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Archive for the ‘NaNoWriMo’ Category

The War of Art

My sister Priscilla lent me this great book: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. It’s about overcoming the enemy of Resistance. It’s specifically for artists/writers, but it could apply to anyone.  Here’s a quotation from the beginning of the book:

Most of us have two lives.  The life we live, and the unlived life within us.  Between the two stands Resistance.

Have you ever bought a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic?  Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment?  Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture?  Then you know what Resistance is.

I do know.  The book talks about Resistance in all its sneaky guises, and then talks about turning pro, and about “those invisible psychic forces that support and sustain us in our journey toward ourselves.”

I started reading this in bed late at night, and as I was reading I felt a strong urge to get right up and work on editing my novel.  I didn’t.  (Hah! Resistance again.) But I did the next day and the next.  Teeny bits, but something.

The book is a very quick read.  I’m going to get my own copy, because after the first speed read it’s a book I want to hang onto and revisit often.

A writer friend and I also made a plan to meet for coffee once a week and write together.  Not writing practice, which is what I do with Priscilla and others on Sunday mornings, but silent, focused work on our writing in progress.

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NaNo done, or at least almost

First of all, I broke the 50,000 word barrier yesterday, woohoo!

Second of all, I’m not quite done. I still have the final chapter to write. I was worried the NaNoWriMo servers would be overloaded this weekend with people uploading their novels, so I did it before finishing that last chapter. I’ll get it done today or tomorrow.

Third of all, ow. My hands are tired and sore. It might be overuse, or it might be the weather. But I’m still going to finish before the deadline.

The novel is a Frankenstein of a thing. There’s a lot of work yet to do to shape it into something I will let anyone read. Several friends have asked to read it. Maybe someday, after I wrestle it to the ground.

Working title: I Once Was Lost

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Stalling update

Ah. I wrote another 3,000 words today after I posted earlier. 9,000 or so to go.

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Catching up

Well, I’m not catching up on blog posts, that’s for sure.  I have been running behind on my NaNoWriMo novel.  My goal has been to write 2,000 words every day so that I would have some slack time, but I’m about 8,000 words behind.  

That’s OK.  I’ve changed my writing method in the last couple of days, and tonight I got about 3,000 words under my belt.  That was very satisfying.  

I started off editing myself, trying to make it sound right.  I was also fretting about consistency – Let’s see, I can’t mention the adoption certificate here because I don’t think they’ve found it yet.  Does the letter come first, or the certificate?  

I thought about doing some research to learn more about adoption in the middle of the 20th century, as well as other pieces of information about my characters.

But the heck with that!  Quantity over quality is my new way.  I can always go back and clean up the errors in consistency, add more accurate information, and make the writing less clunky.  

This way is a lot more fun, and I might actually get caught up.

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Get busy!

NaNoWriMo started yesterday!  We had unexpected company in the morning who stayed long enough to get a tour of our house, and then we went to vote, and then we swung by Sears to buy a new grill (yes, we avoided the Weber with the PLASTIC housing), then we had lunch, I did some yoga, we had some more spur-of-the-moment company who we hadn’t seen in eleven years so I could hardly throw them out (“Yeah, cool, how are the kids, B is in college in Chicago, here’s a glass of water, now please leave so I can write”), and finally I had an hour for writing.  Then we had three couples over for dinner and then we fell into bed.  

So today, I’ve done some, and now I should be doing some more RIGHT NOW.

Oh yeah, and I learned that my cousin’s daughter Alice is doing it too.  At 16 I think I would have been chicken.  Go Alice!

Now, really, right now, I’m posting this and going back to the scene in the dead grandmother’s study.

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Are we nuts? NaNoWriMo

Several years ago my sister Priscilla and I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  You sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  She finished hers, and I got close (43,000 or so words, no ending on the novel).  It forced us to write every day.  The big idea is quantity, not quality.  They tell you not to edit, but just churn it out.  It was great!

On Sunday Priscilla asked me if I wanted to do it again.  I started to say I’d think about it, but then I just said yes.  Why not?  I’ll either finish it or I won’t.

Here’s part of the email (subject line:  NaNoWriMo loves mollyavalon) I got after I signed up.

1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. No plot? No problem! If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, absolutely do so. But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write everyday, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.
2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to hug the world.

Anyone else want to join us?

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