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.

Cover band names

Every once in a while you hear a phrase and think, "That would be a good band name." These are my current favourites:

  1. No Visible Cow
  2. Flying with Cats
  3. Angry Hatstand
  4. Unexploded Balm
  5. Decaf Piranha
  6. Teacup Hierarchy
  7. Grumpy Old Queen
  8. Suddenly Ducks
  9. The Vindaloo Fiasco
  10. Gremlins Ate My Towel

Books to re-read

I was that child in school who read the encyclopaedia, cover to cover, Aardvark to Zulu. I got six books a week from Ipswich Library every Saturday while my parents did the grocery shopping, I read my way through the children’s library and branched out to adult science fiction before I left for university. This site has over a decade of reading logs and there’s been a definite shift towards management and leadership books in the last two years that coincides with a job title change to director. I am always studying.

There are some books that have earned the status of "books I want to re-read regularly." It’s a short list.

Colin Urquhart "My Dear Child"

This book is by an English author, I found it when I was first dealing with clinical depression, and it is a reassuring read. When I can’t see how God could exist, this book tells me that he does, and he cares.

Chris Baty "No Plot? No Problem!"

I love this book. It’s encouraging and funny and everything I love about National Novel Writing Month in book form.

James Martin, SJ "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life"

I’m not a Catholic, but this book feels like it was written for me. It is comforting and challenging at the same time, but not condescending or guilt-inducing. A friend at work recommended it and I’m thankful she did.

Todd Henry "The Accidental Creative"

I never thought of my job as a traditionally creative one, but I make my living by thinking and solving problems. I spend a lot of time in my head at work, and this book has lots of practical suggestions for using my mind and my time in better, more productive ways.

Marcus Aurelius "Meditations"

Reading this book feels like I am reading the source material for several other books I’ve read. This translation feels like a collection of sentence fragments in places, but there’s a lot of good advice in here.

Stephen M. R. Covey "The Speed of Trust"

Trust is important to me, I want to be trusted and I want my trust to not be broken by others. This book explains a lot about why trust is important, and how to build trust.

Robert Sutton "The No Asshole Rule"

I’ve loaned my copy out to someone, but this is a fantastic "how not to be an asshole" manual. The comments from readers of this book became Sutton’s "Good Boss, Bad Boss," another good read.