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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

NaNoWriMo Day 22 - Seeing the First Draft through the Word Count, with Hints and Tips

Update and Tips for Bad Days, Ill Days and The Invisible Bully (Writers Block) Days

Dear Scribblers - Hello!

How's your NaNoWriMo experience? Are you still hanging on to that glider, buffeted by the tough high winds, flying high and enjoying the view, or have you decided to stay grounded?

I must say, I'm so pleased that I've stuck with it. To carry on my metaphor, I'm no way an experienced pilot, most definitely still a novice. Some days, it's been so difficult, I haven't even wanted to get into the seat, touch those controls and start writing, and the thought of hitting my word count, seems as far away as the horizon. Whilst other days, my ideas have been the warm air currents that have lifted me up where I'm whooping with delight at the freedom it gives me.

Want Help with Writers Block? WRITE away!

To anyone struggling, just write. Don't keep thinking about how many words you've got to hit or how far behind you are. I know. That's my problem! I spend more time wasting time and then, I've lost the day. I don't have trouble once my fingers are on the keyboard. My problem is getting there in the first place. It's the anxiety of the thought of writing, but once I begin, it's far more enjoyable than the time I've spent worrying about it. Before hand, I try and keep my mind off all the baggage that comes with writing, and if I do think about it, I try and focus just on the stories and ideas, but sometimes I try not to even think about that, as it will often bring it's negative invisible bully along with it... Writer's Block!

Did you see what I called it? An invisible bully - it's the opposite of the invisible friend. It's not your playmate, and it's only as real as you make it. Remember, it doesn't exist. It will only appear to you if you let it, and you'll notice, it generally only makes an appearance when you aren't writing, only when you are thinking about it. The best way to overcome it? Write!

The best way to start, is either, leave a sentence unfinished from your previous session, so you've got something to get you rolling. Another way of doing this, is just to repeat the last two sentences you wrote in your previous session, and that can help you pick up from where you left off. If you do have a complete blank sheet in front of you, don't stare at it. Whilst you are looking at the expanse before you, you aren't writing. What I do is, look away, either look at the keyboard, or if you are handwriting, look at the nib of your pen. Then write down the first sentence that comes into your head, and you'll see your fingers flying over the keyboard, or loop-the-looping over the page. Remember, it doesn't matter what you write - WRITE NOW - EDIT LATER - just keep producing those letters. Once you've removed those chocks from the wheels and cogs in your mind, you'll find that the breaks are off and after a while, the air will be beneath your wings, and you'll have lift off!

That's what I think NaNoWriMo is all about, you are a trainee pilot experimenting and creating pilot projects, and each day you'll learn to soar a little bit more.


So here's how the last four days have gone for me:

Day 19 - 2232 words

Day 20 - 2001 
(Well, after getting to day 20, I was a bit Spaced out, and it's all an Odyssey, isn't it?)

Day 21/22 - 5537
(Joined the two days together, as it was a piece of the story, I wanted to keep as a whole.)

I actually had wanted to write in a more focused way on Sunday, but didn't find a long enough block of time in the day. Instead, I wrote whenever I found a chunk of time, be it 10 mins or if I was luck, an hour. I don't especially like writing like this, but I find the word count increases quicker than you expect. There's lots of stopping and starting, but I find, if I use the trick of leaving part of a sentence half finished or rewriting the last sentence or two, it's quite easy (well, it does become easier) to carry on and write your next paragraph or so, depending on how much time you have.

What to Do on Poorly Days - On Your Marks... Get Set... Pace!

I write like this on the days when I'm not feeling too well, in pain or tired. I'll set myself a timer, usually 10 or 15 minutes, get myself into a comfy spot and write. If I find, I can't focus for that long, I don't beat myself up, I just stop the timer early. If I find I'm coping well, I may increase the timer to 20 minutes for the next session. I may do this once every hour, giving myself time to rest. Pacing like this, means that I can write and get my word count rising throughout the day without over exerting myself. It will tire me, but at least I have control over my actions.

Times that have worked for me in the past are:
10 minutes writing every 1 hour (10 minutes to 50 mins rest). If you stuck to this during a day, in 5 hours, it add up to 50 minutes worth of writing time.
10 minutes writing every 30 minutes (10 mins writing to 20 mins rest). This can also be blocked as 20 minutes writing every hour (20 to 40 minutes). In 5 hours, both produce 1 hour 40 minutes of writing.
15 minutes writing in every hour (15 mins writing & 45 minutes rest) or every 45 minutes (15 mins writing & 30 minutes rest). 5 hours = either 1 hour 45 mins or 1 hour 15 mins.
If you have a little more energy, 20 minutes writing then 20 minutes rest, will give you 2 hours 40 minutes worth of writing during 5 hours.

Of course, you can alter this as you go along, checking the writing and rest times, and shortening or lengthening the amount of hours you'll include. It's an interesting to chart your progress as well, keeping a note in your journal to map your daily writing input. I've often made a note of time spent writing, along with word count, health and mood. You can definitely see the correlation between them all. Good days equals high word count of a better quality. Even the weather can be a factor!

They'll also be days when writing will just not happen, when this happens, don't panic or beat yourself up. It's just a small section of time that you can't write, focus on something else. Enjoy what you can do, instead of worrying about what you can't. In fact, even on some horrid days, a story idea or a gleam of a sentence will pop into my mind.

If you, can't face, or aren't able to pick up a pen, or switch on the computer, there are other ways of capturing your thought. When I've really struggled, I've still had my iPhone beside me, and I can either tap that idea into notes, Pages or the Scrivener app.
Adding Ideas to Notes on the iPhone,
either type or dictate
Type & dictate in the iPhone
Scrivener App

If I can't focus on using the keyboard, I've either asked Siri to write a note or reminder, or I've used the little microphone button to dictate the sentence into one of the apps for me. I've also kept a voice memos of various story ideas, and even recorded myself a quick video, so I can literally remind myself later! There's plenty of ways to write, without actually writing.
Siri on the iPhone can add to
notes and reminders for you.
iPhone's Voice Memo.
Leave yourself a message.

I'm sure there's a number of apps for phones and pads which can help you. If you are using a particular app I haven't listed here. I'd love to know how you 'write' on days you can't write normally. See, even on days you're too busy, or too ill, or too exhausted, there's always something you can do to be creative. Even if you just leave yourself a voice memo of line of dialogue for your story, or an idea for a future chapter, it's still considered writing, and it will all add up to your word count.

Only 8 days of NaNoWriMo to go. Whatever you do, I hope you keep on writing and keep on enjoying it!

Happy Scribing!

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