Accountability Tuesdays – Week 46: NaNo Edition

Before we get into it today I have to ask a serious question: does anyone else, like, just LOATHE the new WordPress reader? Seriously, this little nested pop-up thing is driving me absolutely foolish. I was 100% happy with posts popping up in a new tab when I clicked on them. It allowed me to stay in the reader and click on multiple blog posts before beginning to read. It was quite comfortable to me. Now I either have to read each post as I come to it before being allowed to move on, or I have to click each post multiple times to get them to pop up in a new tab and then close the little nested pop-up so that I can get back to the reader. It might not seem like a big deal to some, but it’s at least three times as much clicking as I ever had to do, which is extremely annoying to me. Anyone else? It can’t just be me. 😐

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverHealth and Body Image Goal

Last week on Fiction Fragment Friday I mentioned that I was having a rough go with NaNoWriMo this week, in part because I was feeling violently ill. Indeed I spent two straight days feeling very much like I was dying. I was headachy and nauseous, and everything single thing I ate made me feel like I was either going to throw up or be trapped on a toilet for the rest of my days. It wasn’t fun. After almost 48 hours of this I said screw it, I’m going to the hospital because I can’t handle this anymore.

Less than two hours later I posted this status on FaceBook:
You know you’re getting old when you go to see a doctor to complain about constant stomach pains and nausea and her response is basically, “Yeeeeaaahhh…you’ve gotta start eating better.”

My meeting with the doctor basically went like this: she got me to lay on the table so she could poke my stomach and listen to it through a stethoscope, and then she asked me all what I’d eaten over the past couple of days. That was the moment I started to see how this talk was going to go because with every item I listed her scowl got sterner and sterner.

Long story short, I am now actively trying to drink more water, eat more complex carbs, and taking a glass of Metamucil each day. God DAMN I feel so old.

That said, I have been feeling a little better. I’ve also been paying close attention to my stomach and I’m starting to be able to tell when I’ve made a transgression. My biggest issue seems to be breakfast. My body wants it, and reacts quite cruelly if it doesn’t get it, but I’ve always been one to skip the meal, not because I’m trying to save calories or anything stupid like that, but just because I’m never hungry in the mornings (even if the last thing I ate was supper the night before) and it just feels wrong to force food down my throat when I’m not hungry. But I’ve begun to notice that my stomach feels like complete crap if I haven’t eaten something within the first couple of hours of waking up, so I guess there’s got to be a change there.

I’m way too young to feel this damn old. 😛

On the exercise of things, I haven’t been doing any in the traditional sense, but I’ve spent the last few days literally scrubbing every surface in my kitchen, so that’s got to count for something, right?

Editing Goal

I’m skipping this section for the next two weeks. If you don’t understand why, please see the previous two Accountability Tuesdays.

1,000,000 Word Goal

I have to be honest, though it feels like I’ve done a ton of writing this week, it turns out that it wasn’t as much as I thought it was. I thought I was totally blowing away my total from last week, but in reality I only wrote about 2000 words more this week. Still, it’s an increase, so I’ll take it. As of the cutoff last night, I wrote 16,060 words this past week. That brings my yearly total up to 419,217. Just a little over 80,000 to go to get to half a mill. That’s six weeks at 13,464 each, but since I probably wont get anything done over the Christmas holidays it’s really more like five weeks at 16,157 each. Think I can step it up and make the half mill mark? @_@

NaNoWriMo Goal

The good news is that I’m catching up. Despite all odds and having two days last week during which I wrote absolutely nothing at all, I’ve managed to bring myself much closer to the goal line than I was before. As of last night I was up to 27,701 words, as opposed to the 30,000 that I should have been at. That’s still 2299 words behind the line, but you have to understand that during the days that I was sick I managed to fall more than 6000 words behind, so really, I’m doing quite well. If I can have a couple more days this week like the ones I had recently, all will be well. You’ll see. You’ll all see. @_@

Fiction Fragment Friday: NaNoWriMo 2013 Edition Part 2

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverWe are now officially just over a week through National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been playing catch-up since day three, but I’ve almost managed to claw my way back to an even keel. If I can write approximately 3000 words today (*nervous laughter*) I’ll be back on track, and then if I can do that another one or two times (*even more nervous laughter*) I’ll be feeling a little better about my prospects.

I have to admit, the story isn’t going the way I had planned, and will probably need a major gutting and possibly an entire rewrite by the time I’m finished, if it’s ever going to be publishable. But even still, I’m having fun. So here’s another little excerpt, in which our narrator, Clover, discusses some of the details of the day the world ended.


It began as strange reports on the evening news. I didn’t understand much of it at the time, and my parents seemed unable to explain it in a way that made sense to me, but the long and short was that a hole had appeared in the sky above Russia. Authorities were flabbergasted; scientists from all over the world rushed to study the anomaly. Aircraft were sent up to get a closer look. Pictures on the news showed an unfathomable phenomenon; the aircraft could fly up above the black mass and look down on it as though it was a giant inky disk just hanging in the air. The most advanced machinery could get no readings. It seemed to be exactly what it looked like – just a huge black nothingness.

Eventually the authorities had to try something different. People were freaking out and they needed to learn something, be able to at least give the public some idea of what the hell this thing was. So they sent some specially trained men up and they attempted to make contact.

I don’t remember much, but I remember that broadcast. My parents were on the edges of their seats waiting to find out what would happen when the men approached the anomaly. There were all kinds of theories floating around; people were wondering if it would be solid, or if perhaps it would prove to be a portal to another world. The truth answered none of the public questions and was the most terrifying shock of billions of people’s lives. When the men who had been trained and prepared and sent up to this truly unbelievable experience reached out and touched that anomaly, what they received was a reaction. A violent reaction.

People screamed in horror from both sides of the television set as the huge black hole in the sky became an angry huge black hole in the sky. It writhed and wiggled, and it pulsed with a power that sent the trained men flying out of their craft to hurtle back down to the ground. Before the viewers could get over the shock of watching a group of men plummeting to their deaths on live television, the hole began to expand. It grew and grew, blotting out the sun above the camera crew, covering all of Russia and moving on to the surrounding countries. I remember being amazed at how fast it happened. The news lady had barely recovered enough to begin recapping what was happening when the sun began to fade above our farmhouse. The strange black hole had expanded from Russia to Canada in less than ten minutes.

And then everything was darkness. All over the planet people panicked and prayed and lost their minds because the sky had vanished behind a wall of black nothingness.

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 44: NaNo Edition

For the month of November I’ll be adding a National Novel Writing Month update to each accountability post. Fun? Fun. But let’s start with the usual stuff, shall we?

Heath and Body Image Goal

Put simply: not going well. I had planned to try and pair NaNoWriMo with some exercise every day for the month of November, but that was quickly cut short because of a slight health issue. I’m feeling fine now, but only as of late last night, so if there’s a chance of finishing off the rest of the month with some actual effort you won’t hear about it until next week.

The food half of this one is a bygone issue at this point. I’m trying not to be TOO bad, I really am, but we’ve officially entered the season of perpetual hand-to-mouth for me. Our house is stocked with discounted Halloween candy, and soon enough (November always flies for me) it’ll be Christmas treats as well. Lord help me, I have the least willpower concerning food of anyone I know. If only there was someway to make vegetables taste like Mars bars.


Well October is past and I didn’t manage to finish editing my zombie manuscript. I’m very broken up about that, actually. I was really close; I only had two and a half chapters left, and one of those chapters is much shorter than the others. I’m hoping that I might get a chance to rip through that last bit sometime this month, but I’m not thinking about it too much because I want to focus more on NaNo. If I can come out of this month with a brand new manuscript I’d be more impressed with myself than if I had a half-finished manuscript and a bit of editing done. But I will get that last bit of editing done as soon as I can because I’m so close I can taste it.

1,000,000 Word Goal

If there’s one time of the year when my word count is likely to skyrocket, this is it. I’m working on a brand new manuscript, and I plan to win NaNo, so look forward to at least 50,000 words over the next few weeks. In fact, look forward to much more than that because I’m also going to be blogging during all of that. For this first week of November (which includes the last couple of days of October), I’ve written 14598 words. An excellent start, I think!

NaNoWriMo Goal

Unfortunately, of the words I’ve written so far this week, only 4642 of them were for NaNoWriMo. That’s right, friends, I’m already behind. Quite a bit behind actually. As of the end of today I should be at 8333 words, and I’ve got to tell you, I don’t see myself getting 4000 words in today. On the upside, I’ve gotten past the boring beginning part of my new story – the part that gives you an enormous migraine because you just want to negate it all together – and now I can start getting into the fun bits. So here’s hoping that I can manage to make up those 4000 words over the next few days! Wish me luck!

