Saturday, 3 November 2012

Can you fail #NaNoWriMo on the third day?

Maybe, fail is too strong a word, after all, it is only the third day, but my mind has gone blank.

As a self-confessed pantser, it was always going to be a tough challenge, but I thought I had an idea - I had an explosion in the first scene (that's dramatic enough to last several thousand words, isn't it?) and I had an array of characters either trapped or watching the drama unfold.

I thought that after a few hours of writing random scenes the characters would take over and show me their stories.

Except, they haven't jumped off the page yet, They are staying resolutely flat and half of them don't even have names. They are the bride, the guy in a coma, the nurse, the housekeeper. 

So, after a moment of utter panic, here's my list of things to do:

  • Eat chocolate (of course! I haven't eaten any so far - that's obviously the reason!!)
  • Encourage my muse to appear - my muse is my three-year-old self, she likes to play hide-and-seek, and she doesn't eat her greens.
  • Relax and read something - I have a stack of books waiting.
  • Dress up as a witch! (Seems random, but I'm going to a Halloween party later!)
How are you doing so far? Any tips for a first-timer? How was your Halloween?



68 comments:

  1. Eat chocolate in your Halloween costume while reading a book, that will get the ideas flowing! :)

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    1. Practically perfect, Anna! There definitely has to be a costume party in my novel now :-)

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  2. Don't give up hope! Keep taping away and remember the brilliant quote "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." It's pretty true as it goes!

    I tend to find myself hunting through deviantart to find first plot ideas from the art there, or youtubing random songs is another personal preference of mine. I've even been known to go out for a run to order my thoughts up, but obviously it's all about how you manage it.

    But whatever you do, don't give up just yet, it's a very long time until Nov 30th afterall!

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    1. I've copied that quote onto my desktop! Exercise helps me as well. I never think about using YouTube for songs, but that's a great idea. If you stop back this way, let me know who you are though - I'm not keen on Anonymous :-)

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  3. Keep going, Annalisa. We inevitably reach those dry periods in our draft but it's importan to trudge through. Remember, this is a first draft. Let your words wander a bit. They can be cut later. Write some backstory, description, worldbuilding. Anything until you break through the wall. It's hard, I know but it's too soon to give up.

    Good luck!

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    1. My words are definitely wandering, it's the plot I'm having trouble with - hopefully that'll pop up soon!

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  4. I'm planning on hitting a wall at some point (I can feel it coming.) but I also plan on writing anyway because that's what NaNo's about. I keep telling myself that it's not as bad as I think it is right now :)

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    1. I hope you don't hit the wall too hard! I think I'm writing round in circles at the moment - I haven't quite figured out the technicalities of what I wanted to achieve.

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  5. Have you any oracle cards? Tarot, angel, etc? If so pick a card and write from that. Alternatively open a book or magazine and tie in what you read to your plot just to keep writing. Good Luck. Mx

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    1. Actually, I do have a pack somewhere. That's a good idea, thanks.

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  6. I'm sure chocolate will help enormously. Good luck :)

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  7. there is no fail. The word count is merely a goal, so some times are small, some are crazy good. It averages out. NO EDITING. You are obviously reading your stuff - don't do it. Throw in anything but the kitchen sink. Or fix the kitchen sink and that leads to a secret passage into the land of Oz. Be silly, overdose on chocolate, have fun. I've done three NaNo - never used them. But they lurk and I think I have one character out of all that is decent and she may appear someday. No failure - only possibilities. Have fun! (and write in the witch costume.

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    1. I know - you're right! I know I should just splurge the words, and I really want to, I'm just taking a little longer to relax into it than I thought I would. 'Only possibilities' - love this :-)

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  8. What Joanne said! Just write something. There is no fail!

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    1. I'm going to try to do some more in a minute... watch this space :-)

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  9. I've never done Nano, so I may not be qualified to give advice! But I like what they said above. Just write anyway, even if it's not any good at first, it'll get your juices flowing. Besides, that's what revisions are for. :)
    Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Rachel. I don't think there's any fear of it being 'good' at the moment lol

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  10. I love Anne Lamott's suggestion. Keep a one-inch square frame on your desk. "All I have to do is write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame."

    Or there's Hemingway's quote of writing one, true sentence. "Write the truest sentence you know." Breaks it down into a small bite of progress. Of course the pressure of writing the truest sentence I know can halt me in my tracks. ;)

    Cheering you on!

