On “Winning” and Winning

The following is a guest post from Melissa (Gidgetisms).  Melissa lives and writes in Calgary and wants to talk to you a little bit about what winning REALLY is.

 

So you decided to do Nano. Let me just say hooray, congratulations and various other accolades!. You made a good, if tough, choice. Regardless of your goal, you said “I made the decision to try to write a novel.” You told your friends, you planned out your month and you toiled.  I bet you even made your own handy graph to keep track, with assorted colourful highlighters (or maybe that’s just me). But at any rate, you got yourself  prepared. You came to write ins, or came on the chats. You set aside time, and grabbed whatever writing time you could. You pushed yourself and threw yourself headlong into it.

But then you fell behind. Those lines on that pretty new graph just didn’t get as big as you wanted, and you didn’t get to use your pretty multicoloured highlighters as often as you wanted. Everyone else seemed to be leaving you in the dust. Your days fell apart because of life. Your motivation took a detour. Things happen. You could feel your motivation leaking away, and you felt like giving up. “There’s no way I’ll do it now, I can’t win”. 50,000 words was just too far away and you felt like a failure. I know what that feels like.

I’m here to tell you, though, that whether you put your pen down (or shut your laptop, or turned off your tablet) or just kept going, you are a winner.  You committed yourself. Whether you wrote 50,000 words or 5, you still tried, and trying is half the battle. Who cares how far you got? You have a lot more than you started with, and I’m not just talking about words here.

Maybe you have an amazing plot that you planned out and can come back to later. Maybe you wrote half and got bogged down in edits and plot holes. Maybe you finished the story early, and it turned into a novella instead of a novel. You still are further along then you were in October. You might not have completed it, but you have the basic structure to play around with. You have the bones, you just need to flesh it out.

You set an awesome goal for yourself. How many of your friends do you know that tried to do the same? You have accomplished much, and you should be proud of yourself, don’t let it become a matter of numbers. Or, if it must be numbers, consider these numbers: one more storyline than you had, however many new words written and one more community behind you one hundred percent.

So don’t allow yourself to feel like you have failed. You are a winner, regardless of word count. You won your own challenge and we’re all proud of you too.

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Catching (Back) Up

The following is a guest post from Danni (Epic Robot Danni).  Danni is a yet unpublished writer that likes to work on far too many projects at the same time.  A plotter by nature, she is a huge advocate of figuring out the story before starting to write.  She also has a healthy-ish obsession with stationary.

 

I’m behind.

This might not come as a shock to anyone. At any given moment, most people doing NaNo will tell you that they’re behind on their goal. And right now, I’m one of them.

This, of course, happens every year. At least once during the month of November I find myself falling further and further behind on my goal, the wall I know I’m going to have to climb growing bigger and bigger until I can’t even see the top. Until the rope dangling from it that’s supposed to help me is suddenly is slick with oil, so I can’t even take that first step.

Why this is happening is no secret: Distractions!

The world is filled with them. Whether it be the lure of a full PVR just begging for your attention, a beloved pet thinking your arm is the perfect place to sleep, or the simple fact that you need to eat and have decided to make a grand production of it.

So how do we get rid of those distractions? How do we put down the remote? How do we gently set the pet on the ground (despite how much we were enjoying cuddling with them)? Okay, we can’t stop eating, but how do we stop making such a grand production of it?

I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t have the answer to all the questions. Especially because I know that, every year, something is inevitably going to pop up that’s going to make me step away from my writing to deal with it.

Family drama is going to happen. When you get behind in your word count, don’t beat yourself up.

Car troubles aren’t something you can avoid. But you can look at the bright side of things and use the time you can’t be out driving for writing instead.

Computers may (sadly) have issues. Switch to paper and cut yourself some slack.

Because if you get behind, you can catch up. No matter how tall that wall is. No matter how much oil has been slathered on that rope. Get yourself a grappling hook and find a new way over that wall.

NaNo isn’t easy, and distractions will happen. But the only thing that’s going to make sure you don’t reach your goal is giving up. And even if the outcome isn’t what you thought it was at the beginning of the month, be satisfied that you gave it all you could.

Take a moment and recommit yourself to this crazy adventure we’re on. Find the excitement that filled you at the beginning of the month, turn off that TV, and get writing.

And when everything is said and done, take a moment to be satisfied.

Because, no matter what your goal is, you took this journey. And you survived. And you ended up with more words than you started the month with.

