NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week four

Tuesday 22nd November
Entering the final week-and-a-bit is daunting. I have a LOT of story still to write. Took the day off from writing, lots of stuff going on, including a working lunch and pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping.

Wednesday 23rd November
Taking an hour of vacation time to leave early, get out to Chesterfield and write before my karate lesson at 6pm. The action is heating up, everyone is where I wanted them to be, and the character's lives are going horribly wrong. Hoping to bring in the Travelling Shovel of Death later in the week.

Thursday 24th November
Happy Thanksgiving! Writing as the scent of roasting lamb fills the house. Only got 343 words done today, but the lamb, roast potato, mashed swede, and boiled carrots were fantastic.

Friday 25th November
Happy 'stay in your PJs and eat leftovers' day! I ventured out and got 25% off at the sale in Knitorious, it was quiet and I was among my tribe. Ate the same dinner as yesterday and it was just as good.

Saturday 26th November
Support your local small businesses today, online and offline. Write-in and breakfast at the Crooked Tree Coffee House in St Charles, the last of the novel-writing season. Details from reading The Hot Zone years ago are coming in handy. Crossed the 44k mark today.

Sunday 27th November
Final write-in at The Book House in Maplewood. Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays have been my most consistently good writing days this year, with Tuesdays my worst day of the week. A character woke up long enough to deliver some crucial plot information, I'm grateful, but he's still going to die. He was supposed to be dead several thousand words ago.

Monday 28th November
Back to work, and three days to go. This is the first year in a long time that I'll log a word count every day. Planning to validate tomorrow and see how far I can get on Wednesday. Writing at lunch in a phone room called DeLorean. Finished the day's words before karate at Kaldi's in Chesterfield.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week three

Tuesday 15th November
No lunchtime writing today, got lunch with a friend at Blues City Deli. They took the Redbird sandwich off the menu, but you can still order it. Very little writing done today, I'm tired and brain-fried.

Wednesday 16th November
Moved on to a new piece of the story, something I need for the mid book crisis. Wrote at lunch in the Wheelhouse by work, feeling exhausted. Called to cancel my karate lesson for the day, I hate missing a lesson but I'm so tired today.

Thursday 17th November
Three words written before work, a working lunch, and I'm looking at 1700 words to write before dinner. I got 1100 done, and the rest afterwards. Characters are revealing backgrounds and life stories I hadn't planned. Wrote a fight scene, that was fun. Things are coming together for the "Oh crap!" crisis in the middle of the story.

Friday 18th November
Had a word war with myself at lunchtime, got 422 words in 10 minutes. I should do that more often! Crossed the 30k line today.

Saturday 19th November
Got 777 words done by the end of knitgroup today. Going to the StLNaNo Evening of Scribbling Recklessly at the Rock Road library tonight, 4pm till 10pm. It's my first time being in a library after closing. I left at 8:30pm with over three thousand words written in the library. We got pizza delivered, there were word wars, and Paul overtook my word count. Again.

Sunday 20th November
I'm killing off a major character today, and everything is going wrong for my other characters. Another good day of writing between home, Barnes and Noble in Chesterfield, and the Book House write-in. I'm running 2 days ahead of the NaNoWriMo goal word count. Switched to a Lindsey Stirling channel on Pandora and got a good rhythm going.

Monday 21st November
One character is dead, all is falling apart in my story, and the CDC is on their way to set up a quarantine. A whole bunch of characters are about to have a horrible day. Except for the one that died, his day can't get any worse. Driving straight out to Chesterfield to have an early dinner and write a bit before karate group class and sparring.

NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week two

Tuesday 8th November
Election day. Spent an hour in line to vote before work. Decided to drop my 2k a day rule and give myself a break. I'm slightly above the NaNoWriMo standard for day eight and I feel like I'm getting into my stride. Writing arguments and phone calls between characters about things I know from experience.

Wednesday 9th November
Got into a good scene before work, and another one after work in Starbucks. Made the 1667 word goal for the day before my karate lesson. Things are happening in the story, people are arguing.

