Wednesday, November 28, 2012

December Approacheth

With December around the corner, Saturday, and that marking the end of the epic 2012 National Novel Writing Month, I feel now is a good time to post what December will bring for me. I may post this on both blogs (so sorry if you follow both and try to see the new content only to find you read the same thing twice). This year has been a pretty epic year for me with nanowrimo because the novel I thought was one book turned out to be 2 so the end word count is going to be over 150k by the time I have the very rough first draft done. And most of it will have been written in November. Crazy sounding, I know.

So, after such a large word count and spending so long on the one novel, what happens next for me? The answer is a resounding: Edit!

*pauses for dramatic effect* or is it affect, bah, either, it's nanowrimo still and I don't care which is right. ;-) lol

Okay, now you can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. When I say edit, I don't mean I'm going to be editing the novel I may or may have not finished yet from NaNoWriMo 2012. In fact, I'm not even editing/rewriting the novels from 2011 or 2010 NaNoWriMo.

Nope, I'm going to edit a novel I started writing during NaNoWriMo 2007 since I've rewritten it before. Okay, that one might be a rewrite as opposed to an edit because I need to change it from present tense to past tense, but bleh, I'm calling it an edit because I'm not changing content really. I'm just changing from "he sees the new boy" to "he saw the new boy". Same stuff minor, time consuming change.

I'm also going to edit the novel I write 65k of during March in 2010. It hasn't had a heavy rewrite as the other one because the novel ended up at 90k and the main content I'm happy with enough that I'm going to not change much in what happens, just work on polishing it. I will be focusing on things like showing instead of telling (I am really bad at this), taking out some of the passive voice, and fixing minor details (like changing one of the minor character's names because I have a Michael and a Mitchel, tsk).

So, in an unofficial sense, December will be my novel editing month because the only reason I let myself start another new novel (I still have like 5 I'm in the middle of writing) was that all first drafts would be put aside as soon as November ended so I could devote time to editing.

I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about this edit because it's a new stage for me. Even though I have been working on writing for about 7 years, I've edited for newspaper and for a small publisher, I have never done a full edit on one of my own novels. I've editing some scenes and short stories, edited chapters to submit for critique to a group, but I have not done a novel edit. Course, it took a while to get a novel that was not only rewritten but ready for edits and I kept starting new ones but that's besides the point. This marks a new stage because ideally, as soon as I'm done with edits I will have something I can have a reader check out. I won't send it to agents right away even though my dad thinks I'm stalling with this edit (*waves hi in case family members see this post*) but I will be a big step closer. A giant step even. Because soon as I've worked out the edits, had readers check it out, then do another pass after a minor break where I can work on finishing one of those already started novels, then I can try to submit to agents.

My goal is to have the query sent out some time in 2013, so I have my work cut out for me. I figure, if I can write 150k in a month of hectic mess, I can managed to spend a few months getting the edits on more prepared novels. And to be honest, I need a timeline. So, hmm... What the heck. I turn 29 near the end of August. Sounds like a good goal, 9 months from now in fact.

Now I have a timeline and a goal. I want to have at least one of the mutant novels ready to send out queries by my birthday. And now you all know and I will have to work hard to follow through on my goals. Yay for incentive!

So, that is my plan. And yes, I promise to also try and post a few times a month at least, because I do have more to say on writing and on my writing, so there will be more blog posts in the near future. And there will be book reviews done too because my new plan also includes putting together a weekly schedule and I'm putting in reading time on the list. I need to read and I shall, along with writing and editing. So much to do, I can't wait to start.

What are your plans for December 1st?
How did November go?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Crazy NaNo Word Counts

How do I write more than 100,000 words in a month?
How do I write 50k in 10/11/15 days?

Good questions me, thank you for asking. Since I managed to get 50,000 words this year on day 10 and I'm already at over 90k with still more and month to go, I decided this might be a good blog post to create during one of my Write-or-Die sprint sessions. There are a few things that I can contribute to how I write that much within a short from of time. And those things are:

