Like many thousands of other people I participated in NaNoWriMo this year with the lofty goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. I’m proud to say that I am a winner this year having hit 50,000 words on November 27th. This is my first NaNo win and my third attempt. I guess the third time is actually the charm sometimes. I guess it’s a cliche for a reason
I’m still haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that I’ve written something this long. Last year’s attempt never made it to the 45k mark and I did work on it some throughout the year. I think this year worked much better for me for a few reasons.
1) I had a good idea where I wanted the story to end up before I started writing. It kept my driving forward in a way that writing by the seat of my pants never could.
2) I made very good use of the local NaNo community in Tucson. I went to multiple write-ins every week. I posted on the forums, and in the Tucson NaNo Facebook group, despite my hatred for FB.
3) I used the attendance of write-ins as an incentive. I would not go to a write-in unless I made at least 75% of my writing goal for the day. It meant that write-ins were just fun social time for me and helped me meet and get to know some great people.
4) I refused to let myself settle for less words than my goal. I took two days off from NaNo, but they were on purpose. I also made sure that I was ahead of the goal count to so that I wasn’t getting behind by not writing.
So, those are the ways I managed to bang out more words on one story in a month than I’ve ever written before. Now the question is, can I keep it going? I’ve set a goal for myself to write 1300 words per day which rounds out to about 40,000 words a month depending on its length. That should hopefully allow me to finish up this novel (50k isn’t nearly the end) and move on to something else with the beginning of the new year.
What this all means is that I’m now officially putting on my big boy writer pants and going after my dreams of being a published author. I think 30 sounds like a good age to get a contract signed, don’t you?
For the uninitiated, #amwriting is a Twitter hashtag, created by the lovely Johanna Harness. It’s a continuously running Twitter chat that is an endless font of inspiration for writers. I think I found #amwriting just after it was created. If it weren’t for Johanna and all the other early adopters I never would have participated in NaNoWriMo that year.
That NaNoWriMo was the starting point for my return to the world of writing. I hadn’t written anything to speak of since about the 6th grade, though I had done some pretty extensive roleplaying and character building. The camaraderie and encouragement I found on Twitter that November was nothing short of life changing.
As anyone can tell you that’s faced down NaNoWriMo it’s quite a daunting task. Many times I was reminded of a great Stephen King quote.
“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”
I don’t think I could have found the courage to keep going if it weren’t for #amwriting and my wife, who constantly reminded me that writing is what I want to do with my life. It was a simple matter of prioritization and writing needed to come first. Once I put writing on the top of my list I began to arrange the rest of my life. Now, instead of working a 9-5 job and scratching out a bit of writing when life allows I’m traveling full time with my wife and working on my writing for hours every day.
I won’t go as far as to say that I wouldn’t be here without #amwriting, but I will say that it was one of the first steps on a very long journey. I don’t know if I’ve every properly thanked the people of #amwriting, Johanna in particular, properly, but I hope this post will serve. Thank you.
This post is part of a blog party to celebrate #amwriting’s second birthday. Happy birthday!
To continue the celebration, head over to L.S. Taylor’s blog and read her happy birthday post.
Yesterday I wrote a post about how I respond to that dreaded question about my inspiration for my current novel. It was a bit facetious, but I do find a lot of inspiration in songs.
Of course there’s a lot more to it than that. Writing a novel is a complex process and it takes a lot more than a little seed from a song to get those creative juices flowing. It takes a whole bunch of songs! To that end I give you a few of the songs that keep me in the mode for writing my little necromancy tale. I put this playlist together on Spotify (free accounts available by signing up with Klout.com) based on things that were on the Pandora station I often listen to while writing this novel. It’s a work in progress, but I’m sure you can see a theme. If you have any ideas for things that would fit in there, I’d appreciate the suggestions.
The links below take you to the songs on Spotify. If you sign up with that link above you can play all of these songs and about 10 million others for free! (I’m not even getting paid for this. I just love the service so far.)
Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You into the Dark
The Cranberries – Zombie
Tegan And Sara – Walking With A Ghost
Dave Matthews – Gravedigger – Acoustic
John Lennon – Imagine
Glee Cast – Blackbird (Glee Cast Version)
Jack Johnson – Breakdown
Donavon Frankenreiter – Free
Metric – Help I’m Alive
Michael Andrews – Mad World
Evanescence – My Immortal – Band Version
Death Cab for Cutie – Someday You Will Be Loved
Death Cab for Cutie – Soul Meets Body
The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
Tegan And Sara – Where Does The Good Go
Nine Inch Nails – Hurt (Quiet)
David Bowie – Space Oddity
Phantom Planet – Raise The Dead
Phantom Planet – Demon Daughters
Writers get asked constantly where they get their inspiration, especially after describing the plot for their latest project. The first time you’re asked this question it really knocks you for a loop. You’re left groping for a succinct way to summarize a process that is about as easy to define as the alchemical recipe for turning lead into gold. After you’ve been asked for about the twentieth time you realize that most of them don’t really want to know all the myriad places you pulled little pieces of your story from. They want something short and sweet and easily digestible.
So, here’s a bit about my novel and what I say in response to the inevitable question about my inspiration.
Me: My novel is about a young woman who accidentally slips into the netherworld after the murder of someone close to her. When she makes it out of the netherworld she’s thrown into a world of mystics and necromancers at war. The mystics claim to be fighting on the side of right and Jenna mostly agrees, but she has made a vow to bring her loved one back to the world of the living and necromancy is the only way to do that. She has to make a choice and the lives and souls of her and her loved one hang in the balance.
Interrogator: Wow, that’s a crazy story. Where did you get the inspiration for something like that?
Me: Well, for me it all started with a little song: I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie.
Interrogator: Wow, that’s really a lot to get from a song. How do you do it?
So, that’s one way to answer that almost unanswerable question. Give it a shot and see how it works for you. I use music a lot for inspiration. Tomorrow I’ll post the playlist I listen to while writing my novel. It of course includes “I Will Follow You into the Dark” and other tracks that make me think of necromancy and lost love.
If you’re a writer, how do you answer the question about your inspiration? Hit up the comments and if you use music, stop back tomorrow and we can compare playlists.