Thursday 10th November
Another lunchtime of no writing. Shoved myself over the 16k mark after dinner, heading down the home stretch and utterly distracted by searching for titanium sporks on Amazon, because a character has one. Unleashing the Lindsay Stirling channel on Pandora to get my words for the day.

Friday 11th November
Dear new character, thank you for turning up! You're solving a huge plot problem I didn't know I had. I'm sorry I'm going to kill you, but your death will really help the story along. Also, you'll get to wield the Travelling Shovel of Death before you go, I hope that makes up for it a little.

Saturday 12th November
Starting the day well at Crooked Tree Coffee House in St Charles. I forgot my index cards with the plot on, but in just over 90 minutes I made 1315 words. Going to Mauhaus Cat Café this afternoon, so excited!

Sunday 13th November
Starting the day at Kaldi's in Chesterfield for breakfast and a writing session. Deliberately left the power cord behind to force me to write faster and not use the internet. Annoyed that I have to disable the WiFi service to keep it turned off, something kept turning it back on, it's a battery hog as well as a time sink. More writing at Barnes and Noble in Chesterfield, then the official write-in at The Book House in Maplewood. Got over 3k words written today!

Monday 14th November
And back to work after a super productive writing weekend. I seem to be less able to write without my Vivaldi channel on Pandora. Crossed the 25k mark and running downhill towards my plot crisis!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Diary, week one

Tuesday 1st November
525 words before work, 2009 total. Introduced a couple of shady characters I didn't have planned out before I started writing. Hoping to stick to my usual rhythm of 2000 words a day. Created a Pandora station seeded with Vivaldi to use as a writing soundtrack.

Wednesday 2nd November
Good writing session before work, took my Mac laptop with me to write at lunch and after work. Wednesdays are not going to be easy for writing, I have 3 hours in Tracy's Karate in Chesterfield for my private lesson, then group class, then sparring class. Two days in a row I have written 2009 words, that is weird.

Thursday 3rd November
My novel went meta, my main character is a journalist who is brainstorming what makes a good story. No writing at lunch today, had lunch with a friend at Olympia instead. I feel like I've written a lot of filler so far but some characters are starting to devite from my original plan. That's usually a good sign so I'm letting them go with it. No evening writing today, there was beer with dinner.

Friday 4th November
Today is pay day, and a vacation day, I get to novel all day. Since I slacked off yesterday, I had to cross the 5k mark before breakfast to get level with the NaNoWriMo standard for yesterday. Working on disrupting my character's lives today. Discovering a bunch of new composers via Pandora, Georg Phillip Telemann, Francesco Geminiani, and Tomaso Albinoni. Apparently I like Baroque classical music.

Saturday 5th November
Happy Guy Fawke's Night! Today is my bimonthly knitgroup at Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios in Maplewood AND the St Charles Crooked Tree Coffee House morning write-in. I wrote at knitgroup and more at home, getting into "mess up your character's lives" day.

Sunday 6th November
Wrote after church in Kaldi's on Carondelet, starting to move the pieces on the board and get into the meat of the story. No bad guy is 100% evil, they're just people with lives and dreams who just want to take a shortcut, or make life a little easier. It's the wrong choice for the wrong reasons, but that makes it fun.

Monday 7th November
No lunchtime writing today, and I get to see the sunrise, courtesy of the end of Daylight Savings Time. I wish we'd either abolish that, or stick on it year-round. Not a great day for word count.

NaNoWriMo survival guide

This will be my thirteenth time doing NaNoWriMo, looking at getting my eleventh novel finished. I have a plot, an idea, and some disasters to deploy, and even a way to include the Travelling Shovel of Death. I have a few tactics for surviving the event:

Donate to NaNoWriMo
If you donate, you are more likely to finish your novel. You also purchase good novel-karma and fund the deployment of guilt-monkeys (a crucial motivational tool). NaNoWriMo runs on donations, and even a $10 donation gets you a halo. You'd look great in a halo.

Output before input
No reading books, no watching TV or movies, no surfing the internet until your words are done for the day. My goal is 2000 words a day, with a 3k goal at weekends.

Bribe yourself
Pick a 50k prize for yourself, and do not allow yourself to have that prize unless you reach 50k. Husband bribed me one year with a season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, which were kept with receipt in a cupboard until I hit 50k.

