News

Camp NaNoWriMo: The First Days

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I am once again blogging at Google + on my writing experience during a NaNoWriMo event, this time Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve never participated in Camp NaNo before, and it’s different from the November event fer sure. It’s casual and uses camping motifs. I’m not posting every day like I did before, but here are the ones for the opening weekend.

1 June 2012

I hadn’t written the minimum number of words, I realised, when I checked the word count in iA Writer after I’d finished my first chapter. Do I try and add more or make up the word count tomorrow? Oh, what the heck, the scene could use more details, maybe stretch out the bickering between the first two characters of my story. Sometimes word count goals are useful. The scene, I think, is much better for adding another 200 words. But still I’m short 59 words. Oh well. I’ll make THOSE up tomorrow.

Oh yeah, didn’t I mention? I’m in Camp NaNoWriMo! The summer version of the annual National Novel Writing Month that I participate in every November, for the last three years anyway. I thought I would try this new event in June with a lighter kind of novel, one that doesn’t require extensive background reading or research. I need a break after all the physics I learnt (and relearnt) last summer!

I wasn’t sure how it’d go, if I could do it at this time of year, especially as I have other books I’m supposed to be revising and preparing. But I’m liking it — so far. I’m feeling pretty peppy after typing out 1,609 words using my Apple Bluetooth keyboard. No way I could type out that many words using the iPad’s onscreen typepad. Let’s hope tomorrow goes as well!

(Check out the comment on G+.)

2 June 2012

When I awoke this morning, I absolutely didn’t feel like writing, mostly because apart from a couple of lines, I had no idea what I’d write. Plus I hadn’t decided on two of the characters’ human names yet, and I needed them now, that is, if they were going to appear in the last chapter. Of course, I got out my iPad anyway and began writing, whether I wanted to or not. Camp NaNoWriMo was bustling with activity and calling me to get in on the action.

The two nameless characters had to appear at the start of the chapter. I wrote and hoped their names would appear on the screen like magic. Well, not like magic, but close enough, long enough to get the main action of this final chapter going. I say “final” because I usually start writing my novels wih the last chapter. I like to know where I’m going. This month was slightly different in that I began with the first chapter, or probably more like the prologue, because I needed to know where I was starting before I could know for sure where I’d be ending up.

More words today than yesterday, yay! 1,846

News

Getting Down to Revising Time and Space, my Third NaNoWriMo Novel

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After my first NaNoWriMo, I took only a couple of days off and then got right into revising my novel, while I could still remember it. After my second, I didn’t. Big mistake. Between the inevitable loss of motivation, impetus, and memory issues, revising Aban’s Accension became difficult and almost didn’t happen. And so for my third kick at NaNoWriMo, I told myself, I must revise right away — in December.

That’s what I told myself.

Yup.

I was determined to start the first week of December.

Yup, determined.

Didn’t happen.

Fatigue and appointments kind of got in the way. Or so that’s the excuse I gave myself. But during a stern session Monday with the therapist who helps me set goals and figure out how to organize my schedule to meet them, I recorded in my iPod Pocket Informant calendar that today I would start revising. Easier written down than done.

I began the day with my NaNoWriMo pre-writing routine of breakfast and hot chocolate. I made myself some coffee. I took it and a big glass of ice water (writing is thirsty work) to my computer and promptly procrastinated.

But if my energy levels are up to the task, my schedule is a powerful force on me. When I see something written down, it’s like a magnet drawing me in to obey. And so I finally did by deciding to begin gently. I began with making the changes and additions I’d jotted down in my Script Frenzy Moleskine notebook as I was writing last month. It wasn’t so bad, and I got through two pages of notes. I also blogged on Google+ afterwards, like during NaNoWriMo, and copied my thoughts here.

The ice is now broken. Revising should become easier and easier in the coming weeks.

Brain Health

Mental Work Up + Exercise Staying the Same = Energy Way, Way Down with Brain Injury

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I learned a valuable lesson this NaNoWriMo.

