Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 10: Daily Pace

“Comfortable” for me, is a steady pace of about 1500 words a day.

There are many days I struggle with it; there are days I flow far past it. But my daily quota must be hit in order for the day to be a “success.”

In order to achieve my goal during this month, I have to push myself. That’s good, because it makes you stretch and grow. It’s bad, because too many days in a row past the comfort zone can wear you out.

In daily life, beyond this month, find out what you feel is a comfortable pace, and set that as your goal every day. Whether it’s pages or word count, find your personal flow. Make that your commitment to yourself — you are going to write X pages per day. And do it. If the writing is going well, keep going. If it’s a struggle, work your way through the struggle and don’t give up until you reach the goal.

Don’t set “hours”. Although “stolen time” is often necessary in our overwhelmed lives, if you say, “I’ll write for three hours today”, you may spend two hours and 55 minutes of that time staring at a blank screen and only write three words. Set a word count or a page count. If you need to “steal time” to meet it, do so. But words and page goals will serve you better than time goals.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 10, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 9: Go With the Flow of Your Novel

So, we’re into week 2 now.

Hopefully, you’ve started trusting your characters, and you can keep self-doubt at bay. It’s a case of just sit down and do as many words as you can each day. Keep moving forward.

This is the point where, in one instance, my book switched genres.

Right now, I have to let the book be what it is. I have to trust in it, and in my subconscious. Yes, ultimately, we are the god in the process – we are the creative beings who manipulate and make the decisions in our fictional worlds. But when we consciously try to control too much, we often shoot ourselves in the foot (or in our collective feet).

Letting go, going with the flow, trusting the characters isn’t about losing creative control – it’s about getting in touch with the part of your subconscious that knows what will work better than you do.

So trust it.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 9, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 9: Go With the Flow of Your Novel  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 8: First Week/Inspiration for the Weary

This is the one-week point. You’ve survived an entire week! Woo-hoo! Congratulations! Have I told you recently how proud I am of you? I am – very, very proud.

The second week is difficult because that’s when you tend to hit a wall. The fresh bloom of love sometimes passes in the project, and it becomes hard work. And sometimes that’s what writing is – work. You push through the tough parts until you reach another place where it flows and you get that inky high again.

Here are some of my favorite books that I read over and over again when I start having trouble putting words on the page. I don’t use any of them as the be-all and end-all, but I use bits and pieces to help fuel me:

MAKING A LITERARY LIFE by Carolyn See
ESCAPING INTO THE OPEN by Elizabeth Berg
SOMETIMES THE MAGIC WORKS by Terry Brooks
WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George (my process is soooo different, but she has some good ideas)
THE RIGHT TO WRITE by Julia Cameron (the only one of her books I like)
THUNDER AND LIGHTNING by Natalie Goldberg (the best of her writing books, in my opinion)
Any of the Paris Review interviews edited by George Plimpton

There are plenty of other writing books worth reading, but these are the ones I go back to, time and time again, when I get tired.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 7: Competition

The only person you’re in competition with is yourself.

Publishers, agents, and editors like to pit us against each other, but, in reality, we’re all in this together. Some of us will go farther because we bothered to learn the protocols and the grammar and the business side of it. Some of us will find mentors; some of us will work hard and combine talent AND business acumen; some of us will get a lucky break AND make the most of it. But all of us are in competition with ourselves to write the best book possible in our own vision.

Sometimes that’s difficult to remember when you look around and see higher word counts from other writers on blogs or websites or Facebook or Twitter or in sprints.

Good for them.

I like to get a good daily word count in there early because I’m well aware that, at any point, I could hit a wall.

And then I’ll have to figure out how to:
Climb over it
Burrow under it
Plow through it
Go around it
Blow it up

One of the most positive aspects you can take away from this experience, is that, for one month, you had enough self-respect for your writing to sit down every day and do something.

If you don’t respect your own writing time and writing, why would anyone else respect it either? It starts with you.

If you can take that beyond this month, you’ll have won, no matter what your final word count.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 7, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 7: Competition  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 6: Speed

Should you write fast?

1000 words per day is not fast. It’s steady. Some days you’ll do more; some days you’ll fight to reach your goal. But 1000 words per day is a steady, sane pace that will serve you well in most situations. If you fall behind and you have a hard deadline (such as a contract), you will have to compress your process and write faster. If you don’t have a hard deadline, you can slow down, but if you slow too far down, you run into the risk of stopping the daily writing and not finishing.

Once you get it down on paper, you can rearrange it and make it pretty. It’s good to sometimes push yourself. Challenge yourself. Go beyond your self-imposed limits. And just do it.

Thousands of people ran the New York City marathon. This is a marathon of words.

But doubt definitely lingers, and, at least once a day, I think to myself, “whatever am I going to do with this big fat mess?”

Shape something out of it, once all those words are vomited out.

There never will BE time. You MAKE it.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 6, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 6: Speed  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 5: Keep Ahead of the Pace

I got some scribbling done in the notebook, and because I got ahead of myself this week, I could ease up today and not worry about a slower pace due to physical and mental fatigue.

