Michaeline: Second Week Whining (A NaNo Tradition)

A hallway of a building that is being torn down. There is a circular light at the end of the dark hall.

Story under construction! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. (Photo by Nelson Alexandre Rocha via Wikimedia Commons)

I haven’t been reading much lately. It’s been busy at work, and I’ve allowed the computer to take over my free time, and then there’s this National Novel Writing Month thing, which I have been neglecting. Neglecting, but still allowing it to take over a lot of my brain space and nervous energy. Seriously, it would be simpler and quicker if I’d stop worrying and just sit down and get a word count in, but for some reason, I think I’m too tired for it. And instead of going to bed like a reasonable adult, I watch just one little short YouTube, and wind up turning the light off far later than I’d planned. It’s a vicious cycle.

A simple piece of advice: don’t search Tim Minchin on YouTube this month, if you want to stick to “just one little short one.” Just don’t. He’s long, and funny, and filthy and you’ll either be flipping through his whole catalogue, or you’ll be too angry to sleep.

I think one of the reasons week two is traditionally the toughest week of NaNo is the same reason I hate Tuesday. You know, the first part was fun. Getting to know the characters, adding new writing buddies, being freshly passionate and promising to write the hell out of this month . . . . . Now that I think about it, February has the same problem. After the resolutions and the mad dash of the first week of January, we’re just blah and tired and not quite sure if it was all a good idea or not.

Well, Chris Baty tells us in his book, No Plot? No Problem that week three will be better, if Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Ready, Set, NaNo!

stopwatch graphicIn just a few, short days it will be November. For those planning to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) that means it’s time to commit to putting words on the page, every day, for 30 days at least.

What better way to kick off the NaNo season than with some Writing Sprints.   Think of it as a dress-rehearsal for your daily writing practice.

Before we all head off to our individual writing projects, let’s stretch our creativity with a few minutes of one of my favorites: Random Word Improv.  You may remember we did this a few weeks ago with some very amusing results (check the post out here).

As a reminder, here’s how to play: Continue reading

Michaeline: Make Your Own Rules!

Woman racing past judges in a number 13 automobile (circa 1916)

“Without cutting down her speed, Tish bumped home the winner.” And how was your November? (May Wilson Preston/Wikimedia Commons)

Here we are, the penultimate day of November, and those of you who have been doing NaNo are either sitting pretty, or tearing your hair out, or, if you are like me, looking somewhat bemused and wondering, “What the hell happened this month?”

By all metrics, this has been my worst NaNo ever. I haven’t made even 25 percent of the word count, and most strangely, I’m not sitting here with a short novella – a completely finished story.

But, I still feel optimistic. I’ve got a great story, I’ve plotted out two-thirds of it, my world-building is some of my strongest yet, and everything just feels right. So, I feel that makes me a NaNo winner. I’m really happy with my results this month.

And just like Tish in this illustration by May Wilson Preston, I’m going to keep bumping along through December. This is going to be a great ride!

And how was your November? And what are your plans and strategies for December?

Michaeline: Research vs. Writing, a NaNo Battle Royale

A man trying to escape a circle of files

I don’t feel like this, yet . . . . The hard part is figuring out when I’ve got enough research, and when I’ve boxed myself in with research. (Thanks to Wikimedia Commons)

I’m feeling a little like a NaNo failure this week. Last week, I didn’t make my word count, but at least I wrote every single day. This week, I didn’t make my word count, and only wrote three days. The plot for the next several scenes is in my head, but not on the page, and that feels like a failure to me.

I did research, though. I don’t think NaNo is really set up for historical novels, unless the writer already has a firm “historical world” built up in her or his head already. I’m finding it so difficult to write without a firm patch under my feet. The research really is necessary.

On the other hand, I spent all of October “researching” – rather directionless with only a vague idea as to location (New York, which is a very big city), and time (1880 to 1914 – which is a time of huge change). It’s only when I started writing that my research started forming that firm patch beneath my feet.

All I can say is thank goodness I’m writing in a time with lots of newspapers, pictures, photographs and people recording what went on – the exciting thing is that Edison’s wax records were available in 1899, Continue reading

Michaeline: Are NaNo writers naturally insane?

Impressionist drawing of a gay young woman in a green dress, leered at by men in costumes.

Oh, the dizzy marvelousness of NaNo’s first week! Nothing is clear, but all is gay and bright! (Via Wikimedia Commons. Jules Cheret)

Are all writers naturally insane?

Or is it more that writing causes insanity? I have a feeling it’s mutually enabling.

At any rate, if you want sane and standard advice about National Novel Writing Month, I recommend my blog post from the first week of November, 2014.

If you want commiseration or a good cynical laugh, read on.

Continue reading

Michaeline: Decisions, Decisions

Lady beast tamer, surrounded by lions and tigers.

Choices, choices. The tigers I know, or the lions unexplored? (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Here we are, firmly set in the grasp of autumn, six weeks into the school year for some of us, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) is on the horizon.

This week, I’m looking at bigger goals with my writing. What do I really want to do? And how can I take the steps to achieve my desires?

I think my choices basically boil down to two: I can either work slowly to finish The Djini and Ms. Jones, or I can spend October filling my head with stuff for the start of NaNo. If I did decide to write a first draft in November, I’d go back to Bunny Blavatsky, a Gilded Age photographer and Spiritual investigator. Continue reading

Michaeline: Photos and Memories as Writing Tools

Iris Gardens at Meiji Shrine on a sunny day. A photographer takes a picture of the painter capturing the flowers in full bloom.

The Iris Gardens at Meiji Shrine. We’re often driven to capture reality, whether it’s in pixels or oils or words. (©Michaeline Duskova, 2014)

I just got back from Tokyo last week, where I “walked the walk” of my characters in my 2013 NaNo, Little Affair in Greater Tokyo.

Going to Tokyo is a big deal for me because I live on the island of Hokkaido. But unusually, this was my third time in Tokyo in as many years, so I could ignore some of the first-time tourist distractions and go a bit deeper into my research.

When I was writing my NaNo in November, I got stuck in some of the half-remembered details. I looked at my pictures from my Tokyo trip, and they helped trigger my memories, but I remember thinking, “Man, these pictures suck. And there aren’t nearly enough of them!” I wound up Continue reading