Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are We Sick, Yet?

Are you sick of my posts about NaNoWriMo, yet? Too bad! I'm gearing up for the contest and am almost ready to start stabbing at this beastie. I realized tonight (while sitting in Bankruptcy class, mind wandering...) that I have some serious prep to do. So, as my faithful followers (is anyone even still there?) you are stuck hearing about...

John Cory's Official NaNoWriMo 2011 Purple Prep Plan:

1. Conditioning - Both mental and physical. Mentally, I need to continue my practice writing sessions and I need to meet my 5,000 words in a week goal at least once before the month is out. This week is my last chance. Fortunately Friday is a holiday and I am in a serious writing mood. Unfortunately I have written nothing so far this week so I am already waaay behind. It's ok though. Positive thoughts. Go to my happy place. Fluff my aura. I'm going to get it this week and I'm going to start off November with the sweet taste of victory already in my mouth. Physically, I need to enhabit (that is a new word I just invented and am rather enjoying) a 5:00 a.m. wake up time. After my daily scripture study, I will have 1.5 hours of uninterrupted writing to try and hit my daily word quota.

2. Planning - I need a functioning outline, asap. Tonight I tried to write a synopsis of my story on the NaNoWriMo site and failed miserably. It was a mess and probably for the same reason I assumed that writing a synopsis would be easy; this story is over developed having stewed in my mind for so long. So, I will attempt Graham Bradley's patented Magic 3x5 Index Card Outlining Method to hammer out my scenes and get some plot points straightened out.

3. Emotional and Mental Motivating - If there is anything that I learned from my practice writing this month, is that I am easily distracted by life (both its fun and stress) and procrastination. So, first I will strategically place motivating reminder notes where my distractions most frequently occur: the TV and computer. This will help on those nights when I fail to meet my daily word quota in my morning writing session. Second, I will shame myself in advance into victory by planning a victory party and inviting people to it. Take that, John's normal safety net of unannounced goals in life!

4. Removing Distractions - First, I am limiting the number of movies and TV shows that I check out from the library. Second, I am instituting the Rule of Dangling Carrot; I cannot watch any movie or TV show, surf the web, check Facebook or Twitter, or even blog until after I have met my daily word quota. I had hoped to finish both Season 8 of 24 and Season 3 and 4 of Transformers: The Cartoon Series before the end of the month so as to be rid of the temptation for either, but it is obvious that won't happen by the end of the month, so they will fall under my Rule of Dangling Carrot.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Preparations

I set a goal for myself for the rest of the month of October to write at least 5,000 words per week to get myself warmed up for NaNoWriMo. I'm going to keep track of my progress on this one blog post instead of doing a new one after each week. So, if you care about following along, you'll have to come read the updates here.

The Stats
Total for October: 13,905
The first weekend
(this was before the setting of the goal): 3,293 words in two sessions (about 1 h 40 m total).
Week 1: 2,915 words in one session (somewhere around 2 h, although I was nodding off so I'm not sure).
Week 2: 4,013 words in three sessions. I don't remember how much time.
Week 3: 2,390 words in two session. I don't remember how much time.
Week 4: 1,294 words in maybe one session? No clue how much time.

Commentary
Week 1: This week turned out to be very hectic and I did not plan well enough to reach my goal. I am sad about that, because it would have felt great to start off strongly and instead I started off stumbling out of the gate. If I remember correctly I only did one session, late Saturday night. I was very sleepy and finally made myself stop when I kept dozing off in the middle of my sentences. While some of the writing, especially towards the end when I was nodding off, is likely very poor, I felt quite pleased with much of it.
Week 2: I am loving writing. I am sad that I didn't reach my goal of 5,000 in the week, but I got pretty close and I think that I better understand now how I can prepare for my writing sessions. I need to do a little bit of outlining, but things are moving along swimmingly.
Week 3: I am very disappointed in how little I wrote this week. I let the business of life become an excuse and--much more damagingly--I succumbed to my normal distractions when I did have some free time. I also am recognizing how a good outline can help keep you moving forward when the story grows large and it is easier to get lost in it. I'm still enjoying this immensely and looking forward to November.
Week 4: I grossly misjudged how much time I'd be able to force myself to spend writing during Halloween weekend. I set a big goal of 5,000 not realizing that as soon as Thursday hit I was in Halloween mode and only wanted to play. That lasted until late Monday night. Anyway, it was a great practice experience for me to do these little previews.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Let The Writing Begin! [Updated]