As some of you many know, I began my own self-devised hypothalamus treatment in 2010 to try and address a variety of organic problems that resulted from a traumatic brain injury in 2000. One of the nice side benefits was my exercise tolerance slowly improved. Then this past October, I started being able to walk farther. I could walk to nearby places I hadn’t been able to for years. Very liberating — although as is my wont, I kind of overdid it. But that wasn’t the lesson.

NaNoWriMoNational Novel Writing Month — is a month of writing a 50,000-word novel every single day of the month. It’s taxing, both physically (if you’re typing for hours a day) and mentally (for obvious reasons). I had planned my month out carefully. I knew that writing every day would be a huge drain on my mental energy resources. I knew that it would be challenging cognitively. I didn’t figure on any greater duress on my muscles because I don’t write for hours. I don’t have the stamina for it. So I write a lot of words in a little amount of time. But daily writing is physically taxing in an energy sense. By the time I’m done writing, I’m fatigued in every way possible.

I suppose I could pace, but I’ve learned that the way fatigue works for me is that once I stop, it’s very difficult for me to start again and to remember where I was. It’s easier to keep going, feeling the energy drain out of my muscles and my brain, than to stop because then I can complete a chapter and it’s fairly coherent.

This year I wanted to blog on my NaNoWriMo progress, and Google+ provided the absolute easiest way to do it. Just write and press Share. I blogged right after I wrote each chapter (well, after a short snack break after I wrote each chapter) before I forgot the things that had cropped up during that day’s writing. It was probably not the wisest thing to do because it just compounded my fatigue and made it harder to recover. But that wasn’t the lesson.

I began to notice myself getting extremely weak and mentally stalled as the days wore on. I poured everything I had into my writing. Yet I was beginning to wake up so tired, I had barely anything to pour into it. I’d remind myself I wrote Lifeliner when fatigue was much, much worse than now, when it would’ve been impossible for me to write daily. Didn’t help. Then after a couple of weeks of will powering my way through NaNoWriMo and wondering if I’d ever have a scintilla of energy again, it dawned on me that I had not remembered a lesson I’d learned from my brain biofeedback treatment days: mental work is as taxing as exercise to a person with a brain injury. No wonder I was getting short of breath again. No wonder my body temperature returned to burn levels instead of the broil it had been on.

Increasing mental work while not decreasing physical exercise commensurately was a really bad idea.

That was my lesson.

I scaled back my exercise down to 20 minutes (or 10 on some days) from 30, and I didn’t exercise on days I went to physio or to see the doctor. And suddenly my energy rose up enough for me to take some pleasure from my writing and for my days not to be an endless desire for sleep and rest.

I am now scaling back up to my old exercise times, but it’s taking longer than I’d expected. That’s probably because I’m still recovering energy-wise from NaNoWriMo, and the appointments I’d been putting off until December have started. No rest for the weary.

News

The Final Few Days of NaNoWriMo 2011

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The final week of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was difficult. I’d get back to my outline, only to go meh and deviate again. Plus once I won NaNoWriMo on the 24th — reached 50,000 words — I really, really, really wanted to finish my novel Time and Space so I could rest, see how it finally unfolded, and do some more thinking on my time machine. And I did! Here are my final posts in the final week of NaNoWriMo 2011: click the links to see the original posts on Google+ including a few comments.

November 22

NaNoWriMo claims that at the rate I’m pounding out the words, I’ll finish — that is, get to 50k words — today. Uh, no. Methinks their computer will be changing that prediction tomorrow. Make no mistake though, I had a decent writing session this morning. I’m not sure I finished the chapter where it needs to be finished, but it is for now. Perhaps in revisions I’ll see something more that needs to be added at the end. But 1688 words that came out in spits and starts and flows and stops, is satisfying.

November 23

Back to my outline today, though looks like I’ll deviate again tomorrow. I’ve made such big changes in the last few chapters, I really should update it so that when I go to revise my manuscript, I won’t get lost.

