Writing

Do You Finish Your NaNo Projects?

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a couple of times (failed once, succeeded twice) and the end result has always been one giant mess. I guess that’s the purpose of the whole exercise though isn’t it? Just get the words written down!

To be perfectly honest, I have not finished any of my NaNoWriMo projects. I start with a rough outline and let the characters determine how they wish to get there. Last year’s efforts, although incomplete, has been the best so far when it comes to re-writes (so I might just be getting better). Only a few short months ago I went over it and can see the potential in it, so that is one I will keep working on.

Recently, I began working on the re-writes of one of my other NaNoWriMo projects, however as I began working, I soon discovered it was in dire need of an overhaul. The more I looked into it, the more questions arose. I wanted to know more about my characters backgrounds, which in turn made the project bigger than it was before. The more research I undertook, the more possibilities opened for both plot and character development. Overwhelmed, I decided to begin by writing a short story for one of my major characters. I felt the need to take a small step backwards in order to move forward.

This year, although I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo, I will be working on one of my previous efforts. I have a bit of a backlog to finish and tidy up before it comes around again next year. Participating has certainly been worth it; even though I have been left with a bit of a mess, I at least have something to work with and know what my limitations are.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I wish you the very best of luck!

Do you finish your NaNoWriMo projects? Will you be participating this year? Do you have a back-log of projects to complete? What have you learned about yourself as a writer after doing NaNoWriMo?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Writing

5 Ways to bring back the Muse.

Blog, build a platform, know your audience – these are just some of the things writers are inundated with on a daily basis.  There is just so much information to take in, it’s little wonder we unpublished writers get confused and wonder what we’re taking on.  I know there have been many times I have had to take some time away from my computer in order to help my sanity.  With all this noise, I was finding my muse was beginning to fade into the background.

Now with the start of another year of NaNoWriMo, we need our muses more than ever.  Don’t you sometimes wish you can just write?  In order to help find our muses, we need to drown out the noise.

Here are five ways to go about it:-

  1. Prioritise your life. Ask yourself what are the most important issues in your life right now? Focus on these; everything else can wait. Try to remove any unnecessary clutter in your life.
  2. Walk/meditation. Exercise and getting back to nature can be very beneficial.  Take time to be alone and gather your thoughts; close your eyes, think about your senses and help clear your mind.
  3. Listen to music. Like walking and meditation, music can help clear your mind and can also be a great source of inspiration to your muse.
  4. Switch off the news. Let’s face it; watching the news from around the world can be rather depressing.  Because we have so much going on in our own lives, do we really need to know all the ills of the world to help bring us down emotionally? Tune in once in a while online, and then get off.
  5. Spend less time on the internet and social networks. We are given too much information at our fingertips.  Weed out only the information you need, give yourself a certain amount of time each day and then get off.

And the best thing about NaNoWriMo is to forget all about perfection – a great opportunity for your muse to take over!

Are you drowning in too much noise? What do you do to help bring back the muse? Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year?

Free image by Jeroen van Oostrom courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Writing · Writing Process

The 2010 NaNO Challenge – Week 3.

Ah, NaNO!  I seem to be spending every waking moment just thinking about it.  I have to keep reminding myself not to panic.  This is supposed to be fun remember?  We’re now into week three and I feel the pressure is well and truly on.

I felt I needed a break from it all and took the family away for a couple of days.  I brought the laptop with every intention to write, but instead I took the time to enjoy the break.  Coming back home, I was refreshed to keep the momentum going and I am now well and truly over the half-way mark and have made it to the other side.  I’ve heard many writers mention that it’s when you hit the middle of the book, that the writing tends to sag; that being in the middle is the most difficult.  It’s alright to hit a snag every once in a while, just leave a gap and get on with what you can write; you can always go back to it.

I may be well behind where I’m supposed to be, and I’ve now begun to work both night and day towards reaching the target.  I feel a great part of my frustration is my main character.  As I’ve gone from writing from third to first person, I’m now worried if my protagonists’ voice sounds authentic.  See?  I told you I’m spending all my time thinking about NaNO.  I’ve got plenty of time to work all this out later!  Despite any problems I may be experiencing with my novel, I’m still determined to get to the end and on time.  If you’re experiencing problems with getting the words out, Dee White has some tips on her website you might find helpful.

I must admit, though, NaNO is definitely getting me writing.  It is forcing me to get my butt in the chair and type like mad.  Besides, I’m aiming to give myself a well deserved reward when I finish.  I now have an incentive – how about you?

Been There Done That · Writing · Writing Process

Finding Your Inspiration: Take a Break.

This weekend the family and I went to Jenolan Caves.  It was a combination of a birthday celebration and a bit of a break from working on NaNO.  Trouble was, I brought my laptop.

I’m sure you know where I’m coming from.  You go away for a few days with every intention of having a break from meeting a deadline, yet somehow, it keeps nagging at the back of your mind.  You end up not knowing what to do – do you write or do you ignore it, hoping that the much needed break will do you good?  I had every intention of getting some writing in, but at the end of the day, physical exhaustion won over that idea.

We managed to fit in four caves in over three days – I lost count on how many stairs we had to climb, but my feet and calf muscles are certainly feeling it.  I also lost count on how many photos I took.  I’m sure I must have annoyed the guide in the first cave we went into, so I learnt to ease off a bit after that!

Listening to the talk given by one the the guides certainly didn’t help at one point.  When discussing the history of the caves, he went on to talk about the early women explorers at the caves.  One family of women in particular had no objection to putting on the trousers.  That’s when I got my lighbulb moment.  Being a bit of a history buff, I pricked up my ears.  Now that could be something to look into, I thought.  Now, of-course, as any writer would know, there is no such thing as a holiday in this job!

Even while we were staying in the cabin, enjoying the scenery, the surrounding bushland, and how quiet it was, I was thinking of what a nice writer’s retreat it would make.  I’m not really into such things as writing retreats; all I know is a change of scene can do wonders, which is exactly what happened.  We were doing so much, I did not have time to think of the novel I was working on for NaNO, let alone any form of writing.  It was the perfect opportunity to clear my head, so that I would be ready to get back into it when I returned home.

Pushing myself to meet a deadline is important, but so is taking time out to spend time with family.  ‘All work and no play’, as the saying goes.  So now that I’m recharged, it’s full steam ahead!

Images of Jenolan Caves by Debbie Johansson.

Writing · Writing Process

The 2010 NaNO Challenge – Week 1.

It’s that time of year again, when writers around the world go a little bit crazy on the internet.  The cause of all this chaos is a challenge.  National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNO, where the goal is to achieve 50,000 words during the month of November.

In 2008, when I did NaNO for the first time, I was completely unprepared.  I had no sooner finished my last assignment for University when I jumped straight into NaNO.  I was days behind and I had a vague idea of what I was going to write.  I had hoped to be a bit more organised the second time around.  This time I did have a plot outline for my story, but at the last minute it seemed to have done a runner.  Obviously, being organised for NaNo was not going to happen.  Once again, I would be flying by the seat of my pants.

So far this week, my progress has been somewhat slow.  Last week I was sick with the flu, which unfortunately, continues to hang around.  My progress has also been slow for the simple reason that I’m editing as I go.  A person just can’t afford to do that during NaNO.  I had the same trouble last time in switching the internal editor off.  If you’ve made a mistake, forget about it and keep going.  One has plenty of time to fix it up when NaNO is over.  In my last post, I was determined to write badly, now I officially have permission to do so!

It seems I’m destined for slow starts, but come home flying in the end.  I just hope I can repeat that again this year.

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