Monday, November 30, 2009

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

Whew! I made it! I wrote 50,000 words in one month, actually less than that, considering I started a week late, I finished a day early (25 hours, to be exact) and there were a handful of days scattered through the month that I didn't write at all. In total, I wrote 17 days this month.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo once before, and tried it unofficially another time, and I didn't finish either time. I didn't even come close. Finishing, and finishing early on top of it, felt really, really good!

Here are a few things I learned over the last month (in no particular order)
  • It's good to have a plan. 
    • I'm usually a pantser (someone who discovers the story as she writes, rather than plotting first), but this time I started out with what I called a Fuzzy Synopsis (as opposed to the legendary Dreaded Synopsis) - it was just a vague plan of my story arc and the points I wanted to hit. I kept the file open a lot and it became a place to throw things I saw coming down the road, but that I hadn't gotten to yet.
    • I also used a calendar. For years, my writers group's "Goals Guru" *lizzie has encouraged us to use a desk calendar to track our writing progress through the year. I've never been good with the paper calendars and usually track it in my Google Calendar instead. NaNoWriMo turned out to be an exception, thanks to a lucky purchase. Months ago, I bought a $1 calendar mouse pad at the craft store. It was a horrible failure as a mouse pad, but it's the perfect size to keep on a little stand between my keyboard and the shelf my laptop sits on. On it, I tracked each day's goals and progress.

  • I needed a better plan for laundry. I washed the clothes, but very few of them got put away. I've been wearing wrinkled clothes from a basket for three weeks. Hopefully by next November, LilGirl will be well-trained in putting away her own clothes. I won't hold out the same hope for Hubby - that's a battle I gave up on years ago. But we will have a better system in place by then. We won't even talk about the rest of the housework.
  • It's good to reward yourself. Some nights it was tough to make my word count. On Monday nights I bribed myself to get done early so I could watch Big Bang Theory. Other nights, I told myself that as soon as I was done I could watch the new episode of The Guild. Once or twice, the bribe was a shower. I tried to keep the bribes non-food-based, but I have to admit there were nights the bribe was a piece of dark chocolate.
  • It's good to reward your family, too. The last couple days of writing were tough on LilGirl. Her reward for letting me finish was getting out the Christmas dollhouse we haven't taken out of the box since we moved into this house four years ago.
  • Sometimes you have to be your own Jillian Michaels. Sunday, the final day, was the hardest. I knew I had to do 8000 words in two days, which is more than I've ever done in that amount of time. A strong feeling of being overwhelmed started to come over me, but I knew I would kick myself forever if I came so close to finishing and didn't make it. So I broke out the sticky notes and the Sharpie and wrote myself a note that said "Four sets of 2000 words and you're done!" 2000 words is less than I had been doing each night. It was do-able. I promised myself a break between each set and got to work on the first one. It worked. Even though I had another day to finish, once three sets were done and it was only 6:00 pm, I knew I'd finish on Sunday. The last 2000 words were the hardest. My brain was full of all sorts of other things I could be doing, like reorganizing my bookmarks or cleaning my keyboard. I wrote another note, "2000 words to go! WooHoo!" and stuck it to the calendar, then dove in. A couple hours later, I was done. (You can see the sticky notes stuck to the calendar in the picture above)
  • The rumors that you don't shower much during NaNo is totally true. Sorry to those of you who had to put up with my stinkiness.
The biggest thing I learned:
  • I can do this! After struggling along with another story for literally years, it was good to set that one aside and come out with a whole new story in under a month. Yes, it needs a lot of editing (boy, does it ever!) but it's light years ahead of the other story for the amount of time I've spent on it. This has extinguished one doubt among many about my future writing career - that I can work to deadline without having to spend years on a single story. I've given myself a deadline for editing and submitting my NaNo story, then I hope I'll be able to return to the other story with renewed vigor and finish it. By next November, I should be ready to jump into another fresh story and do it all over again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I don't want to know where this librarian works...

Reality Check

...Or maybe I do, so I can avoid that library.

(*sigh* This cartoon makes me a little sad)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Arrrrgh! It be time for pirate chickens!

Avast! There be no easy way to embed them, so follow the link if ye dare! And apparently I'm not the only one with Jedi wandering in to my pirate scenes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fun: Momisms

I should save this for Mothers Day, but this week has just been way too much like this video, so I'll share it now:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wed Pic: Dragon eating the moon

Dragon eating the moon, originally uploaded by mdesive.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Made my Minano goal!

My local RWA chapter, Heartland Writers Group is doing a Mini-NaNo, or Minano, with a goal of 25,000 words rather than the 50,000-word goal of NaNoWriMo. I'm doing both and I hit the Minano goal last night, shutting down the computer at 25,528 words.

*Happy Dance!* 

Now, onward with NaNoWriMo!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I've been saying this for years

ginger rogers and fred astaire
see more Lol Celebs

It's about time someone made a poster of this. I need to get my hands on a good Ginger/Fred movie so LilGirl will stop saying "Ginger who?" when I say this. Unfortunately, my all-time favorite Ginger Rogers movie, The Major and the Minor, doesn't have Fred Astaire in it to illustrate the point of the saying. Any recommendations?

(I'm deep in NaNoWriMo mode, so there may be a few more days (or 15) of these short posts)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fun: Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?

Saturday is National Gaming Day! Libraries across the United States will celebrate with programs which cover board games like Candy Land to MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. I'll likely mark the day with some Tetris time and watch hubby play Fable II.

Hubby and I recently started watching The Guild, which, ironically, we watch through our Xbox (or maybe that's not so ironic, really). The series follows a group of gamers and the challenges they face meshing "real" life with their "life" in a MMORPG. If you're curious, here's the original episode (yes, that's the entire episode. They're short.)

The Guild released a music video, too. The song is one of my current favorites (running through my head 24/7 lately) and now I'm passing the earworm on to you:

Just a bit of an aside here: I know some of you probably think there is nothing one can learn from a video game to use in life. I disagree. I can always tell which baggers at the grocery store play Tetris, and those who don't. Seriously. :)

Unfortunately, I have to be a bit of a teetotaler when it comes to role-playing games. I know me, and I know if I even touch WoW, Fable, or even The Sims, soon people will wonder if I died, was kidnapped, or simply fell off the face of the earth, because I would never been seen again (think of Codex in the episode above). If you want a further illustration of what would happen, listen to Felicia Day talk about her experience with WoW in this interview (at about the 1:30 mark) - I love her comment "After about two hours of that, I mean, two years..." Yep, that'd be me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wed Pic: Is Robin Hood in there?


I'm pounding away at my take on Robin Hood for NaNoWriMo. Alas (or fortunately?) there were no outlaws in the forest near Norwich when I was there.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Halloween is barely over and we're already inundated with Christmas. I saw a commercial featuring a Christmas elf the morning after Halloween and one of my neighbors already has their lights, blow-up figures and music playing! I love Christmas, but I have to agree with Santa in the cartoon.When people put up their decorations and start advertising so early I'm sick of Christmas by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

Cartoon source