I began this morning’s NaNoWriMo session by jotting down the steps to make the time machine as a guide for today’s chapter. But in the end, I didn’t need it, for I didn’t start building the machine in today’s action. I will tomorrow. It’ll save me some time tomorrow anyway for having done that today. I haven’t done much of that — writing down “facts” I’ll need to follow while writing. I thought I would have to. But I’ve been winging it, letting my fingers show me the way. I’ll “fact” check during the revisions, but I think it’s ended up being a more enjoyable experience having done it this backwards way around. It’s not like I haven’t thought about it at great length for months, and what I’ve relearnt and thought about has certainly come out in my writing. It’s the tenuous parts and the consistency parts I’ve left up to my imagination. It’s surprising the things I’ve invented. I think they’re viable in some distant future … maybe! πŸ™‚

2019 words today. I’m oh so close to 50k. Tomorrow for sure, I’ll finish NaNoWriMo, albeit not my novel.

(On a totally unrelated note, why oh why does Google add extra paragraph breaks [or random letters to the end of my posts] requiring me to edit my post to take them out? Once I edit, at least Google doesn’t repeat the error. But it is annoying.)

November 24

Woot! My total word count as of today is an eye-pleasing 51515. I like patterns in numbers especially since I have now passed the 50k mark to win NaNoWriMo, which today it predicted would be — today! Well, actually I don’t technically win until I submit my masterpiece (self-deprecating tone in there folks) to NaNoWriMo for them to count up each and every word. But one milestone passed. Now to finish the novel!

November 25

Today’s outline didn’t make any logical sense as to how my main character would end up in the hospital, in an isolation room. So I changed it just enough to fit in with the rest of the book and still have her end up locked up and then rescued. A lot of back and forth as I filled in previous details as I went along. And then I picked up steam in the last few paragraphs. 2393 words today as I pull away from the 50k NaNoWriMo goal. πŸ™‚

November 26

NaNoWriMo sent a pep talk for week 4 from Brandon Sanderson a few days ago. I put off reading it because I wanted to have it for when I really needed a push. Today was that day. Although I’m enjoying the writing, having fun with my story, I want a break. I want to lie on the couch and be indolent. I want to rest and recharge properly instead of lurching from writing session to writing session. But as I have learnt, once you stop the momentum, it’s almost impossible to begin again and far more difficult than to keep going, no matter how exhausted one is. Look how long it took me to get back into revising my second novel when I stopped? Forever.

Sanderson’s pep talk was just the ticket. ToNaNo (the Toronto Chapter of National Novel Writing Month) has been posting daily pep talks. Members have signed up for each day of November. I’ve read many of those, some brilliant, some so-so, although I have to admit the really long ones I skipped because my mind would wander and get drained. But it’s the official ones that have the real kick; they’re the ones that get me going when I can’t move from the kitchen table after breakfast.

Sanderson talked about the lessons of NaNoWriMo: Learning to finish (kick #1 — just because I finished 2009 and 2010, doesn’t mean 2011 is a given for me, especially if I don’t get to the computer and write, I thought when I read this). Consistency vs. Burst writing (hmmm… I think I’m a burst writer). Thinking like a Storyteller. This part really resonated with me:

One of the lessons I learned as a storyteller was how to refill the creative well while doing other activities. You can do it while driving, exercising, eating . . . anything that doesn’t take your full attention. During these times, many writers I know run through plots in their heads, feel out character personalities, think about conflicts. They make connections, overcoming blocks.

I had been dreaming of my book last night; I was adding details over breakfast this morning. Was I really going to let down my imagination and not make anything of what it was creating?

And his last lesson: Overcoming Writer’s Block. This is not usually a problem for me. But his advice to just keep writing in order to keep that momentum going, to keep in the groove so that the good writing could return, hit home. Not all my writing has to be non-stop typing. It’s okay if my words come in spits and spurts or with great wrenching to get them out — so long as I stay at the computer until I’m done. (Pacing is the mantra for those with brain injuries; one must pace, we are taught. Write ten minutes, pause for three. Talk about breaking the momentum. Pacing is antithetical to writing, for me anyway. I pace, my writing flow stops. It’s better to finish the scene or chapter until I “feel” finished; I can recover after that.)

