Tag Archives: NaNoEdMo

Twitter hiatus, NaNoEdMo, and other reflections from March

March has finally come to an end, which means one thing: my Twitter hiatus is OVER.

Thank. Goodness.

 

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Elroy dropped by for moral nap support.

 

I’ll be honest, sticking to the hiatus was harder than I expected. I knew I was erm, addicted somewhat, but not to the extent I thought. Day one was fine. Days two through twenty-something were frustratingly boring, especially at my dayjob. Probably 90% of the news I intake – be it publishing/writing, politics, pop culture, etc. – comes from Twitter…which means I was pretty much in the dark for a whole month. Totally not fun, so if I ever make such a pact again: TALK ME OUT OF IT. Moderation, yes; complete blackout, no.

 

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So much revising.

That said, NaNoEdMo went really well. I logged over 66 hours of revising time, completing four chapters in the process. I *gasp* actually enjoyed revising for like…a whole week. Coincidentally that was the week where I revised 49 pages in total (one of them a 15 page day!). So as much as I hated being away from Twitter, clearly it had some benefits.

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Progress-by-stickers!

In terms of progress, I’m down to the last three chapters. I’m expecting to have to rewrite at least a couple scenes in one of them, because the language is practically gibberish compared to the images I’m trying to convey. The final chapter needs just a little bit of smoothing. If everything goes better than expected *crosses fingers* draft 3 will be done in the next two weeks, and I’ll have enough time to go back for another pass before sending it off to betas at the end of the month.

 

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Also during the hiatus…

I came across Tim Clare’s “Couch to 80k” podcast and am loving it so far. Like the site suggests it’s not just for people who want to take an idea they have and turn it into a book, but for those already writing who are burnt out or struggling with a block/anxiety.

Seriously, it’s awesome. Let me get personal for a second: I have a difficult time with writing prompts. I don’t fare well going to writing meetups unless they’re with my main set of writing friends, or the critique group I’ve belonged to for four years. I always feel this giant pressure to perform or produce and it locks me up. I’m a wording perfectionist in front of others, so trying to produce something on the spot that feels “good enough” is a struggle. Taking steps to better my mental health has helped, but those feelings aren’t gone.

However. In two weeks of exercises I’ve written:

  • A fun Loki/Thor brotherly fanfic snippet
  • Possibly the start of a short story, taking an early prompt (picking an “interesting object in a character’s bag”) and adding a strong emotional tone

These may not seem impressive or anything to be happy about, but to put it in perspective – the last time I wrote fanfic was pre-college, during my online forum-based rpg days. And the last time I had a short story idea, let alone tried to write one, was probably close to three years ago.

The freewrite exercises during gave me freedom to play around with, well… anything and everything. I dabbled in poetry. I ranted a little about politics. I wrote meaningless vignettes. Exchanges that may or may not happen further down in the urban fantasy series.

 

It seems like such a small, no-brainer thing to give ourselves permission to write freely for no one but ourselves, without judging the words or where our head/heart lead us in the idea – but it’s not. Not when you have deadlines, imposter syndrome, a nasty inner critic, or some combination of those three. They don’t even have to be contracted deadlines! The way we compare ourselves to others to measure and define our success is so, so harmful. We [writers] need to remember that we are our, essentially, our own first readers. Forget everyone else; we should be happy with the story, ideas, characters, etc. ourselves, even if it’s not perfect on the page yet.

If you need permission to do that, to find self-satisfaction in your writing, to let your imagination free to roam and get dirty and fuck up – you have it. You have permission – more importantly, encouragement – to do just that.

So yeah, give the podcast a listen. It hasn’t banished my writing blocks or anything like that, but I’ve seen so much potential in just taking 10 – 20 minutes a day to let my mind wander and see what it comes up with.

 

I also want to talk about falling in love with BTS, but I think that deserves its own post (or Twitter thread, at the very least). You’ll just have to wait for all that fangirling.  Until then, HAPPY APRIL!

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Really enjoyed reading Warcross, too! Where is the sequellllll???