And that is what NaNo is all about.

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Hitting the Wall

The following is a guest post from Tiffany (Angelkirb).  Tiffany lives in Calgary. Hewr hobbies include reading, writing, drawing, knitting, and watching a variety of TV shows (which goes better with some of her hobbies than others).
The dreaded writer’s block. The ten foot tall brick wall that pops out of nowhere just as your writing is flowing so well. It seems impassible, impossible to get over. Everyone experiences writer’s block at some time or another, but what do you do when you feel as though your muse has gone on vacation?
The first thing to consider is the root of writer’s block. As much as it feels like a solid brick wall, it’s really not. There are a variety of causes that bring about writer’s block, but most of the time what it really comes down to is that the creative juices just aren’t flowing anymore. It may be something big or small, but either way, you need to get past it so you can get more words on the paper.In order to find the door in the wall there are many different strategies you can try. You may want to do something different with your writing. If one scene has you stumped, jump forward to the scene that’s been keeping you up at night or find a writing prompt and put it into your novel. Or change your PoV character for the scene. It might be messy, it might come out odd, but it may give you some new insights on the part that has you stuck.All you need is some movement. This can be anything from getting outside for a walk and a change of setting, hitting the gym for a quick workout, or something as simple as taking a dance break to that song that describes the theme of your novel just right. A few minutes of movement, especially after hours stuck in front of your computer, can do wonders.

If the words just aren’t coming no matter what you try writing, switch activities for a bit. Do something you love, whether it’s drawing, knitting, gaming or Facebook. Take a bath/shower or read a book by your favorite author or in the genre that you are writing and see if you can find inspiration. When all else fails, turn on an episode of your favorite show. The one thing to remember when seeking out another activity is to set a time limit and get back to your writing after that. It’s easy enough to get away to refresh your mind and get sucked into distractions instead that eat up your writing time.

If it’s a particular situation that has you stumped, reach out to other writers or someone from your support team. Post in the Facebook thread, on the NaNo forum, in chat, attend a write in, or when there isn’t one, set up your own. The community is a very strong resource, both for help with story issues and for general support.

Some of these strategies may work better than others, while some might not work at all for you and that’s okay. Experiment and see what works best for you and your writing. Whatever you do, make sure that you get back to your writing after you get a bit of distance and hopefully find that door you were looking for. All the strategies in the world won’t help you if you don’t sit back down and give the words a chance to flow once more.

The last thing to remember is not to stress over a blip in your creative process. The more you stress it, the hard it will be to get over. And after all, almost all of us are on this writing journey because we have a passion for it and a story that is demanding to be written. Even the best authors struggle with writer’s block at some point and they have gotten over it and so, too, will you. Have fun and enjoy the ride.

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NaNoWriMo 2014 Planning Workshops

Missed the workshops on October 25? Couldn’t quite catch all the notes? Never fear! We have uploaded the presentations, complete with all the brainstorming we did as a group. Just follow the links below:

 

Dynamic Dialogue

Striking Settings

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Calgary NaNo 2014 Events!

Note – those events listed without time and location are still tentative, as we finalize details with our venues.

Another Note – commenting to this post is not the best way to reach an ML, since we don’t get notified of all comments. Have a question? Email us instead! WrimotaursATgmailDOTcom. 

Note that the November 17 Write-In has ben cancelled due to venue conflicts but we have added a Midway Party/Write-In to make up for this.

 

Monday Night Write-Ins – November 10, 24 6:00 to 8:00, Denny’s McKnight – 5015 – 4 St NE

Come on out for some yummy food and some conversation and some friendly writing competition that’s certain to increase your word count! RSVP on our regional forum here.

Saturday Write-Ins – November 22, 29 10:30 to 12:30, Fish Creek Library – 11161 Bonaventure Drive SE

Much like the Monday write-in, but on a Saturday and during the day!  Also, note that there is no write-in on November 8 or 15 because there are other events those days. RSVP on our regional forum here.

Come Write In at the Calgary Public Library – Saturday November 8, 11:00-4:00 – Central Library – 616 Macleod Trail SE

There will be two events, from 11 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 4 pm (because your intrepid MLs do require food at some point.  The write-ins will have the usual word wars, box of awesome, and buckets of doom, but we will focus less on the social aspect and way more on the writing we should all be doing. ~~NOTE: This event requires a valid adult library card and you MUST register for the event with the CPL. If you do not register, you may show up and hope for a no-show, but we cannot guarantee this.~~ You can register here

Sunday/Wednesday Night Chats – November 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30, 7:00 to 9:00 – http://members.shaw.ca/squiddy/chat/

An online version of the Monday/Saturday write-ins.  All the fun with no travel! No need to RSVP, just show up!