So one more chapter done. 1561 words for today. My chapters are short. πŸ™‚

November 27

I decided to make today a marathon writing session because the last few chapters are connected. (Plus I want it to be over! I’m impatient to see how it will turn out!) Even so, I still lost track of character changes and physics details and weather stuff. Sheesh. Better go back and fix the weather while I remember and am still in a writing mood. I ache, my neck is stiff, my eyes are heavy, despite the breaks I took, the chocolate I ate, the coffee I drank, and my usual cranioelectrical stimulation regimen. But I’m ready to revise. Go figure.

Before I begin real revisions though, I need a few days to think about my time machine. Do I want it to work the way I have it working? Or does it need changing? Changing will be a pain because there are so many outflows from it. But if another method works better, I should just bite the bullet and make all the changes. First though, a few days to think on it.

8105 words today (make that 8396 after fixing weather details). It has to be some sort of record for me. I am so thankful I finished both NaNoWriMo and my novel and am a bit in disbelief at it too. When it sinks in, I’ll celebrate! With revision time!! πŸ˜›

News

NaNoWriMo Week Three: Passing 40K!

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Good grief! Week three of NaNoWriMo is over already! It’s been a week of straying more and more from my outline while still heading to the same ending for Time and Space I’d envisioned many moons ago. It’s been a week of fighting fatigue and of energizing excitement over letting my imagination loose. And the week I passed 40,000 words. Woot!

November 15

Writing is therapy, they say, meaning writing about what troubles you is therapy. For me, the very act of writing is therapy. It’s a also great distraction from everyday troubles because all of my cognitive and creative processes are working overtime during the act of writing. Even my subconscious is engaged. Today’s NaNoWriMo was partly having to work out and describe the cultural norms in my future version of Toronto and partly writing therapy to escape the knowledge of my birthday tomorrow; the session went on for a very long time. My muscles and fingers are feeling it. But my word count is happy, if such an inanimate concept can be said to be happy. 3515 words. I’m ahead of my main competitors. πŸ™‚

November 16

It’s my birthday. Of course I began it the best and only way I can: writing! NaNoWriMo and my time travel novel wait for no birthday to be over and regular routine to reassert itself. Today’s chapter was a continuation of a shopping and learning-about-the-future society journey my character started on two chapters ago. I think I’ve now filled in all the details about how this society thinks and acts. I’m sure during revisions, I’ll notice many gaps that will have to be filled in and details to be fleshed out. But I’m happy with this morning’s writing. It feels complete with nothing forgotten. 2771 words. I’m really pulling ahead of my goal word count now!

November 17

Two days of heavy writing have knocked me out. Thankfully, today’s scene was short. It seemed fairly straightforward too, and then I began writing my first paragraph. It went off in a different direction. Whoa. I had to reign my runaway fingers in and focus, focus, focus on the topic at hand, or the scene I’d originally envisioned anyway. I can’t move the plot forward if I’m obsessed with dogs.

November 18

I did the necessary today, the bare bones of a transition kind of chapter for my NaNoWriMo novel “Time and Space”. Or maybe I should say it’s a pivotal one, one that doesn’t need to be long but changes the course of my main character’s journey … for the moment. 1278 words.

November 19

I’ve reached and passed the 40k mark for NaNoWriMo! Yay! That’s all I got to say today. Today’s chapter wiped. me. out.

November 20

It makes a big difference when I have my normal (albeit low) levels of energy, instead of being so fagged I don’t want to move never mind think, like I have been for too many days. Having even some energy makes writing not a chore but exciting.

I looked at what was on tap today and made a face. Boring. And not right. Doesn’t fit. Doesn’t work. So I looked at little ahead in my outline, a little behind. Thought about it, remembered where I had left off yesterday, opened a blank page in WordPerfect and went off in a slightly but significantly different direction. I came to a pause, rather liked that line as the last one in the chapter, but was not happy with the word count: about 1400 words, over 200 words short of the NaNoWriMo suggested daily count. So I scanned back up my chapter, saw that one of my characters, Hope, really should say more. Wondered what? And then told myself, let her rip, let her loose, just let my fingers obey my instincts. So I did. I feel good. 2151 words (which according to NaNoWriMo is my daily average word count!).

