NaNoWriMo – Winner!

Winner-Congrats

I reached the magical 50,000 words this morning and have to admit I felt a mixture of emotions when the final winner’s screen popped up in my browser, seconds after copying my manuscript into the word validator.

There was relief I’d finally completed the task I set out to do but also a great sense of achievement. I’d set myself a goal, a challenge if you like, and I had succeeded. Believe me there were a few times when I wanted to give up!

So what have I learnt from this years NaNoWriMo?

  1. Perserverance, undoubtedly! Just stick with what you tasked yourself to do despite those voices in your head. Keep your mindset positive and focus on getting those words onto your computer screen.
  2. Ensure you prepare. It’s not just what you do during the month, but also the days or weeks that precede that. I’m a planner and I need to know what I’m going to write about. This involves having a synopsis and some outline character profiles which I can develop as I write. Of course, you may be a pantser in which case you can forget all that!
  3. Plan your writing schedule! Decide when and where you’re going to write. Review your diary, there will be dates where you know you just won’t fit it in. Ensure your daily word count goals reflect this.
  4. Even as a planner, you will find a need to alter the direction of your storyline or review your cast of characters. I thought my synopsis was detailed but several inconsistencies were noticeable as I progressed my writing. Don’t worry too much about it as these can be sorted out in the revision process. There were also a couple of characters who I gave bigger roles to in the story. Other characters developed as the story progressed and I began to understand their motivations more clearly, if that makes sense?
  5. It’s only a first draft! Don’t beat yourself up over what appears to be garbage yo’re typing onto the screen. Some of it might be, but some of it won’t be. It’s a first draft, no one is going to read it unless you want them to. Some of it you’ll keep and a lot of it you’ll either omit or revise. You’ll even add more to it as you think of about it. That’s what the revision process is all about. Remember, without a first draft there is no revision process and no finished work!
  6. The second week was the hardest for me. I really felt I was wading through a quagmire and could of given up on more than one occassion. This goes back to my first point, perserverance. But it does get better!
  7. Is it a good method to write your first draft! It did work for me. The challenge of writing so many words was daunting but gave me the motivation to atually end up with something tangible at the end of the process. It is certainly a method I will try again!
  8. What happens now? For me, I’ll be putting the first draft aside. For how long, is up to the individual. I’ll take another look mine in the New Year with a view to starting an initial revision process, but I may leave it a little longer.

It’s been a worthwhile endeavour and I’ve achieved something at the end of it as well as learning a lot about myself in the process. Here’s to next year!

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NaNoWriMo – Day 21

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Day 21, and it’s been a good third week of NaNoWriMo.

Week two was a bit of a grind, to be honest, but week three has been much better. I’ve kept to my daily personal target of 2,000 words and have managed to churn out 42,484 words. The end goal of 50,000 words is well and truly in sight!

I should end up with a first draft and this will give me a good manuscript to work with during the revision process. There will be detail to add, delete and revise I am sure, but I am more confident now that I can turn this particular writing project into a finished article.

The synopsis I will redraft to iron out minor flaws and inconsistencies I have come across whilst I have been writing. I also need to work out individual chapter contents and structure. Finally, I’ll revise the character profiles as I have developed some of the characters as I have written the draft. This will help the revision process to ensure they stay within character and not go AWOL!

Hopefully, all downhill from here! Wish me luck.

Horace
A draft cover for NaNoWriMo, but not the final one.

NaNoWriMo – Day 10

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Well I’ve reached Day 10 of this year’s NaNoWriMo. A third of the way through and I’m still writing! What’s more I’ve managed to keep to my ambitious daily schedule of 2,000 words taking me to the grand total of 20,212 words to date.

I thought I had a fairly robust plot outline but I am finding a few holes in it as I write my story. I’m not too worried at this stage. I suppose if I wasn’t taking part in this initiative I’d go back and rethink some aspects of the outline before continuing. But I can do that later as I still have plenty of scenes to write. I’d rather focus on competing the first draft and look at any revision to the manuscript when I start that particular process.

This is my first fiction attempt and I have been quietly entertained and amused by the way some of the characters seem to have a mind of their own. The storyline has changed as a consequence.

I kow it’s going to get harder as the month progresses but it’s certainly given this particular writing project of mine a kickstart and the incentive to get it finished!

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Preparations

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Just under a week until the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and, being a planner as opposed to someone who can just write with little or no plan (a pantser), I have just about completed my planning process. So what preparations have I made to assist in completing the heady task of writing those 50,000 words during November? Here goes :

  • I have my novel planned out chapter-by-chapter. This enables me to just focus on writing the first draft without too much scratching of the head trying to decide what to write next. I am sure, however, there will be some flex in the plan as I progress with the story. I am using Scrivener to organise my writing which is a software definitely worth investing in for anyone serious about writing.
  •  I have registered on the NaNoWriMo website and introduced myself on one of the regional forums. This puts added pressure on me to actually make a decent effort in adhering to the word count. As does this blog, of course!
  • There are some days during the month I will not be able to do any writing due to diary commitments I already have. So, in terms of a daily word count target, I have had to factor this into my plans to arrive at my daily target.
  • When will I write? On those days I will be writing I plan to make a start early morning as I usually wake up early. This should get me off to a good start. The evenings are where I should be most productive.
  • Where will I write? Away from any distractions ie definitely no television! I don’t like listening to music, as some people do, when writing. I find this a distraction as I usually end up listening to the music!
  • Other considerations? I do most of my writing either on my laptop or iPad. I need to be disciplined and close down my email program and Facebook page. Too distracting!

Hopefully the above should stand me in good stead. Roll on November!

Discovering My Suomi Roots

 

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ME : THE QUESTION

I remember staring at the screen and reading the question one more time. It was short and sweet. Easy for me to answer, but my mind stalled for what seemed like an eternity stubbornly refusing to process the implications.

I was like some dyslexic schoolchild. My thought-processing faculties struggled to get going and it was as if time, itself, had come to a complete standstill. I was completely flummoxed. This was unexpected. It was like when you have a conversation with someone and suddenly they switch to a completely unrelated subject without warning. No continuity, equals confusion often for me. Maybe I’m just not as sharp as I used to be? Or can I blame advancing years and loss of brain cells as the perfect excuse?

Confusion lifted as my brain, without warning, clicked into gear. What threw me initially was how I had overlooked it? I looked at the date again. The message had dropped into my inbox over four months ago! I was truly mystified. I was meticulous when it came to computer housekeeping. Always reviewing my email inbox, as well as old files and folders, on my computer. I had been the same when I was working. I endeavoured to be organised, clearing the clutter. It was key to working in a hectic environment. There was so much work to do and too few hours to do it in.

It was the simplest of questions. But who was asking the question and why? The name was not familiar to me. But maybe it should be? More to the point how did they know me? I was confused. So many years had passed.

Susan was sat with her feet up on the settee reading a book on her kindle. Probably another Tom Clancy thriller. Although, these days, she was trying out different authors from the seemingly unlimited supply of free ebooks offered by the growing number of self-published authors. She must of looked up and seen the puzzled expression on my face.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, tilting her head to one side, as she lay her kindle down.

“Come over here and I’ll show you,” I remember saying.

Curiosity got the better of her, as she quickly rose from the comfort of the settee without any further comment, and sat alongside me on the seat I was perched on. She looked at the screen. She was deep in thought and I knew she was going through the same stilted-thought process I had just a few moments earlier.

“Who’s it from?” she asked finally.

“No idea,” I responded. “I was just looking through my messages and noticed this one was marked as unread. The funny thing is I received this over four months ago and never noticed. I can’t understand how I missed it.”

“So are you going to reply to it?” she asked looking at me.

“I don’t know … I really don’t know,” I said staring at the screen.

All I could think about over the next couple of hours was the message despite my best efforts to find another distraction. Picking up a book, or channel-hopping with the television remote, did not retain my attention span for long. I kept wondering who had sent the message and why? I knew I would have to respond to it. I needed to find out more. My curiosity was well and truly piqued. I imagined the sender had probably given up all hope of a reply, by now, given the weeks which had elapsed.

I opened the lid on my laptop rousing it from it’s sleep mode. I had left the browser open on the window displaying the message. Slowly and deliberately, I typed out my response. I hesitated momentarily, before pressing ENTER. There, it was done. Little did I know then, that action would change the whole course of my life and take me on a journey of self-discovery. I would ask countless questions over the weeks ahead. Everything which had gone before, I would challenge and come to view differently.

Before I continue, I need to take you on a journey with me starting from my childhood. This will help you understand my roots and the reasons for my hesitant response to the question I had just answered. Some of the events I can remember quite clearly, others are more faded with the passage of time.

First Revision Completed … Almost!

All set up and ready to go!

I am nearing the end of the first revision of Discovering My Suomi Roots. It has taken almost six weeks with some distractions along the way. I have found this process satisfying as I have something to work with, unlike the first draft stage, where all you have is a blank sheet of paper or computer screen!

So how has this stage in the process gone? Not bad at all. Briefly :

  • Some of the initial drafting was good and detailed – I kept much of the content,  adding bits here and there. Some content I deleted entirely. Other areas of the drafting were “bare bones”and I spent most of my time here redrafting.
  • The structure of this particular memoir is starting to come together. Whilst there is some necessary plotting deviation, hopefully it is all held together by a common thread.  At least I hope that is what the reader will find!
  • The number of chapters have increased as I have remodelled the structure of the draft so that each chapter flows logically into the next.
  • I had chapter headings in the initial draft more as a point of reference for me. I have revised and renamed most of these to fit in with the finalised chapter content.
  • I have done a small amount of obvious punctuation and grammar fault-finding although most of this I will pick up in the final revision stages.

Finally, I need to complete this process over the next couple of weeks and then leave it until the New Year to pick it up again for a third revision. This allows me to take a fresh look at the writing and hopefully assists before loading onto a kindle for a final polish of the work from me.

Afterwards I have some readers lined up to give me their thoughts and honest opinions before preparation for release which I hope will be in the first quarter of 2017 … a little later than anticipated but hopefully better for it.

First Draft Complete – Now The Real Work Begins!

Finally I finished the first draft of Discovering My Suomi Roots on time (by a couple of days!). Now the real work begins!

The first draft I always find hard work. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser that’s for sure. But, despite all the  planning at the outset, I still find it hard working my way through to completion. Somehow I manage to plod along convincing myself it will all be worth it in the end.

My planned structure and content for a writing project always has to be flexible. As I am writing I find other detail I have overlooked for inclusion. Or ideas on how I might tell the story differently suddenly strike me. So there has to be some flex in your plan.

It is very tempting to look back and start rewriting parts of your writing that you know will have to be rewritten. Avoid this! Your focus needs to be aimed at completing the initial draft. Revision comes later!

Once completed, for me, the enjoyable part comes next. I find the revision process much easier. You have something tangible to work with even if you are working with a very rough first draft. My words and thoughts flow easier. I am much more relaxed as the story starts to come to life and take shape.

But without that first draft there can be no revision process!