Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2011

Oh, right. NaNoWriMo starts in less than two months.

NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month – November, when a bunch of crazy people attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.

I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo since 2008, and made the goal in both 2008 and 2009, but a new, busy job, a new girlfriend, and illness all conspired in 2010 – I didn’t even reach 10,000 words.

I fully intend a successful comeback this year. Failure, as they say, is not an option. I intend to work on something set in my Voyagers universe, but I am still working on the specific planning.

Will anybody of you take part in NaNoWriMo? What will you write about?

What I’m up to

I thought I’d give you a little update on current projects and status. The past year or so has been a little hard on me “in the real world” but all that is sorted out now and things are on the up again. On the other hand, it hasn’t left me so much time for world-building: Besides my new real-life job keeping me busy, NaNoWriMo ate up a lot of free time in November. That’s done and over, and with the holidays coming up I should have a good amount of time to write and build.

  • My Wacom tablet needs to be replaced, but I am not yet sure which one to get, and what size. They get expensive really quickly once you go beyond A6. I have some maps to draw!
  • I’ve been consolidating settings. At least two, probably three, and perhaps four of my worlds will be merged – details to follow…
  • I am totally into science fiction right now. This comes from reading everything H. Beam Piper that Gutenberg and Librivox could throw at me, but it is also related to finally playing role-playing games again; in this case we’re up to our ears in the Star Wars Saga Edition. I’m playing a shard in an IG-86 chassis with a severe identity crisis.
  • I’d like to complete short “world books” for what I consider my main worlds. Say something on the order of 48 pages each.
  • With the death of imaginaryworlds.net and the disappearance of Paul of the Shakespeare & Dragon podcast, I’d like to expand enderra.com to include more how-to’s, more discussion, more interactivity. This is more of a long-term goal, we’re definitely talking mid-2010 here. Anybody who’d like to get in on this, drop me a line…

NaNoWriMo 2009 "Won"

It’s done, one day ahead of schedule – I “won” NaNoWriMo 2009.

NaNoWriMo 2009 Winner

This year, it was particularly hard. Not only do I have a new job which kept me quite occupied, I also did not have any furniture at home, having just moved into a new apartment. Like last year, I encountered mental resistance to the project after some time, and just like last year I asked myself, “why the hell am I doing this?”

I am doing this, of course, to teach myself to be “creative” to a schedule. I did a better job of this than last year. I wrote on fewer days of the month than last year, and got much more done on those days. And while I did not complete the story yet, I am quite close.

What made all the difference is that I followed one of the lessons learned from last year: This time I created an outline ahead of time. Some adjustments were necessary, as I moved the story form one of my worlds to another, but these were relatively minor. I did not complete the story yet, but I am very close; another 2-3 days will get me there so unlike last year, I will get to “The End”. It’s still a crappy story, so unless I edit it into something fairly nice I won’t be posting it. đŸ˜‰

I am not sure whether I will do NaNoWriMo 2010, but unless some other big project interferes, I probably will. I’ll try to take some days off of work next year, though: If I have an outline and write every day, I should be able to easily complete a story in the 30 days.

Worldbuilding Links for January, 2009

Here’s an assortment of links you might find useful.

How-To’s

* Map-making tutorial using The Gimp.

Inspiration, Locations

* Photos from Paris Exhibition, 1900. In color.
* Abandoned subway stations in New York City
* The Uros people of the Titicaca lake live on floating islands, which is a cool style of living for a conpeople.

Science Fiction Stuff

* Tests have shown that it is possible to protect long-duration missions from solar wind using a magnetic shield.
* Scientists figured out that Mars’ loss of atmosphere to the pressure from solar wind isn’t a slow, gentle process; instead it is quite violent: Solar Wind Rips Up Martian Atmosphere.

NaNoWriMo 2008 Research

* Wikipedia on radioactive fallout
* Wikipedia on fallout shelters and blast shelters
* Mount Weather government bunker
* Gas masks vs bad smells: Gas masks do not filter out odors, unless they are designed for the job, but vick vapor rub is a work-around used by law enforcement and emergency workers.
* Geiger counters
* Compound bowsbow hunting is done in the US

The City of Saint Brendan Sneak Peek

Here’s a little bit of a bonus and post scriptum for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t just design a fallout shelter, I also sketched out a city.

Saint Brendan, so named after St. Brendan the Navigator, is a large city located in the US State of Acadia. The city rose to prominence as a trade port after the discovery of the Northwest Passage and benefited greatly from the increase in trade with East Asia after the World War. It is New England’s largest city, with over six million people living in the metropolitan area. This makes Saint Brendan the fifth-largest urban conglomeration in the United States, before the Delaware Valley but less populated than the Dallas-Fort-Worth Metroplex.

Major industries are transportation, financial, and high tech. A large military presence secures the strategic location.

Destroyed Saint Brendan

Saint Brendan is an amalgamation of San Francisco, New York, and a few other cities. I decided to use a fictional city for several reasons:

  1. I don’t know New York personally, having never been there, and certainly do not know any other major US city intimately either. Potential readers would likely be more familiar with the setting than I and that is a problem. Using a fictional city frees me from the risk of making gross errors when describing the location.
  2. A fictional city gives me the freedom to arrange locations and other facts in a manner convenient to the story’s needs.
  3. It’s a great way to tell the reader “dude, this is not YOUR world“.
  4. I enjoy world-building. Duh!

I am a firm believer in recycling material, so expect Saint Brendan to pop up again in more detailed form.