In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I have been doing practice writing sessions to see how many words I can pump out in a given period of time. The first time I sat down and did 1,400 words in about 40 minutes. Today I did 1,893 words in one hour. So if I average 1,700 words per hour then I'll need to spend 30 hours on writing in November to reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month. Yeesh. That sounds scary right now, but really it comes out to a little bit less than 8 hours a week (assuming a four week month). If I can spend one hour a day during the weekdays and three hours on Saturday, then I'll reach the goal and won't even have to write on Sundays. I think that the trick will be breaking up the writing so that on some days I do two half-hour sessions or whatever. This is not how I normally like to work on my creative exploits, but I just need to remember that the point of NaNoWriMo is not to write a best-seller--just a very rough first draft (because it is still in the word vomit stage).

These practices have been very fun and exciting for me, because I've been writing the novel version of Book 1 of The Alphus Redemption Trilogy. For those who are familiar with Twenty Mule Team's songs, this is the story behind the Wishing Well album. I thought I'd hold off on writing any novelized version of it until I had the other two albums written (album 1 is written and just needs to be recorded, album 2 has two song ideas, and album 3 has nothing), because I didn't want to feel constrained by the story as I wrote the music. However, I think I am starting to change my mind a little bit on that. My writing of Wishing Well took a really long time because there wasn't much organization or clear direction. At first they were just random songs, chronicling some of my own experiences. Later a story emerged and then the story changed from my experiences to that of the main character Alphus. I created a basic outline but still lacked a great deal of anything between those key moments. While I like what the album has become, I think it lacks a sense of continuity musically.

Album 2 does not have a strong outline yet of events, just the basic bones that carry us through to album 3. I think the only way that I will be able to write the songs for album 2 is if I better understand the story elements anyway. So... long story short, I am going to start writing Book 1 and see where that takes me. When I finish and get to Book 2, I will re-evaluate (but I am leaning toward trying to write the whole thing within a short period of time to see if I can create an actual album instead of a collection of songs that share a story theme).

While we are on the subject, I think that I will make my October goal be to record the rhythm guitar tracks for an acoustic version of Wishing Well. I thought I was going to use the month for outlining, brainstorming, and writing prep (as well as finishing up some TV shows that I am currently watching on DVD), but since I've started the practice sessions that no longer seems so necessary. The truth is that I think most of the material is in my head and just needs to come out. Once it is out then I can go back and see what is missing or not connected and make corrections or fill in the gaps. For now I need to stop thinking and start writing.

*As an aside, I am pretty sure that I am going to write a different story for NaNoWriMo, although I may just work on both. The other story idea is newer and less fleshed out, but has a lot less baggage as well (I've been carrying the story for The Alphus Redemption Trilogy around in my mind and in little notebooks for about 5 or 6 years now, and I fear that I may get bogged down in it if I try to take it on as the first novel I write). So I will use it as my practice material during October (when I don't feel any pressure to reach a 50k word goal), and then, if things are flowing, I'll keep on going into November. If not then I'll switch gears and take on a story that I am currently calling: The Earthtalkers.

*As a second aside and as far as writing on Sundays goes, I am a little torn on whether I should do it. In the past I have never felt bad writing music or brainstorming story ideas on Sundays, because I think of them as artistic endeavors and I have NEVER thought of them as my job. At this point in my life I still don't think of either as my job. However, the goal is to someday get my stories published and be paid for my work so that I can work less out of an office and have the freedom to pursue a career as an author. So, with the possibility to any of my stories being published so far in the future, it is hard to feel like it is work at this point. For that reason, I imagine that I will spend some time on Sundays working on it. I think for now it comes down to my motivation for doing it. I am not writing at this point in my life to get published; I am writing because I want to exercise my talent and creative abilities. At the point where writing becomes a legitimate job possibility, then I will stop.