Practice tactical slacking
During NaNoWriMo, it is OK to order pizza instead of cooking a sumptuous handmade dinner with carved butter in the shape of swans and three fish courses. Figure out what you're going to give up to carve out time to write, and stick with it. Maybe your reward can be a visit by a cleaning service in December.

Write on schedule
My writing schedule is a bit before work, more at lunchtime, and finish up after work. Every single day. No exceptions. Figure out what your schedule is and hold fast to that commitment.

Separation of concerns
My novel lives on my personal Macbook Air in Scrivener format. Novel info lives in a Dropbox folder, or in a notebook and index cards. Novel stuff does not touch the work machine, or any other machine.

Have a roadmap
As of now, my plot is four pages of handwritten notes, 12 index cards (one for each chapter), and some loose notebook pages. I have a rough idea of where I want my novel to go, and what happens in the end. I expect the plot bunny to throw a wrench in my roadmap, but that's OK, I have enough to get moving.

Introvert in company
A local NaNoWriMo meetup, or write-in, is a great way to gather a bunch of introverts so we can ignore each other in company. Write-ins are also fabulous places when you have a plot problem, you can just say "Hey, my female lead is stuck in a mine shaft with a sack of rubber ducks and a shovel, how does she escape the cave trolls heading her way?" and get several answers.

Now – October 26th 2015

I used to do snapshot posts a while ago of what was on my mind and what I was working on. I read Shawn Blanc's Now page, which refers to Derek Sivers Now page, so I'll put mine up periodically. Link in the sidebar or these posts. I've added a category of Now so I can find them again.

Reading: (updates and archives here)
Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves "Emotional Intelligence 2.0" (working through this in work with two people I'm mentoring)
Kate Fox "Watching the English, second edition" (a slow read)
Marcus Aurelis "Meditations" (feels like this is the source book for a lot of others I've read)

The To Read queue is getting unweildy, I might use Blinkist to knock some of these out if they're available.

Knitting:
Second of two hats as a wedding present for a friend
Orange Feather and Fan scarf
Really need to finish the Jackeroo cardigan, it has POCKETS. So many pieces of women's clothing are lacking a functional pocket.

Thinking about:
My 2015 NaNoWriMo novel plot, with AI and genetic algorithms, my 11th NaNoWriMo novel
A Core Curriculum I'm building (inspired from this Shawn Blanc post) using a Levenger Circa notebook
How to start and maintain a daily sketching habit
How to learn enough JavaScript to create a simple, deliberately broken website
How to run a team of 30 software QA people in 3 offices across 2 states without micro-managing them
Stoicism
Creativity

Workouts:
Strength and endurance training at the gym, definite improvements since June in lunges, wall-sits, planks and kettlebell swings (20lb weight)
Training for black belt in Chinese Kenpo at Tracy's Karate, several black belt techniques still left to learn.

2014 round up

My 2014 resolutions were:

  1. I will not stab anyone in 2014 (just one more year...)
  2. Get my second degree brown belt and make a run at 1st degree.
  3. Finish book #2 and write book #3 for NaNoWriMo

I have not stabbed anyone this year, fulfilling my annual resolution. Punching anyone at the karate studio doesn't count because we use control and we spar a lot.

Got my 2nd degree brown belt in June with a new instructor, and I'm in reviews for my 1st degree brown belt. The belt test after that is 1st degree black belt, when I can officially call myself a Shodan.

I wrote book #3 of my multiverse four-part series of novels (there's a part #0 prequel), and wrote the ending scenes. The back end of book #2 remains undone, but writing book #3 gave me an idea how to deal with the monster.

By year end, I will have gifted 18 knitted things. I have worked on 25 projects this year, and finished almost all of them (2 cardigans outstanding right now but one is almost there, a pair of socks in progress).

I was promoted to Director of Quality Advocacy at work, and I have business cards to prove it. I'm running a team of 20 bad-ass diabolically creative software tamperers. I taught a 2-day workshop class solo on Agile software QA, and did a solo Lunch and Learn on Object Oriented Programming basics. Both are scary things off my 2015 work goals list. There's another Lunch and Learn planned for January 7th, probably more Agile QA classes too.