So, whenever you have a chance to do a few pages or even more words than your daily goal, grasp it and build yourself a cushion for the days when life gets in the way.

My personal goal one year was to hit 12,500 words by today, and I passed it. I’m going to push hard again on as many days as possible this week, with a hope to hit 25,000 words by the 10th, the way I did on that particular year. Again, this is more than necessary, but it allows me to bank words. As long as you keep your minimum daily quota, you’re fine. If you’re having a good day, keep going as long as you can; if you’re having a bad day, push yourself to make the minimum.

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 5, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 5: Keep Ahead of the Pace  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days: Day 3: Distractions

Click, click, click go the typewriter keys. Scratch, scratch, scratch goes the pen on the paper, when I’m writing away from my desk.

Somehow, we move forward.

Now, my big challenge is not to get distracted by interesting secondary characters. I like large, ensemble casts. But some pieces need to keep a tight focus. Sometimes, it doesn’t think it will work if I sprawl and then cut back.

And today’s biggest challenge was to keep the internal editor from banging down the door. Every few sentences, I kept thinking, “I’m going to have to change this.” But I kept going, because it’s the polish that the changes will add, not the basic plot and character development.

When the internal editor starts annoying me, I send her on vacation to Tahiti for the month, promising we’ll do good work together when she returns in a few months. If she bothers me during the month, I say, “Aren’t you supposed to be on a beach in Tahiti? See you later!”

Having that conversation with that other part of my psyche helps me keep the focus where it needs to be for these thirty days – on the writing.

If you get a “great idea” for something else – take a moment, jot it down, but get back to what you’re working on NOW. Don’t keep getting distracted by the shiny. Stay focused. Very often “great ideas” are only other forms of self-sabotage and procrastination. If they are truly “great”, they will still be there when you’re done with this draft.

Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days Day 2: Recover and Keep Going

Have you recovered from your first day?

I want to keep going, past that first chapter. When it goes well, I want to go with the flow, and “write myself out”. However, I don’t want burn out, so I make myself stop. Usually the most I’ll allow myself in a single day is 5K on one project (unless I’m behind on a deadline).

My goal is to do one chapter per day. It takes me between an hour and a half and two hours to do the pages for the day, so I’m factoring that in to my daily life.

I try to get a bit ahead in the early days to give myself some breathing room.

The point of a first draft is to keep moving forward. Track changes – either in your manuscript in a different color or in notes. That way, you don’t lose ideas, but you keep moving forward.

I catch myself in some of my usual bad first draft habits. I overuse the word “just”. I’m aware of it, but I’m not going to stress about it until the next draft, when out comes the Red Machete. If it’s important to a particular character’s speech pattern, I’ll leave it. Otherwise . . .out it goes. One year, I caught myself using the word “entice” a bit too much – time to get out the thesaurus!

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 2, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Nano 30 Tips for 30 Days Day 1: We’re Off!

Are you in your first frenzy, as exciting as falling in love? Or are you paralyzed and panicked?

Just remember – words on paper. That’s what counts.

Set down a word. Invite a friend for the word. Pretty soon, it’s like the Pied Piper, one following the other!

Come Write In! Tuesdays 11-1, Thursdays 2-4, Marstons Mills Public Library, 2160 Main St., Marstons Mills, MA

Published in: on November 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Wed. Oct. 21, 2015: Tightrope

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Waxing Moon
Cloudy and cold

I was sick for a good part of the weekend — not the way I wanted to spend my days off, but that’s the way it goes. It couldn’t seem to decide if it was a stomach bug or chills/fever or respiratory–although it was a steady migraine all the way through.

In spite of it all, I managed to do a lot of running around for Spectacle of the Trees for the Marine Life Center, and designed another tree display for the house.

On top of it, I found out that the big glowing eyeball in the front yard not only glows — it changes color! Of course, you have to turn it on first!

In spite of the illness, I managed to get some really good writing in. I need to let go of the ego aspect of Nano, of getting in all those 50K in 30 days, and just keep steadily working on this book I believe in. “Writing with”, not “doing.”

My 91-year-old mother got her driver’s license renewed — she’s pretty excited. As I said, she breezed through her eye test and has all her marbles, so why not?

Yesterday, I was well enough to have a great lunch at Sam Diego’s with a writer friend. We haven’t had the chance for a good natter in a long time, so it was a great catch-up.

Long day today at work, and then I’m going to swing by the Keller Williams Training Center to drop off schedules for the first Cape Cod NanoWriMo Brainstorming session.

Starting tomorrow, I will have a daily prep tip until the end of the month, and then a writing tip for every day of November. They’ll be here on the blog, but set apart from the regular posts.

Stop by! Or stop by the Marstons Mills Public Library on Tuesday from 11-1 and Thursdays from 2-4 for informal “Come Write In!” sessions.

Because we’re hitting November, so it’s all about the writing!

Devon

Published in: on October 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm  Comments Off on Wed. Oct. 21, 2015: Tightrope  
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