Don’t forget that for this month only, in honour of my third NaNoWriMo, my first highly rated NaNo novel “She” ebook is on sale for 99Β’ only!

At Amazon US

and Amazon UK

and Smashwords with coupon code PZ44G.

And now I’m getting offline to go snack and read. Happy Sunday! πŸ™‚

November 21

My writing session was rudely interrupted by appointments this morning. Still, I had typed fast enough that I stopped at a natural break. I’ve completely left my outline now (though I think I’ll be returning to it tomorrow) — which is like walking on a tightrope over Niagara Falls without a safety harness — exhilirating and scary — and so the question for me was: was that break the end of the chapter or should I write one more scene? By the end of the day, I’d decided: time to write one more scene. NOW the chapter is complete. Two short writing stints equals one fat word count. And I think I really, finally have explained everything about this society and its tech … maybe. I’m only two-thirds of the way through the book though, lots of time left to explain more if needed. A little mystery is good! (I know, I know. Confusion is not.)

3179 words total for today. I should have cake after this. But I’ll content myself with a hot chocolate. πŸ™‚

News

NaNoWriMo Week Two

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I can’t believe I’m still going strong this National Novel Writing Month. Some days are harder than others, tis true, but haven’t yet hit the mid-month slump as you can see on my brand-new NaNoWriMo Word Count Widget on the right sidebar. The Office of Letters and Light was a tad slow in getting the widgets out this year, but they’re here! I decided to use the month one for a change. You can now see how I do every day in just one glance. Red is for no writing (tsk); yellow for being below daily word target; and green for yay, she hit and exceeded the daily word count goal! So without further ado, here’s week two as I blogged it on Google+.

November 8

More difficult going today for NaNoWriMo. I had to go back and forth between the Index Card app on my iPad, to remind me what today’s chapter was about, and Penultimate app, to look and look again at the sketches of the new setting and new characters. As a result, I didn’t stray too far from what I’d planned. Sometimes whole new angles crop up as I write. Not today. Though I did make a decision on the dog character, something I’d been waffling over. Not anymore!

Still, I was not happy to be interrupted early in the writing process by a call from my case manager, saying she couldn’t come today. And of course she was only available on days that didn’t work for me when we tried to reschedule. Crap. I was sputtering along till she called. Maybe being annoyed by once again having my schedule dictated by others helped. After that, I sped up, and soon I was typing along. My fingers hurt. But that’s OK by me! I got 2028 words written this morn.

November 9

I took Classical Civilizations in Grade 9. My teacher: Mr Payne, a florid man with well-worn skin who kept a 40-ouncer in his office desk drawer and gave incredibly fascinating lessons on ancient Greek and Roman societies, philosophers, and literature. I have never forgotten his lesson on Plato’s realism or forms, particularly the day he shook a desk and told us in a loud voice that this was a copy.

I thought of him when I was devising my transporter for my NaNoWriMo novel “Time and Space” (http://nanowrimo.org/en/participants/shireenj/novels/time-and-space) but not for long. Today though, Payne and Plato came back into my head as I wondered what one of my character’s ought to read aloud. Suddenly, I knew. I didn’t have the requisite books in my own library — we used school textbooks or translations back in grade 9 — but Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page) and Calibre (http://calibre-ebook.com) ebook reading software came to the rescue.

2092 words for today’s NaNoWriMo writing marathon. Snack time!

November 10

I watched The Illusion of Time on PBS’s NOVA last night. I was hoping to learn something new about time and time travel. I did learn one thing, but most of it cemented what I had already learnt. Seeing the same information presented in a different way means the knowledge sticks a little better in the memory banks anyway. A good thing.

So having learnt everything I can about time and time travel, it was time to write my how-to-build-a-time-machine chapter. A lot more stuff came into the chapter as I wrote. I think I was procrastinating getting to the time of the matter. But I finally got there. Wrote it out. Looked at it. Checked my notes. Fleshed it out. And I think enough of the bones and details are there for me to know what I was thinking when it comes time to revise the novel.

I was going to add some details to previous chapters that had flitted in and out of my head yesterday and today. But I’ve run out of time, energy time that is, and my head needs chocolate! Perhaps tonight I will be able to focus and think. 2519 words today.

