the beginning!

My new year starts 31 October: Samhain. It's a good time to be quiet and introspective, which of course is perfect for writing. I love how National Novel Writing Month conveniently starts the very next day.

I made my NaNoWriMo word count with a nigh-photo finish today (6,201 words between 8:30am and 2:30pm, for a total of 50,222 words), and then headed out to learn how to make lino carvings at the ever-creative Tara's. The time on the TTC on the way there let me think about all the stuff that I've learned in the past month. A lot of it (okay, most of it) seems stupid, and in fact like things I already know, but perhaps the point is sometimes we have to learn these things over a few times before it finally sinks in. That's what works for me, anyhow.

This year, the learning included this:
  • I now know that I can crank out 1,000 words of first-draft story-telling in just under half an hour. I think 24 minutes was my lowest-ever rate. I now know I can manage this whilst sitting in a Starbucks blaring Christmas music, which is incredible to me, considering how much I loathe Christmas and everything that goes with it.
  • Speaking of writing at Starbucks: my biggest "duh" moment was learning that if I only need half an hour to make my basic daily word count, it's worth it to bring my laptop along on weeknights when I'm going out. There doesn't need to be a time conflict.Link
  • A slight negative incentive can be helpful. Most of the "how to write more" advice I've heard and read all recommends the positive, like turning off your editing voice, rewarding yoruself for making your word count, and writing just to please yourself. None of that will help you if you're staring somewhere in the middle distance beyond your computer screen, wondering if you should heat up leftovers for lunch or make an omelette instead. Drwicked.com has come up with a web page that, as he puts it, "puts the prod back in productivity." It saved my NaNoWriMo, and my well save my short story output as well. Check it out if you haven't already.
  • Even the world's loneliest occupation is more fun with a crowd. I met a lot of writers through Twitter the various book-lover's blogs I read, and the mutual support banished the last of the stupid self-pity that can barge in sometimes when I'm doing a marathon writing session to catch up.
  • I always keep a spreadsheet with my daily word count on it. This year, because I was both sick and busy with work, there are a lot of blank (ie: zero count) days on it. But you know what? I passed the finish line anyhow. It can be done.
Last year, I was completely exhausted when I finished, and didn't want to go near writing fiction ever again. This year is different. Maybe it's because I let myself sleep when I wanted to sleep. Maybe it was the enforced breaks. But I really feel like I want to go on this time.

What a great way to start the new year.