Tag Archives: progress

NaNope

I think I had already mentioned that April’s Camp NaNoWriMo was less than thrilling for me. It went “well” but I was having the same problem I had in November. Stuck. Taking too long. Adding more than I needed to. I think I’ve mostly fixed it by now, but I can’t be certain. And that only makes me more worried for November.

This November, which has been creeping up on me and reminding me over and over again that it’s right effing there. That I keep forgetting about. That I feel like I don’t have enough time for anymore. That I’m realizing is a whole hell of a lot closer than I thought it was.

I’m at least more decisive this time. I have two ideas, a thriller and an erotica, both of which I haven’t done before. One is set in Antarctica and the other is another tribal village setup. I started out strong with the erotica, but the thriller’s getting a little bit of my attention. Another’s come up, earlier, inspiration from a History show my dad was watching about the Wild West criminals. Steampunk Wild West, actiony. It lost steam after the erotica showed up in my head.

Anyway, I’m still more worried, despite what I’ve got here, all my inspiration. I want to finish something. I want to get a strong start and forge ahead. I don’t want to fall behind and lose interest. Again.

I’ve found myself wanting to re-write the last year’s NaNo novel though, almost completely from what I made it to be. I remembered that I had wanted it to be a-romantic but because it was easier for me, I went the romance route to try and get better at working on it.

I’m really hoping I have my head straight on my neck this time and that I can give my first win a run for it’s money. But I’m worried that maybe I’m holding myself back because of that win. That I’m making that my sort of end-all be-all without meaning to.

Also, I have a full time job. Having eight hours cut out of five days out of the week is going to hurt my numbers, I think, because I won’t be able to write at work unless I bring a notebook with me and do things on my break. I’ll have to write as much as I can while I have the time, and what if I don’t have the inspiration or the go or the ability or care to really write when I have that in front of me?

It’s a lot of what ifs and maybes and I’m just hoping I can move past it. There’s been a lot of change in the past month and it’s shaking up my routine. Being in unknown territory can unsteady my balance, and I just want to make sure I don’t fall flat on my damn face.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to do 92k words again, but at least I’ll get some serious writing done. That’s what NaNoWriMo is about anyway, right?

-The Novice Wordsmith

Resolute in Resolutions

A lot of what goes on in the last few days of the year revolve around resolutions. I can’t say I haven’t heard anything, because I’ve heard more about New Year’s Resolutions in the past weeks than I have in the past few months combined. For good reason and obvious reason.

One very resounding thought I’ve heard that strays from the rest, however, is to ditch the resolution altogether.

Resolutions, ultimately, are goals. They’re something to strive for, something you want to do, something you want to happen in that year. So in January, it’s no surprise that the gym is packed full, because people are trying to reach weight loss goals and get toned and in shape by the time that they really want.

If there’s something I learned the hard way, it is that goals take time. The quicker something is done, the easier all of that work can be undone, because your mentality then becomes, “I can just do it again in this amount of time and be fine.” So you put it off and do things that are more enjoyable, because you know you can make up for lost time. You do the things you shouldn’t, and further yourself away from the progress you made.

These things take time. Don’t give up what you want to do, unless you’ve realized you want to do something else. Whatever it is, even if you lapse, don’t just stop. Don’t count yourself out completely, because there’s always going to be time.

If not now, when?

Just because it’s so many days past the first of the year does not count you out, either. Shaping better writing habits, filling notebooks, finishing a novel, writing a poem a day, or whatever it is your writing goal for the year may or may not be,  starts when you want it to. You do not need to measure your success by the year and how much time there is of it left. In the end, the goal of goals, of resolutions, is to improve your life, from that point on, and not just for the year.

One of my personal preferences when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is to stick with it until it’s done. You repeat that same resolution until you’ve reached it. If you decide it’s not what you want, then you can drop it, but pick up a new goal to help you get to work on that passion, or dream, or idea.

When it comes to writing goals, or any, really, and you find they’re daunting and intimidating as ever, pause, look at the work load. Shave it down, make it possible for you to keep up in the beginning. The only way you get to where you want to be, is by building a strong foundation to stand on.

Let’s take daily writing, for example. What’s the wordcount you want to achieve daily? Or is it simply to write something, anything, every day? As you go on, you find what you really want, and what you think counts more. Write fiction every day, or a blog post? It doesn’t have to be targeted, if it’s easier for you to achieve, writing is writing, after all, though eventually, you might find yourself targeting what you want to write most.