1. Grabbing the time whenever I can (also for the last two years this has been known as Luck)
- 2010 I ended up losing my job in October and didn't get another for a few months so I had all of November with no job while living at my parents (who are very awesome for all their support). That meant I had a lot of time and is partly how I managed to 50k in 13 days.
- Last year, I had a job but I worked only about 20 hours a week, sometimes slightly less and maybe once like 24 hours. So, even though I had to work (like working thanksgiving morning cause it was a grocery store), I still had a lot of time and still lived at my parents. (I don't have my own kids or a partner so yeah.)
- This year is a little different in that at the beginning of the month I had a job with minimal hours but something happened at the very end of October. I got a job offer. Yay! But oh, writing... So, yeah. The first week I had just the small 12 hour schedule but now I've got my new job and more hours. I now am working 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week. But the key is, I still am finding ways to write, like how I'm writing this blog post which I normally use this sprint to write another part of a scene. I am getting over 3k before I go to work and then whatever I manage to write before bed.
2. Writing Sprints (aka Write or Die!)
Okay, this one is a re-new one. I tried the program back in 2008 online and while it helped a little, I didn't like it. But that was back when to paste it to the word programs it would all end up in a block single paragraph instead of having any spaces but they fixed it. Thank you fixer people! But yes, last year I did do some writing sprints but they were just with some friends in chat and self timed. This year, I'm in a writing group where we get points to taking part in writing sprints and there are official times to do them. They are helping me get my writing done because even on my days off I struggle to get work done at times and more of my writing is getting done during those times because when writing fast I can get about 1400-1800 words in 30 minutes on average. And I can get 7-800 words done in 15 minutes for shorter ones. That adds up fast.

3. A novel that is ready to be written.
This one is a tough one because it's really hard to predict if a novel is ready, at least for me. I have no idea until I start writing whether it will be a really easy one or whether it will be a struggle. Back in 2010 I had never written very much with only one nanowrimo win under my belt then so I made a March writing goal of only 25,000 words for the month. The novel went so well that I wrote 50k in 15 days and 65k for the whole month. Last year's nanowrimo I had one novel reach 99k+ that I haven't even planned to write, just kind of went with it. And the novel I had planned to write and prepped, I only managed to write 25k+ that month (pesky YA). Since my track record with fantasy was 50k in 13 days but my records for Young Adult is more like 14-25k in a month, this year I didn't know what to expect. I certainly didn't think my novel I thought would be maybe 80-100k for the whole story would end up at 90k on day 17, and new predictions are for 150k for the total first draft count. But I had no idea this novel would be that ready (especially since the lack of world building is to the point I'm naming things "something or other"). But I guess it felt ready in the end.

4. Support
- I have some really great friends online when it comes to writing. Granted, I know a few people who absolutely hate NaNoWriMo and a couple who raised their eyebrows at me for writing yet another novel first draft when I have two rewritten books that need editing (and are far closer to being submitted than anything else) but even they are supportive when it comes to my writing. Whether it's friends on Writing.Com, Twitter, Facebook (my grandmother likes my nanowrimo updates on facebook, lol), or in the blogger world. Everyone is great. Thank you to everyone who puts up with me and encourages me during my crazy writing attempts during november.
- I also find that one of the things that helps me to feel motivated and keep going is by helping others. On I have a nanowrimo related group with a forum that I keep updated and try to post some fun things on occasion, like youtube links. I'm in other groups where I am either just a member or I have a specific role where I answer questions and post supportive comments when I see someone is struggling. I also post on my nanowrimo region forums or on the regions facebook group. I try not to sound boasting about my word count number even though I sometimes post my number for others to see because while I may have a ton of words now, I remember what it is like to be on the struggling side. Since I took 3 years to ever make 50k in 30 days and back then I thought writing it in less than 20 days was like, impossible. Crazy how things work out.

5. Caffeine/Sugar
Okay, I might but running out of things to add to my list but I've still got 5 minutes on this writing sprint so why not devote a section to caffeine and sugar! I do drink more coffee during November than any other month. This year it is even more than last year because back then I was in small town Wyoming so no starbucks or any 24 coffee places to go and hang out in to write. I did all my writing from home then, though I did drink some coffee and my eating habits are never very great during nanowrimo. I've had far more fancy coffee drinks this month than I have probably all year with the exception of maybe the month where I had to go to starbucks to get internet when I first moved and didn't have access in my apartment. I also have bought a few treats and such while going to those places (like chocolate pastries or cakepops). So, sugar and coffee help, sort of.