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Rewriting…still

I’ve been working for a full year now and still haven’t finished the second draft of my UF book. Let’s just say it’s been a steep learning curve, and various crap happened throughout the year that didn’t make it any easier.

But – and there is a silver lining here – I’ve learned a lot. Just like a first draft, you kinda have to figure out a process for second and later drafts by doing it. Otherwise you’re flailing and wasting time and letting the voice of doubt sink its claws deeper into you….

I know, I’ve been there. I still flail, waste time, and want to burn the scene I’m trying to fix at least once a week. I don’t, though. I cut the words, re-write them over and over if I have to, until they make more sense.

Surely drafts three and on will be much, much easier.

 

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Assuming this guy lets me have some peace at the desk!

 

In any case, I’m sure there are tons of you out there looking at your NaNo or some other WIP first draft, positively cringing (or crying) from all the problems you see. Good news! NaNoEdMo is coming up in less than two weeks! Like NaNoWriMo, there’s a community undertaking the journey with you of trying to fix those words. Instead of 50,000 words, the goal is 50 hours of editing. That’s a little over 1.5 hours per day. Sounds totally do-able, right? Head on over to the website and sign up!

Having said that, I really, really don’t suggest diving in without some kind of plan.By that I mean jumping in feet first without looking over the first draft, thinking about what needs to change, characters that need to be moved, making notes, etc. It’s overwhelming. But if you’re looking for a place to start, this is what I tried:

  • Let the book sit (hopefully you’ve let it rest for a few weeks, if not a month, since finishing the draft)
  • Highlighted sections in different colors based on what changes were needed (green for setting, orange for plot, etc.)
  • Wrote each scene on a notecard
  • Made an outline for what actually happens in the first draft (even if you went by an outline while writing, it may be good to make this just to catch any differences that cropped up by accident)
  • Made an outline for draft two based on what needed to be moved/changed
  • Came up with an arbitrary date to finish the draft

 

What actually worked:

  • Outlines — these have made the biggest improvement, I think. Every time I changed something or got feedback from an alpha reader/critique partner, I readjusted the outline and was able to stay on track much better.
  • Scene cards — these helped to an extent. They’re nice if you want to lay them all out and see what happens when you move pieces around, but for me, there was too much information on them. My scenes were too big, so about a quarter through I stopped using them as my guideline.
  • Alpha/Beta reader — to be fair I didn’t have a reader/crit partner until about halfway through the year, but I highly recommend having someone read the revised/rewritten chapters as you get through one.

 

What didn’t work:

  • Highlighting the first draft — there was simply too much that needed to be reworked. Since it’s first person POV and the main character didn’t cooperate very well in the first draft, a lot of it couldn’t be salvaged word-for-word.
  • Word/scene goals/timeline — hahahaha. I have broken pretty much every one of these I made. I underestimated how long it would take to rewrite everything, because my brain isn’t in first-draft-vomit-mode. It’s in make-everything-pretty mode. Luckily I’m not on a contracted deadline so I can take as much time as you want.
    • If it takes you a day to fix 50 – 100 – 1000 words, THAT’S OKAY. You don’t have to try to do a scene a day.

 

I also read quite a number of articles on rewriting, editing, the second draft, etc. Many, many of them will be much more helpful than me, both in terms of process and motivation/inspiration. The edit caves are deep, dark, and full of hidden bears that will gobble you up if they get the chance… take a torch and a shotgun with you:

 

Chuck Wendig has three good write ups about editing/rewriting/second drafts. Hopefully you get a kick out of the profanity as much as I do.

Susan Dennard has a treasure trove of writing posts, from planning a draft to fixing one.

Delilah Dawson, whom you should follow on Twitter, often takes questions and runs through scenarios like starting a short story or what her process is for revisions. Might be a little difficult to find the edit/revision posts but worth a look.

NaNoEdMo has a ton of posts from previous years to go back through. One of my favorites is this one by Julie Hutchings.

 

You can also look up Rachel Aaron (Bach), Kristin Lamb, and Holly Lisle to fill your brain with more revision gooey-ness. There are so, so many others too.

Catch you all at NaNoEdMo!