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    1. Hmm, I agree, trying to write the truest sentence is a whole heap of pressure on it's own!

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  11. I'd like to second Anna Smith's suggestion lol!

    The pressure makes things harder, I think. I don't really have any advice because when the words aren't there well ... the words aren't there! If you wanna throw some ideas around, feel free to email me! :D

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    1. Cheers Kyra - I'll probably take you up on that offer :-)

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  12. I've got to get moving. I'm finishing a book so I'm not after word count, but to finish the draft at around 250 pages and get it off to my editor for the initial read through.

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  13. Aieeeeee! The Pressure! I think you should probably just keep writing any old thing that comes to mind. Some might be good, some might be brilliant! Also, take a notepad to the party with you and ask people for their favourite and least-favourite names - might help you name the characters at least!

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    1. Asking people for help is a great idea. They might look at me a bit strangely, but I'll give it a go!

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  14. My first NaNo too... Hmm... I guess when I get stuck I take a shower. For some reason, there's something in the water that unclogs my mind. :)

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    1. We're on a water meter - that really wouldn't be good for my bank balance :-D Exercise works for me - I think as a general rule of thumb you get ideas whenever it's inconvenient to write them down.

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  15. Chin up, girl! you'll get it back. Or not if yopu don't want to - there's no reason to carry on if you're hating it.

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    1. Oooh not hating it, I'm just really hard on myself and think everything I write ought to be prizeworthy from the start. Which is odd because I'm really not a perfectionist in any other area of my life!

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  16. Sort of what Cassie said, except I keep a play list that i use to identify with either a specific character, or a playlist of songs that I think would make an excellent trailer for my book if it were to be made into a movie. Then I go do a work out. Nothing like climbing an invisible staircase fro thirty minutes to make me spend time visualizing the trailer for my book. After I've spent thirty minutes dramatizing my not yet written book, I can't wait to hit the keyboard. Good luck, and if it helps any, I'm way behind on my word count too.

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    1. I've chosen the CD which fits the feel of the story, I just haven't listened to it yet because of other people hanging around wanting to do other things - I'll have to search out the headphones!

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  17. You could try having a critique partner read what you have so far, then write up some interview questions for your characters.

    Answering the questions in your characters' voice might help you get to know them better and spark some ideas.

    I have used this method in the past when I was stuck. It has helped me out more than once!

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    1. At the moment, the only question any of them need to answer is: What the heck is your story? But I'm hoping to work on that over the next couple of days.

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  18. Enjoy the moment! The story will come...oh, and eat more chocolate! ;)

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    1. Thanks Lisa, I'm trying to enjoy it. I'm glad so many people are as convinced by the chocolate argument as I am :-)

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  19. I usually do a bit of planning before I write. I didn't have time before I started NaNo - and now I'm paying for it.

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    1. I never plan, but I usually give myself a couple of years to bash out a first draft - 30 days in my world is like 30 minutes for everyone else!

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  20. The guy in the coma can hear everything.

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    1. Oh, yes, that's a good idea, Size. At the moment he's talking to the random people lining up in his tunnel of light - I've gone for the cliche :-)

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    2. As a person who knows a little bit about comas, people in a coma CAN hear.
      I was reading a book to a fellow in a coma. A nurse came in the room (to check on his monitors or something) and said "He's laughing!"

      I would have missed it because I had my head down reading - but I had just read the only joke in the whole book1

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    3. Hi Janey, sorry I've just seen your comment. That's an amazing story - how fantastic to know he was listening and enjoying!

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  21. I think it would be kind of cool if you left them all with those un-named names. Good luck!

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    1. I do it quite a lot with short stories, but I'm not sure if I could carry it off for a whole novel. I'll see how it goes. If the names fall in naturally, I'll let them, but not sweat it if they don't :-)

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  22. I wish I could give you some tips on NanoWriMo, but I've never participated in it before. I wish I could, but November is always an especially busy month during the school year. Anyway, I think that you haven't "failed", because just the fact that you're participating in this project shows that you've succeeded. Also, I think that reading books is a good way to find inspiration. It often helps me, and other things that help are looking at paintings at an art museum, listening to my favorite songs, or going to a play. Beautiful things that were created by other people inspires me to create my own stuff, and hopefully someday someone will read it and think it's beautiful.

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    1. Your last sentence is so true! Music and books always inspire me.

