I’ve never failed at it quite like this, but wow am I going to fail.
Frankly? I’m not even trying anymore. Which super isn’t like me.
I know what the problem is. I’m recording a novel. This…might be something I do very little of going forward. A big part of it is just how I operate, how my brain works. The project isn’t due for months, literally months. But I cannot handle having it hanging over my head so I’m pushing everything else aside it work on it.
It gives a weirdly false impression of how I work when I do this. And I’ve done a bunch of novellas, but primarily novellas and projects that are 2 weeks of work or less. I can get them done and have the feeling of accomplishment. (Which I super love.) But they aren’t hanging over me until I finish them (well they are, but they are much easier to be done with).
I’m working with an author I think is great and I trust to do all the right stuff or I wouldn’t be working on another novel (that wasn’t mine!) at all. But even still? I’m going to be more wary.
So…a note to future me
This feeling of panic happens, you have to set aside all other work and record as long as you can and then edit during the week and you leave no time or brain space for other creative endeavors. It is ok to do it, but know that until you finish the project, nothing else significant will happen. Accept that.
For current me?
It’s ok to focus on getting this done. But then no excuses, buckling down to try to get this edit finished. I’ve got a good plan. I’ve got a good start. A good strategy. Good characters added. Good characters removed. (Appropriate maybe…they aren’t all …good…) But I don’t have words that aren’t “good” right now. So finish. Get the editing done. Get the last recorded. Get the changes recorded.
Then sit down in December and January and hammer out Jenna’s story. Take the chisel and really work that draft into something worth sharing.
And write a short or two in the meanwhile.
No more excuses.
Art is important.
So yes, I’m going to fail at NaNoWriMo, and it’s not great, but it’s ok. I’m learning something important. Hopefully I’ll actually take the lesson to heart this time. If not, future me, knock that shit off!
I’m loud. Like really loud. My voice is loud. I tend to be physically loud (I make big gestures, I take up a lot of physical space). I can fill a 1,000 room + space without an issue.
I’m also incredibly introverted. I’m not good with people. I come home to my space, quiet, safe, human free space. I expect days of quiet alone time after I have to do an event or a party.
People seem to be deeply confused. I can loudly, and quickly, and enthusiastically say that NO! I am not outgoing! No! I am not an extrovert! No! I am not!
But what people hear is the loudness. They can’t imagine that I am exhausted within minutes, that the idea of “just go be social” is very tiring.
On the other hand I have someone close to me in my family who is very quiet, sits quietly, and is incredibly extroverted. He is absolutely happiest when surrounded by people. He wants to be in all the social situations.
If you put the two of use in front of most people they’d usually guess he was introverted and I was extroverted.
I only feel better when I have time alone, quiet, self, inner focused time. I only feel like me when I have time to be me.
But I’m still going to be loud, even when I’m only 10% me, when I’ve been out and surrounding by humans. When I’m exhausted and not ok. I’m still going to be loud. I’m still going to wave my arms around when I’m talking.
So don’t try to tell people what they are, especially when they look horrified when you try to box them into a box they do not belong in.
The rings are pieces of Dwarf Planets that got torn off in passing, which were then ripped to pieces!
Juno – I don’t care how old this is – is out of safe mode and awesome. NASA is awesome. Humans managed to send tiny hunks of metal, plastic, and glass and throw them super hard and whoop they went out into space and made pictures of planets that we can see (and that we can’t) as just little specks of light. Humans. Can. Be. Awesome. Then again, robots are the ones doing the hard work. Packing up, leaving home, journeying through potentially lethal and unknown space to explore the universe. Didn’t humans used to talk about going out and exploring? Now we just let robots have all the glory?
The true understanding of natural language, the breadth and generality of human intelligence, our ability to both play Go and cross the street and make a decent omelet—that variety is the hallmark of human intelligence and all we’ve done today is develop narrow savants that can do one little thing super well.
I’m getting somewhere. I’ve dug back in and set things up and am through the first few scenes. I think I am actually doing a lot of what needed to be done. Gently weaving in some character things, some backstory (apparently it felt a little out of nowhere to show 3/4 of the way through that the MC had been imprisoned…yeah, trying to front load that tidbit), physical descriptions, and world building. My first pass through beta readers felt confused and didn’t know the characters well until much later on. I know this is an ongoing problem. I don’t describe enough.