We went to the NaNoWriMo Night of Writing Dangerously for the first time, travelling to San Francisco in November.It was great to meet people in person we've only emailed, and see my writerly tribe on their annual celebration.

It's been a pretty good year.

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Week Four

Took some drastic steps to get to the end of my story, I left it a bit over the halfway point and jumped ahead to the final scene, wrapping up a four-book series.

Saturday 22nd
45043 words, 2212 today. Planning to catch up to my original 2k a day goal today, nearly made it last night. Got some work done in the Crooked Tree write-in, more at home while it was raining hard, with a cat on my lap. Loving that the NaNoWriMo funding graph only has 2 unfilled books, the $1.2m and the fully-funded $1.3m. Would love to see those completed by month end, donate today!

Sunday 23rd
46545 words, 1502 today. Horrible rainy grey day, perfect for staying inside. Got over the thousand mark before dinner, character threads are converging nicely.

Monday 24th
46691 words, 146 today. Tired, got sent home by my instructor with no sparring after a (hopefully) minor ankle injury from skidding on a wet grocery store floor yesterday.

Tuesday 25th
46978 words, 287 today. Assembling a bucket of scenes to work from, looking for the ending. I think I have some endings, but they're still a way away from here. I'm going to write some of the later scenes and skip ahead.

Wednesday 26th
49032 words, 2054 today. Wrote the final scene for my four-part series. I'm missing about 20 scenes before I can officially consider this thing done, but I have an ending for two of my main characters (three if you count the cat, and the cat is crucial). I'm working backwards and it's showing me what needs to go in the space in between. Also today it snowed.

Thursday 27th
50464 words, 1432 today. Happy Thanksgiving! Crossed the 50k mark with the scent of roasting turkey wafting through the house and my faithful cat by my side. I have at least 17 more scenes to write, which could each be a thousand words, so I'm not done yet, but I'm filling in the gap between the middle and the end now. I love my series ending. But for now, I can knit again, and read. Snow still on the ground.

Friday 28th
Took the day off writing, ate turkey leftovers for 2 meals, started knitting an orange hat, relaxed at home with the husband.

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Week Three

Where our hero discovers novel writing isn't as bad as last week, and interrogates some characters. After ten years of novel writing, we made it to the Night of Writing Dangerously!

Saturday 15th
32667 words, 2017 today. Wrote in Bread and Cocoa after breakfast, before heading out to Imagiknit in the Castro district. San Francisco feels like a very European city, good public transport, everyone walking around, diverse population. So many iPhones! The PDF copy of my novel so far is 90 pages long and I'm about to throw a big wrench into the story. Wrote more in Samovar Tea Lounge, across the street from Imagiknit. Left the hoodie behind today, way too warm for that extra layer. Went to the NaNoWriMo Out-Of-Towner's get-together in the evening, met Grant Faulkner, and saw the others from the office again, plus some of the LA train contingent.

Sunday 16th
36275 words, 3608 today. It's the Night of Writing Dangerously! Wrote a little before breakfast and after, went out to Pier 39 to see sea lions. There were two sets of sea lions, plus a couple of introvert sea lions on their own floating platforms away form the others. Had crab for lunch and took a tram back to the hotel. Walked to the Julia Morgan Ballroom in a purple velvet dress with a hefty laptop bag. Hit the candy buffet, there were tea refills at the table, and so many people writing. Wrote over three thousand words and made up my deficit from last week's lack-of-plot-induced wobble. There were cupcakes, milk and cookies, singing and dancing, and so many words. Met Chris Baty right at the end of the night to say thanks for a decade of craziness and fun.

Monday 17th
37017 words, 742 today. Leaving sunny California and going home to below-freezing, snowy, St Louis. Succumbed to the caffé bon-bon at Bread and Cocoa, double espresso shot with condensed milk, powerful stuff. Took the Bart train to the airport, lazy lunch before a 4pm flight back home. Heading from t-shirt weather to snow and below freezing till Wednesday, ugh. Still feeling the effects of not having a plan up-front but some plot appears to be happening in spite of it.