November 12

It’s a procrastinating, vascillating, restless kind of writing day. I read the paper and Zite on my iPad, drank hot chocolate, made coffee, anything to avoid writing. I read the NaNoWriMo pep talk of the week and finally felt initiated enough to sit down at the computer. The chapter doesn’t go exactly as planned. Right off the top, my writing starts to go off on a bit of a tangent from my outline. Eventually I finish, but it doesn’t feel right. I’m restless, I head for the fridge, I’m not hungry, I head back to the computer. I work again on some of the dialogue. Details appear I hadn’t expected. Cool. I’m still not entirely happy as in I-feel-something’s-missing unhappy. But the brain isn’t producing, so time for lunch. Maybe this aft, I’ll find it, whatever “it” is.

2279 words today. I’m 700 short of the halfway point. I can’t believe that! But I can’t believe how far we’re into November either!

November 13

One should not write about French Toast on a weekend morning at brunch time. And one definitely shouldn’t write an entire scene during which the characters are eating said French Toast with puddles of maple syrup and heaps of berries. I am starving! Although after interspersing dialogue with descriptions of the diminishing French Toast on their plates, it’s not so bad as at the beginning. I guess OD’ing on an image does have its rewards.

2129 words for today’s NaNoWriMo session. Best of all, I’m well past the halfway mark now. NaNoWriMo says I’ll be done by November 23rd. I wish. Hopefully, if I keep my word count up — not always a sure thing during the saggy middle — I’ll get to the 50k mark then, but I wont’ be done my novel. Onwards!

November 14

So I had to do some thinking this morning. I had done a lot in the last few months, but not enough apparently! It’s amazing how much knowledge we store in our heads about our environment, how things work, things like infrastructure and language and names and classes and races and genders. My Toronto of the future is not like today’s, and where things are the same, there’s a reason for that. But I got tired of thinking and just decided to write and see what comes out. Of course, this means lots of inconsistency can pop up, which means needing an eagle eye during revisions or revising for one aspect of life in the future at a time. I’ll probably do the latter. It’s how I did it for my previous two novels, given I can’t hold a lot of different details in my head at the same time.

Fewer words today although more pages. That’s dialogue and short paragraphs for you. 1995.

News

Week One of NaNoWriMo

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It’s November, so it must be National Novel Writing Month time. This year I’m writing a Sci Fi Time Travel novel set in the future and in Toronto, of course. NaNoWriMo, as it’s affectionately known, has done a major overhaul of its site, and so some elements have not been created yet, including the word count widget that usually resides on my website. But never mind. I have discovered Google+ and am blogging there on my NaNo adventures after every writing session (which may or may not be every day). It’s an easy platform to blog on for quick and short spewing of thoughts. Every week, I’ll gather those posts and copy them here for your edification. The dates will be linked to the original posts where you can also read comments, if any are there.

1 November 2011

So NaNoWriMo began today. Usually, I’m so pent up in excitement and nerves, I can’t sleep the night before. But as +Errol Elumir put it in a tweet, I felt burnt out before it had even begun.

I’d been thinking about this novel since at least May, had been doing background reading since the summer, had been outlining and sketching it out for the last couple of months, had planned on writing up cheat sheets before November 1st, but life got in the way. And I so totally don’t feel ready; I feel in great need of a month-long nap first!

Time though stops for no one. It just keeps churning through each day until suddenly November 1st is here, and it’s time! That by the way, is a major theme in my new NaNoWriMo Novel: time. And space. Hence the name: Time and Space. Hahaha. Ahem. Anyway got the first chapter done. It helped that I’d written a few lines back in May and had saved them in my iPod Touch’s Notepad app and now that I have the newest version of the device and iOS, I was able to print it out to put before my eyes and inspire me. Now to go find a snack.

2 November 2011

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo went way better than Day 1. I had a couple of thoughts in semi-sleep last night about chapter one, remembered one of those thoughts, and made the changes. I reminded myself of how I ended chapter one, and then opened a blank document to start typing chapter two.

