Joining Camp Nanowrimo late

Heya,

What day is it today? It’s April 5th? Okay, I’m not that late.

I’ve decided to attempt Camp Nanowrimo again. I tried to do it last year at some point (I can’t remember which time period it was, they have two different intake periods, I think), and it sort of fell by the wayside for reasons I’m not going to get into right now (mostly because they’re personal and I don’t really want to, but also because I’m not entirely confident of their validity).

I think that I’ll focus on Runaway Lane, just to add weight to the general “stop thinking so much you think too much freak” nature of that story. Also, having no real plans might make it easier for me to engage more with the community. I will have no plans, so I can have no secrets. There is nothing to be precious about with this story. I have no trajectory, so I can easily ask and accept input.

Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see.

Anyway, I’m on there as brittanyelina. If you’re there and you feel like it, find me. Or not. Whatever. I’m not your mom friending you on Facebook. No obligation.

Love,

B

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Failing NaNo and supersized goals

Heya,

I failed to write 50,000 words during novel writing month. I have no defense except for schoolwork and Assassin’s Creed 4. Which I really want to be playing right now. It’s calling to me, saying, “Just climb a few buildings, you can write that blog post later.”

But I won’t, because I know that Assassin’s Creed is lying to me. Every time you think to yourself, “I’ll just do this one thing, then I’ll get to work,” you’re kidding yourself. We live in a world where we are constantly being bombarded with stimulus, and sometimes if you want to get anything real accomplished, you have to shut your brain down to it. That was something that I promised myself I would do during NaNoWriMo, despite the voice in the back of my mind (and the many people in my life who I told about my plan) saying that I was nuts if I thought I’d be able to actually do NaNoWriMo this year. I was resolved.

I’m bad at keeping the resolutions that I make to myself. Because playing Assassin’s Creed right now would be super fun, and not even something that I’d really regret later on, but it is not something that will leave me feeling fulfilled later. (Homework doesn’t leave me feeling particularly fulfilled either, but that’s of a necessary evil.) But it’s hard to remember what fulfilled feels like when you aren’t actively feeling it.

So I really have to rework my priorities.

My friend summarized The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin to me, and from what I understand it’s about looking at the things in your life that make you less happy and focusing on solving those problems. Each month of the year had a broad focus and several specific daily goals. I like this idea of doing little things to make yourself happier, to feel more satisfied in your life.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to focus on growth in specific areas over the next few months. The overarching focus of December will be writing because, having failed NaNoWriMo and being basically done with the first semester of my masters, I feel the need to focus more on creative writing.

These are my (somewhat) more specific goals for December:

Write every day—pretty straightforward, I think

Cultivate writing time—it’s so easy for other things to eat into your writing time, and it can be really hard to protect it. Even people who respect that you need time to write might not understand just how much time you need. That it’s not always easy to write even one hundred words, and that part of your writing time is getting yourself into the write headspace. And that the focus that took hours to achieve can sometimes be shattered by someone asking you the time, by loud birds, or something on TV. I like to work at night, because my parents were always early to bed and early to rise, so night was when I was guaranteed to have time to myself. I don’t know if I was always a night person or if upbringing turned me into one, but night is the best time for me to write.

Cultivate a writing space—focus shattering is part of why finding the right space to write in is very important. For me, the ideal place is quiet and removed from other people. I like to watch reruns of TV shows that I’ve seen a million times before while I write. I find music really distracting to write along with—though I do like to listen to music before writing sometimes to get myself into particular frames of mind.

Challenge myself creatively—also pretty self-explanatory, I think.

Put my writing out there—I’m a reserved writer. I don’t really like to give people access to my stories until they’re finished. I’m also a perfectionist. So this goal is to essentially make me get over myself. I’ll be talking a bit about the various online writing communities that I plan to try out in future posts.

Blog every day—this one may end up being the most difficult. I’ve tried to blog before, and I always lose interest but I also don’t really commit fully. Maybe it’s because I never have any idea what I want the subject of a blog to be, which makes it hard to post consistently. Or maybe it’s because I get super distracted by other things and forget that I have a blog. Who can say. But anyway, it seemed a worthwhile goal that fit under the umbrella of writing.

So … more to follow on this attempt at personal growth.

Love,

B

NaNoWriMo so far

Heya,

How are you? I’m fine. How’s your NaNoWriMo going? I’ve written a little over fifteen thousand words, so I’m a bit behind on my word count, but whatever. I don’t think I’ve updated my word count since the last time I posted about NaNo.