NaNoWriMo 2008 Post-Mortem

NaNoWriMo 2008 is – for all practical purposes – over, and I reached the goal: Write at least fifty thousand words by the end of November.

Back in September, when I first considered signing up for NaNoWriMo, I was really not sure whether I should. So was the effort worth it? Let’s review.

What went right

* I was able to stick to the schedule. I wrote the required average of 1667 words per day, every day, and exceeded it on almost all days. Consequently, I reached the target ahead of schedule. I proved that I can produce text, that I can force myself to write even when I really, really do not feel like it.
* I was able to shut off the “inner critic”. I did this by telling myself that editing comes later, and it worked. I edited the text a few times, once to remove a mistake I had made, and I back-tracked several times to add more text to support things I wrote about later in the story. I did not delete text, I did not get bogged down in permanent editing mode.
* I liked my basic premise and characters. While quality was not a goal of NaNoWriMo, and I will not claim that what I wrote is worth reading, I certainly enjoyed working out the problems my characters faced.
* I built the world. I created a map and various support material for the story. The map, especially, proved to be invaluable; without it I would never have noticed a show-stopped problem with my plot resolution.
* I had fun. Well, sort of – it got harder the further I progressed. But, yes, over all, it was fun.

What went wrong

* I did not outline enough. I had a rough plan and ideas for the novel, and a fairly detailed outline for the first third or so. Based on my experience I will say that complete, proper outlining is absolutely essential for smooth writing.
* I wrote too late at night. Sometimes this was by necessity, other times because I got distracted by other things. On some days I wrote until I literally fell asleep at the keyboard. Bad idea, don’t try this one kids.
* I did not complete the novel. I was not able to complete the novel to “The End” so far, and while I am determined to finish it, it is highly unlikely that I will manage this in November.

Lessons learned

* Build characters and the world. Have a sound design for your characters and world, including the overarching conflict, the themes, thematic subjects, premises, and so on. Without conflict, you have no story. Without interesting characters, nobody will care. Without a consistent world, things will fall apart and you will run into contradictions.
* Outline. Outline, outline, outline. “Just do it.” Writing a complete outline from start to finish needs to be done before you start on your first draft. The outline is not set in stone, but it needs to deal with all main questions, and, most importantly, bring the story to a resolution.
* Write consistently. The temptation to take time off must be resisted. I know from previous experience that, if I set something aside for n days, I will almost certainly set it aside for n+1 days. Ad infinitum. Distractions, such as competing hobbies, should be put aside until after the daily writing session – consider it a reward for hard work.
* I need sugar to work. This is an unfortunate discovery: I need sugar in some form, for example soda, or I will not be productive at all. I am not sure if anybody can relate to this, but when I had no sugar I was unable to write, or at least wrote very, very slowly. With enough “fuel”, I was able to write much faster. Part of this may be that the sugar offset my tiredness, but I am fairly convinced that this is also at least in part a body chemistry thing.
* I have more respect for professional writers than ever. I always knew writing was hard work, but I now know first hand!

So I learned a lot, and had some fun – the experience was totally worth it!

Will I do NaNoWriMo again, say, next year? I honestly can’t say – I rarely can plan a year ahead. I think it would be interesting to see how following the lessons from this year might change the experience. We’ll have to wait and see.

What did you guys learn from NaNoWriMo? Did I miss any lessons, what is the most important thing you take with you after NaNoWriMo? Will you go for it in ’09? And… “Was it good for you?”

NaNoWriMo 2008, Day #25 – We have a Winner

When I logged in to the NaNoWriMo website today to update my wordcount (only by a little, the evening is still young), I was greeted with a big logo:

I had expected to submit my story once more, to trigger winning manually, but that was not necessary.

So I won. I managed to write more than 50,000 words in under a month. Yay!

If you followed my NaNoWriMo diary, you know that my novel is still unfinished. I fully intend to complete it, but I think there is little point in posting about my updated word count for another five days. I’ll keep you guys posted on the progress, and on the eventual rewrite, but I think daily updates are no longer necessary.

Thank you for following my journey this month!

_Update: Do check out the NaNoWriMo Post-mortem._

NaNoWriMo 2008, Day #24

Word count: 55041 (+929 from day 23). (53397 after compensating for the OpenOffice word count bug.)

Today I failed.

I wrote a mere 929 words today, way below the NaNoWriMo “quota” of 1667 words. I know, I know – not only are 1667 words an average per day, I am also at 53397 words according to NaNoWriMo’s word counter. I can afford to slack off a little. I still wrote 929 words, which is, well, a whole lot better than the zero words I was tempted to write today. The energy and motivation was just not there, and again I feel it shows in the (lack of) quality of my writing.

Wordcount as of 2008-11-24

The temptation to just stop is quite big at the moment. I really do want to complete the story, though. I keep telling myself that the NaNoWriMo “victory” means nothing if I don’t make it to “The End”.

From the plot perspective, I got the first step of the resolution in place now. Today’s 900 words were the foundation of part of the climactic action, so it was progress and not just increased word count.

NaNoWriMo 2008, Day #23

Word count: 54112 (+1757 from day 22). (52523 after compensating for the OpenOffice word count bug.)

Not much to talk about today. I had to force myself to actually write, and I think the quality of today’s section shows it. Never mind, that we can fix later. I really, really need to get this thing done in a kind of tour de force, I think, because it’s a real chore now and I want to work on other things again.

NaNoWriMo is over in a week, so an end is in sight. I think I will not do the rewrite / editing in December. I will not touch the story in at least a month. But first I need to get it done.