“I am a dedicated madman.”

Some words of wisdom from Ray Bradbury from this interview. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing (it’s short), but the last portion deals with writing. The last question Mr. Bradbury is asked is whether he has any formal training in writing. He says no, and goes on to explain:

I am a dedicated madman, and that becomes its own training. If you can’t resist, if the typewriter is like candy to you, you train yourself for a lifetime. Every single day of your life, some wild new thing to be done. You write to please yourself. You write for the joy of writing. Then your public reads you and it begins to gather around your selling a potato peeler in an alley, you know. The enthusiasm, the joy itself draws me. So that means every day of my life I’ve written. When the joy stops, I’ll stop writing.

Advertisements

Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2015 Winner!

Camp-Winner-2015-Web-Banner

Hooray! Look at that fancy Winner banner!

I’m happy to say that I hit my goal of 50,000 words this month. As of today, my word count is 52,540. My total word count for the project is around 65,000. Now that I’ve hit my word count goal, I don’t feel the need to writing like a crazy person every night, so I took it easy yesterday, and I may not write much over the next few days.

So, what’s next? Well, now my goal has shifted from just a word count to actually finishing the project. I still have a significant chunk of story to get through, so I can’t just sit around. In November, that’s exactly what happened. I wrote so much during NaNoWriMo that I basically burned out on the story, and then in December, I was just sick of it. I didn’t know where it was going, and I was tired of the characters invading my mind.

This month feels different. I still love my story and (most of) my characters, and I have a clear idea of where the story is going (not to say that there haven’t been a few surprises along the way). My end date for this project is June 30th. That gives me two months to write what will probably be another 50,000 words or so. That means I only have to write about 800 words per day to make that happen–so I have no excuses.

My other goal, moving forward, is to write a little bit every day. I’m giving myself a little bit of leeway here, because I may step away from the project for a few days, up to a week, just to get some distance and clarity. But once I jump back into it, I want to make sure that I put something on paper–even if it’s just one word–every day. I think this is a good practice in general, but I also think it’s crucial in the middle of a project. If I can finish this by the end of June, perhaps beta reading could take place in July and August, editing after that–who knows? Maybe it could be a polished final project by the end of the year (fingers crossed).

To those of you who are still working on your projects: don’t give up now! The finish line is so close, and even if you don’t meet your word count goals, it’s still worthwhile to keep putting words on paper. Good luck to everyone!

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 24

The end is near.

It’s hard to believe that we only have 7 days left in the month of April. That means that you (yes, you) only have 7 more days to reach your Camp NaNoWriMo goals!

After an embarrassing lag, I came back strong this week. My word count is now 45,809. I hit two records this week: on Tuesday, I wrote 3,120, and yesterday, I wrote 4,450 words. Part of my spurt is due to wanting to hit 50K, but most of it is due to my story. I’ve just written a crucial turning point (that sparks the entire rest of the story), including a grisly scene where half of my characters are unexpectedly killed. It’s been great knowing you guys, but you need to get out of the story in order for this to properly move along.

My total word count on the project is about 56K at this point. As I keep writing, I think the final word count may be around 110K or 120K – those are absurd numbers to me. I’ve never written anything close to that. But I’m finding this time around that the more I write, the more ideas come into my head. As I’m writing a scene, my mind is finding ways to twist the plot to add more tension, set up more obstacles for my protagonists. I’m sure that this will all get narrowed down when I finally edit the completed version, but for now, it’s write, write, write.

I’ve accomplished a huge goal this month in that I think I’m finally letting go off my fear of writing. Sometimes, I’ll write a scene, and I know it’s not great. I know it probably won’t make the final cut. But I want to write it – I want to get those words out, even if they’re not perfect. Even during my first NaNoWriMo, I found myself editing during the writing process, fixing my verb tenses and taking out words that didn’t quite fit. Nope. Not anymore. A first draft should be an idea, fleshed out and on paper (well, on a Word document). It doesn’t need to be pretty.

How are your months going? Anyone else close to their goal? Anyone just giving up?

An apology to my NaNoWriMo project

Dear Camp NaNoWriMo Project,

I’m sorry. I know it feels like I abandoned you. We were going so strong, writing every day, and then, bam, nothing. I didn’t mean to ignore you for so long. I know that I promised you that I’d write a lot while I was away during the long weekend. I promised that I’d wake up early and knock out at least 1,667 words every day.

I did not do that.

But never fear, Project – we’re not out yet. At over 35,000 words, we’re still on track. 50,000 is not only attainable, it’s in sight. In fact, we might even hit 50K before the 30th.

More than that, I have plans for you. I know it might have seemed like I was a little sluggish. You haven’t seen a ton of action recently. But don’t worry – we’re just getting to the good part. You’re going to meet a couple new characters today and tomorrow, and I think it’s going to reenergize you.

So, once again, Project, I’m sorry for ignoring you. I promise I won’t do it again.

Thought of the day: Characters

I came across this quote while reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, and I thought it was an appropriate reflection on controlling one’s characters:

“Here was the thing about my control over the characters I created: I could only guide their movements approximately, since they were such big animals. There was inertia to overcome. It wasn’t as though I was connected to them by steel wires. It was more as though I was connected to them by stale rubberbands.”

Happy writing, everyone!

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 12

We’re almost halfway done with Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s hard to believe that the midpoint of April is this week. I’m happy to say that this month has been extremely productive. Since my last post, one week ago, I’ve written 13,755 words. And you know what? Some of them aren’t too bad!

I’m finding that I’m taking much longer than anticipated in the first half of the story. I estimated that this project would be about 75,000 words, but I think it’s going to end up much longer than that. I have almost 37,000 words on the project right now, and I think it’s about a quarter done. So, although I hope to hit the 50,000 word mark in April, I will certainly not finish the project.

This is the start of the third week of Camp NaNoWriMo, and I know from experience that this is when motivation can wane. After the initial burst of energy from starting a new project, the words can take a little longer to get on the paper. My goal for getting over this is a commitment to write every day, even if it’s only 500 words. In past NaNoWriMos, I’ve taken a few days off, but I’m going to avoid that this month. Missing one day leads to missing two days, then three days, etc.

Back to writing!

Camp NaNoWriMo: Day 5

Well, friends, at the end of Day 4 of Camp NaNoWriMo, I had logged 9,590 words – averaging 2,397 words per day. Not too shabby! I’m impressed that I’ve already written more in April than I did in either February or March.

For whatever reason, I’m finding it to be a little easier this month to sit down and force myself to write. I definitely have a trend–before I get to 1,000 words, it’s hard for me to get momentum, but once I have a decent amount down on the paper, I just keep rolling.

So far, I’m enjoying my story and my characters. The outline that I wrote before the beginning of the month has been very helpful and keeps me on track.  Though I’m optimistic that I’ll hit 50,000 words this month, I don’t know that I’ll actually finish this project. I’m at around 22,000 now, and the story is just getting started. There’s still a lot of ground to cover.

If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo, or if you have any other writing goals this month, I hope they’re going well for you!