Marathon Write-In – Saturday November 15, 10:00 – 10:00, Odyssey Coffee House, SAIT

A crazy long chunk of noveling insanity!  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll make lots of new friends, and you’re guaranteed to add to your word count (many people average 10,000 words on this day). Note that the Saturday Write-In is cancelled due to this event. RSVP here.

Midway Social Party/Write-In – Sunday November 16, 5:00 – 9:00, Denny’s McKnight – 5015 – 4 St NE

Half-social party, half-write in. Bring your friendly stories and writerly commiserations and also your writing gear.RSVP here.

TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) – Monday December 1, evening

A (somewhat tired) send-off to the craziness of November and a serene welcome to the (relative) calm of December.  There will be celebrations and commiserations, there will be celebratory food and drink and there will be prizes.  Come out.  You want to celebrate your achievement, don’t you?

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2014 Year Round Meet Schedule

Hey Wrimotaurs!

So your intrepid MLs are still so on the ball that they’ve booked the 2014 year-round meets! Here they are:

  • February 23
  • March 23
  • April 20
  • May 18
  • June 29
  • July 20
  • August 24
  • Sept 21

No meetings in October (kickoff), November (well, there will be meets, lots of them), and December (TGIO) as usual.  All meets will be from 5 to 9 pm at the Denny’s McKnight (5015 4 St NE) in the back room.  Just ask for the writers or listen for the laughter.

Watch your e-mails/Facebook for RSVP details and we’ll see you there!

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NaNoWriMo 2013 Planning Workshops

Missed the workshops on October 26? Couldn’t quite catch all the notes?

Never fear! We have uploaded the presentations, complete with all the brainstorming we did as a group!  Just follow the links below:

 

Phenomenal Plots

Captivating Characters

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Monthly Meet Schedule

Hey Wrimotaurs!

 

So your intrepid MLs are especially on the ball this year.  So much so that we’ve already booked all of the year-round meets!  Here they are:

 

  • Feb 24
  • Mar 24
  • Apr 28 (NOTE: changed for scheduling reasons)
  • June 2nd (Which is actually our meet for May. What can we say? We’re busy people.)
  • June 30
  • July 28
  • Aug 25
  • Sept 22.

 

No meetings in October (kickoff), November (well, there will be meets, lots of them), and December (TGIO) as usual.  All meets will be from 5 to 9 pm at the Denny’s McKnight (5015 4 St NE).

 

Watch your e-mails/Facebook for RSVP details and we’ll see you there!

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A Week Three Celebration

The following is a guest post from Ashley Nicole.  Ashley lives and breathes writing, and it makes her happier than almost nothing else in the world.  She started to write when she was young and has always loved expressing herself in anyway that she possibly could.  She thinks that we all have a story and how it will end is up to us.  so let your creative imagination soar!

 

Celebrate!!!

Week three is upon us. Some have kept along well with their daily word quota, others will have fallen behind a bit on certain ‘bad hair’ days, and other may have given up all together at this point. Such is week three.

Many people call this ‘dreaded week three’, and with a good reason behind it!

Writing a novel in a month is a grand task to be sure! But to put a different spin on it, how about we celebrate week three, instead of dread it?

You have put in a significant amount of effort by this point, like… a lot of effort!

You may give yourself a pat on the back, or go and do ten pushups to get that heart racing after being sedate for three weeks, haha!

Seriously though, you have done such a good job, even though at this point you may be questioning your sanity, and/or how good your story actually is. Don’t get bogged down and give up at this point, please, I beg you don’t do that! You are so close!

You know what I did in the Nanowrimo race last year, at this time? (Carrying along with the theme of celebration, this is the story!)

It was quite chilly out already, but I got myself all layered up and made the trekk to a local coffee shop. The walking time in some serious Canadian weather probably took me a good 90 minutes, but I bought the special holiday drink they had on the menu, and walked home, without taking a sip! (True confessions, I think I did have one sip)

When I got back to my place, I hurried to the kitchen to warm up my special drink, then ran back upstairs to write with my delicious treat in hand. Sure, this may not be celebratory for everyone, but let me tell you I don’t just walk a good distance in the freezing cold to get coffee for no reason! I had to celebrate.

For me, my self, my personality, my preference, my reason for living, haha… I have to celebrate!

It may sound silly to some people, but it is how I was made, I just know it.

This is exactly why you have a box of chocolates sitting next to your computer at this moment in time, right? Please say yes, haha :)

But really, I think that celebrating (especially at ‘this stage of the game’, as they say) is such an important part of accomplishing an amazing feat such as writing a novel in a month. The reward for being diligent, writing more and stretching yourself both as a person and as a writer should be rewarded.

So, as it is now week three, take a moment to celebrate all that you have gone through to get to where you are now. And then think of what little time is left in Nanowrimo, you are practically finished! (those who are panicking about finishing can just skip over that last sentence)

Celebration is key, so go and have a party! Sure, it doesn’t have to be a party party, (it could be) but just do something special, okay?

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When Week Three Gets Tough

The following is a guest post from Kai Kiriyama.  Kai is a writer and a generally geeky girl. She likes to read books by the fire and playing Pokemon on her DS. She invites everyone to friend her on the NaNoWriMo forums, her user name is KaliYuga. She also has a blog which she is attempting to keep updated and you can find it at thekiriyamaheir.blogspot.com she also has a youtube channel which she hoped will be updated with a video blog on her life during NaNo, her channel is thekiriyamaheir. Kai also insists that you find her author page on facebook (Author: Kai Kiriyama) and her twitter which is @thekiriyamaheir. There, no reason for you not to talk to at least ONE person during NaNo! Kai Kiriyama sends you all the warmest wishes and good luck hugs.

 

So  you’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo. Awesome. I decided to do NaNo 3 years ago. I was so not expecting anything even remotely close to what happened to me in November. It’s difficult, writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Difficult, but not impossible. I will admit that life tends to throw curve balls at you, and none are more apparent than when you’re trying to reach such a lofty goal of writing a novel in a month. I should know. In 2010, I was working 3 jobs, working 7 days and well over 70 hours every week. In a mall. During the Christmas rush. And trying to write a novel. And planning for Christmas. And did I mention that I was trying to write a novel? I reached the 50k mark. In fact, I surpassed it. Barely. But it is attainable.

The other thing that I’ve noticed in my first two years of NaNoWriMo, is that there is a point in the month where you will hit a slump. You can be a planner, or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser, or a go-in-it-blind-and-hope-for-the-best kind of person, but no matter what you do (I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants novelist in 2009 and a planner in 2010) it is almost inevitable that you will hit what I refer to as the dreaded “Week-Three Slump.” Sometimes, it happens in the second week or partway through the first week, but for me, the slump tends to strike on the third week of the month. I get so psyched up about writing and I fly outta the gate full tilt. My first week typically is fantastic for my total word count. My second week, I start to get right into the plot, developing what is happening and where the story is going. I find my second week to be a lot slower than my first week during NaNoWriMo, but I get most of the set-up in my story done, and usually all the back stories and secrets my characters have are developed enough to make the story work. But in my opinion, that is the easy part.

Week Three tends to be the part where you’ve started to feel like you’ve hit the wall. Your word count slows down. Your plot has become developed and your characters are solid but now it feels almost like work to try and progress the story towards that 50,000 word mark. Sometimes life has thrown you for a loop, sometimes you’re discouraged by the people who have written 80,000 words in the first three weeks (I know I have been in the past.) Sometimes it’s just writer’s block. Whatever the reason, it happens. It’s normal. I’ve compiled a list of tactics that work for me when I hit that slump, and I hope that you will find this list helpful. Read on!

 

Tip One: Keep Breathing.

Okay, so it’s kind of a stupid tip, of course you’re going to continue to breathe, it’s not something that you can normally shut off (unless you’re a vampire, but that’s a whole other discussion.)  When I say ‘keep breathing’ I mean relax. Don’t stress yourself out over it. Writer’s block or a slump happens, especially when you’re pushing yourself as hard as you will be in November. Take a step back, push yourself away from your computer or set the laptop aside, and just breathe. Calm yourself down. Take a minute to refocus yourself and ask yourself these quick questions:

• Why am I stuck?

• Am I letting this [writing a novel] stress me out? How can I remove that stress?

• What is the worst/best that could happen in this situation? (In your story)

• How long have I been sitting here?

