Five for Friday – Things I’ve learned so far!

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Nope I haven’t left the country, fell down a well or been eaten by cats. I’m doing NaNoWriMo and am sooo behind I’ve taken to drinking more wine and walking round graveyards to prove to myself that things could be worse.

The first week was fantastic, I was full of energy and enthusiasm and flew along, each day creating more than I did the day before.

Then…

I slammed into the wall.

Some days I do above and beyond and others I do nothing at all which translates to me barely making the daily quota and me thinking I should have probably stayed in bed and watched Come Dine with Me.

I am terribly late in my Five for Friday today, but determined to do it anyway I thought I would write a note on Five Things I’ve Learned So Far!

  1. 1667 words are more difficult to write than I thought. Especially when you’re managing on three hours sleep, not brushed your hair in two days and forgotten where the children are.
  2. Some days the words just aren’t there. In which case, I make another cup of tea and write absolute rubbish till something manifests. And if it doesn’t at least I’ve added to my word count. Result!
  3. I love word sprints. It’s possible that I have become an addict and that will probably be the main thing that gets me to 50k.
  4. I need short term goals to keep me going. Just the act of going onto the NaNo site and updating my word count or adding a badge gives me a sense of satisfaction and helps when I’m really struggling to find the motivation.
  5. There’s lots of writers out there like me. You’re not all poised with quill in hand staring off into the distance with a look of the muse about you. Your in your pyjama’s, eating dry Coco Pops, possibly crying, just trying to get through the next 500 words.

So that’s my Five for Friday, rapidly written as I’m still behind and the wine’s running out.

Speak to you soon and Happy Writing 🙂

Five for Friday – Interview with Pleasant Street

Welcome to Five for Friday!

I’ve decided it’s time for a regular spot on my blog. So every Friday (or at least every other Friday) I will write a post.  It can be anything from 5 tips to sell your novel or 5 reasons you should eat as much cake as you can.

So to kick off my new spot I am beginning with an Interview from the lovely Pleasant Street. You can find her blog here – In My Parlour – which I love. Full of beautiful poetry and fantastic prose, take a look if you get chance, you won’t regret it.

Pleasant Street is undertaking NaNoWriMo for the third time and as you probably know, I am joining for the first time. So I asked her some questions on her experiences to help newbies like me get acquainted.

So here we go:

  1. Had you ever completed a novel before joining NaNoWriMo?

No I hadn’t.

In fact I never wrote anything longer than a poem prior to NaNoWriMo, not even a short story. I don’t think I considered it. I’ve written poetry since childhood. Much of my reading consisted of biographies and history. I usually missed the popular novels, opting to read classics.

The great thing about the classics is that many of them give you a good model for what a great novel is. I think the first year I tried it, 2013, it was more of a lark. It was a gimmick online that others were doing and it sounded fun.

Could I really do it? I had to try!

  1. Did you decide on a process before you started, i.e. a certain word count per day/write at the same time every day? Or did you develop this as you went along?

No way, I had no idea of any process at all. I had a title and a basic idea.

In 2012, I started NaNo but never even got half way. I lost that manuscript, so I started over in ’13 with the basic concept. I mean I had a goal, the goal that NaNo puts out- 50k words in 30 days, which amounts to 1667 words/day. But the writing just came naturally and organically. I had no plan other than keep the coffee pot full and write my ass off.

  1. You say that you’ve done NaNo a couple of times before. What are your reasons for coming back this year?

I’ve come back because even though now I’m writing every day, it offers an incentive to finish. There is a great feeling at the end finishing with your buddies, and of course, your own good feeling of accomplishment.

Speaking of buddies, I do visit the forums some and sometimes participate in discussions, especially the ones that involve sharing snippets of our work and getting/ giving feedback. This is enormously helpful, getting that kind of response, good or bad.

Also the folks at NaNoWriMo have v-logs on youtube, sometimes with a live feed and interaction with us, asking questions, etc. A big part of NaNo for some people are the word sprints, you can find these on twitter at @NaNoWriMo. Someone sets a time and everyone writes until the time is up and says how many words they wrote. This can be fun and exhilarating. It can also help you not to give up.

  1. Is there anything that didn’t work for you, being on such a tight schedule?

That’s a good question.  I’d say reaching back to the last question, though the social aspect of it is fun, I find too much social interaction is distracting.  If I interact with others on a daily basis, it is before I start writing, maybe a stroll through one of the discussions, reading and offering replies. Occasionally I’ll join in a word sprint on Twitter. I think the interaction is great but if I get too involved socially I don’t write as much and I lose my train of thought where I am going in the story.

  1. Finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to anyone taking on NaNo for the first time?

This is a good one. My advice is this- ignore the constant criticism of NaNo and the people that want to drag it down. They have their reasons and they will tell you that it isn’t good for writing a good completed novel; it is too fast with no editing, etc.

They have some good points but even NaNo doesn’t claim that the manuscript you have after 30 days is going to be a finished novel. But you will have a first draft. Without the second-guessing and constant editing, your creativity really flows. Oh, there will be typos and you’ll want to delete some of the crap, but I find it very satisfying once a year to write like mad and form a first draft this way.

Do talk to others and see how they run it. Do they write an outline? Do they write by the seat of their pants and let the story unfold? But ultimately you should run it how it works for you, and you’ll pretty much know in the first week if it is working. Don’t worry about the naysayers. It is 30 days of your life and you’ll have 50,000+ words that did not exist before, which I think is an astounding feeling. I love that accomplishment.

Thank you so much to Pleasant Street for giving up her time to answer my questions.

I’ve found them very helpful, especially the information about the social aspect, which I knew very little about. And I have to admit, I’ve heard a lot of negative things said too and I was starting to worry whether I’d made the right decision, so it was good to put my mind at rest about these issues.

To anyone looking at joining NaNo this year, I hope you  find this post helpful and I wish you the best of luck. Maybe we’ll see each other in the forums at some point.

Thank you so much for reading and Happy Writing!

If anyone would like more information on NaNoWriMo, visit their website here.

Last in Line – Friday Fictioneers

It’s that time of the week again. Welcome to Friday Fictioneers! The lovely Rochelle issues a prompt and you have approx 100 words to write your story. Thank you to Ron Pruitt for this weeks prompt pic.

If you’d like to read more of this weeks stories press on the blue frog 🙂

Happy Writing!

Last in Line

‘Push me again buddy, see what happens.’

‘Hey I’m not your buddy.’

‘You wanna go?’

A fight broke out at the front of the line. Merv backed away. A shoe flew into the air and landed behind him.

‘Things are starting to fall apart,’ he said.

Lou nodded. ‘Maybe there’s another bus?’

Merv shook his head.

A blood curdling scream exploded. Everyone turned to see a woman being dragged away. ‘It’s too late, they’re already here.’ Merv grabbed Lou’s hand and they raced to a nearby store.

Hiding behind the counter, they watched as the monsters ripped the crowd apart.

100 words

 

The Fun of the Fair – Friday Fictioneers

Hello Everybody, It’s been a while 🙂

Here’s my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you to Ted Strutz for the image today. And also thank you to the lovely Rochelle for running the challenge. If you’d like to have a go, pop onto her page and take a look at the prompt. Write your story in 100 words or less and post it up. Good Luck!

 

The Fun of the Fair

‘What if one of them throws up?’ Ray laughed and we both took a step back.

‘Do we have to go on that?’ I grimaced. The people above had now become a continuous blur of colour.

‘Come on, where’s your sense of adventure?’

‘It’s still on the waltzers with its head between its knees,’ I replied. ‘There’s some nice pedalo’s over there.’ I pointed to a lake in the centre of the park.

Ray turned to look just in time. Vomit cascaded down and hit the floor hard, splashing onto his shoes.

He looked up at me and grinned. ‘Pedalo?’

100 Words

 

Why perspectives are like shoes.

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes/trainers/clogs?

They are the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen (maybe not the clogs). You tried them on in the shop and gloried at how they looked.

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‘Wooden Shoes’ by Bill Longshaw, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

You get them home, get on your matching dress/jeans/lederhosen. Place them on your feet only to find that they are more uncomfortable than David Cameron reading E.L. James.

So, either you do as I do. Go without shoes and claim you gave them to a homeless person on the way – this can also win you brownie points for your selflessness.

Or you minimise the time you move and when you do, try not to look like a raptor wearing heels.

Writing persectives can be the same kind of thing thing. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning, but now you’re half way through the story, somethings happening and you’re feeling uncomfortable.

The above example is a little obvious. But what if you have many characters all in the same place? How do you know which perspective to write in?

Like the shoes, you’re only going to know when you’ve worn them around the house and crushed the backs in a bit. (Shoe lovers gasp in horror!).

So if you’re not sure, try them on.

Here’s an example of a story of my own. It has four characters. Three of which are in every scene. So I’ve wrote a version from each of those character’s point’s of view.

The eldest sister – Christine;

‘Is it dead?’ Meri stared up at me with teary eyes.

I nodded, poking its fat bloated body under the thorny bush that bordered the garden. She buried her face in my trousers.