So I’m doing that. And I think I’m doing an ok job. At least adding in enough that I’ll have something to work with rather than writing a stick figure in a white room. (Fine for some flash fiction, but not really ok for a novel, let alone a trilogy.)
I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, underaccomplished, and bad. Just bad. I’ve only gotten most of 2 chapters done. I’ve not crossed 10K which is really where I should be by now. I’ve got a long way to go.
The podcast is still going very well. It’s part of what keeps slowing me down. I really do love the chance to share and promote other authors. I’m still trying to make my own work happen, but I put the narration and the podcast first, and I’m entirely good with that.
I’ve also done some other good things like I’m a guest on a great podcast Getting Publishing this week. (I’ll share a link when it is out.)
I’m doing ok (I think) of sharing and updating on Twitter.
And I am actually making progress. And despite all the things, I think that is enough of a success to feel hopeful that I will keep moving forward to where I need to be on this.
Where are others at? NaNoWriMo? Other projects? Anyone else doing a Not NaNo thing and feeling a little weird about it?
These are some (slightly messy! sorry) thoughts on Scrivener and writing for NaNo.
I’ve shifted a lot of where and how I do the Nano writing. A few years ago I did it all in Pages on my iPad. I think 2 years ago I did it all in Google Docs and that was the year I fought A LOT with the slow down of google docs. When it gets big it gets really slow and clunky to maneuver. I tried doing it in google docs broken out by chapter but that was surprisingly hard to maneuver and make work as well. I think it was after that year that I bought Scrivener and then I dumped those chapters into Scrivener and worked with them inside it which was much much easier.
Something I love about Scrivener that I feel like I haven’t fully had the chance to take advantage of in a novel yet is what I’ve been doing with the Smoke Jumpers series. For Smoke Jumpers I put all the characters and locations into the project, all of the novellas (and flash pieces) are in the same project so when I’m like who is Ren’s oldest sister and which other stories is she in and where would she be at for this story? I can find that out. Having all the names, the locations, etc all laid out there has been incredibly helpful as I’m planning things.
I have been trying to set this up as best I can for Jenna’s books which I got a good start at last year when I did Jenna’s second book in Scrivener, but I haven’t pulled out all the stuff from the first book and I know I can still do a better job keeping up those other files as I do things like change description, etc. I’ve also been putting in notes like what someone is wearing if that is important and what scene so I can quickly check, I like the broken bottom screen so I can have the character description open while I’m editing a scene. I may end up doing this and having the old scene open on the bottom while I rewrite it above so I can take with the things I think do work.
For me when I’m moving from machine to machine my basic plan last year (pre iOS Scrivener which is GODDAMN MAGIC) would be I’d throw the last paragraph of whatever I’d written into a working google doc and then I could throw a few words at it from my phone or whatever, then I’d get home and copy and paste back out into Scrivener. I really was worried I’d forget this but it almost never happened. When I was on a roll or I had an idea even if I didn’t have the last paragraph from Scrivener in there I’d just throw it into that working google doc and I’d always remember to pull it out when I got home because I’d look at it and go, wait, I have more, oh google. And then pull it in. So there wasn’t any overlap issue there surprisingly.
While Scrivener is awesome, it isn’t the only game in town.
I ran across another tool on the NaNo forums was notebook.ai It seems to have a lot of the sort of things that I like about Scrivener. Though I don’t know that they have any of the formatting export to epub tools.
There are other options I’m sure, but these are the ones I’ve run across and used.
What tools do others use to write/manage/organize?
I’m going to talk a bit about my approach to Nanowrimo this year…
It may be TMI? Maybe? I’m trying to share. I was talking with someone recently about how much I love Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast. She’s so open and honest. (Or appears she is at least.) I like the ones where she just tells you how she’s feeling and what’s happening even more than the interviews. Like oh, she can do it, not every day is awesome, I can have a bad day and still come back and do ok. I can freak out and panic inside and that doesn’t make me a bad writer or bad whatever. I can keep going.
I’m nervous. I’m stressed. I’m panicked.