6. Finding What Works For Me!
This is the big one. I have practice writing novels at this point (6th year in nanowrimo and I write all year long off and on) at least that I have a good idea what works for me. It may not work for other people to write fast or to work on more than one novel at the same time, but it's what works for me. It takes times and maybe a few tests, and this isn't set in stone either, it will change and develop over the years. But I allow myself to figure it out and not try to write like others (though I may try suggestions). I know that there is no one way besides the whole "Write" part of it. I find that I'm okay with the "it's allowed to suck" mentality and getting out the words as fast as I can because I know that rewrites and edits are needed. I also know with some novels I go slower and take my time getting them done. I vary and I'm okay with that. Being able to say I write this way and I don't mind even with a couple of the naysayers has really helped me in general.

So, these are some things that help me reach crazy word count goals in a single month.
How are you? ;-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I take part in NaNoWriMo

Thanks Sam

Okay, so I totally had the intention to do this epic "Why I do NaNoWriMo" post and to have it scheduled to post on day one of National Novel Writing Month. Yeah ummm *points to date of this post* if you hadn't figured it out by umm knowing what the calendar looks like right now, I will out right state: Epic Fail!

Not only did I not get this post written in time, but I didn't even get it done before I reached 50,000 words. Yeah, I won NaNo already and I haven't written the post on why I take part in the activity in the first place as I had planned. I really did intend to have it written, I promise but well, here we are on day 12 and I'm just now writing it and for the sole purpose of taking part in a half hour sprint when the section of my novel (yeah, i'm still writing after 52k in 10 days) didn't have a section at the moment that was sprint worthy. But that's okay, right? Right. Cause I say so.

But back to the promise I made to myself that none of you knew about but I'm pretending you knew about in order to make my hopefully 2k words in 30 minutes make sense and to get that word count somehow anyways even though it won't count towards my nanowrimo count.... Yeah, I admit that made no sense. The promise! I did start a blog post for my Why I Write for NaNoWriMo topic. I really did. I put in the title, a greeting and a picture of a fish and well, that is as far as I got before November 1st when I started writing.

And for those that wonder why there is a fish at the top of this picture, well it's because of the awesomeness that is Dory from Finding Nemo. She has a saying that goes "just keep swimming" so a close friend of mine gave me the idea that I needed an image with the phrase "just keep writing" and one of my other friends actually made the image for me. Thanks Sam! even though you never read my blog, I'm thanking you twice in this post anyways. So, yeah, now my signature when I do posts on Writing.Com in relation to NaNoWriMo, I have this picture of Dory that says Just Keep Writing and I love it. (just keep swiming, Dory montage) This is another fun thing to look at. I like the picture in part because it says to write but also in part because of her expression. Poor Dory looks so lost and confused but she's encouraging no matter what. So, I look at that picture and say to myself, just keep writing. It must be working because I'm at around 58k right now, and will have 60k before I go to bed tonight.

Now, after that long ramble, back to the topic and maybe even though it seems a little obvious at this point, I will give you all who may or may not even be curious about the answer to the big question of today's post.

Why do I, Dawn Embers, take part in National Novel Writing Month?

Because it's Awesome! and.... because I'm crazy.

That is pretty much the basics of the answer. I love national novel writing month and the strange challenge to try and write 50,000 words in one month even though I do honestly write off and on all year long. There is something great about a community geared event where a large number of writers in combined force get together and reach towards the same goal of writing a novel (well novella but honestly novella writing month just doesn't have the oomph of novel writing month) all at the same time during November. I like that. I come from a small town where if there are 3 people who are writing and willing to admit it out loud, that is saying a lot. Granted it's a little different now that I'm living near Portland which has one big artsy writerly community, but the small town world is what I spent most of my life in and being anti-social, I get most of my socialization from writing outlets like and the NaNoWriMo Site. So, I think it's great.

And well, let's be honest. Anyone who tries to write 50,000 words in a month is a tad crazy. The ones that do it in 15 days are a bit nuts, and well, I'm flat out insane. Last year I did it in 11 days and since I got off to a good start this year even though I'm writing a freaking young adult novel (see vent elsewhere) I managed to keep a steady pace of 5,000 words plus or minus a thousand words a day. Which, is what led me to my 52,000 words in 10 days for 2012. I have no problem admitting that this is completely insane but I will also point out that my goal is to write the whole novel in one month and since my novel is a fantasy (even though it's also young adult) the novel wasn't going to be under 80k. In fact, it was supposed to be 80k but now I'm guessing the end result will be over 120k so I had better keep writing once I get this blog post done.

The real question may be why do I try to take part in it almost every year, with crazy writing goals like 100k or so. Why do I try to write new novels when I have 5 novels that are in first draft stage? Why do I start new ones when I need to edit the novels I wrote the years before? Will I ever do anything with those novels? How can they be any good if I write them within a single month?

