How Many Words?

Gentle readers, it has been a week.

Empathetic critters, such as myself have taken a hit. Not only from personal issues, but from the rising level of hurt, angry rhetoric, senseless killing, and crumbling ecosystems. So I’m stepping back. I’ve left my social media site for a very restful and cleansing week and have decided I’d like to get back to the other side of this website.

That is–Writing.

I’m not just here for flowery posts about helping your fellow humans, finding the light, being the better the world needs… I’m also here to inspire you in your artistic endeavors.

Now I don’t know much about all the arts, (Bob Ross, I ain’t), but I know a few things about the written word. What little I do know I want to share, because others shared it with me and boosted me up when I flailed for solid ground.

So today’s post is about writing. Specifically one of the greatest tools I have ever used to get my novels started, finished, and published.

Ladies and Gents, tomorrow begins the 2018 NANOWRIMO (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth).

Nothing will test your writing muscle like being under a 50,000 word deadline in 30 days.

Impossible? Actually no. But it is a challenge.

Precious few of us have the luxury of spending our days with uninterrupted time to dedicate to our writing. Most of us have jobs, children, families, and obligations, which can make the 1700 words a day seem unattainable.

But I’m here to tell you it’s within your reach. And what’s more, it will help you cull the nasty, time-wasting habits that keep you from doing your job as a writer.

When your time is limited, and the word-count is great, three major things happen;

1.) You stop farting around on the internet. Yep. You heard me. (Actually, you just heard my mother speaking through me). When you only have thirty minutes here and twenty there, and maybe ten in the car, you no longer have the luxury of scrolling through the latest cat videos or Pintrest-ing the hell out of your meal plan for the week. Ten minutes, you will learn is enough to get a good few hundred words in if you focus.

2.) You stop self-editing. What’s more terrifying to the creative process than Facebook Life envy? Um…you’re sitting on its butt. It’s you. You are. You feckless human. You who judges the words and sentences while they’re barely hitting the page. We don’t have time for your inner critic. And what’s more and better, the word-count box doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what the words are, if they are grammatically correct, if they contain gaping plot holes, or confusing tense. It just cares that the words are there. Which is all you should care about anytime you write a first draft.

3.) You begin to believe in yourself as a writer, even when things get tough. Somewhere in the middle of the month, when the bar graph is starting to catch up to itself and you’re hitting the doldrums, you’ll start to wonder not just if you’ll finish, but if you’ll ever want to write again. Some days will be bad, and barely a thought will come. When you reach these places of stagnation you’ll somehow find the outright stubborness to keep moving, even if the plot goes a little wonky or you lose/gain characters that make no sense. You’ll get over humps and realize that you are capable. And that, as G.I. Joe used to say, if half the battle.

It’s just words, people. Just a lot of beautiful words.

And, kids, this is your time. Life doesn’t get any longer. If you really have a novel in you, a pile of papers on the back burner that you’ve put off for far too long, this is the time.

It is now.

Go to the website, and create an account, free of charge (though donations are always welcome and needed!)

NANOWRIMO

Hold yourself accountable to your writing.

I’ll be popping in for a few short blogs during November but most of my words will be playing on a different field for the month.

Good luck! I look forward to hearing from those of you participating and drop me a line if you need any warmth or encouragement.

This is the year you write your novel, I can feel it.

book book pages college education
Photo by Victor on Pexels.com

A Super Secret Guide to Finishing Your Work In Progress. Part 1: Technology vs. Creativity

Hey there, writer? Whatcha doin’? Surfing the Internet? Caught up in some devilishly clever blog post that has promised to give you the secrets of the craft in one easy-to-read, bulleted list with some fancy-schmancy graphics?

 

I see you.

 

I’m glad you’re here, actually, I DO have some important advice in this my first lesson on finishing your work in progress.

 

Get off the Internet and back to your writing, you filthy animal.

 

Ok…wait! Not right now…just hear me out. I promise, I’ll be brief (500 words or so…Look! Only 420 left! 418…)

 

Fewer things deter the creative process like the multi-faceted distractions we face in our interconnected world. The phone, social media, the addictive thumbs-up ‘likes’ and sympathetic sobbing emojis. Constant information streams into our overworked, underfed brains; the lies, the truth, the barrage of sight and sound that, when boiled down, amounts to so much nothing. So much noise.

So shut it down.

That’s it.

That’s all. Part 1, in a neat little nutshell. Expand? Ok, but only because you asked…

Do you want to write more? Then disconnect. Grab a pen and paper and sit your ass on a park bench or in a coffee shop with your phone and laptop “conveniently” left at home.Stop Wasting Time

 

“But…but I can’t just write! I won’t be able to spell check or word count (320 left) or research the typical milk production of a Nubian goat in April!”

 

First of all, my little perfectionist, rough drafts don’t need to be spell checked the moment words hit paper (shocking, right?)

 

Secondly, one page of average handwriting has about 250 words give or take. You’re welcome.

 

Third (ly?), you sound like someone who could use my patented “Blah Blah” technique to avoid distraction in the middle of your writing flow.

Not familiar? Well, don’t search it on line (Jesus, haven’t you been listening to me?) It’s a secret I share with only my closest creative misfits, lucky you.

When you don’t know a factual detail of some part of your scene, insert the words “Blah Blah” into the space and move on.

Image result for images eye roll

 

Did you—did you just roll your eyes at me?  Watch it…I will mom voice you so hard…

Observe:

“Victoria knew that the Nubians would produce at least blah blah of milk next month, giving her blah blah bars of homemade soap to sell.”

It also works if I’ve forgotten a secondary character’s name but know that scrolling back to find it will dry up the good stuff that’s pouring out:

“ ‘You’re a handful,’ Mr. Blah Blah said and scowled over the drag pole fence.”

Don’t fiddle with your flow. Let the unnecessary lay in wait and avoid the pitfall of jumping on the Internet to do some ‘quick research’ which will curtail your thought process and take you away from your work (16 hours of baby-goats-in-pajamas-videos later and I’ve forgotten evil exists in the world. Good for sleep, bad for fleshing out antagonists.)

When the creative dust has settled into a beautiful, uninhibited outpouring of ingenuity go back and find your ‘blah blahs’ (they stick out like sore typos, especially being ‘repeat’ words) and you can designate a specific, allotted time to research and check them.

 

There it is.

But in my forty or so words left, I should give you at least one bullet (I believe I promised it somewhere up there.)

  • More than just in your writing, consider disconnecting in your life. Be present in the world around you, not face down in a screen. Your writing will be better. Your life will be better. Power down for at least an hour a day. No phone, no television, no laptop, no screen. Live through your eyes, your ears… all those messy, beautiful human senses your mother worked so hard to make for nine months. Notice the vibrancy of color in nature, the way wind feels against your cheek. Listen to your own breath. Taste your food. Powerful writing comes from living with powerful intention.

 

Ok, now you can leave me. I apologize for surpassing the mark. What can I say? I didn’t want to mess with my flow.

Go work on your book. Your poem…your passion. Come back and let me know how it’s going.

I’m signing off for the day, but I’ll get back to you when my creative dust settles.