It was slow going at first, but this chapter is mostly about description and dialogue, not much plot movement, seeing as they’re in a ship and all. Once I got into those, especially the dialogue, I had fun, and the words flowed. It’s strange how voices come to me, how I know how to write dialogue for the different characters. I hadn’t thought much about how English would be for these characters, and in the end, the language was short, staccato, no casual words. It seems to fit. Of course, it isn’t at all what English will be like in a thousand years, and maybe I’ll have to add some sort of sentence that they’ve learned to speak her language so that she can understand to explain away why they speak our English. But at this point, I have the main bones down. 1960 words, a decent count.

3Β  November 2011

The biggest problem with writing, I find, is fear: fear of, can I write? Fear of, will anything come or will I just sit there staring gaga at the screen? Fear of, have I prepared enough, am I ready? But the biggest fear for me is will my energy last until I’ve finished my chapter? I suppose I could break up writing a chapter into two or more parts, but I found early on, back when I was writing “Lifeliner,” that if I did that, if I took breaks or did the pacing thing I was taught, the writing came to a stop. I lost the flow of my thoughts, I forgot where I was going and where I’d been. It was crap.

So I write a chapter in one go, hoping I can type fast enough to do it in an hour, and fuel myself with coffee and chocolate beforehand and ice water during. That Script Frenzy mug I received after my first Script Frenzy is the right size for my water-guzzling needs!

I had a lot of the caffeine-and-sweet stuff swirling around in my system this evening, and so I wrote another chapter. My imagination was on fire, and my energy was pretty darn good for the first time this NaNoWriMo. Four chapters done. 1919 words written tonight. Woot!

5 November 2011

The sun is such an energy giver. It’s blinding outside today, the sun is so strong. But it plus chocolate plus coffee plus ice water (I know, not the usual kind of writer fuel), have powered my words on today.

It was a slow start to the morning, and it didn’t help that I read an article in the “Toronto Star” about brain injury, specifically mild traumatic brain injury (which is what I have) that veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering from in droves due to concussive devices — IEDs. I was in a thoroughly bad mood by the end of it, even though it talked a lot about some of the new research into detecting this invisible injury, because it had brought back bad memories and reminded me of how abysmal brain injury detection and treatment is in Canada and how shockingly bad our veterans are treated. “Lagging behind,” is how the writer put it. I think that’s an understatement. But my Twitter followers bucked me up, reading @NaNoWordSprints inspired me, and off I went to my computer. 1866 words for chapter 5, almost all dialogue. Tis more fun to write, and my fingers had a hard time keeping up with my subconscious spilling out the words today. A good thing!

6 November 2011

One should not stay up late watching Masterpiece Mystery on PBS when doing NaNoWriMo, not even the night/wee hours before the clocks fall back. On the other hand, somehow sleep deprivation got me to break the 2000-word mark for the first time this NaNoWriMo! Woot! 2112 words today. I like the pattern of that number.Now I can turn off my computer and return to my regular Sunday schedule of being off computer, off the Internet (except to read the news, natch).

7 November 2011

An important chapter today for NaNoWriMo, and it strained my brain. No matter how many notes you write, how many sketches you draw and images you collect, trying to describe the future, even one completely of my imagination, is hard. Setting is important. Describing a setting that not one person on this planet will be familiar with because it’s all in my head, is even more important so that readers can follow the plot along and understand the characters and milieu of the time I’m putting my novel “Time and Space” in.But I’m done. The main bones of it anyway, and I’ve gotten my main character into the building that will become the central hub for the rest of the story. The one nice thing about writing so much description — including my main character’s reaction to this strange place — is the word count is higher than for dialogue. 2217 today!

Eight-hour later update: Oops. I forgot a detail, not a hugely important one but one that gives extra mystery and flavour to this time my main character is dumped into. Now added. Word count 2392.