Wow, talk about question overload. My apologies for this blog being so long (but hey, 2k words yay!) Okay, I will answer them in sections because I asked the questions and even if only one person cares about the answers, oh well. That's what happens when you follow a blog about writing, especially the one dedicated to my person writing only. hahaha I mean, thank you!

Why do I try to write new novels when I have others going?

Well, I think this is another question where the simple answer is this: I'm just that crazy! Yes, I like to multi-task and I'm used to having many ideas in my head because even when I'm writing one idea, I am often thinking about all my other ideas in my head. When I'm not writing, then I'm daydreaming about all of my ideas, though usually one at a time, in order to keep them fresh and the ones I think about the most, that draw my attention the most are the ones that get written. But those are never single novels, there are several ideas that I think are so great that I want to write them. I don't have a single one idea that I think about the most in comparison to some of the others. I don't have one novel that screams out to me "I'm the one!" Nope. I have several ideas that I love, that I want to be writing, so during most of the year, I work on more than one at a time. Only during these crazy mad dash months (national novel writing month, march novel writing challenge, even a couple failed camp nanowrimo attempts) do I even bother trying to write on a single novel at a time, and even then it doesn't always happen. Last year, for example, while I wrote 125k for the month, I was actually working on more than one novel for that count. I am just that kind of writer. I need more than one story to work on or else I struggle. It's just how I function. Sure, I wish I could be the one that dedicates all their time to a single novel and is able to get the book out and edited within 3 years, but that's not me at this point. Instead, I will continue to work on several novels and get them done some day.

Next question: Why start a new novel when I have so many going?

Besides looking at the above answer, I will admit this is not always the case. Well, for nanowrimo I have a tendency to start a new novel because the "rules" require it be a new novel. However, I do have a group on that is dedicated to people who want to be rebels and maybe write on novels they had already started or that want to write towards a different word count (like 20k in a month, or 30k, or maybe even editing instead of writing that month) and that group is year around. However, for like the March writing challenge I have attempted a few different years, I haven't always started new novels. In fact, the year that I first wrote 50k in less than 30 days was in 2010 when I worked on a novel I was already 15k into before the month started. I had planned to write 25000 words for the month, so that seemed reasonable as it wasn't nanowrimo. But then by the end of day 12 I discovered I was already at 35k and if I wrote 15k in three days, then I would be able to say that I had written 50k in 15 days. So I did. That month I ended up writing 65k total and that novel ended up being my first novel that was long enough, ending at about 90k. I'm going to be editing that novel in December after I finish this crazy version of young adult fantasy that I have going on right now. So, there are times when I don't go crazy and start yet another new novel. I do use month challenges throughout the year to try and get an already started draft done.

Why do new ones instead of editing?

This answer question is a little different than the ones above because I can't be fun and play crazy. The truth is editing is hard and it represents a new stage for me. While I have worked as an editor for a small publishing company and for a college newspaper, and I have edited my writing to a small degree like fixing the glaring typos (which I do during nanowrimo too, I even delete and fix things when I do these silly writing sprints. I'd be so much further if I didn't use that delete button but it would be so much worse too). I have never actually edited a full novel before and as much as I hate to admit it, the thought intimidates me a little but that will end soon. I spent part of this year, in february and beyond getting my edit notes ready for 2 of my novels. The only reason I let myself start writing a new novel this year was on the sole idea that I would get it done and then in December I would not be allowed to work on any new first drafts. That's right, after national novel writing month ends this year, I will not be working on a first draft until 2013, assuming the world doesn't end before then. I am going into editing mode as of December 1st. I will edit my 2 novels, I will make the writing something that is readable for my beta readers and I will start to get ready for the next stage in this crazy writing life. I am going to get something ready to submit to agents. Granted I started one of the novels back in 2007 so it has taken me a really long time but that is one thing that I have found nanowrimo has also helped with. It has proven something to me and that is this one fact:

I can write.

Sure, it's not the greatest thing in the world but I know not to submit my first drafts and hopefully soon I will be able to say this:

I can rewrite.

I can edit.

I can submit.

And I hope you all are still here to cheer me on.

(And yes, if you are curious: When I wrote this blog post using write or die, I managed to write 2k in 30 minutes.)


I write like
Arthur Conan Doyle

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I write like
Mark Twain

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!