The Countdown is On

October means a lot of things for a lot of people. It means that Summer is over and Fall is beginning. It means putting away tank tops and shorts and skirts, and breaking out sweaters and jackets. It means crunchy leaves on the ground, and less sun throughout the day. It means buying (or making) costumes for the kiddies, and giving out (or begging for) candy. It means spooky movies and ghostly TV specials.

And for myself it means the countdown to National Novel Writing Month.

Chances are that most of the people reading this blog will have heard of NaNoWriMo (as we call it) before, because in past years it’s become incredibly popular and well-known. But just in case you don’t know, National Novel Writing Month is exactly what it sounds like…it’s a challenge, which falls in November, for all writers across the globe to attempt to write a novel in one month. Since novels can vary dramatically in length, the number we use is 50,000 words. If you can write 50,000 words entirely within the month of November, you “win” NaNoWriMo.

This will be my sixth year participating in this yearly event. Of the five years I’ve already done, I “won” four times and came pretty damn close that one other year (last year). This year I hope to wash away the lost of last year and bag my fifth win.

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileNon-writers and skeptics don’t tend to “get” NaNoWriMo, but it is really quite the inspirational event for writers. For a lot of writers the challenge gives us the motivation – the little boot in the arse – we need to push ourselves into super-writer mode. The community over at the NaNoWriMo website is an amazing thing to behold, and throughout the month participants get pep talks and advice from published authors. Many NaNoWriMo participants have gone on to have their novels published as well, which proves that this isn’t just an event for posers. Thousands upon thousands of writers, young and old, participate in this event. Thousands upon thousands of people can’t be wrong, right?

This year I have high hopes because it’s looking like I’m still going to be unemployed through the month of November (not to say that that’s a good thing, but you know what I’m saying…), meaning that I’ll have more time to write than any other previous year. I hope to note only “win” by hitting the 50,000 word mark…I hope to totally demolish the 50,000 word mark. In fact, this year I plan to up my goal word count to 75,000 words. Life is nothing without goals, right? 😀

So what am I going to write about this year? I haven’t 100% decided just yet, but I am seriously considering writing a vampire novel. No, not a Twilight clone, or a Vampire Diaries knockoff… I’m talking about real vampires: powerful, evil, frightening, bloodsucking monster vampires. While I enjoy a sexy vampire as much as the next True Blood fan, I think it’s about time the world was reminded of what monsters are supposed to be all about…scaring you half to death!

Do you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If not, why not? If so, what are you thoughts on the event? If you are a participant, please feel free to leave me you username for the site! I’d love to add a few more writer buddies!

Failure? No, not even close.

The best laid plans do not always turn out the way you expect them to. This is a well-known fact, often tested, the results reproduced with alarming regularity. As per this noble tradition of screw-up-ery, November did not turn out the way I expected it to. This is not surprising. What is surprising is the manner in which it did not turn out the way I expected it to.

I went into November with a simple goal: to participate in my 5th National Novel Writing Month. Though I was definitely going to put my all into it, I did not expect to win my 5th NaNoWriMo, due to the working conditions I’ve mentioned more than once on this blog. What I expected was to spend two weeks working out West, writing whenever I could snag a few minutes to keep my word count from plummeting miserably, and then when I returned home for the last bit of November I would write like a maniac to get as close to a winning word count as possible.

In a humorous twist, what I did was almost exactly the opposite. During my days out West I wrote like the wind. I wrote in a notebook during all my breaks, and typed like a madwoman when I got back to my camp room at night. I even scribbled out a few words here and there on buses and in lines for buses, and once or twice I lost an hour or two much-needed sleep because the scenes were just flowing out of me. I made the daily word count every day while I was out West, and even doubled it on some days.

And then I returned home, and I am completely unashamed to admit that I did not write one single word from the moment my plane landed until this blog post. What did I do during those two weeks off? Well, for one, I finished (yes, finished) all my Christmas shopping, cleaned and decorated the house with the help of my husband, decorated the tree with my husband and daughter, and wrapped every single present that was available to wrap (including embellishment with a plethora of ribbons and bows, thank you very much). But even more important than that, I (with a great deal of help from my mother) threw my daughter her second birthday party. She had a blast with her cousin and second-cousins, enjoyed her Sesame Street decorations and cake, and got some pretty awesome gifts in the process. Then we packed everything up and headed home so I could just enjoy being with her for a couple of days before flying back out for work.

