Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looming Deadlines

Are you ever surprised to find that you’ve forgotten something about yourself that is so integral to your makeup? It happens to me all the time. I’m convinced that my memory field extends exactly two inches beyond my nose and that’s it.

So, I started the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this month like several hundred thousand other writers. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s an organization and an event that books itself as “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” and has run every November for the past dozen years or so. The idea is to just dump your story on the page, no editing. Easy peasy for me, because that’s how I write anyway. It takes 1,667 words a day to get to the goal of 50,000 by the end of the month. Let me just say – I love this thing.

I have done at least 1,667 words a day since November 1, except one day when I fell down to 1,347. I wasn’t feeling well that day, but I still stuck it out at my laptop as long as I could stand it. Why? Because I have always done better with a deadline, the tighter the better.

And this is the secret ingredient I’ve been missing for the past several months, when as an unemployed person, with plenty of time on my hands, I should have been cranking out novels. All the time in the world, is not a good thing for me. I need, even desire, the looming deadline.

When I was the editor of a community newspaper, and frankly the lead reporter (or even only one at times) I would wait nearly every week until the day before I had to put the paper together to begin writing the articles. That meant an average of 8 articles plus an editorial in one day. I’d crank them out one at a time; send them out to the receptionist or another reporter for proofing, while I moved on to the next. More often than not, I’d still be writing at 2 a.m. and leaving the articles behind for the staff to review in the morning. 

I loved that grind. I set myself up for it every time. Occasionally, I would have a couple of stories ready before that last day, but not often. The pressure actually made me write better. I learned that I average 1,000 per hour, so I’d plan out how many words I wanted to produce and how many hours that would take. I wrote an award-winning editorial under that pressure and some of my best investigative pieces as well. 

So, of course, I’m back in the game after six lost months. Thank you, NaNoWriMo! It feels good and I’m trying to figure out a way to create that same deadline for myself and some sort of reporting system. Maybe a Facebook page, where other writers can post their daily word counts, too. I don’t know yet, but I do know that this deadline thing is to my mind like caffeine is to my body – energizing. I must have it!

What’s your take on looming deadlines?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New Story Tracking Idea

Hi, fellow writers. I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month, so I imagine I’ll not be as prolific on the blogging front. However, I had to share this new system I tripped over while I was getting started on the novel for NaNo (my own abbreviation).

The whole idea of NaNo is to write 50,000 words of a novel without stopping to edit - just dump it on the page. Well, that’s a great idea and very close to my own method anyway, but this time I’m writing a thriller, which takes a lot more research and, frankly, getting it right, than my previous works. So, as I’m writing there are lots of questions that need answering arising.

What to do without breaking the flow? Well, for about ten years I’ve kept an Excel spreadsheet with plot points that need to be inserted or questions that need to be answered with a page number next to the question. Then when editing I’d work off that spreadsheet, making sure to edit or add where needed. One of the problems I’d experienced with this is that the page numbers often changed and then finding the right spot was a bummer.

This time, I’m inserting an asterisk followed by a number that corresponds with the line on Excel. So I match the line number on the spreadsheet where I’ve entered the comment about what I need to do with the number I’ve inserted into the body of my story. Easy peasy. I’ve made the appropriate note. I can take care of it later by simply doing a search of the document for the number (*7 for example) and off I go with writing without getting stuck on some plot point or detail that will take some time to figure out. I’m saving all that for the first edit of the first draft.

I personally love Excel anyway, but it’s one of the most useful things I’ve ever come across for managing my writing…and my life.

I hope this helps someone else out there keep the words flowing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Update for October’s Wounded Warrior Drive

Just a quick update on this year’s Wounded Warrior fund drive, which I kicked off on October 1. The total amount I will be sending to The Wounded Warrior Project is $50.07, from both book sales and Avon orders.

It was a bit of a disappointment honestly. It’s very hard to actually SELL ebooks now, with all the free books available, even for a good cause. Because the book sale response was so low on October 14th, when drive officially ended, I decided to extend it to all books bought and borrowed throughout October. 

The contribution from three Avon orders actually exceeded the book sales. Thank you, ladies. You know who you are. 

Thanks to all who supported this drive. I really do appreciate you and your efforts. We’ll try again next year. Who knows – by then perhaps I’ll have a really big book to promote this with!

Orders on my Avon site will continue to accumulate for The Wounded Warriors through the end of the year. Here’s the link Kathy Hall Wounded Warrior Drive and please don’t forget to use this promotion code MYWWPROJECT.

Let’s remember to always keep our returning soldiers in our thoughts.