Another NaNoWriMo, Done and Won

Today at about 6 pm CST, I crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line with 53049 words.

This was my fifth time attempting the challenge and the fourth time I crossed the 50,000 word line. Every single time I’ve done it, I’ve learned something different, changed in some way.

The next few weeks, I’m going to examine each year, what I tried, what I learned and what I’m going to attempt in next year’s NaNoWriMo.

Sort of a NaNo Post Mortem.

I hope you – yeah, you! -will join me.

And, because I can’t resist:

 

Spoils!

I love these badges!

 

A NaNoWriMo ‘First’ for Me

For the first time ever on NaNoWriMo, I typed exactly 1667 words in one day.

Of course, I had to stop typing for the day and log it on the nanowrimo.org word counter.

In daily life I’m not a big believer in luck, horoscopes or the power of wishing at 11:11… But in my writing? You bet I am. I save every tiny slip from fortune cookies during the month of November. I get spooked when I look at the clock at exactly 3:16 and then take it as a personal reminder of God’s favor. I extract cryptic messages from otherwise random conversations.

Because, during intensive writing times like NaNoWriMo, I need all the inspiration I can get.

Like Crash told Annie, if you believe wearing women’s underwear, looking out of the lava lizard eyelids in the back of your head or even, gasp, abstaining from pleasurable relations -ahem- makes you a better ball player than, by gum DO IT.

Because when a streak comes along you’ll do what it takes to keep it going.

So I save bits and scraps of otherwise meaningless pieces of paper. I tune in to everyday conversations waiting for that ‘message’. I look up at the clock and – if I catch it right on 3:16 – I feel a little thrill. If those things fill me with the courage to sit down and put my hands to the keyboard?

That, my friend, is Inspiration. I take it where I can get it.

Because for all our modern innovations, we aren’t very far from the superstitious masses we were during the Dark Ages. People need rituals.Because, sometimes, they are our only life preserver in the great ocean that is life.  In the Dark Ages, it was sacrifices and spells, hexes and curses. In modern times we still have our blood letting, incantations and frenzied devotion. Thankfully, though, they come in the form of our own blood, sweat and tears. Inspiration. The blood, sweat and tears of Hope. It’s what you need to write everyday.

But you have to feed that Inspiration, that Hope.

So, yeah. I could have written more last night… but I took that exact 1667 words – the words per day you must write every day to complete NaNoWriMo on time- as a sign. A sign I was on the right track. I sign that I would finish. I sign that said, “You’ve got a little life preserver out here in the big ocean. Hang in there!”

Silly, maybe. But it gave me the little boost I needed to get back in the chair, hands on the keyboard, today. Preserving the streak. That, to me, is what writing is really about.

Do you have rituals to boost your daily writing discipline? How do you motivate when you don’t seem to have any inspiration? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Although I warn you: Your comment might just be my next sign 🙂

Pride and Prejudice: my ‘Zombie Deconstruction’

This doesn’t have anything to do with the book “Pride Good for Night Reading!and Prejudice and Zombies”

I got the book for Christmas. The cover drew me in and the mash-up between PnP and Zombies grabbed me! I read it at night to help me fall asleep 😉

Nope, this post is about something different.

This is something I tried out to get a handle on good story construction. Aka, “Plotting”.

Since it’s a stripped down, bare bones, missing brain and flesh, outline version of PnP,  I figured “Zombie Deconstruction” sounded good. I love Zombies, they’re very relatable right now, too. Although I could have just as easily gone with a “Borg Deconstruction”, I think I’m gonna commit to this one…because I’ve got this nice picture to go with it.

Here, for your writing exercise pleasure, My Zombie Deconstruction of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

1)     Building Anticipation for Meeting The Bingley aka “5 THOUSAND a Year!”

2)     Rich People Don’t Country Dance: Lizzy’s first introduction to Darcy

3)     A Fork in the Road: Wickham or Collins? Hmmm. Is there a door number 3?

4)     Netherfield Ball: a) Darcy Piques Lizzy; b) Lizzy Picks on Her Family

5)     Two Covert Ops: a) Operation Evacuation: Netherfield. b) Lizzy’s Operation Rehabilitation: Jane

6)     Lizzy Goes on the Lamb: a) A Glimpse of The Darcy (aka, 10 THOUSAND a YEAR, Mr. Bennett!) in His Natural Habitat; c) Yeah, He’s Pretty Much Still a Jerk; d) Surprise! He Wants to Marry Me… But Can I Ditch My Family First; e) Lizzy Reflects, Conclusion? “Although I loathe him… he HAS a point.”

7)    Circle the Wagons: a) Jane’s Melancholic Determination and Lizzy’s Frustrated Convicted…ness; b) When Frustrated In Love, Go Stand On a Really High Cliff…Hey, what could go wrong?

8)     The Second Round: Lizzy Vs. Darcy; a) Is the Beast Really a Prince? b) Darcy 2.0: Romantic Reboot; c) Uh-Oh. Silly Lydia and Her Whoring Around “Will Ruin Us All”

9)     All’s Well That Ends… a) Miraculous Intervention! b) Bingley aka “5 THOUSAND a Year!” Prevails; c) Darcy 2.0: Successful Reboot.

10) (Because all good blog posts must have 10 points)  Two Girls, One… Marriage Ceremony.

Well, that’s it. My “Zombie Deconstruction” of PnP.

I had fun working on it, and it really helped me see good plot construction. Now I’m going to apply it to my current NaNoWriMo novel which is eating my brain right now (Bad Zombie!) I hope this technique will help.

Have you come up with a fun way to “deconstruct” your favorite books to help in your own writing? Share a link or example in the comments!

NaNoWriMo Day 1!

I love NaNoWriMo.

I started my first one on November 4, 2007 and did not come close to finishing with just over 13,000 words, but I knew, as I put in that final word count, that I was hooked.

Almost four years later, after crossing the WriMo finish line not once but three times since, I’m still just as enthused as ever. I’ve approached the midnight hours of October 31 each year on a sugar high (what you think I won’t steal candy from my children? Bah!) filled with dread…but it’s the adrenalin pumped dread that only precedes the 30 Days and Nights of Literary Abandon! Even though I’ve started, now, as many times without an outline as I have with one and most times I don’t know the first word I’ll write until it’s on the page…

When November 1 gets here, I get excited.

I get excited to see where my imagination will take me. I get excited to find the story. I get excited to actually create something!

Of course, by the time it’s over, I’m just relieved I made it. I don’t even look at the M(e)ss I’ve written until after Christmas, most times. By then, the excitement is replaced with a new feeling of dread – that of trying to shape the M(e)ss into something coherant. I’ve got a 50/50 success rate going so far. If you count a half finished novel that is, nevertheless, impeccably edited. (Back then my Inner Editor sat on my shoulder from the start, so I never actually finished anything.)

But that’s a musing for another day! Today is NaNoWriMo Day 1, and the possibilities and excitement are limitless!

 

Are you a WriMo’er? Do you get excited to do it, too? Are you shopping a finished NaNoWriMo novel for publication? Has it helped your writing to participate? Tell me your NaNo History in the comments.