The conclusion of this little tale, in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, is that while I’m disappointed that I couldn’t score a 5th NaNoWriMo win after all that frantic writing out West, sometimes there are more important things. And because I was able to accept that, I manged to put myself into a situation where I will have virtually nothing to worry about for Christmas when I get back home in two weeks, and I was able to enjoy my daughter’s second birthday without obsessing over a self-imposed writing challenge. Take that.

And just to make a good situation even better, even though I didn’t win NaNo, I wrote 37189 words of good stuff when I was writing. I’m happy with that, and I fully plan on continuing on with this story while I’m out West for this run. In fact, I picked up a cute little notebook on the way out here specifically for that purpose. I’m going to reinstate my goal from earlier in the year and try to write 1000 words a day. If nothing else it will help pass the time until I can go back home to my husband and my little girl and enjoy Christmas with them. Love you two! See you in two weeks! *kiss kiss; hug hug!*

Dammit, fingers, do what the brain tells you!

What I need, I have established, is a lovely, steampunky-style machine that fits over the top of my head and displays my thoughts and dreams to a little tv screen off to the side.

Other writers will know what I’m talking about. You’ve got an idea for a scene… You can see it in your head… You can hear the characters voices as they spit out their dialogue… You can picture the look on a character’s face… You can feel how the character feels as they deal with whatever particular torture you’re putting them through this time… And then you sit down to write…and it’s just not there. The images won’t flow from your mind to your hand to the page.

I’ve often thought that many of my stories would make better movies than books because then I could just show everyone what’s happening instead of trying to explain it. It’s one of the great curses of writing, I think, being about to see and feel exactly what you want to convey, yet somehow being unable to convey it.

I have one of these scenes in my head right now. Every morning when I’m on the bus to work and every evening on the bus back to camp this scene is in my head, playing over and over. It’s place in my NaNo story is coming up soon and I fear for its integrity. I can see every detail so clearly in my mind, which generally is my first clue that its going to be a royal pain in the arse to write. Will the scene make it to paper? I’ll certainly be sure to let you know, but in the meantime if anyone wants to commission a streampunky-style mind reader for me I’m definitely willing to pay. 😛

Oh no…NaNo!

And so it starts. NaNoWriMo 2012.

I didn’t stay up and start writing at precisely midnight last night, as so many do, but the first thing I did this morning (after giving the baby her breakfast and setting her up with some Sesame Street vids) was to run to my laptop and start plucking away. I’ve only got 351 words so far today, as I’ve got about a million other things to worry about as well, but it’s a start. The daily target is 1667 words, but if I get 1000 today I’ll be happy. So many other things to do! o.o

You may also notice that I’ve changed my sidebar image to one more suitable for the situation I now find myself in. This avatar more accurately represents how I’m going to look for the next month. If I could go to work in my pajamas and curl into a corner with a mug of tea and my laptop, I definitely would.

Since this is a special month, and since I didn’t find the time to write any 101 blog post ideas entries over these days off, I’m going to have a different kind of update schedule over the next few weeks. Each week I’ll put up a couple of posts relating to my NaNo-novel. Some posts will be bits of the planning process, like the synopsis I posted yesterday. Other posts will be excerpts of what I’ve managed to write so far. Others will be my strangled cries for help/sleep as I drudge through the month. Stay tuned! @_@

I am the Queen of Pants(ers)!

Every year as the beginning of NaNoWriMo sneaks ever closer the forums light up with a wide array of greetings, games, debates, emotional rants, and pleas for help. There are certain topics that rise from the dead year after year, and one such is a poll of sorts: “Are you a planner or a pantser?”

“Planner” is pretty self explanatory…you plan your novel before attempting to write it. You might create character sheets, sketch maps of the world you’re creating, jot down notes on particular scenes, or even lay out your chapters step-by-step with everything except the actual prose. You are organized.

“Pantser” is a less intuitive (non)word, so for those who have never heard it before, it’s short for “by the seat of your pants”-er. This is someone who doesn’t plan at all. They might have an idea for their novel – maybe even a couple of character names – but that’s as far as it goes. These people approach the first of November with a strange mixture of courage and insanity, with no real idea of what is going to end up on the paper/computer screen as they write.