This happens with a lot of things. As you get better, stronger, or more frequent, you figure out where your problem areas are or what you want to focus on, and it shapes what you do.

That’s the other thing about resolutions, you can’t expect to do the same thing over and over. As you change, so does your routine! It’s a good thing! Change means you’re dynamic, you’re making progress!

And you don’t have to have big resolutions, either. They can be small. Small is not a problem– some people go all out and adapt to the “go big or go home” philosophy and end up burning themselves out before they even really give themselves a chance. Taking on something you know you can accomplish is the first step to being able to tackle bigger things without even realizing it.

Don’t let anything drag you down. When you look ahead at what your dream is, you need to see that there’s a journey to it, and it starts with a step, however weak or strong it is, but it is everything that you put into it. So whatever your resolutions or goals are this year, don’t forget to be kind to yourself while you start the path of progress.

I’m certainly rooting for you!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Cultural Progression

Over the weekend, I had an interesting thought about the way that my novel was going.

Set in about 11,000 BCE, I’m challenging my views of the way that things were for people who lived, at most, 30-40 years. To see how they might have structured their societies and communities, how civilized they might be, what they were or were not capable of saying, and  general intellect.

Life was much different for people thousands of years ago, which comes as no surprise, but then, it got my thinking about the evolution of our species. From hunting and gathering, marrying young, practicing religious and cultural rites, to waiting about as long for marriage as it would take, all those years ago, to get to old age, and to formal education, and relying on others to provide food for us that we don’t buy with other goods, but with specific currency.

When I look at the difference between tribal life in those early, early years, to now, I started to wonder, what happened?

I realized that a lot of it had to do with our life span. Marrying or mating early, some as old as 12 or 13, as soon as puberty and reproduction were possible became because of necessity. There was no formal education back then because there was more worry and emphasis on life and staying alive. Nomadic because it meant survival. Telling time was wholly different back then too because there was no formal system, it was reliant on how high the sun or moon was in the sky.

As we started to live older, we had other priorities. As we could live longer and didn’t need to move around as much, we were able to sit still, living in a single spot and farming and hunting as we needed. The longer we could live, the more we could accomplish, the less danger there was, the more knowledge there came to be, the more threats we could eliminate, the longer we lived, … you get the idea. It’s a big cycle.

Progression of civilization is big. Some are not where others are, either by choice or because something is holding them back, or both.

There is an emphasis on the general way of life in places that are so advanced: you’re born, you go to school for so many years, you fall in love, get married, have children, have a career you do or don’t enjoy, provide for your family, retire, have your family provide for you, and then death.

Currency, too, as I think about it, has become a huge part of certain civilizations, and that is because it has turned to become the point of trade and survival. Currency provides for you as it did before, but now it holds so much more of an importance. You provide a good for the currency and then give the currency in exchange for goods yourself. What a cycle!

It’s fun for me to admit that before, I was considering a major in anthropology, and it seems so obvious, I’m sure, because things like this just fascinate the hell out of me.

Anyway, words for thought, because I got introspective.

Maybe I should look in the other direction. What happens in the sci-fi movies? Much of the same, except our influence reaches farther… But will we transcend any of this that we need now? Robots and cybernetics are an option, but what happens there, really?

Curious. What’s your novel making you ask yourself?

-The Novice Wordsmith

Guest Post: Where’s Your Sense of Adventure?

A reason we write novels is to go on a long, strange trip with a character.   We’re in the backseat, sightseeing, listening to them talk, and occasionally when they stop the car to look at something, we get out too.   We learn things about the places we go, and we learn things about our hero – and ourselves when we compare our own experiences to him or her.

Where the car goes is up to the author – they have the map in their head, they know whether the bridge is out, whether there’s romance or mystery or alien abductions that lie in front of the bumper.

 

I could go into more detail about the archetypical Hero’s Journey outline, but others have done it so much better in the past, we probably don’t need to here.   The gist is simple; what will the end of the destination be like for the protagonist(s)?    The end is just as important as the beginning, and indeed some people write their novels backwards, and then deconstruct the steps it took to get there in order to do it right.

 

But here’s the ticket for today.   You are the navigator for your characters’ journey; so instead of being the backseat driver, you’re riding shotgun.     Your reading audience are the ones in the backseat.     And the shades are down back there, so they have to lean forward to hear what the characters are saying and see what’s out the front windows.

