Monthly Archives: October 2012

NaNoWriMo Advice Part 2

On the eve of NaNoWriMo, I thought I’d give you a few last words of wisdom. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

6.  If possible, write at the same time/place everyday.

You’re more apt to stick with it and complete your manuscript if you have a routine (this is true for any new habit, including exercise). Maybe you get up an hour earlier and knock out 1k before work. Maybe you type on your lunch break. Maybe you wait until you’ve put your kids to bed and have poured a giant glass of wine before you pound out 1667 on your PC.

7. It doesn’t matter when you write, just write. 

I know, this is opposite of what I just said, but not all the rules will work for all people. November is a busy month. Squeeze writing in when you can: while you wait at the doctor (because they are never on time), on your Thanksgiving flight home to see your grandma, or while dinner is cooking. Ten minutes here, twenty there, and you’ll eventually meet your goal.

8. Carry a notebook with you. 

I am for serious on this. Hell, you should do this all the time, not just during November. You never know when a bit of dialogue/ an idea for a scene/ a new supervillain might hit you. You don’t want to be stuck in a boring-ass budget meeting and then lose your awesome idea for a fistfight between a zombie and a dolphin. Hours later when you sit down at your desk you’ll be banging your ahead against a wall because you forgot. Also, writing down what strangers are doing and saying is super creepy and gives you legit crazy writer cred.

9. Tell everyone you know that you’re participating.

This will serve several purposes:

1) It will impress the hell out of everyone

2) It’ll hold you accountable. After all, you don’t want to look like the asshat who didn’t finish their NaNoWriMo Novel after they bragged about it on Facebook. Your friends will mock you.

10. Embrace the shittiness of that first draft.

My Twitter pal Ksenia has a whole post about why first drafts don’t suck.  I will tell you that unless you’re Stephen King, your NaNoWriMo novel will resemble a flaming pile of horse shit in places. DO NOT FREAK OUT. This is normal. There will be good parts that you will use and bad parts that will make you vomit in your mouth, especially if this is your first novel.  The point of NaNoWriMo is to get that damn novel on paper. You can spend the next 11 month or 11 years revising the hell out of it. True story: Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus started out as a NaNoWriMo novel and then she revised it a billion times (slight exaggeration on my part) but you get the point.

 

Congratulations! You are now ready to start NaNoWriMo. Don’t worry my pets, I won’t abandon you. Go ahead and make me your writing buddy on nanowrimo.org (My alias is DRDSpice). I’ll also check in with you each Wednesday and share the first 500 words of my previous three NaNoWriMo novels (and the beginning on this years on Week 4) so you can see some truly shitty first drafts. And rather than a rejection playlist on Saturday’s, I’ll upload some inspirational anthems to get you moving toward your 50k goal.

Happy writing, friends!

1 Comment

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Mortification Monday

1-29-1994

 

Dear Diary,

I’m 13! Today is my birthday. Yesterday I had my party 7-10 p.m. Sara spent the night. Today was the 6th basketball game. We lost big time. I got makeup, books, clothes, jewelry, horses, and Twister. I turned 13 at 1:23 in the afternoon. Lauren and  I are still good friends. Mike doesn’t like me. I have a lot of money.

 

Love,

Danielle

 

Notes:

1. I collected hideous horse figurines, the kind you display. My mom finally got rid of them after they gathered 19 years of dust.

2. I think the Twister I am referring to is the game, not the film, as the film wasn’t released until at least 1996, Right?

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

Bad Poetry Friday

The following poem came to me while I was staying in a hotel room at a youth group retreat. I promise that the hotel didn’t have roaches (that I could see).  What is notable is shortly after I wrote this, I sprained my ankle dancing and had to go to the emergency room. I was wearing a giant daisy headband and camouflage shorts.

Can’t Keep Me Away (January 1998)

I’m just the roach
crawling on the bedsheets
(torn and faded)
go ahead, ignore me
you always do

I’m just the roach
scurrying on the floor
(dirty and grim)
go ahead, ignore me
you always do

I’m just the roach
I know you hate me
go ahead, get the spray
kill me like you always do

But I always come crawling back

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NaNoWriMo Advice Part 1

As promised, here is my (unsolicited) advice for how you can survive NaNaWriMo next week.