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  23. I haven't participated in NaNo yet so sorry, can't give you any writerly advice. But what I can tell you is NEVER GIVE UP and HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF! You can do it, Annalisa!

    My muse plays hide and seek on me too. She comes out and then disappears when I want to continue writing! But the thing is, it seems like my muse has been taking a little nap for the past ten months. Um, yeah, I've been going through a writer's block and didn't even notice I had it until a month ago!

    I really need to get back to writing sometime soon. Get back working on my memoirs that should be thriving! But darn it, I got too many distractions.

    Good luck with NaNo and don't give up yet! :)

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    1. I completely understand what you mean about not realising you had writers block - it's happened to me before, I just thought I was a rubbish writer for ages, then one day I had an idea and started writing again. You will get back to it! Thanks for the pep talk :-)

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  24. I wrote nothing on Day 2 and Day 3 was a struggle, so hoping to make up for it today. As a total pantster, I have found the best way to keep going is to include song lyrics and detailed descriptions of weapons based on extensive YouTube research... oh, and a car journey because you never know what is round the next corner, literally! Best of luck. ;-)

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    1. Most of my characters are trapped in a collapsing building at the moment, so whenever it's getting slow I just make the floor shift a bit more :-) I might steal the tip about song lyrics. Margaret Atwood had a character in The Robber Bride (I think) who used to turn everything people said backwards in her head - that must have added a fair number of words.

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  25. I think eating chocolate is obviously a good plan. It's always a plan!

    My first few days are also going slowly. I'm a pantser. To be honest, I didn't have the time to plot this even if I had wanted to so I have to just sit there and see what happens. One thing that is keeping me going though, is that if it wasn't for NaNo, I wouldn't even have these few words down, so it is motivating me and moving me forward, so don't give up Annalisa. Keep writing those words, no matter how few!

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    1. That's true. I wouldn't have written my 3000 words at all without NaNo! I hope it starts to flow for you soon and I hope you have enough chocolate!!

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  26. It sounds like you have fantastic solutions to your current dilemma. Best of luck.

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    1. Well, I've enjoyed the chocolate, and the dressing up!!

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  27. You can only fail if you quit. Just write something.

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    1. Very true, Diane, and the words are tumbling onto the screen, just slowly :-)

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  28. I could never handle being a pantser. I'm so anal, and I'm always worried of forgetting a good idea, so I HAVE to write everything down. If anything, my outlines have become more and more meticulous, ha.

    Much luck with your NaNo project, I'm sure you'll figure out the book soon and meet your goals!

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    1. Thanks Charlie. The good thing about being a pantser is if I have a good idea I simply write that scene, even if it's out of order - then I fit those random scenes together like a jigsaw afterwards.

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  29. I thought I was ready to go too, but somehow, this pressure of word count has driven me to hang out at facebook far longer than a human being ever should. I too am a failure. Pass the chocolate please.

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    1. We'll sit and eat chocolate together while everyone else reaches their targets - I bet we'll have more fun :-)

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  30. You can borrow my mantra, ' I can do this!' Now go and stick it on the fridge, on the laptop in the car, everywhere you can , and just do it, bum on seat, tap those keys, write rubbish, write through it...

    Bring in a gun? :-)

    Quitting isn't an option.

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    1. Thanks Maria - I'll definitely use your mantra. I have discovered the core problem though - I don't have a plot. So I'm going to spend today brainstorming: I CAN DO THIS!!

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  31. Chocolate should help, right?!
    Maybe ... read a book that isn't so good. Then you'll be thinking, "I can definitely write better than this," and maybe your muse will return :) I don't know!

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    1. Chocolate has IS helping :-) I love the idea of reading a not-so-good book - I often give that advice to other people.

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  32. Getting blocked is just the worst, isn't it? Good luck figuring it out. I saw your comment from earlier, about how you're going to spend today figuring out a plot. Hope it worked! Plotting can be so much fun.

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    1. Sorry I missed this comment! The plot did come to me in the end, now I'm stuck on another part lol

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  33. You're not failing! It's funny I can say that without hesitation to you but when it comes to telling myself it's not so easy. But I think we will both get through NaNo. Just giving it a shot has been motivating for me. Good luck!

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    1. I'm still way behind where I should be, but still writing almost every day - Fridays are hard because I work, and I realised that the 30th is a Friday, so I have to be done by the 29th... more pressure! I hope you're still going strong, Julie :-)

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Please comment - I love a good chat!