Tuesday 18th
37528 words, 511 today. So tired. Horribly late night due to a delayed plane, asked a friend to sit with me in the last meeting of the day and make sure I stayed awake. Wrote a little at lunch and took the night off, fed a friend steak and kidney pie, he made brownies and we compared the UK and US versions of Top Gear. Hands down a UK win, no question.

Wednesday 19th
39631 words, 2103 today. Writing in the gap between work and karate, and between karate group class and my private lesson. It's amazing what a decent night's sleep can do for you. Interrogating one of my main characters to find out what she actually wants. She got what she wanted, but what happens next for her? Also she got to make tea, proper English tea with milk and sugar. Everything's better when there's tea.

Thursday 20th
40359 words, 728 today. Another lunchtime writing session in the hidden conference room at work, the one no-one knows is there. Got ambushed by an Apple Update in the evening, and a Founders Porter.

Friday 21st
42831 words, 2472 today. Playing with my Villain and her minions today, and I'm ending it right before a big fight scene so I can get a good start tomorrow. This story won't be done at 50k, but I really want to find out where it's going.

Daily updates over on the NaNoWriMo 2014 daily diary.

NaNoWriMo 2014 – Week Two

NaNoWriMo lore says that Week Two is an icy blast of cold on Week One's sunny progress. I'm definitely feeling the ill effects of not having a road-map to where this novel is going. Lots of cool characters, but not much idea of things they desperately want.

Saturday 8th
20057 words, 3313 today. Off to the Crooked Tree for a morning's work. Went there a few months back and got asked "What are you doing here? It's not November." Was at 1875 for the day when I left there, want to get over the 20k line today and that's another 1381 away. NaNoWordSprints to the rescue again, 907 words in 5 and 10 minute sprints alone.

Sunday 9th
22115 words, 2058 today.Just under 300 words before church, then I made it over my 2k at the central StLNaNo write-in in Clayton. Turned up at 12:30, left at 4pm. Characters from previous books in this series are turning up uninvited and demanding airtime.

Monday 10th
23990 words, 1848 today. No writing at lunch, did almost all of this after work at the St Louis Bread Company near the karate studio, and some in the lobby of the studio before group class, lesson, and sparring class. It's getting dark at 4:30pm now, which is hard to bear. Didn't quite make my 2k a day bar, but I nailed the NaNoWriMo 1667 words a day.

Tuesday 11th
24520 words, 530 today. Hello week 2 wall, I'm officially stuck. I have a bunch of cool characters but I'm hazy on what a lot of them want other than to be left alone to live their lives.

Wednesday 12th
26374 words, 1854 today. And I'm BACK. I know how to make this story worse for my characters. All of my characters. There will be balance between universes. And explosions. I've burned my buffer of words, but if I can keep my normal 2k a day pace for the rest of the week, I'll be in a good spot.

Thursday 13th
28641 words, 2267 today, and some of those were on a plane. Off work, wrote a little before my haircut and more after at home. Flying out to San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously! After 11 years doing NaNoWriMo and ten completed novels, this is our first time at the NoWD. I'm writing the biggest character in St Louis into my story, the Gateway Arch, and it will play a big part in the story. Such a late night, didn't get into the hotel till past 2am Central time, midnight Pacific time.

Friday 14th
30650 words, 2009 today. No snow in San Francisco, it's WARM here. T-shirt in the street warm, unlike the freezing temperatures and snow in St Louis. Wandered around downtown before heading out to Oakland and the Office of Letters and Light on the Bart train. Paul went next door to talk tech with the resident geek, Dave. I sat at the back of the office writing at the break table, after checking out the conference room with the official board member Viking helmets (to be worn when decisions are made). Left them a hedgehog drawing for the wall, and got a ride back to the Bart station with Sarah and Shelby, leaving Shelby the sole American in the car. Finished up the days word count in a cafe off Montgomery Street, we walked all over the world today. FitBit says over five miles. Put together the second regional stats update, St Louis region is over 9 million words so far.

Daily updates over on the NaNoWriMo 2014 daily diary.