As someone who regularly gets absorbed by minutiae to an excessive degree, going online to get to the NaNoWriMo site is just placing temptation in my own path. With Imgur only a click away, it might be hours before I get to the site I went online to check out. If I ever do. Sometimes I fall into that pit of cats and Ryan Gosling, and don’t make it out until 3am. (Sidenote: the full Magic Bullet infomercial is probably better than everything else that’s on at 3am. There are so many layers. And I’m not just talking about the dip.)

Twitter has been helpful, though. Mostly because most of my friends aren’t on Twitter, so I just follow book and music people that I don’t know. I’ve been a follower and occasional participant in @FriNightWrites, and I recently started following @NaNoWordSprints. Even when I don’t actively participate, having that stuff constantly cycling through my feed keeps NaNo at the forefront of my mind.

I don’t like talking about a work in progress unless I’m stuck and *knock on wood* right now I’m not stuck. I don’t like to talk about writing in general, actually. I don’t like to talk about process and how I get ideas and what you should and shouldn’t do. Maybe because I don’t understand it well enough yet to feel qualified to comment, or maybe because the part of me that is superstitious thinks that talking about it will cause that very personal, sometimes almost alchemical, process to become permanently tainted. And the thought of losing the ability to write gives me anxiety.

But without talking at all about writing, how is this an update. So here are some thoughts on writing.

  • I do not write in the morning. I am not a morning person. A lot of writers who write about writing have given advice about writing in the morning being the best way. Maybe for them. For me, night is best. Night is good. Darkness. Solitude. No one texting you about assignments or how they aren’t sure whether the guy they’re seeing is their boyfriend or not (if you’re not sure, he’s not your boyfriend. If you want him to be, ask him to be. If he says no, at least you know.)(I am not qualified to give relationship advice. People should really stop texting me about this stuff.)
  • I do not outline. Not because I don’t believe in outlining, but because I get too absorbed in the details. The most I’ll do is write “flaming globes of sigmund” on a post-it and stick it to my laptop.
  • I do character build like an OCD detective investigating a serial killer, though. Notes on the wall with pictures and strings and big red circles and different colored highlighters and all that jazz. Character is story. I need to know my characters more than I need to know my plot, because without my characters, there is no plot. (Sidenote: this is why I have trouble writing to prompts/themes. I have an idea about how to fix this, but I haven’t tested it out fully so I’m not going get into that here.)
  • I do write when I’m supposed to be doing other things. Just as when you try to sit down to write nothing seems more important than checking your Facebook status, there is nothing more satisfying than writing when you really should be working on a twenty page paper or listening to someone talk about metadata.
  • I do put on headphones but I don’t listen to music. Music distracts me. Makes me dance. I wear headphones solely for the “don’t talk to me” that headphones imply.

There are other things, but that should do for now. I have to save some of my insanity for future posts.

How’s NaNo treating you? Good? Bad? Ugly?

Love,

B

Day 1: The madness begins

Heya,

Today was the first day of NaNoWriMo. I meant to involve myself in @FriNightWrites’ marathon last night, but I was late to the party and it felt like cheating to count things towards my NaNoWriMo word count before it was November in my time zone. So I decided to go to bed early so that I could get a fresh start this morning.

Instead I read Rick Riordan’s House of Hades until 1 am. (I finished it. I liked it.)

Then I slept like the dead until 6 am, when I got up to go to school.

A lot of writers seem to write in the morning, and advise others to write in the morning. Some even suggest getting up an hour earlier to write. And I have something to say to that.

Blergh.

I am not and have never been a morning person. It’s rare for me to say more than ten words in the first hour of being awake. It takes me at least half-an-hour to wake up completely. Less than that and it’s much harder for me to handle the life choices that people make every day.

Like turning left from the rightmost lane, or wearing tights as pants.

I write at night. A writer friend of mine says that when you write at night, you’re setting a limit to how long you can write because rather than the day being ahead of your, it’s behind you. You can only stay up so long.

You don’t know how long I can stay up, writer friend. And in my experience there is nothing quite like passing into a coma-like sleep in front of your computer and dreaming about your story for the four or so hours you have before you have to get up to go to school.

It does make the morning after something akin to waking up hungover at a friends house after a big party: you’re mouth tastes funny because you didn’t remember to brush your teeth, your back feels weird, you can’t remember everything that happened the night before.

Which makes the morning a perfect time for me to edit, actually. When I don’t remember which parts I liked and which ones I didn’t like.

Oh, anyway. First day was good. Met my writing goals for the day. Wore a blonde wig to a project presentation for grad school (when you’re not particularly religious, November 1st is just Cheap Wig Day). Played with my dog.

I’m content, man.

It is now officially Day 2 of Nanowrimo.

I don’t think daily updates are something that I could sustain. Silly to think I could.

I also don’t want to flood this site with NaNo stuff constanly.

I think I’ll just update about NaNo on a week to week basis.

Unless something really awesome happens.