So my first problem is that I’ve been slacking on creative/fiction writing lately. I’ve been writing blog posts, I’ve been editing things, I’ve been critiquing, supporting, I’ve worked on some monstrous writing focused projects at work that have taken a lot of my creative and writing brain and by the time I get home I’m pretty burned out.
So I’ve been slacking on the fiction. I finished up a project nearish the start of October and haven’t bitten off a full new project since then. I’ve made notes on a couple of new projects that I want to work on post NaNo (yay more Smoke Jumpers stuff) but I didn’t start because I wanted to keep my focus on the NaNo project.
Um…Just do it?
I can’t wake up any earlier because I’ve been getting up super early to go into work and get extra stuff done. But I’m hoping that lightens up a bit by the middle of this week, then I’ll just keep getting up early and spend that extra first hour working on the novel.
I already have (good) plans for the 1st, but I’m going to carve out at least one hour a night the rest of the week. It might not be enough, it might not be enough to even make it. But I think it should be a good start.
One hour means one hour. Not 15 minutes while doing this or that. It means 4 solid, focused blocks of 15 minutes of writing, which should be entirely doable. I’ll do 4 sprints a night.
I’m set and scheduled for all of November, so I just need to keep up the promotion and other things I do, but hopefully I can let the hunting new work/opportunities slack a little. (I do have some amazing authors with some wonderful stories coming up through the month!)
I’m doing Jenna’s first book. It is a full rewrite. I normally go into NaNo with a pretty solid idea and usually some planning, that often goes out the window. This time I have basically a really bad outline and an end. Which is what I consider this book to be. The book isn’t bad, it just doesn’t work well…maybe a little bad. Not good…I’m rewriting because I think it has a lot of potential, I just think I left a lot of that potential behind the first pass. I have the second book in the trilogy written and so I know where I want to point my character, and I want to follow a lot of the same path as the first book, but basically not at all…if that makes sense. So I feel both more prepared and less than I ever have.
When/If I Fail
It really is ok.
I still have my day job. I still have my home. I still have the wonderful podcast. I still can keep writing it AFTER December 1st.
I know for some people it helps to have hard deadlines and impending doom to finish projects. But I’m already freaking out about failing something I haven’t started yet and have a good track record of finishing despite obstacles and stresses larger than what I anticipate this year.
I know that accepting the consequences of failure make me more likely to succeed.
I’ve been thinking more about NaNo lately and if it is still right for me? I like having a month dedicated/set aside for/focused on novels. Partly because while I usually do a lot of writing I am more often writing shorter pieces, flash, short and novella length stuff for different projects. I like those a lot. But I also like the novels. Having some space carved out for writing those novels is really helpful.
Having the NaNoWriMo community can be helpful. (It is part of why I wanted to try out Scribophile, so see if that could work, I’m still testing that.) A good place to go for support or questions. A good place to go and help someone and feel better because I’ve helped and supported someone else and so yes I can do this. (Yes, knowing I can/am helpful to others makes me feel better about my own chances of success, brain weird.)
So I think that for this year at least NaNoWriMo is still for me because it gives me a chance/a reason to stop and focus on just one novel project.
Next year though I think I’ll shift and maybe give myself a cheat of the weekend before to help prep even if some prep means some writing. I’m too much of a stickler for the rules for my own good sometimes.
If you stuck through all of that, what does NaNo do for you? Problems? Writing? Anything? Can I help you somehow to feel better about my chances of success? Did I mention my brain is weird?
Mariah Avix is the creator of 600 Second Saga.
Mariah writes magical tales of how technology will change our world, and technologically laced tales of magic, that probably isn’t real.
She is currently working on a series of novellas about shapeshifters who fight wildfires, a trilogy about a woman who refuses to admit that she has the M word (magic), and endless flash fiction.
Her novel Dangerous Metal is available in audiobook and ebook.
I have to say I’m with Vonnegut. Not a fan of the semicolon. When there is a need for it, like in a complex list, I’m always trying to find a way around it. It seems so pretentious and assy. Sort of like the word whom. Really? Whom? Whom sounds like “go fuck yourself I went to a fancy fucking school you peasant”…that might just be to me…
And pull it all together with…Punctuation Jewelry!
Though if I’m honest, what I really want is a big cuff bracelet with a bunch of interrobangs‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽‽