My NaNoWriMo Diary

Well,  2009 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has finished. Yeh, I won!  What a month. Congratulations to all the winners and all participants, regardless of whether you finished or not. I’m sure you have all come up with some creative gems, or even seeds that can be germinated over a period of time.

Anyway, I thought I would be happy that this insane month has now finished. Yes, I’m glad it is over (whew! Got through relatively unscathed)  but I also had a couple of post NaNoWriMo blues days, which I wasn’t expecting. I think it was because it had consumed me for nearly a month (it gave me a great excuse not to do the house work), then all of a sudden it was over. Weird huh!

I would hate to think how I would feel after spending a year or so on a novel. I might be a basket case for a while. I have read of other writers and the emptiness they have felt after finishing a novel,  A bit like giving birth, I suppose -though I can’t comment on that one.

Now that it is all over, how do I really feel about the experience?

In a nutshell, it was a really stupid thing to do, but it was a great ride, and I am very glad that I did participate and saw it through to the end

If you decide to have a squiz through my namowrimo diary you will read how I came about to sign up for this insane event. Up until a day or so before sign up, I had no intention of participating, but decided to check out the official NaNoWriMo website: http://www.nanowrimo.org/. And what do you know! There was a book displayed on the website titled, ‘No Plot? No problem! A low-stress, high velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days by Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo). I think it had always been in the back of my mind to try writing a novel (no rush, but maybe one day in the far off future) as I had bought this book about a year or so ago. I think I assumed it to be a dummy’s guide to writing a novel. The book was so thrilled to have travelled the distance from USA to Australia, that it jumped up and down in excitement  on arrival.  However, it had sat deflated and dejected on my book shelf until I saw the cover staring at me on the website. My book was so surprised to be finally plucked out, and even more elated because I decided to read it the night before sign up. And as they say, the rest is history.

Would I do it again?

Yes.  but I would have a plan, and only because I have found from this experience that I would like to write a novel. (I wouldn’t call what I have written during NaNoWriMo a ‘novel’, but there are some threads that I could work with). However, for my first NaNoWriMo adventure, I had to dive in head first, without a plan. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

What did I learn?

  • That you need commitment to write.
  • That I have the commitment to write every day (during NaNoWriMo I aimed for the minimum of 1,667 words a day).
  • That any NaNoWriMo participant is insane, but should also be proud of their achievements. We gave it a go.
  • I can drivel with the best of them
  • NaNoWriMo is not about creating a literary marvel, but about committing oneself to writing; that by letting one’s imagination take precedence over everything else, you are free to explore the unknown and just be creative.
  • I found that I really enjoyed being in the ‘writing a novel’ zone.
  • Writing 1,667 words per day isn’t that difficult when the creative juices are flowing.
  • I didn’t need an ongoing caffeine hit
  • Writing a sentence can be difficult when you come to a screaming halt.
  • Not to be too hard on myself if the writing sucks – just get it on paper as I can rework it later.
  • What I can achieve when I set a deadline
  • I can write 50,000 words in a month (regardless of its literary merit)
  • Aiming for quantity rather than quality is something I realise I can do quite well
  • Diarising my journey assisted me during my ‘uncreative novel writing moments’
  • By diarizing this month, I  actually wrote an additional 8,945 words. (How about that!)
  • Some weird and wonderful things can happen if you just let the story and characters take you where they want you to go
  • Doing NaNoWriMo is a great excuse not to do the housework, or other such menial tasks. But it was still a bother that my husband expected me to cook his dinner. And unfortunately it wasn’t a good enough excuse to not pay bills.
  • I didn’t have to isolate myself too much from my family and friends  However, I should add that I was doing this whilst on long service leave, so that probably made some difference.
  • I didn’t get a fat bottom from sitting at the PC for a few hours each day.
  • etc, etc, etc.

So, the following 26 days (yes, I finished my 50,000 words at day 26) takes you into my NaNoWriMo journey. You might want to grab a coffee first.

Diary of an insane NaNoWriMo participant

Well, delirium, for me,  prevails once more.NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts today, 1 November, for us Aussies and New Zealanders, whilst participants on the other side of the world still have a few hours to work on their story line, characters, plot, and stock up on writing essentials (sweets, nuts, chocolates, TV dinners, fruit, veges, soups,  coffee etc).

So why have I just signed up for a month of madness when I am ill prepared? ‘I  plead insanity, Your Honour.”

I only became aware of  this phenomenon about a fortnight or so ago. No, I don’t live under a rock, and I haven’t come back from holidaying in Mars. I thought NaNoWriMo was a strange language from the new Star Trek  movies, so didn’t really take too much interest.  I absolutely love the original Star Trek movies (‘Beam me up, Scottie’) but haven’t really got caught up with the new versions. Yes, I digress.

Anyway, over the last couple of weeks  the thread of NaNoWriMo infiltrated my brain through Facebook and QWC (Queensland Writers’Centre) e-newletters but as I had never had great aspirations to write a novel, I didn’t pay too much interest.  I will admit that writing a novel was something way down on my bucket list, to probably be tackled in the hereafter, but certainly not at this present time. Forging my way as a children’s author  is enough for now.

And 50,000 words! – you have got to be kidding. 

‘500 words is a novel’ (to quote Clark Gable, a school-of-hard knocks newspaperman in the movie,  ‘Teacher’s Pet’, with Doris Day).

Yes, I do write, and have written a 5000 word children’s story, but 50,000 words in one month! Delusion I tell you!  Which is probably why it is  (or was) way down on my ‘Things to do before I die’ list.

