspectives, ethnic diversities and so on. I’m then able to pick their brain on things. In fact the next point was suggested by a member of the site.

 

  1. I’m also generally more observant of the people and world around me (Credit to Zmunkz). You never know when you will need a little inspiration for the next story and the crazy man walking down the street might be it. The way the shopping clerk flicks her hair might be exactly what you need for a female character. Personally when I’m more observant I’m paying more attention and I tend to remember things better. I’m absolutely awful at remembering people’s names but I think being a writer has helped as I’m paying more attention to the person and associating characteristic with names.

 

  1. When I’m at parties or social gatherings and people ask me what I do I always have the option of saying I’m a writer. This can lead to some awkward conversations but it’s better than saying I’m the operations manager in a law firm. All in all I think being a writer makes me more interesting.

 

These are a few benefits to being a writer that I could think of off the top of my head. There are definitely disadvantages too (especially with number 4 if you’ve ever had the ‘really’ or ‘when are you being published’ conversation.). For now though I’ll focus on the good stuff.

If anyone has anything they’d like to contribute I would love to hear it? Positive or negative. What do you think are some of the benefits or disadvantages of being a writer?

Thanks for reading I’ll catch you again on the 5th of November hopefully I’ll be writing chapter ten. Oh and probably doing NaNoWriMo (Maybe I’ll talk about this next time).

Obligatory dog photo

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The Cat is so Confused

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