Marketing

Follow-Me, Follow-You Authors on Twitter Miss Out

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Okay, I’m getting a tad fed-up. It is one thing to have marketing folk follow you on Twitter then a few days later, unfollow you. Obviously they’re trying to boost their follower count. But it is another for an author or writer to do it. What are they thinking? That Twitter is just for marketing? That they’ll sell more books if we authors all reciprocate and follow each other like a bunch of tail-sniffing dogs in some club that supports each other’s fundraising efforts but gets no outside supporters? They also have the most boring Twitter feeds, filled with shills and only shills for their book, with maybe some random thought chucked in every now and then. What a waste. Of Twitter and the writer’s time. And mine.

For those who don’t know, this practice of following a person and then within a day or perhaps a generous five days unfollowing the person if they don’t follow back arose because of Twitter’s policy. Once you follow 2,000 people, you must have a certain ratio of follow:being followed in order to increase that number above 2,000. So the idea is you follow a person, they immediately follow you. You unfollow the person and repeat with another. (Writers who do this may not unfollow as it’s also, in their view, some sort of support thing.) If they don’t follow you, you definitely unfollow them. That way the number of people who follow you will remain higher than the number you follow, and Twitter will let you increase the number of people you follow beyond 2,000. You follow? However, with apps like TwitDiff, people like me can now spot these kind of Twitterers and no longer have to waste our time checking out their Twitter feed.

I have never immediately followed back because I am too slow. First off, it can take me weeks to check out feeds, it all depends on my energy levels and what else I’m doing. With some feeds, I can’t make up my mind if I want to follow them. With feeds filled with RTs and @ replies, I know I don’t because a feed filled with RTs is too difficult to read, and a feed filled with @ replies means I won’t see it with how Twitter handles those tweets. Only TweetDeck would show me them, and I’m not on TweetDeck that often. In a very, very few cases, feeds are a slam-dunk to follow. They have funny tweets, interesting tweets, intriguing links, banal tweets, good info, some @ replies, a few RTs, or a combo of all of those; they have conversations; they’re not filled with hashtags fore and aft, which make my eyes spin. In short, they’re worth the follow.

Those kinds of feeds ought to be a natural for writers to write, or at least aspire to.

Apparently not.

I joined Twitter for the same reason I started a blog: to practice my writing (those 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell writes about plus it’s fun or at least work I like) and to express myself. Twitter had the added discipline of imposing brevity. Short writing, putting a complex thought into few words, is not easy. Twitter provides the perfect opportunity to practise.

Twitter also provides the writer the chance to write pithy thoughts on a wide variety of subjects. You’re not confined to the subject of your books or the theme of your blog.

I have also discovered that Twitter allows an author to meet readers. Goodreads does that too, but not in the real-time, free-flowing conversational way that Twitter does, in which others can join in to your conversations.

And Twitter allows you to meet or follow interesting people in the publishing industry and learn from them. You can’t do that — heck, you can’t do any of the above — if all you’re doing is exchanging book shills, which becomes extremely tedious before the day is half over.

Yes, an author does need to tweet on their books, what others are saying about the books, where to buy, sales and promotions. And yes, there will be bursts of these tweets when a new book comes out. But over the course of a year, those tweets should be a small part; even in the bursts they should not be the only topic on the author’s feed.

Twitter is a merit thing when it comes to following. I don’t expect people to follow me just for following support. I don’t expect people to follow me back just because I followed them. My tweets may not be their cup of tea. So I don’t like it when people impose the expectation of you-have-to-follow-me-just-because-I-followed-you-even-if-my-feed-is-the-biggest-yawnfest-you-ever-encountered. TwittDiff lets me spot these kinds of Twitterers in the ease of my email inbox. I no longer have to spend precious energy or minutes checking out a feed, only to discover that they’ve already unfollowed me (you can tell by the lack of direct message ability). But even with TwitDiff, it really irritates me when writers unfollow because I didn’t follow back right away or at all.

Authors who think we should follow each other because it’s how we support each other and that by boosting Twitter follower numbers we will somehow sell books, are missing out. And they are also missing out in how we can truly support each other: by sharing info, by discussing how we do things, joining up under a shared hashtag like #amwriting or #nanowrimo even though we may not follow each other. These authors and writers have just stuck a finger in the eye of Twitter’s opportunity.

“Real” authors, the established ones, don’t do this follow-you-follow-me thing. They’re too busy writing interesting tweets.