It took some time to decide whether I would participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I have participated ten times in all and each time have created novel or novella length manuscripts. Most have been revised and edited over the following year or so to become published books. Some quicker than others it must be said. My very first NaNo in 2009 resulted in a work not published until last September! Yep 9 years. This was due to it being my first full length manuscript, my novice writing and self doubt that it was worthy of publishing. I revised and edited almost every year until I took the plunge, finally satisfied it was finalized.
However, in regard to this year’s NaNo, my first stumbling block was the two draft novels I have pending, which are previous year’s NaNoWriMo manuscripts. Again I know they need revisions and editing prior to submission to a publisher. My struggle was should I work on these manuscripts rather than create another one?
Secondly, I have several events to attend during November, which will take me away from the vital writing time needed for NaNo. As we all know every minute counts during November. Will I have enough time to succeed?
Thirdly, although I browsed the multitude of saved short stories in my laptop folders, I was not convinced any of them were novel length material. Or maybe it was my Muse not being excited enough about them – who knows? So I pondered what ‘new’ story I could write. Nothing I thought of seemed the elusive ‘it’ until just as I was drifting off to sleep an idea burst into my mind. It gave me a rough timeline, one character and the inkling of a plot. Knowing that relying on memory is a writer’s mistake when ideas pop up, I got up and wrote it all down. Subsequently, I have managed to decide on my two main characters, their location, some backstory and a timeline.
So I am as ready as I can be for 1st November. If you would like to connect on the NaNoWriMo site I’m MandyB.
So it seems it’s been a week of delays! Here is the question of the week.
Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
My answer: My current WIP is a steampunk novel and the initial scene in it is of a dream I had. It was so dramatic I knew I needed to use it somewhere.
Last week’s question: When creating your stories, do you tend to write your protagonist as the same gender as yourself – or do you use the genre dynamic as a device?
My answer: I do not have a particular gender I write about but in my novel, Life in Slake Patch I purposely used a young male protagonist due to the basic theme of the book – a matriarchal society and a young man’s life within it.
I managed to hide away in my local library last night prior to my writers meeting and work on revisions for my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop. With twenty-two pages revised, 510 words added (I don’t count deleted ones!) I felt satisfied at it’s progress. Now I have found a superb cover designer I’m already thinking of a cover for this novel, the illustrated one was the NaNoWriMo proof copy. This novel is one I will be finalizing (hopefully) at the writers retreat later this month. Countdown is on to 18th May…
Our meeting was fun and I shared a part chapter of Twesome, which was well received. It always bolsters an author’s confidence when their words are liked.
My ghost writing project will have several changes made this week, although as I am accompanying my daughter to her reptile show all weekend I doubt I will get any writing done until the evenings.
The Other Life by Ellen Meister- I finished this book, thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is my review on Goodreads.
Love the struggle Quinn has in this story, whether to stay with her current family life or switch to a more glamorous one, she once had. There are many factors for and against in both lives and this narrative beautifully demonstrates that. Mothering has its challenges and Quinn has to make some hard choices, so even if you are not into ‘alternative or parallel worlds’ this story will capture you.
Her Fearful Symmentry by Audrey Niffenegger. I am now absorbed by this tale, which is set in London, England on the outskirts of Highgate Cemetery of all places. Obviously this appeals to my warped sense of drama.
While I was at Authors for Indies on Saturday at the Sherwood Park Bookworm, I requested a book with a reincarnation theme. Luckily for me, Leanne the owner found it so it is now on my TBR pile.
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
How many books do you read in connection with or research for, your current work in progress?
Keep a journal or notebook handy at all times so you can jot down all of your brilliant ideas. If you’ve got a smartphone, make sure it’s loaded with a note-taking app. A voice-recording app also comes in handy for recording notes and ideas.
Personally I keep a notebook beside my bed and one in my handbag/purse all the time – when an idea strikes it is best to write it down – later it will allude you!
Make sure you have a dictionary and thesaurus available whenever you are writing.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you would like to share?
I enjoyed a spur of the moment road trip on Saturday with my dear friend, Linda. We traveled west towards the Rocky Mountains and a lesser popular highway (some unpaved). As writers we notice everything – landscapes, flora and fauna and glimpses of everyday life as we pass by (or in our case stop!) It had been several weeks since we traveled together in that direction and we saw astounding differences in the places visited. This was due to the amount of rain the area has experienced – dry dusty tracks were now mud filled, dried up ponds and stream beds now torrents of water and a beaver lodge, which had been high and dry was now partly submerged. It shows that nothing stays the same – observation is key to a writer.
Part of our discussions during our 11 hour trip was narratives we are working on and the many put aside projects, snippets of ideas and future novels still to be realized. I remembered that some time ago a writer friend had stated that “I’m not sure I have anything to write at the moment. I cannot comprehend this. I have a folder of ‘writing pieces’ on my laptop – several hundred in fact – all of which have not seen the light of day for some time. I have come up with an idea for these short stories – but that will be a project once I have edited, revised and completed the four novels I am working on this year! (Yes I know I am a lunatic.)
If you have a similar problem to mine and suffer with ‘too much inspiration’ then maybe these strategies might help.
a) Leave the chaos of your writing space with pen and paper or recording device and go for a walk. Once you are in a new environment the most exciting and prominent idea(s) will stay with you. Write or record them and let your imagination flourish with them for a while.
b) Restrict your time on musing about new ideas by setting yourself a time limit. Even a ten minute burst of inspirational writing will ensure you get the idea down but not ‘waste’ too much time on it. Once it is written put it to one side and continue with your current project, safe in the knowledge the idea has been dealt with.
c) Take some time to really dissect the new idea. Can you envisage the plot arc, the ending, the characters? If the majority of the narrative reveals itself to you, then mark it down as your next project. However, if the idea is vague, do not pursue it – just jot down the outline and file it.
d) Utilize your passion when defining whether an idea is worth reflection. If it excites you or is on a subject you feel passionate about then it should be considered in depth.
e) Get yourself an idea board. Organize each idea into genre or categories and when a new plot, character or scene comes to you place it with the other components of that particular story.
f) Bounce your ideas off a few trusted friends or members of your writing group.
It is thought a ‘problem’ to have too many ideas – they densely populate our minds. Crowding out each other and jostling for attention. It can be frustrating when we are embroiled in a current project. We hastily jot down the details of the new idea, too frightened to leave it to chance that we will remember it later. This removes our mind set from progressing with our existing work, if only for a short time. These ‘breaks’ can either be a good thing – returning refreshed and with renewed vigor or a bad thing – lured into the new project and dissatisfied with our current work in progress.
How do you handle the sparse and dense periods of your writing life?
What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you?
How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?
Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?
“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”