It Begins at Midnight

NaNoWriMo 2014 is practically here.  Starting at midnight writers around the world will begin writing their novels.  They will all be attempting to write 50,000 words in only 30 days.  That breaks down to 1667 words per day.  There will be many who succeed.  There will also be many who will wash out in the first week or two.


In years past that has been me.  You may remember that rant from my last post about NaNo.


But that will not be me this year.  I’m determined.


I still have no idea what the story is.  I don’t know who all the characters are or what they want or what the plot line is.  But I’ve been reading No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo.  He seems to be a pantser like me and he outlines how to write a book in a month without actually knowing what the story is.  With that helpful book beside me, I think I can do it this year.


I suppose we’ll see for sure, but I’m going to outline my plan right now, so that I have some accountability for it.  I plan on writing for at least two hours every day.  I’m weird and I write everything by hand first, so I plan to begin my writing day by typing up what I wrote the day before.  This is not to edit.  I will NOT edit.  I’m promising myself to leave Irene (my Inner Editor) locked up for the month.  This is purely so that I have a word count I can put up and so that I don’t have to try to finish all 50k words in 25 days so that I have time to type up all of them in order to verify my word count at the end of the month.  Plus it will help orient me back into the story every day.


I also plan on giving regular updates on the blogs (this one and my personal blog just to let everyone know how it is going.  You may see some posts that are just numbers (the word count) and I will probably share frustrations and triumphs.


So, here it goes.  I’m diving in.  Here’s hoping I won’t drown.


Wishful Writer 2: Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is a great way to get words on paper.  Especially if you have someone to work with you.  I am going to attempt the 50k words in 30 days this year.  I’ve attempted it several years previous, but I’ve always stalled out about halfway through the month (last year I stalled out a week in).  I have selected a piece of writing that has been kicking in my brain for a couple of years now and made it into my idea book.  There are no names really, and I don’t even know what the story is, but I wrote out this scene and I feel like it is the story I need to work on this year.
The problem is that I don’t know anything about it.  Of course, many writers do that with NaNo.  They start with a blank screen and a blank mind and the start with “Once upon a time. . .” at the beginning of the month without any idea what might come next.  There are other writers who spend all year outlining, researching, character building, re-oulining, developing, and basically pre-writing their story, and then they actually do the writing during NaNo.
The super detailed outline is not me.  If I start off with a super detailed outline I feel like all the creativity is sucked out of the writing process.  In addition I’m slightly OCD, so when I deviate from the outline I feel like I have to go back and redo the outline and figure out how the deviation fits into the outline I wrote before I can move on.  That means that a week in one of my characters does something unexpected and I find out something new, and then I have to spend the rest of the month thinking about it and getting frusterated that I have to change the outline around.  Not productive.
On the flip side, I’ve tried charging ahead without any plan whatsoever.  I tend to write myself into a corner and can’t figure out how to get back out of it.  I write to a stand still and either run out of ideas or have tons of ideas, none of which actually make sense.  (This is the point where I generally change the point of view character and end up frusterated because I’m essentially retelling the story from another POV.)  Then I never get to the end of the story because I can’t figure out how to get there.
So now, I’m stuck between trying to figure out how much planning I need, but not wanting to do too much planning and every time I try to think about it I get nervous about over planning anything.  I literally have NO idea what the story is about right now.  I know there is a compelling scene that seems to be the beginning, but I don’t know for sure.  Maybe it takes place in the middle of the book.  Maybe it’s the ending.  I don’t know.  I have a sense of who these people are, but no clear view of what their names are and what they do for a living.   But I don’t want to go in knowing everything.
I suppose we’ll see what happens this year, but I’m just letting everyone know that I’m having a hard time this year.  I’ve always had at least a basic idea of what the story would be.  But maybe that is a good thing.  Maybe that will be freeing this year.  I’m just trying to stay positive (though I know it doesn’t sound like it).  I think I will simply focus on getting words on the page.  Ultimately, even if I only get 25k words, that’s good.  Even if I get 50k words and only 20k of them are usable that’s good.  Even if I get 50k words by writing the same three pages over and over again I will at least be able to say I lived The Shining.
Kara Howell

My Challenge To You Other Writers

When it comes to writing, I’d say I write 75% of the time for pleasure and a way to organize my thoughts, and 24% of the time is devote to actually crafting my skills and honing in goals to word toward. And the slim 1% of the time I may or may not use for actually doing what I plan to do to further my writing career.

