Another Tool for Writers

December 7, 2009

Chris Guillebeau has written another timely post. It’s encouraging to see someone living at the convergence of writing and goal setting. I’m using his Annual Review method for the second time this year, and I hope to meet with similar success in the years to come.


Contented Writer

December 6, 2009

Frank McCourt said, in the first chapter of Angela’s Ashes, that “the happy childhood is hardly worth your time.” Then he proceeded to tell the incredible story of his incredibly hard youth.

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, suggests going back to Kindergarten and writing down every detail of every event I can remember, grade by grade, plus holidays. The very next example features a family gathering where half the adults are so drunk they can’t walk from one room to another. Flannery O’Connor backs her up, saying that there’s enough awful material in anyone’s childhood to pack several novels. Misery seems to be an excellent source.

Can a writer write anything good when everything in her life is coming up roses?

How important is discontent to the creative process? It’s been a motivator for me often enough, and I think it’s easier to make an emotional impact in writing when I feel strongly about something. I can remember sitting down to write a chapter, and discovering that I’d fallen out of love with someone. It completely derailed the story, because that unrequited love was the reason I started writing it. My motivation was gone, and so was the main character’s. Seriously, why didn’t she just go home already? The guy just wasn’t that important.

Perhaps that’s an argument for not writing characters too close to myself and people I know.

When I decided to try NaNo this year, I was far too happy to have an entire novel’s worth of angst about anything ready to write out. No life tragedies, no insoluble internal conflicts… I turned to No Plot? No Problem! and the Snowflake method, and came up with characters I like but don’t know very well, and a storyline I didn’t expect. Life derailed my plans once again, and (here in early December) I haven’t finished the novel. Even so, I’m optimistic about it.  Having guidelines and a goal have also been helpful in my past writing.

Maybe contentedness isn’t an insurmountable obstacle.

Continuing Slowness

November 9, 2009

Hello again!

Slowness this week refers to my leisurely return to blog posting. While I’m getting my act together, read something by someone who already has, quite a while ago.

Slow Start

November 2, 2009

Day 2 of NaNoWriMo is fading, and my word count is getting close to my Day 1 target. The Snowflake method seems like a good thing, but I’m rushing through it (and skipping ahead) so quickly that it’s hard to say. Part of me wants to hold off on the novelling until I’ve finished the snowflake, but another part keeps reminding me that that’s not how NaNo is supposed to work, and I’m falling behind!

My slow start is only slow in terms of building word count. Coming up with characters and a plot in two days–that’s fast.

Snowflake Fiction

October 30, 2009

Someone in my regional NaNo forum recommended this webpage, which uses the Koch Curve as an allegory for the process of creating a structure for your novel. The author calls it the Snowflake Method, and (before I clicked) I thought, Snowflakes are pretty, not useful. This is going to be lame. Then I saw that it was Koch’s Snowflake! The lameness evaporated. Anything that combines fiction and fractals is cool.

It’s NaNoWriMo Time!

October 28, 2009

I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. For those of you not familiar, that’s when a crazy group of people try to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days: November 1 through November 30.

I tried three years in a row, starting in 2005, and finally won in 2007. I skipped ’08, and I’m sad about this. The winner’s t-shirts had a pirate ship on them, and now I want one, but my pride won’t let me buy one. Never again!

I encourage everyone to sign up. NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty says that one week is the perfect amount of time to get ready, but I say three days is plenty (heck, I just started yesterday). Check out his guide book on Google Books. If you want more help, just ask! Comment here or look me up in NaNoLand.

Happy novelling (that’s a real word in NaNoLand)!

Writing on a Hectic Schedule

September 15, 2009

I have not been disciplined about this at all lately, but some writing has occurred. I have known people (and I have been one myself) who can write themselves a ridiculous schedule for life, the universe, and everything, and still sit down for x hours per day and write.

This month has been more catch-as-catch-can. By the way, has anyone seen that phrase in writing before? I really like it, but I’m pretty sure I got it from a YA fantasy novel where everyone was speaking quasi-Old English. Anyway: I’ve written whenever I can catch a spare 20 minutes on the fly. No purpose, no larger project; just really wanted to be typing, so did.

I must have a lovely, patient Muse, if she puts up with this.