1. Come up with an idea you can follow through on.

This is not the time to try and invent the next Hunger Games, because frankly, you won’t. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I won’t even write the next HG. Instead, focus on something you know. Draw from your past. Read your old journals. Maybe you had a really terrible high school experience-write about that. Maybe you’re an expert on dolphins- make that a part of your plot and your main character saves a beached dolphin. Maybe you read a shit ton of mysteries or romances- so write a damn mystery or romance. They both follow a basic formula. Or write a short story a day if a novel seems like too much work.

2. Meet your word count every day or as much as possible to keep stress minimal.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Danielle, I don’t even know what I’m writing about.” Let me tell you a secret: most of the time, neither do I. I just let the story take me where it wants. I’m merely the vehicle, the words are my driver. Just point and steer and you’ll have something.  It’s only 1667 words a day. You can probably crank that out in two hours. Tivo Grey’ Anatomy and watch it only after you meet your word count. Otherwise it’ll be November 29th and you have 40,ooo words left to write and you’re giving yourself a panic attack.

3. If you miss a day or two, don’t sweat it.

1 day =1667 words

2 days = 3334 words

3 days =5001

I once missed six days in a row and then had several days where I managed to write over 5,000 words. Believe me, it’s possible, just break it down into manageable chunks.  I know some people who just aim for 2,000 words a day just in case the miss a day a week (or decide to take a day off).

4. When in doubt use dialogue.

Dialogue picks up the pace of the story. It’s also an easy way to cram in a lot of words in a short amount of time. If you’re stuck, make your characters talk it out. You can add filler later if need be.  Last year I was stuck and staring at my laptop while my dad and husband were taking tequila shots and watching a college football game. At that point in my story my protagonist was having Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend’s family and they were watching football. As my dad and dear husband yelled at the TV, I began to write what they were saying into my novel. Suddenly my characters were yelling at refs and arguing about the calls. Now I know nothing about football, but it was hilarious because they (my family) had no idea (at first) that I was stealing borrowing their words. That night I totally hit my word count.

5. Borrow from your life.

This ties into #1. Since you’re writing about what you know, feel free to borrow things from your life. In last year’s novel, my characters went skinny dipping at night in a pool only to discover there was a snake in the pool (that happened to me). Also, as I mentioned before, my dog Mae West was having seizures and being diagnosed with epilepsy. Since my brain was already full of vet visits and dog drama, I worked that into my story.

Come back next Wednesday for tips #6-10.

Become my writing buddy on Nanowrimo.org. Find me under DRDSpice.

Go ahead and tack on your NaNoWiMo advice here, too.

 

6 Comments

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Mortification Monday

1-23-1994

 

Dear Diary,

 

Yesterday was the surprise party for my aunt. It was fun. I enjoyed spending time with my cousins. I babysat the G’s on Friday and last night. All together I earned 28 dollars. Today Sara and I went bike riding around the neighborhood for 45 minutes. We had fun. She met mom and my sister. Mike is going to be surprised when he sees me. My hair is cut short! Only Sara and Lauren know so far.

 

Love, 

 

Danielle

 

Two weeks later and I’m still crushing on Mike. It must be serious.

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

Rejection Playlist: Volume 1, Track 12: “Yr Mangled Heart”

For something a little different today, allow me to introduce you The Gossip, a Pacific Northwest punky/gospel band.

I love this song for a lot of reasons, but mostly the line, “I don’t want the world, I only want what I deserve.” That’s true, right? I don’t want to be J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. I just want to write a good book that means something to someone. If it changes one person’s life, then I think that might be enough. That’s what keeps me moving through those dark days when I’m ready to say, “F-this noise, I’m done.”

If everything you do has got a hold on me
Then everything I do has got a hole in it
I’ve been here before I should be used to it
But I can’t take it no more, I can’t take it no more
Oh whoa, oh whoa whoa whoa

Your mangled heart, your battered love that’s hanging on to memories
You’re letting go of everything that used to be
I’ve had enough, you’ll build me up to let me down, yeah

What do you think? Do you want the world? Or do you just want what you deserve?

Leave a comment

Filed under music

Bad Poetry Friday

The following poem was written during my Jewel obsession circa 1997. Rereading this makes me throw up in my mouth.