So what cataclysmic occurrence fried my brain, compelling me, without kicking and screaming,  to sign up? 

Well, it goes a little like this.  I will keep this short as I have a novel to start. Tee hee. Mmm, from that snigger,  I don’t think I have quite grasped the magnitude of the task I am about to plunge into, head first.)

Quite sometime ago (last year, I think from memory)  I bought a book called, ‘No Plot? No Problem!A low-stress, high velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days.’ by Chris Baty. The title caught my eye and I thought that maybe, one day, I might try my hand at writing a novel, and thought it might provide some fool proof blueprints of doing just that.

Unfortunately, the book sat crest fallen in my book shelf until two days ago. It puffed up in delight as I picked it up and read the back blurb.

So what compelled me to pluck it out from the shelf yesterday afternoon?  Well, the remarks of some fellow writers on FaceBook, about the pressures of committing to NaNoWriMo, sparked my interest.  And low and behold, on the official website http://www.nanowrimo.org – was the cover of the book,‘No Plot? No Problem!’  for all the world to see. My copy has been dancing around in my study since that day.

I haven’t time to write too much about the book as I have to get cracking.  But  it is a fun read and looks at how to plan for this venture, and discusses the merit behind this madness.

I finished up to chapter 6 this morning. The book forbids me to read further, with strict instructions – unless I want fire and brimstone cast upon me – not to read Chapter 6 ‘WEEK TWO: Storm Cloud, Plot Flashes, And the Return of  Reality’, until I am at Week 2 of this insane undertaking. And the same goes for the chapter for WEEK THREE, etc.

So, why 30 days? – that the majority of us mere mortals work best under pressure. I have to put my hand up for that one. So it is a way of getting to write the novel we say we will do one day.

And, writing gets the creative juices going. The author acknowledges that the first draft is likely to be shit, so aim low – ’ … lower the bar from “best-seller’ to “would not make someone vomit.” (Baty, 2004, p33).

The aim is to write. No editing, just forging on. And if you do wish to plan beforehand, you spend no more than a week working on characters, plot, etc. And for the rest of us, write, and a plot will somehow unfold.

So what have I got so far in terms of story idea, characters, etc?  

Outside the last 22 hours, I had zip, nada,  zero. With the pressure on, I now have a character that, admittedly, deviates from being a woman to a male (no, not of the science fiction kind), an idea, and a skeleton of a plot. But, I am committed. Or should that be, I will be committed to an institution by the end of the month?

For what it is worth, I plan to diarise my 30 days – the good, the bad, the ugliness and the craziness of it all. So I farewell you till tomorrow. And, as I am busy writing, I daresay my blog posts will be minimalistic in word count, as I have a 50,000 word count in my sights. Eeeek!!

So ‘Beam me up Scottie!

Day 1 –  NaNoWriMo

Writing a 50,00 novel in 30 days (Yikes!)  Sunday 1 November 2009  Brisbane, Australia.

Started typing at 3.55 p.m. this arvo. It is now  6.37 p.m.  Pumped out  2,793 words. Mmm. Not bad. Time flew fairly quickly. Surprised I actually got to that word count.  Not sure if it is making sense, and I am not really sure where it is going. So will see what happens tomorrow. Anyway, have shut down computer for the night.

Day 2 – NaNoWriMo

Monday 2 November Brisbane Australia

I have dubbed today, ‘New Beginnings’.  I think there are some origins for that term, in reference for 1 November, but Google search will have to wait for another day. I have words to plant.

Anyway, the rest of the world has now joined in for the insanity of NaNoWriMo. And us Aussies and New Zealanders are now in our second day. So, it is ‘New Beginnings’ for us all.

I set my alarm for 6.00 a.m. with the intention of getting up at 6.30 a.m. this morning, only to be coerced by my husband. ‘Get up now. You have 4000 words to do.’

 Where did 4000 words come from? Did he appoint himself my word manager without consulting me? Damn the supportive husband.

Anyway, robbed of 9 minutes sleep I peeled myself from the sheets, fed the kitty cats (in our house, we refer to them as ‘the little people’) and then made  myself a nice cup of dandelion and soy tea.

It’s now 6.45 a.m. and with tea in hand, I am ready (brekky will have to wait).

So, I leave you now to see where my characters take me today.

12.07 pm. Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Back with you. Finished another 1,730 words at about 8.30 a.m. this morning. Yeh!  Up to Chapter 3. Still not sure how everything will come together, but what the heck!

After this bout of typing frenzy I went for a run. It’s wonderful having a treadmill – no dogs, or swooping magpies.

I have actually spent the last hour doing a few little odds and ends that I have been meaning to do over the last three weeks. Mmmm. Maybe this NaNoWriMo madness will help me knuckle down to make deadlines for other ‘essential’ business  that I have been procrastinating over lately. That’s the theory behind NaNoWriMo – most of us mere mortals work best to a deadline, like having a gun at your head (hopefully, one without bullets). Yikes!

Well, it’s 12.12 p.m. Must fly.

7.07 p.m.

Just updated by word tally on the NaNoWriMo website – reached a total of 5,179 words (ie. 2,790 words today). Could have done more but had bills to pay and had to stock up on food supplies.

Ni Night.

Day 3 – NaNoWriMo

7.40 a.m.  Tuesday 3 November  Brisbane, Australia.

Melbourne Cup Day.  And another day of NoAnoWriMo madness.

Yes, I am a late starter today, and hopefully that doesn’t prophesise the running position of the horse I will be backing in the Melbourne Cup today.

The alarm did go off at 6.00 a.m. and my husband did try his hardest to get me up, but I thought it best to  think a little more of where my story is heading. And all that thinking put me back to sleep.

Before I even considered signing up for this month of madness I had started going through all my notes and submissions for the Diploma in Writing course that I undertook some years ago.

When outlining the assignment in novel writing, my tutor wrote: ‘To attempt to build the story without first determining the plot structure would be like trying to erect a building without first putting up the framework.’

Yet, here I am flying by the seat of my pants, having only the whisker of a plot idea and so no wonder that I don’t know what is ahead.

But then I refer back to the philosophy behind the beginnings of National Novel Writing Month, and the experiences that the founder, Chris Baty reaped  from the experience:

‘Arts for Arts sake does wonderful things to you’ – and after completing his first NaNoWRiMo Chris found it both an  exhilarating and stupid experience.

If I hadn’t read Chris’s book, ‘No Plot? No Problem! the day before the start of NaNoWriMo  I don’t think I would have even considered the quest for the holy grail.  But he outlines how  to keep it low-stressed and just ride the wave of creativity. And that  the more you write the better your writing will get. We, shall see.

So, I’ll report back later with my word count for today.

6.30 p.m.

Back with you.

Finished typing this morning at approx. 9.45 a.m.; reaching 1,613 words.

Had to leave it there to get ready for a Melbourne Cup lunch with girlfriends.

After arriving home from a lovely lunch (don’t need to eat now for a week)  I worked on the ‘Yet untitled’ novel for a little bit before it was time to prepare dinner.

So drum roll please…..

Final word count for today is 1,734 words, taking the grand total to 6,910 words for three days work. Not bad – not great –  but not bad. To reach 50,00 words in a month I need to type at least 1667 words per day, so am well on target.

So, will leave you now, hoping for an early start tomorrow.

Day 4 – NaNoWriMo

Wednesday 4  November 2009  Brisbane, Australia.

6.33 a.m. EST

I was awakened at 6.00 a.m. by my alarm, followed by a reveille of Hawaii Five-O discharging from my husband’s mobile phone, interrupting the morning’s calm.   I also noticed that the offending item had been parked strategically out of my grab and throw range.

Anyway, mornings are always busy feeding ‘the little people’, so am now heading off into ‘the zone’. Will report back later with updated  word count.

10.07 a.m. Back with you but just for a quick update.

Now up to 9,165 words.

I feel like I am in a Harlan Coben story, but without Coben’s flair for cleverly weaving unseemingly different stories together.   I have about five different stories, which include a kidnapping, and now a murder.  Suspense? Intrigue? Are these stories tied into one masterly trail of suspense, and deception?

I am afraid this is not the case. Maybe my characters have something in store of which I am not  yet privy to. At the moment my fingers are just a conduit for the telling of this insane story.

Think I’ll go for a run. I have a sore bottom – I think it is stuck to the chair.

6.07 p.m.

Went back into ‘the zone’ for another hour or so this afternoon. Knocked off a little while ago as had other matters to attend to.

Total of 3,059 words today. Final tally to date: 10,190 words

Day 5 – NaNoWriMo

Thursday 5 Nov 2009  Brisbane, Australia.

8.45 p.m

Aha! You thought I’d quit;  given up after three days. Not on your life. Unfortunately other life things had to be done today– appointments, paying the phone bill, posting letters etc.

So after a few hours of doing errands (plus lunch with my husband) I hit the keyboard (not literally) late afternoon, but only for about an hour.

Even though I was on a bit of a roll,  I had to wind up about 5.00 p.m. to get ready to go to a “business launch”.

Anyway, for those who are not caught up in the NaNoWriMo frenzy (you sane creatures) I thought I’d quickly outline the rules of National Novel Writing Month.

Even though the essence of the month is on quantity, not quality, there are actually rules (yes, even insane things have rules) – things you CANNOT do and things you CAN do.

So, starting off with the negatives:

1.  You cannot edit – no matter what.

2.  You cannot read over what you have done – except for the last paragraph or so to  remind yourself as to where you are up to.

3.  You cannot let someone else type the story and claim it as your own.

4.  You cannot write something that you have written before.

5.  You cannot copy chapters from your favourite book, and claim them as your own.

6.  You cannot type the same word over and over and over and over again.

7. Don’t delete anything you have written – it all adds to the word count.

And the positives:

1. You can and SHOULD tell the world you are writing a novel in November. If you quit, you will look a real loser.

2.  You can drink as much coffee as you like.

3.  You can type without having a plan.

4.  You can type shit.

5.  You can have an implausible story.

6.  You can let the characters tell their story, without having to think too much.

7.  You can be a bad speller.

10.15 p.m.

Well, the final word count to date is 11,570 (only did 1,382 today). But that is okay. Actually I could have done a little more when I got home tonight after the ‘Business launch”, but Ghost Whisperer was on, followed by Beauty and the Geeks (the latter, I really didn’t think would get me hooked, but there you go).

But I did sneak in a few paragraphs during the ad breaks – better than nothing.

Anyway, the plot is thickening – like curdled milk.

Well, that’s all for tonight. Back with you tomorrow.

Day 6 – NaNoWriMo

Friday 6 November Brisbane, Australia

12.25p.m. EST Messy study. An Insane woman taps on her keyboard.

Yes, another late start today. Just got back from shopping and appointment with the Bank manager. No, our house isn’t going to be repossessed but as I showed some signs of insanity by joining up for NaNoWriMon, I thought I’d better show my responsible side, and try to organise my business finances, etc. Yawn.

NaNoWriMo – To me, it sounds like Mork’s (Robin Williams) strange language in the comedy series, Mork and Mindy, or what Williams might utter to a confused interviewer. Anyway, this month of writing frenzy – where all that matters is output: quantity, not quality – is now a world wide event.  

Anyway, I’m rearing to go. I’ve got on the goggles and helmet, and with The Kamikaze approach I have lowered my expectations (easy for me to do when it comes to writing a novel), and ready to continue taking risks and writing on the fly.

And yes, I  look a little dumbfounded.

‘This is what I have signed up for? This is loony – writing suicide!’

‘But I am ready to do my duty Sir.’

I’m going back up, and will check with you later on my word count for today. Wish me well.

5.40 p.m. EST

Back with you. Found a good excuse to get out of the zone – episode of MASH.

I’m tired. Not sure if I can fly by the seat of my pants. Nothing seems to be gelling, plot wise. The characters are as interesting as a pile of stale bread.

So, what have I learnt so far?

  • I can drivel with the best of them.
  • Aiming for quantity rather than quality is something I realise I can do quite well.
  • That what I am writing is nonsense, gibberish. Is this really art for arts sake? I think it is drivel for drivel sake
  • It pays to write down each of your character’s names, names of spouse, children, bosses, etc.
  • That some characters are very cheeky – changing their name without letting me know.
  • Some characters are intruding in my story. Where the hell did you come from?
  • When this is finished, it is probably not worth the time editing.

Well, I am off to veg in front of the TV.  Had enough for today.

Word count today: 1,690 words. Grand total to date: 13,252 words.

Day 7 – NaNoWriMo

Sat 7 November 2009  Brisbane, Australia 

4.19 p.m.  Messy study. An insane woman, wearing a pirate bandana, is tapping at her keyboard.

Yes, it is a very late start today. Have been playing pirate for much of  the day. I helped my friend, Leigh-Chantelle, and Renata, a Brisbane’s children’s entertainer at a Pirates and Princesses dress up day, to help raise funds for Green Earth Festival in March 2010.

So, thinking that I need some inspiration I have donned my husband’s pirate bandana for some more finger tapping on the keyboard. I know I look ridiculous but who cares. I’m well past it. I am on a mission – 50,000 words by 30 November – and as a dedicated pirate, nothing is going to stand in my way (or should I say, ‘me way’). Aaarrrgh!!!

So will check in later with the new word count. But as I plan to knock off at dinner time, I am, once more, diving head first into ‘the zone’ of NaNoWriMo.

Off to walk the plank.Aaaarrrgh!

6.35 p.m. EST

I just let the fingers do the work without attempting to think too much, so typed 2,441 words in under an hour. It is still not making sense, but I keep thinking of  what NaNoWriMo is all about – quantity, not quality; quantity not quality; quantity, not quality.

Total tally to date: 15,693. Had enough for today. Signing off. Aaarrrgh!

Day 8 – NaNoWriMo

Sunday 8 November Brisbane, Australia

 4.50 p.m. EST Insane woman wearing a black felt hat pondering at the keyboard; wondering what the hell  she is doing trying to write a novel in 30 days.

 I tried the pirate bandana yesterday, so thought a black hat would add some mystery and intrigue to the story, keeping it moving forward. But alas this has not worked.

At 15,693 words I have come to a screaming halt, smacking head first into a brick wall.

Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, reveals in his book,”No Plot? No Problem’  that when he and a party of 25 (in 1991) decided to write a novel in 30 days, the exhilaration and excitement had worn off by the seven-day mark, revealing a sad and ugly truth: ‘Our novels were bad.’

I wish I could say this didn’t happen to me, but please believe me when I say my novel is bad. I was hoping to get to 20,000 words by the end of today – Day 8 – but I have been asking myself, ‘Should I go on?’ My so called ‘novel’ stinks and not in a slightly smelly socks stink, but rotting garbage, gagging stinking.

But alas, I took Chris’s advice and told people I was undertaking a novel in 30 days, and posted it on Face Book so that I wouldn’t back out and look pathetic because I had given up.

Otherwise I could just cease now, and slink away with my tail (or tale) between my legs, looking worthless as a ‘novelist’. Or do I say nothing and hope that people (including myself) have short term memories and have forgotten that I had signed up for this month of writing madness?

Or am I over analysing the plot and the lack lustre back bone of my characters and forgetting the point of NaNoWriMo? Am I taking this all too seriously?

In his book, Baty mentions that he and other writers (those who hadn’t pulled out) struggled through week two to avoid looking pathetic creatures to their friends. But towards the end of that week, strange things started happening, even though their novels were riddled with enormous plot holes, and chapters had loose ends flailing about. They found that their stories started moving.

So thinking that maybe there is hope for my so called ‘novel’, I decided to reread Baty’s ‘Week 1 Issues and Tips’.

And guess what? I forgot the most important point – to put my Inner Editor behind bars – confining her to the ‘kennels’. I did put her there, but somehow she escaped and has been berating me about the plot holes and the implausibility of it all.

Since escaping a couple of days ago, she has forced me to analyse where everything is going. And my Inner Editor is a real killjoy. I am no longer enjoying the ride.  She has stunted my imagination, because my Inner Editor scolded it for taking risks.

And today she made me spend time over lunch, with my husband, working out the characters, their motives, etc. etc.

And in doing so I plotted a new story line, new characters and their motives for their actions. I do like this new story line but it means starting all over again, and what about some of the interesting things that have happened in ‘my novel’ so far?

NOOOOOOO!!!! I hear Baty scream. ‘Your Inner Editor has returned. Put her back NOW!. Throw away the key but give her a TV so she can harp away at the implausible story lines of TV soaps’. Good idea Chris. Sorry I wasn’t more vigilant in making sure my Inner Editor remained in the kennels till 30 November.

So now with the Inner Editor locked away again, I need to just let my imagination once again take the spotlight.  It doesn’t matter if the story doesn’t make sense – just take risks and see where it goes.

Baty mentions that if a character has taken on a new direction, or the novel seems out of shape, italicise these areas, but do not delete anything as it all counts to the 50,000 word finish line. Italicising or capitalising these sections  flags the areas that require particular evaluation when my Inner Editor is invited back. (Baty, 2004, p.114-115)

Another matter is that I have changed the title twice this week. So taking Baty’s advice – the title will come – probably about week three.

So I am taking the approach that it is okay that my chapters are lopsided, and distinctly unchapter like – I have one that has only one sentence. Baty states that that is okay.

Also I forgot Baty’s two homework suggestions for week 1, especially, the second:  Choose a TV show and watch how the writers try to fit a lot of story into little time. (Baty, 2004 p118) ‘Bones’ is on tonight, so will pay closer attention to the pacing.

Well, with all that said, I thought it best to have a day off today. And that is okay as long as I try to make up for today’s word tally absence in the next day or so. So word count today is zip, nada, zilch. But I am still on target, and rearing to go tomorrow.

As Baty advises, I will ride the momentum and enjoy the panoply of strange characters that career into my story.

Will check in with you tomorrow with the new word count.

Day 9 – NaNoWriMo

Week 2: National Novel Writing Month – Insanity continues.

Monday 9 November Brisbane, Australia

11.20 a.m  EST  Insane woman wearing a brown trench coat, brown trilby and sucking on a chuppa chup, hoping that strains of Columbo, Leonard Teale (from Australia’s original Homicide) and Kojak can infiltrate her brain, and increase the mystery in this story.

So why the costume changes over the last few days?  The author of ‘No Plot? No Problem! – A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 days’ suggests to use anything that will help the imagination, and drive your story forward to that all important 50,000 word finish line. For example, playing your favourite music, or wearing a particular hat that will get you into the groove. Literally anything.

So the pirate bandana worked for a little while on Saturday. However, yesterday, the black felt hat didn’t ignite any creative sparks so thought I’d try a jacket, hat and lolly pop. It did work for a while but will think of a new tact for tomorrow. Pity I don’t have a Wonder Woman outfit.

Anyway, the plan this week is to focus on my book’s strengths – the characters or parts of the storyline I am enjoying – and let the story take off from there. So here’s hoping. Hopefully, there won’t be any more dark clouds.

8. 36 p.m.

So word count today is 2,324 words. Total word tally to date: 18, 023.

Didn’t quite get to the 20,000 words I had hoped to today, but tomorrow is another day.

Day 10 – NaNoWriMo

Tuesday 10 November  Brisbane, Australia.

10.15 a.m. EST   Insane woman is looking forlorn at her keyboard; wondering what the hell she is going to write today.

Well, just about to go back into ‘the zone’. The first week’s word tally just flew by. I was riding the wave, feeling exhilarated and pumped. The first 10,000 or so words materialised without too much effort. The sun was out and the birds were making sweet music.

But oh how quickly things have changed.

I have just entered the second week and it already feels flat – no waves, and hardly any wind. Feeling a little deflated about how horrible my writing is when I don’t think about it. I like some of the situations that have evolved in a chapter or two, but I just don’t see it gelling. Anyway, I have made the commitment to reach 50,000 words by 30 November.

I keep forgetting the point of it all ie. it’s all about quantity, NOT quality, and what you can do when you have a deadline.

So, I will just wade out for a while and hope a tidal wave of creativity will hit.

Will check in with you later re word count.

4.50 p.m.

Well, had a couple of breakers today. That’s right!  One came just before lunch, and another after I returned from renewing my driver’s licence. You should have seen me ride these babies, hanging on for the glorious ride. It must have been the felt hat that I donned this afternoon, hoping it would get me into the mood – it sure got me into the groove and my hat didn’t even get wet.

Well, I am going to knock off now and absorb myself in another episode of ‘MASH’.

Typed 4,010 words today, so am now at a grand total of 22,053 words Yeh!

Day 11 – NaNoWriMo

Wednesday 11 November Brisbane, Australia   Insane woman, madly typing but having trouble focussing.

Got into ‘the zone’ about 7.00 p.m. tonight. Yes, a very late start today – had a day out with the girls. And because my husband is attending an aero-modellers radio control club meeting tonight I knew I could aim for my minimum daily target of 1667 words.

It is now 8.50 p.m.  I took out my contact lenses when I got home but my prescription glasses are scratched and my eyes are very tired. I can’t focus properly; the screen looks like a snakes and ladders game  with words going up and down, and all over the place. So think I will go veg out in front of the TV for a while.

So word count today is 1,858 words. Total to date is 24, 010

Would have liked to have reached 25,000 tonight. Never mind.

Day 12 – NaNoWriMo

Thursday 12 November Brisbane, Australia  

8.50 a.m. EST Woman dressed in a fluffy pink dressing gown, is trying to type quickly so she can go and celebrate her birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. HA-PP-EE BIRRRRRRTHDAY, MEEEEEEEE. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. HURRAY!!

Yeh! It’s my birthday today so please excuse me for not hitting the keyboard early.

I may or may not attempt to reach my daily minimum word target of ,1667 words, but we will see how the day goes.

And happy birthday to other scorpios, particularly those born on 12 November -CELEBRATE!!  ‘Here’s to ‘New Beginnings!‘ ‘

Now please click on the following link to one of my favourite songs –

”Happy Birthday Helen’  by Things of Stone and Wood

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1Y1Wf78RQ4

6.17 p.m.

Back with you. Was able to slip in some frantic typing between birthday celebrations.

So word count today is 1,770 words. Total NaNoWriMo tally so far is 25, 780 words.  Getting there slowly.

Day 13 – NaNoWriMo

Fri 13 November 2009 Brisbane, Australia

Word tally for Day 13 – zip, zero, nada, zilch, nothing

I had the best intentions, but  unfortunately I just  couldn’t put the house work off any longer.  I know I shouldn’t  yield to such menial  interruptions during NaNoWriMo, where all focus should be on crossing the  finishing line at 50,000 words -but I just couldn’t bear the thought of continuing to flick  pieces of kitty litter, fluff, paper, etc. from my heels. Then, the washing basket cried out to be emptied. So after being  char lady for a few hours I decided it best to have the rest of the day off.

So will report back later for word tally for day 14.

Day 14 – NaNoWriMo

Saturday 14 November  Brisbane, Australia   

6.09 p.m. EST Insane NaNoWriMo participant surrenders to her tiredness.

Didn’t start adding to my NaNoWriMo word tally till 11.30 a.m. today.  For the first hour or so the words just flew out of my fingertips. Hardly any effort.  My sails were full and I was soaring ahead.  Riding  the swell, I was forced  to come into shore to buy food before the shops closed.

After returning to ‘the zone’ I tried to get back into the swing of it , but alas the rush of the late morning has now subsided. The current driving me forward just a few hours earlier has just disappeared as quickly as it came. My sails are now flapping  and I am going nowhere fast.  It is time to anchor till tomorrow.

Anyway, surpassed my minimum word target of 1,667, reaching  2,233 words. Grand total to date is 28,014.    I’m still in the race.

Day 15 – NaNoWriMo

Sunday 15 November 2009 Brisbane, Australia.

10.45 p.m. EST

Didn’t start adding to my NaNoWriMo till late. I suffer from some food allergies, and must have eaten or drunk something the day before that did not agree with me.  (Unfortunately, I think it was the red wine). Woke up lethargic, so had some time out for a while till the muscles started working again.

While taking it easy I relented to the menial task of ironing. So to not feel I was neglecting working on my so called ‘novel’,  I watched (again) the movie ‘Paris When It Sizzles’ with William Holden and Audrey Hepburn – as homework of course.

William Holden portrays a screenwriter with a script deadline in three days and has not written one line, though it is all, supposedly,  in his head. So with the help of a secretary, Helpburn, they concoct ideas and a potpourri of preposterous plots. I thought this movie might help me jig some creativity in my ‘novel’.

I am not sure if that worked but in the late evening.I was able to add a little more towards the 50,000 word finishing line.

Word tally today is 1,354 words (did not quite make my minimum daily word count). No matter.

Grand total to date is 29,367 words.

Day 16 – NaNoWriMo

Monday 16 November

My husband is away on business, so got up early to get a head start. However, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men’, don’t always get underway.

Our beautiful 18 year old cat is not well. Today is the fourth day that she hasn’t eaten. She had been drinking a lot of water up until yesterday. She is so frail and it breaks my heart to watch her feebleness. I know she would prefer to pass away quietly at home as she used to stress over visits to the vet. But I don’t want her to suffer. She is not whimpering but I am watching her closely. Today she is my priority but I know that I have a decision to make.

However, when I can, I will try to add to my word tally.

11.07 a.m.

1,886 words so far today. This brings me over the 30,000 mark – I am at 31,251 words so far.

Zuki our 18 year old feline is still looking poorly. Will check in again later.

5.45 p.m.

Back with you.  An avalanche of tears has made me tired.  Zuki,  (named after our Suzuki motorbike that we used to have because she had the same colourings as the bike – grey and white) was at the point of no return, and I knew that the most humane thing to do today was to have her euthanised. Even knowing that this was the right decision, it nonetheless wasn’t  an easy one to make.  I would have liked her to have passed away peacefully in her own surrounds, but with that wish  comes the risk of her suffering.

I just have to focus on  the wonderful memories that our lovely Zuki brought to our home, and 18 years is a good innings for a cat.

Our Zuki – in loving memory.

May see if I can absorb myself in some NaNoWriMo word tally a little later tonight. Or I may just bury myself in a book.

10.12 p.m.

Immersed myself in a book for a while then added another 1,816 words to today’s NoNoWriMo word tally.  It felt rather therapeutic to lose myself in a story line.

Grand total to date is 33,067 – A bitter sweet day.

Day 17 – NaNoWriMo

Tuesday 17 November Brisbane, Australia  

2nd day of  WEEK THREE of  National Novel Writing Month

6.40 p.m. EST  A tired woman, mourning the loss of a family pet, immerses herself in the insanity of NaNoWriMo while her husband is waiting for his dinner.

Anyone who is following my 30 day ‘NaNoWriMo’ diary of insanity knows that I am using the advice of ‘No Plot? No Problem! – A low-stress high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days’ by Chris Baty (founder of National Novel Writing Month) to get me through this month, pretty well  unscathed. And as Baty requested, I did not read week three’s issues until the start of this week.

The chapter starts – ‘Clearing Skies, Warmer Weather, and a Jetpack on Your Back’.

Well despite being with our 18 year old cat as she was euthanised yesterday, and all the emotions of losing a beloved pet (albeit a family member), I did find it somewhat therapeutic to lose myself for a little while in my so called NaNoWriMo novel.

And after getting bogged down last week in sludge, wondering where the heck I was going, this week began with the rush of the wind behind me. My sails were again full, and I was off.

I decided to just let creativity take me to whatever outer limits of my imagination that it wanted to explore. And this in itself is very liberating. I feel much freer than I did last week. It is a little like the rush of the first 10,000 words of week one where I just let the fingers transcribe the thoughts and pictures of my imagination.

And with just letting go, and not worrying too much in sewing up all the plot holes, I have embroidered some lose threads together.

I am not aiming for a best seller, nor am I aiming for a perfectly sculpted novel. What I am achieving is to finally let my imagination run free. I have abandoned  all confinements of purity and commonsense and let naivety and innocence know no bounds. There is beauty in allowing the mind freedom to traverse its canyons and rivers of thought.  And in doing so I feel freer to enjoy this week.

Word tally today is 1,944 words, bringing me to a grand total of 35,011 words. Yeh!

Day 18 – NaNoWriMo

Wednesday 18 November Brisbane, Australia                 

8.17 p.m. EST 

Got up at 5.00 a.m. this morning  to get ready for a veeeeeerrry loooooongg  drive to attend a RADF (Regional Arts Development Fund) conference. As I am a newly appointed committee member of Logan City Council my presence was required.  Hmmm.

So moi is veeeeeeeerrrryy tired now. As such,  I am not even going to attempt to add to my NaNoWriMo word count tonight. I need matchsticks to keep my eyes lids open just to type this.

Thus word count today is   Zip-A-DeeDooDah

Will check in tomorrow with word count update.

Day 19 – NaNoWriMo

Thursday 19 November Brisbane, Australia

11.58 p.m.

Yikes, I have just looked at the time – 2 mins to midnight. Well, I did not start adding to my NaNoWriMo tally until 8.30 p.m. tonight, and have been busy typing for over three hours without a break.

The following points are the main reasons for Day 19’s word sprint –

After slipping a jet pack on my back, at the start of week three I assumed it would be go go go all week. However, the jet pack ran out of power mid week.  This of course, could have had something to do with the loss of our cat, or the knowledge that my writing for NaNoWriMo really does suck.

Once again, I felt I had come to a standstill, a dead end.  Where to go?  Is it really worth going on? And with that, it was very timely that I received two emails during this week – one from the Community Liaison for NaNoWriMo,   and the other from a seasoned NaNoWriMo novelist.

So in a nutshell, some of  their words of wisdom (in my own words) that I have taken on board are:

  1. Make something happen to set the characters in motion, or introduce a new situation and see how the characters react. So I’ve been thinking that maybe there could be an earthquake, or someone could die unexpectantly.
  2. Throw an idea on the page and see where it leads. Again I have got to the stage that I was thinking too logically. Time once again to just go with the flow.
  3. Read a book or watch a movie, or just chill out. Then once again throw an idea on the page and take it to its limits.
  4. And above all, don’t give up – just keep on writing

Consequently, I have refueled my jet pack, and whish – I’m up and away!

Word count today is 1,067 words. Grand total to date is 38,078  Yes, baby!

Day 20 – NaNoWriMo

Friday 20 November 2009 Brisbane, Australia  

Still haven’t settled on a name for my ‘so called novel’ but am sure that will eventually come.  Only ten more days for the insanity of National Novel Writing Month to come to a close. Of course December is the month to edit our ‘novels’ but I am not sure that I will be doing that.  I have started embroidering a story but it has more plot holes than a moth ridden garment. I have sewn some loose threads together but lots more loose threads have since appeared. A sketchy pattern is emerging but it is still early days (yes we are in day 20) and I am still not certain of the finished design. I have yet to fashion out the end of this so called novel, and will probably have to make some quick adjustments before the week’s end.  I know that the purpose, at this stage, is not to aim for perfection, but meet the deadline of 50,000words, but it would be nice to have something that could be reshaped over time. There are a lot of chinks, but I think with a lot (and I mean a loooot)  of restitching, a novel (or what I call a novel) could eventually be woven – even if I take a couple of threads and start reweaving.

Word tally for Day 20 is 2,049 with a grand total to date of 40,128. I see the horizon.

Day 21 – NaNoWriMo

Saturday 21 November 2009 Brisbane, Australia

5.41 p.m. EST.

Well, as of yesterday, I reached 40,128 words. Yeh!   The rush of the last couple of days has subsided slightly and, as I am on target,  I thought that today I would bury myself in a Stephen King book, ‘Different Seasons’ – a collection of  four novellas. I am currently reading the first novella,  ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’. I am hoping for a flash of inspiration that could tie in some of my loose threads.

Will check in with an updated word count tomorrow.

Day 22 – NaNoWriMo

Sunday 22 November 2009 Brisbane, Australia

Another non-typing day. Had my head buried in Stephen King’s second  novella, ‘Apt Pupil’  from his book, ‘Different Seasons’  – just couldn’t prise my head out of the book till I had finished it.  Had to skim over some of the gory bits, especially those involving what were once cute animals.

Will work on increasing word tally on Day 23.

Day 23  – NaNoWriMo

Monday 23 November Brisbane, Australia  

10,00 p.m. EST An insane NaNoWriMo ‘ crappy novelist’  is feeling weary. Wind has gone out of her sails, though she can see the shoreline.

Well, once again I have come to a stand still. 

I can see the finish line but I feel like the wind has once again left my sails. The start of week four has not been what I had expected. At 42,379 words (the last 2,379 have been a struggle) I expected the sea spray to be splashing the sides of my head, feeling the adrenalin rush of knowing that I am nearly at the finish line. I see the shore clearly, and can make out family and friends rushing to the end of the pier, egging me on to the 50,00 word finish line. I can hear the band tuning up.