 

* Try to remember to describe things well enough that if you didn’t know the place or item in question by name, you could at least draw a picture of it.

 

“It was an oblong plastic thing, like a picture frame, only there wasn’t a picture in behind the glass like Joseph had ever seen before.  It was made up from a single silvery line, clearly showing a mazelike path that formed an image.    The two little white knobs made the line at the right end of the picture get a little longer.    The artist’s name, ‘Etchasketch”, was signed at the top instead of at the bottom, in some resinous material along the frame.”

 

“The smell was what he noticed first; a harsh, acrid smell that made his nose itch as he walked across the floor, patterned in small one inch squares.   He passed by a flat shelf, about the height of his thigh, and there were three oval depressions in the top that had some sort of ornamental extrusion above it.    On the wall was a white box with a tube on one side, and an ominous-looking button the size of his fist.”

 

* Interaction has ‘action’ as a component.   When a character interacts with something, its state changes, visibly, audibly, and perhaps in other ways.   Otherwise it’s just scenery.
“Shawn popped the top of the green plastic sports bottle and upended it over his head.   It wasn’t the most efficient way to get cool, but he looked happy as the water gushed out and ran down his hair and face in rivulets.   “Aaah.”  he said.

 

‘I was thirsty.’  I growled at him.

 

He stopped smiling.  “Sorry.”

 

Don’t be afraid to change paths if the story looks better the new way.   The Wordsmith and I have had a lot of fun warping where a story we’ve been working on is going; sometimes you wind up with ‘breakout characters’ that steal the show, and you wind up liking the way they work with the original main character and you give them a larger role in the tale when they were never in the original plan.     Sometimes the road that the character is on no longer makes sense, and where the other fork goes works better with the plot.

 

There are many roads to that ‘The End’ at the end of the novel, but even better sometimes is when you see that it’s not ‘The End’ so much as the ‘Until Next Time…’

 

But the key is that you have to a) figure out where you want the journey to lead (at least at first, detours are allowed   b) figure out what the point of going there is

 

And THEN you can worry about how to get there from here on page 1.

A Camping We Will Go: Update

We’ve hit week two of Camp Nano, and me and my friend are still trucking through. I am, for once, actually writing more than he is, but I have an unfair advantage because I have nowhere near as much work to do as he does. Originally, he wasn’t even going to do the month, but I’d expressed an interest and we found an idea we liked.

During the previous Nano Camp, I had the worst time ever. I hit a major block, barely grabbing 25k out of my 50k proposed goal and making very little productive revisions.
I am a lot happier with this month’s progress, obviously. It helps me realize that I was only having a bad month and that I blew out of the funk that I’d dug myself into and I am very thankfully, doing better and writing better.
I found it odd in April, because usually I am very motivated when I have a wordcount goal. I know what I need to do and I do everything I can to reach it, but when I put my revision goal in there too, it helped me feel like I’d actually do it, too, since I’d been putting it off. Instead, what I got was clogged up, unable to write or think well and just absolutely sputtering out. It was an upsetting month for me.
Luckily, I can say that I haven’t glanced back at that… whatever, had caused that to happen. My thought was that I’d spent a couple weeks waiting for my laptop to be repaired, in an old room that I felt like I had no business being in. Maybe it just threw me for a harder loop than I expected.
I am not being thrown for any loops this time! I’m at about 21k of a 25k proposed goal, and I should finish by tomorrow or the next day.
I should be happy for the long flights ahead of me tomorrow, too, on my way out to California, but I fear for my laptop’s battery. Layovers are good things that help you recharge, though! I’ve never had a flight come in so late, though, I’ll be touching down at 11:30 eastern and I’m central time, so it’ll be about 1 a.m. my time. Damn. Still, very much looking forward to it.
Anyway, the writing is coming along well. This is my first time doing a joint project, but I’m really liking it so far, and having a partner is very fun. We’ve been blazing through the story and we’ve still got 21 days left!
A little frustration goes to not feeling up to par with my vocabulary as usual, but I’ll get back to normal soon. And, mystery is new and exciting, I’ve never done it before, but I didn’t know if I’d be good at it. So far so good, though, even if I’m a little sketchy about it. It’s all about hiding things and figuring out how to find them, and who finds them and why, and while i know how to do that with some developments, I’ve never made it the whole MO of the story.
If anyone has any suggestions or tips, I’d love to know!
-The Novice Wordsmith