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Ready, Set, Nano!

So, if you haven't been paying attention, yesterday was the first day of Nanowrimo. I got off to a good start, met up with some friends for a write-in, met my word quota (though didn't get any extra written like I'd planned). If you were thinking about joining in but feel like it's too late now, think again. In 2008 I started my first Nanowrimo nine days late. I heard about it at church and decided that afternoon that it was something I couldn't miss. I finished on November 30th with about 50,200 words of a book called In the Company of Pirates. Still hoping to do something with that one someday. My point is, you can still take a flying leap onto this bandwagon. Roll call in the comments, who's in? If you're already taking a chance with all the rest of us, you're probably feeling excited and maybe a little overwhelmed already. Here are some last minute tips I forgot to include two weeks ago.

  • Don't write in OpenOffice. OpenOffice has this weird word count voodoo where it counts quotation marks as words, inflating your word count and causing a panic on the last day when you realize you're three hundred words short. Not a happy moment. Don't do it. Use Scrivener or Microsoft Office. Avoid panic whenever possible.
  • Update your word count on Nanowrimo's website often. Multiple times a day if you can manage it. This can be a bit distracting (especially if you get sucked into the "procrastination station") but I find it really helpful to see progress and Nanowrimo makes this tangible with a handy dandy status bar. Super cool to watch it fill up. Scrivener's project targets dialogue box is great for this too.
  • Word padding is a completely legitimate, accepted, touted, effective, and overall not cheating strategy. This is your chance to get away with all those pesky things you're not supposed to let sneak into your writing. Throw in as many adverbs as you want, give your readers a lecture about the mechanics of REM sleep, repeat descriptions until you're so sick of them you can't help but come up with new and interesting ways to say flying, purple, gyrating kangaroos.
  • Tell everyone you know what you're attempting. That way you'll be too embarrassed to quit halfway through. Sounds kind of shallow but it works.
  • Never end a day not knowing what comes next. It feels all nice and neat to wrap up at the end of a chapter or a thought, but it's very hard to get started the next day when you have no idea what the next scene or even sentence is going to be about. Some people say end in the middle of a sentence, but I have a little OCPD in me that makes this maddening.

So, what are you waiting for? Get busy and I'll see you in a month.