But alas, the wind has just disappeared like the turkey on Christmas Day. I need to get to shore and I am starting to panic because I don’t know if I can make it. I get out my oars and start to row. My arms are tired, and my eyes are hurting from the spray of the salty waves crashing against my boat while I sit floundering.

I need a pep talk.

3 mins later.  

I have just reread week three’s tips from Chris Bay’s ‘No Plot? No Problem’ (2004, p.139) – Tip no.2 has my attention: Make a pact with yourself – eventually destroy all evidence that this novel ever existed (this really applies if your novel’ stinks). Yes, I have once again started to take this all too seriously. NaNoWriMo is not about discovering literary genius but developing the commitment of writing, and letting creativity take hold. And knowing that I can write 50,000 words even if it is drivel. 

I have only 7,621 words to go till popping the champagne cork. So what is stopping me? Me, of course. So no more worrying about the content, or trying to tie all the loose threads together. Just write – even if it is about the terrible after shave that my black mailer is wearing.

Also decided on a title, ‘Finding Emma’  Not the best title but it will do for now. I did find a nice title whilst reading King’s ‘Different Seasons’ but don’t think it suits this ‘novel’. Will keep for another day.

Day 24 – NaNoWriMo

Tuesday 24 November Brisbane Australia

3.03 p.m. EST

Have only added 476 words to my NaNoWriMo word count so far today. I am still floundering. Need some tough measures to bring me into shore on time.

I think the insanity of NaNoWriMo is finally catching up with me, so I am going to disappear for two secs, then will be back with you. (54 secs pass by).

3.06 p.m. Back with you. An Insane NaNoWriMo is now typing wearing an orange and black striped hat,

Admittedly, the hat looks likes a tiger is sitting on my head but while I was getting nowhere this morning, I started reflecting on the days that I had great surges of creativity, where the words just spat out from my finger tips.

During these days I was wearing some sort of head piece, though the black felt hat of Day 8 did not produce a lot of creativity.

So now with a tiger on my head I am going back into ‘the zone’. See if I can at least get to 1,000 words today.

4.31 p.m.

Yeh!  Another 1,739 words. Looks like the tiger on my head did the trick. Or it might have been because the shape of the hat is similar to that worn by Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marples (Agatha Christie fame) and the creativity of the super sleuth herself has rubbed off (my so called novel is a mystery/suspense with a little murder thrown in).

4.53p.m.

Now at 45,099 words. I have not been thinking too hard; just letting the words spit out on to my screen.

Getting close to knock off time as MASH is about to start. See if I can add a few more words to today’s tally.

Word count today is 2,819 words, bringing the grand total to 45,216 words. 4,784 words to go.

Day 25 – NaNoWriMo

Wednesday 25 November Brisbane, Australia   Insane NaNoWriMo participant has a very full belly after a Christmas lunch but hoping to add to her word tally.

4.42 p.m. Got back from a Ladies @ Lunch Christmas networking session about 3.30 p.m. So I am just about to start adding to today’s NaNoWriMo word tally.

5.58 p.m.  Have only added 302 words. Very shaky start. Finding it hard to gain momentum. Maybe it is the full belly.

5.59 p.m. Just donned the tiger hat (it worked yesterday), so hoping some inspiration from Miss Marples will give me the nose of a sleuthhound.

Back with you.

Just achieved another 1,130 words but I am really struggling. The sleuthhound has lost her nose for the job at hand, and am just sniffing around without uncovering anything more in this murder mystery/suspense.

7.14 p.m. I have just been prattling on but at least getting closer to the 50,000 mark. But getting tired, so calling it a night (NaNoWriMo wise)

2,737 words today. Grand total of 48,024 words. Nearly there.

Day 26 – NaNoWriMo

Thursday 26 November Brisbane, Australia 

10.11 a.m. EST

Just 1,976 to go. Get ready to pop the champagne cork!

11.28 a.m. 49,498 words. Off to get a coffee from my super dooper Nespresso machine (Yes, the one the lovely George Clooney advertises).

12.23 p.m. Finally, (deep sigh of relief) after a quick, and very loose tie-in of some threads, I have reached 50,383, and the end of the story. Yipppeeeeee!!!!  Finally, the end. Finis. Pop the champagne cork!

Day 26 – NaNoWriMo – still

Thursday 26 November, Brisbane, Australia

Yeh!!  I did it – I passed the finish line. I’m heading over to the Winner’s circle, with a champagne glass in each hand.

I am going to finish off this diary with what I have gained from this insane yet vitalising experience, however please give me a couple of days or so as I am exhausted. Just want to veg out for a couple of days with a good book or two.

Back with you after the weekend.

Three days after the finish of NaNoWriMo

Thursday 3 December – 3 days after NaNoWriMo

Well, as you would have read in the introduction of ‘My NaNoWriMo Diary’ I have briefly capitulated what I have learnt from this month of writing frenzy, so I won’t repeat it here.

Hope all NaNoWriMo participants enjoyed this exhilarating journey. And remember, you don’t have to wait till November 2010 to undertake a month of writing frenzy – it is just about committing yourself to a deadline, and that can be any time of the year.

Anyway, I am now off to promote my new children’s book, ’10 Yellow Bananas’ published by Little Steps Publishing, Division of New Frontier. Illustrations by Dee Texidor,

So thanks for reading till the end, and hopefully you will still visit my blog now and again to see what madness I am up to now

Keep writing.

One response to “My NaNoWriMo Diary

  1. Pingback: The insanity of NaNoWriMo | Helen Ross writes

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