 

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Over the middle and through the words…

March is halfway over now, which by association also means I’m on the downward part of the NaNoEdMo hill. In 17 days I’ve rewritten around 6 scenes. I say around because the final fight isn’t cut into neat sections.

Six-ish scenes in almost 28 hours of work.

It doesn’t look like a lot when you compare the numbers, but it is. I’m rewriting pretty much every chapter in this draft. And if I’m going to rewrite a chapter to fix voice, I might as well widen the stroke to fix other major issues. Plot beats and structure are being hit too. The foundations for setting, world, and secondary characters are getting reinforced.

When I *tried* to start revising in February and wanted to bang my head on the keyboard, two of my friends suggested to try approaching it as another first draft. I had no idea what they meant at the time.  Now I do: give myself permission to write complete shit, AGAIN.

The funny thing, though, is that it’s less shitty the second time around. Maybe it’s been given a pat on the back and upgraded to crappy. I’m still way over-writing scenes and struggling to find the POV heroine’s voice, but there’s a bit of light poking holes in the angry revision cloud of doom.

Obviously I’m not going to finish draft two within 22 more hours of work. Or even by the end of the month. If I can find a revision process, and lowering the amount of time it takes to rewrite a scene or chapter, I’ll be ecstatic.

 

I actually decided to update my writing schedule a.k.a. goals. Clearly I am crazy because, again, I’ve only rewritten 6 out of god knows how many scenes for this freakin book. This is what I’m talking about:

 

  • March thru April (…June): finish draft 2 of UF #1, send to betas; write query, synopsis, and pitches for Twitter
    • April 23 – 24 = DFWCon (not planning to pitch or consult w/ any agent)
  • June thru July: outline & flesh out DF idea
    • June 9 = Pitmad for UF  #1
    • June ?? = SFFPit for UF #1
  • July: Draft DF book for CampNaNo
    • start prepping PitchWars submission
  • August thru September: complete draft 3 of UF #1; work on query, synopsis, blurb, etc.
    • August 3 = PitchWars subs open (!)
  • September thru October: complete draft 3 of UF #1  if not finished, send to CPs/NTSFW; additional plotting/planning for UF #2
    • PitchWars revisions (if picked)
  • November: finish draft of UF #2 for NaNoWriMo; work on query, synopsis, Twitter pitches, etc. for UF #1
  • December: finish draft of DF; work on draft 4 for UF #1
    • December 1 = Pitmad for UF #1
    • December ? = SFFPit for UF #1

 

So yeah. Wouldn’t that be nice if all those things got done? I’d probably hate myself next Feb. with all the revisions I’d have to look forward to. But it’d be so worth it.

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Ready, set, NaNoWri- , er, NaNoEdMo

*Crawls out of first draft slag.*

Suffice to say neither January nor February went according to the revision plan, but that’s the good thing about being an unpublished, un-contracted writer – you determine the deadline. If you need more time to fix the story, or talk yourself off the “All these words are complete shit” cliff about fifty times, you have it.

Finding a revision process that works for me has been the most frustrating thing. I’ve littered my desk with scene cards, post-its, notebooks, and craft books. I still don’t know if any of that will do any good, but hey, at least I’ve got a more cohesive, concise outline! I’ll just have to throw myself off the deep end and figure out what works. Much like drafting.

And to help kick me into the pool’s edge, NaNoEdMo begins tomorrow! It’s similar to NaNoWriMo, only it’s for editing/revising rather than drafting, and the goal is 50 hours rather than 50,000 words. Granted, 50 hours doesn’t sound like a lot… until you’re staring down the barrel of a character who won’t cooperate. Now, I’m not very good at making and sticking to my own writing goals, but NaNo’s have always worked for me. So thank heavens NaNoEdMo has a similar suggested structure. Just a touch over 1.5 hours a day for 31 days will get you to 50 hours. Substantial rewrites, grammar/spelling errors, and the like all count as acceptable “edits” for the event.

If you’d like to join me in revision nightmares funtimes, you can sign up at http://nanoedmo.com/ .
** If you have problems registering, contact the Webmaster (see Contact Us page) and he can help set you up.

 

See you all after the first breakdown! Har har har….

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