Undercover Angel (1997)

My undercover angel
with your golden halo
It’s bent in some places
you search people’s faces
What do you look for?
What do you see?
How much longer ’til our souls are free?
We need acceptance
more so than hope
Love is a four letter word
that so few know
Of angels have wings
they never fly
just walk in blue jeans
and sometimes cry
undercover
understood
loved by Mother nature
and by all who need free advice
and love
from angels in blue jeans.

Leave a comment

Filed under poetry, writing

Why NaNoWriMo Matters

I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, held each November. For those of you living under a rock, NaNoWriMo is basically a contest you hold with yourself to write that damn novel you keep talking about to all your friends. You have 30 days (no cheating or starting early) to pound out 50,000 words, which breaks down to 1667 words a day if my elementary school math hasn’t failed me.

Let me tell you, you can write 1667 words a day. You can finish or nearly finish a 50k novel in a month. You can impress the hell out of your friends and it’ll only take a little blood, sweat, and tears, as well as keeping your ass in the chair. You also probably need an idea, but I can’t really help you with that.

I’ve participated since 2008, and completed it in 2009, 2010 and 2011. I’ll do it again this year because I can pound out a shitty first draft in 30 days or I can take 8 months all the same. 30 days is far less stress for me and I need a deadline otherwise I’ll just catch up on Hart of Dixie and The Good Wife or take a nap rather than write.

I’m not saying these novels I wrote during NaNoWriMo are any good. The first one (an adult romance) is pretty much just a steaming pile of horse shit with a lot of sex. The second manuscript I wrote was my first YA and that fared a little better, though it was pretty autobiographical and if published in it’s current state, at least one ex-boyfriend would sure my ass. My third NaNoWriMo (which was my third YA novel), which I thought had to be another pile of horse crap, turned out to be not as bad as expected. I looked at it for the first time in nearly a year last night and I was laughing. It was actually funny. As it turns out, I have salvageable here.

This is why NaNoWriMo matters.

Even if you spend 30 days writing shit, there’s still probably a nugget of usefulness in there, whether it was one line of dialogue, a scene, or even the plot. No one ever has to see that shitty draft but you.

As I wait for NaNoWriMo 2012 to roll around in two weeks, I’m editing last year’s manuscript. I have zero expectations for it, I just want to see if I can make it better. Maybe I don’t have to write these dark, gritty YA stories all the time. I can have fun with something lighter and fluffier that has some funny bits and an epileptic dog (note: it was during this time last year that Mae West was diagnosed with epilepsy and I needed to write through my fear).

There’s plenty of time to prep for NaNoWriMo. All day today on Twitter, under the hashtag #nanoprep, people are offering advice. During the next two Wednesdays I’ll give you some of my own advice about staying motivated and meeting word counts. Come November 1, I’ll be right alongside you sweating out nearly 1700 words today.

You can be my writing buddy.

Go to http://www.nanowrimo.org. You can learn all about the history of it and how it’s helped well known authors achieve success. Sign up and then do a search for me (DRDSpice). Together we’ll be accountable.

Leave a comment

Filed under nanowrimo, writing

Mortification Monday

1-7-1993

Dear Diary,

My life might as well stop. By Monday, Mike will find out all about my crush. I can’t believe I told  (other) Mike, Chris, JJ and Eric on the bus. Eric will go tell Mile L, and the whole world. Now he’ll never ask me out. He is so popular! and so fine, good looking, and cute. I like it when his eyes crinkle up when he smiles.!

Love,
Danielle

Notes:
OMG, I forgot about how we used to use the word “fine.” That is so 1993.

Leave a comment

Filed under writing

Rejection Playlist Volume 1, Track 11: “Stronger”

I’m a closet Kelly Clarkson fan. I’m talking the old Kelly Clarkson, the one from 2004. That said, her new song “Stronger,” speaks to me, especially on hard days, which makes it a perfect addition to the Rejection Playlist.

You think you’ve got the best of me/ Think you’ve had enough the last laugh/ Bet you think that everything good is gone/ Think you left me broken down/ Think that I’d come running back/ Baby, you don’t know me, ’cause you’re dead wrong/ What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger / Stand a little taller/ Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone/ What doesn’t kill you makes you fighter

 

As a wordsmith, I find the last line trying a bit too hard, but I get what she’s saying.

Leave a comment

Filed under music