Usually, these four questions will give you an answer to what you need to do to get over the hump. If you’ve been sitting at the computer (or notebook, or typewriter or parchment and quill pen) for a long time, maybe you just need to get up. Which brings me to my next tip.

 

Tip Two: Get up, go out

If you’re like me, week three dictates the third week that you haven’t left the house for non-work or groceries-related reasons. And you’ve probably consumed enough caffeine to power a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters for a week. And you probably haven’t slept much.

This is all normal, but for the love of everything you hold dear (and your sanity) call someone and go out for coffee, or dinner, or just to the park. Anything to get you up and out of the house for an hour or two.

Seriously. Save your work. Back it up. Turn off the computer. It will still be here when you get back. Change your clothes (you’ve been wearing the same ones for a few days, if you haven’t had to go to work, I’ll wager) and go meet up with a friend. Bonus points if it’s a non-novelist friend, because then you can talk about things outside of NaNoWriMo.

Make sure that you take a notebook along with you on this excursion so that you can write down anything that inspires you or if you get that perfect idea for the next big plot point, or that clever one-liner that your hero can shout right before the epic showdown at the end. You never know where inspiration will strike. And even if all of your friends are doing NaNoWriMo, then good! You can all take an hour to go out, get some fresh air and have a social visit. Which again, brings me to my next tip…

 

Tip Three: Attend NaNoWriMo events

I’m lucky enough to live in Calgary, Alberta. We have a fantastic NaNo group called the Wrimotaurs. (Like Minotaurs, but for writing month, get it?) The Municipal Liaisons here are fantastic at organizing events in the city throughout the month of November (and we even have monthly meetings to keep the NaNo spirit alive year-round!)

The events that they so meticulously put together are great social events where you can chat with other people as crazy as you are for participating in NaNoWriMo, compare your progress in real-time, and generally have some fun. We also have word wars (which are basically mini-contests to see who can write the most in a set amount of time; sometimes, there are small prizes with us.) which will definitely increase your word count because who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? We also have a 12-hour event which is amazing if you can go. You will honestly increase your word count by a huge margin at this event. Almost everyone does, and a lot of the Wrimotaurs win at this event.

Now, maybe you live in the country, or you don’t drive, or you can’t make it to these events for any number of reasons. Well, that’s okay too because there are the forums on nanowrimo.org, and there are chatrooms (at least for Calgary) that you can get on and chat with people doing NaNo as well. So there’s really no excuse for you NOT to be in touch with someone else who is participating in NaNoWriMo, and with events in person and online, there’s even less of an excuse for you to be a shut-in when it comes to pep-talks and participation! And there’s tons of Wrimos on places like Twitter and Facebook, all you really have to do is get online to find out who has these options in place and see who is interested in setting up a chat to cheer each other on.

Darn, I didn’t have a clever segue into my last (and personal favourite) tip on overcoming the week-three slump…

 

Tip Four: Break time!

Yes. Take a break. An actual break. Usually in Week Three, you have ingested a ton of caffeine, have neglected doing the dishes for as long as you can, haven’t showered, haven’t slept, have barely eaten. Sound about right?

This is my favourite way to overcome the Dreaded Week-Three Slump. I have a day off, sometimes two in a row if I’m lucky, and I had planned to get another 10,000 words put into my novel. I had big big plans to finish the 50,000 words before the end of the month. And then, the Slump happens. I sit for hours struggling with what I’m trying to, but nothing is coming to me.

So I take a break and pamper myself.

I’m a girl, so I tend to do my nails, take a bubble bath, maybe colour my hair or give myself a facial. But I also make myself (and sometimes my fiancee if he’s home) a nice meal; maybe steak and potatoes, or pasta and sauce, something that isn’t previously frozen and usually requires a fork and knife (or a spoon, if it’s soup) to eat.

But the real thing that I find helps is if I let myself get up from my work and literally unplug myself. That’s right. I take a nap. Even if it’s only for an hour, a nap is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to recharge your mind and body. (I always give myself a minimum of 90 minutes though because I have trouble falling asleep on a good day.)

Oh and, DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT!

I know, NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality, but you will still feel like you should be writing instead of taking a bubble bath and a nap like a five-year-old. Relax, allow yourself to take this break and trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you get up afterwards.

So there you have it. My four tips on getting over that Week-Three slump. I’m always looking for more, so feel free to email me or NaNomail me or even find me in person and let me know what else you do to overcome the Week Three Slump.

 

Happy writing everyone!

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