For NaNoWriMo’s 2008 through 2011 I was definitely a pantser. Even during the year I did a fanfiction, and the year I did a rewrite (I’m a rebel), I was absolutely flying by the seat of my pants. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, I’m just not a planner by nature. I get ideas, and I write them. That’s pretty much my process. But this year I’m (*gasp*) changing it up a bit. As most of you know, I’m working a camp job in Northern Alberta. That means that for 14 of the days of November I’ll be on camp, working 12 hour days and spending over an hour a day on the bus. Then I also have to work in time to eat breakfast and supper while at camp, plus things like doing my laundry and showering. All in all I have about an hour a day to myself that can be used for writing. From experience I know that I am capable of writing a lot of words in an hour, but only if I already know what I’m going to write. If I have any writer’s block at all, or if I’m unsure where the next scene is going, all is lost. I can spend half a day on the computer only to pluck out a couple hundred words, rather than the 1667 I need to write each day in order to win.

One method of rectifying this issue would be to write as much as I can during the other 16 days, attempting to bolster my word count on the days I’m not working. This would be an excellent plan if not for a couple of things…I call them Jason and Adrianna. See, I spend two weeks at a time away from my husband and daughter, so it’s not likely that I’m going to spend my two weeks with them holed away, writing. In fact, I may actually get less writing done when I’m home than when I’m at work.

So this is my plan…to become a planner (*cue gasping, strangled noises*). Over the next five days, when I’m not doing housework or playing with the baby, I’m going to be planning my novel. It’s going to be a rewrite (remember what I said about being a rebel?) but the original was never properly planned either and has gone off in a dozen different directions, so I think this is going to be a good thing. I’m going to use an idea I found online and scribble out as many details as I can on my characters, flesh out my ideas for particular people and places that are important, and all in all try to figure out exactly where the story is going before I start writing it. As this is going to be a monumental effort on my part, I’ll share some of it on this blog as I’m working on it. Look forward to seeing my brain shrivel like a dried out plum. 🙂

Fried Like Yesterday’s Bacon

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

51. Avoiding burnout

Rest and relaxation are underrated. The world in which we live today drives us to be productive every moment of the day. If we aren’t working, doing housework, or contributing to something in some way we tend to feel lazy or as though we’re wasting time just sitting around. Even when we actively choose to sit down and watch tv or browse the internet, there is a constant nagging hum in the back of our heads listing all the things we should be doing instead.

I recently talked about how writers should Write Everyday, and I meant it, but we do not have to spend every day writing. Just as you wouldn’t expect someone to spend 16 hours a day at their job every single day, neither should you expect yourself to write constantly every day. We need downtime for our brains to rest and reboot, or the creative juices will run dry and what we are writing will no longer be worth putting to paper. Ask anyone who has ever taken part in NaNoWriMo. They will all tell you that the experience of trying to write 50,000 words in a month is a wonderful one that everyone should try, but I guarantee that they will also tell you that continuing that frantic pace for another month, and another, would drive you to madness and be detrimental to your writing in the end.

Look at it this way. Pick up a small object, say a soup can or a bottle of water. Now, while holding the object, raise your arm so that it is straight out in front of you. Now lift a few inches higher, then lower a few inches. Continue this motion back and forth so that you are lifting your arm up and down – only by a few inches, mind you – over and over again. At first it’s simple; your object is light and the motion is small. But over time it gets harder…and harder still…until your arm begins to ache…and then before you know it the muscles are pulsing and you feel like they’re going to explode unless you drop your arm right now. So you drop your arm but it’s still sore and useless and there’s no way you’re repeating that exercise for a good while. It’s no different with your brain. If you keep writing and writing and writing without ever taking any breaks it may seem fine and dandy at first, but over time your brain will ache and seize and you’ll find yourself (metaphorically, I hope) writhing on the ground in pain, your brain absolutely useless to you.

You need rest. Repeat the arm exercise again, but only do ten repetitions, then rest for a few minutes before doing another ten reps. At this pace you could probably continue the exercise indefinitely because you never do enough at once to burn out your muscle. Again, it’s the same with your brain. If you write for a while, and then rest for a while, you allow your brain the time to recuperate so that it doesn’t give out on you. You can absolutely Write Everyday, but it doesn’t have to be a whole book! Write a blog entry, a letter to someone, a drabble…some small chunk that exercises your brain without overloading it. And if you do burnout, admit it, accept it, and force yourself to take it easy until your brain restarts and all the proper programs start running smoothly again. Your stories will wait, I promise.