Am I the only one? I read a lot of other blogs, and “How-To’s” on being a writer, and I admire them – or maybe YOU – if you’re that dedicated writer who blogs everyday, or even makes a blurb comment on some other major blog/forum – UGH I wish I was YOU. I wish I could just focus on making sure I exercise my writing muscles everyday and that the creative juices would just pump through me uncontrollably. I know, many of you say “Oh, Kara, it’s really not always like that.” But I guess I would like my creative bursts of inspiration to come more often than once in a blue moon.

And end rant.

My Challenge To You

Document how many times you get a “burst of inspiration” throughout the day, week, month – however long you want to keep up with it. Don’t necessarily write down or try to remember what those inspirational bursts were about, just how often does it come to you? How many times do you feel that itch and “I MUST GET ON MY LAPTOP NOW” feeling? Maybe you’re already aware of how often these moments hit you.

Keep up with it and take notice of when those moments come to you, why is it “that” moment you feel that urge to write?

Let me know what you find.

My Thoughts on My Process

I am always curious to hear what other writers’ processes are. I think because I am not always aware of my own, or even know what works for me, or even how I actually process at all! Maybe I am just trying to feel connected to some other writers who may even feel as clueless as me sometimes. I write here, I write there – I ghostwrite, I blog, I research – I do all these writing activities, but am still not even too sure of how I write, or why my own stories stay hidden in the corner, almost afraid to come into light.

Kara Howell

The New Job

Wishful Writer One

To be honest, I am not sure how I feel about my new position as a staff writer for the business I work for. I like it fine, it isn’t demanding or difficult. I guess I just don’t feel connected. And I guess that is to be expected as the new kid on the block. Granted, I haven’t been as “there” as I wish I could be, mainly do to the fact it is a bit of a drive for me to make every day and I am trying to make my car and tank last as long as I can, especially with little income, I can’t afford a tank a week or a blown tire – or any extra maintenance.

I remain patient with myself, that I am sure I will adjust comfortably soon enough. I should bake food and bring it. I always feel better in a group when I provide some treats, and of course everyone loves the person who brings cake and cookies, right?

As far as the writing side of it goes – like I said, not too demanding or difficult. If anything, it’s a bit too easy, and bit too boring in some ways. I am very limited in what I can say and how I say it. It makes sense, it’s supposed to be one voice throughout the entirety of the business, I’m not complaining, but I do feel like I lose my personality in it all. I can write to parameters and take orders, but I am beginning to realize the difference between my academic voice, my business voice, and my creative-stream-of-conscious-all-over-the-place voice. There’s a time and place for all of them, and I am discovering I like my last voice best, and who wouldn’t?

If anything, I look at this position as a challenge to myself in conforming to a very specific way of writing. I’m not unaccustomed to this idea with academic writing, but with academic writing, I am giving a much bigger canvas of 2000 words +, and now I work with about a 10th of that space.

The joys of being a freelance/contractor – you have your style, but must do what your client/boss requires – that’s how it works. It’s good for me though, and it is in my portfolio, which I am able to build now with paid projects *excited squee.*

I will always do my best, regardless of my situation, and I will always look for the lessons in life, even if most are learned in retrospect. And this new job is the situation and the lessons being learned are still new, fresh, and have yet to be uncovered by my very near-sighted vision. Even if I never become besties with my co-workers, I will figure out my place there, and continue to be kind to everyone I meet, and strive for excellence in my work.