I huffed, loud enough for her to hear. ‘God, don’t be such a baby, Meri.’

She clung to me tighter and I felt the pang of guilt settle in like an unwelcome guest. Bending down, I peeled her from my leg and brushed her hair from her face.

‘It didn’t feel any pain,’ I said.

‘How can you be sure?’ Her brow furrowed as she looked down at the wretched creature.

‘Because the exterminator said so, that’s why,’ I said.

The next one is from the Mother;

I watched from the kitchen as Christine poked at the thing with a stick. Meri looked up at her, lip trembling, as if her heart would break.

Christine had never been a compassionate or loving child. Even from an early age. She spent her time fishing carp out of the pond or catching mice to tease the cats. A perfect partner for her father to go hunting with.

Not like Meri.

Meri was, softer, innocent. She didn’t have that cast-iron shell her older sister had developed so well.

Christine shoved the creature under the hedge with a sharp jab. Then she bent down and took Meri’s face in her hands. She couldn’t hear what was said, but as the two headed towards the house, Meri was smiling again.

Obviously this is completely useless as a perspective, far too far away from the action and doesn’t take the story in the direction I want it to go.

Then finally, the perspective that I chose. The little sister, Meri’s, perspective;

‘Is it dead?’ I clung to my sister’s leg as she poked its fat bloated body.

‘Yes,’ she replied. The toad rolled over. She gave it another sharp prod pushing it underneath the thorny hedge that edged our garden.  I buried my face in her trousers.

‘Don’t be a baby Meri.’ Christine’s eyebrows knitted together and I turned away.  She gave a heavy sigh and bent down, her dark brown hair brushing the ground.

‘It didn’t feel any pain,’ she whispered.

‘How can you be sure?’ I frowned and looked back to the poor innocent creature, lying discarded like a broken toy.

‘Because the exterminator said so, that’s why.’ She brushed my fringe out of my eyes and tucked it behind my ear.

With this perspective I can be close to the action, but not to close, therefore still keeping the tension as the story unfolds.

This choice was pretty clear for me from the beginning, but not every story is the same.

If you’re having trouble with a story and you don’t know who to choose, take the story and write a beginning from the perspective of each character. When you do, the choice will become clear.

Good luck with your stories, and if anyone tries this, (or the clogs), I would love to hear your results.Maybe it opens up a perspective you didn’t think of before.

Until next time, happy writing!

Please note: Lederhosen are not traditionally worn with clogs. It’s just that clogs sounded funnier than Bavarian footwear 🙂

I don’t like Coffee!!!

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Well, actually I don’t mind it every now and then. But a good cup of tea is the way to go, for me.

You have to make it right though, ‘as it comes’ is definitely not an option!

I like mine milky, but not anaemic, dark enough to tell its tea but if you’ve hit the colour of David Dickinson’s tan, you’ve gone too far.

It’s been a while since I wrote an update…mostly because I spent the summer working on the same sentence. (Don’t worry, it will be a kick arse sentence when its done!).

The kids are back at school. I now only have ‘the wakey one’ home in the day, whom I’ve decided to rename ‘the bitey one’ after a number of incidents leaving me resembling Jasper from the Twilight books.

So I’m ready and raring to go.

I’ve begun clearing out old notes for my novel. It’s taken on so many changes over the years, I’ve literally got pages and pages of stuff that’s no longer relevant. I’ve also just changed from Writeway Pro to Scrivener so I want to get everything organised before I begin transferring.

I’m in the process of converting a sci-fi short story into a radio play. I think the format will serve the idea well and will get it across better.

I’m doing the ‘Writing 101’ course with Blogging University. They give you prompts each day to get you writing. I’m two weeks in, incredibly behind, but enjoying every minute of it.

Whenever I do anything like this I’m always taken aback by the sheer amount of talent on here. So many great writers, phenomenal sites and wonderful posts that either lift you up or make you think…or make me hungry and dream of cake.

And finally, I have signed up for NaNoWriMo. I’m both excited and scared about this. As many of you know, I’m not the best when it comes to focus. So I thought I’d change it up this year and try something different…lets be honest, it can’t get any worse, I’ve already been working on my book for the past six/seven years.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to.

So, how are you?

Buried Treasure

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Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Find yourself in a creative slump? Stuck for ideas?

I’m reluctant to use the term ‘writers block’. But every writer gets stumped from time to time. The white of the paper gleams, taunting you. That inner voice sneers. ‘You’ll never think of a good idea again’.

This time, skip the crying and eating all the biscuits in the house. Try something inspired by The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fuelling their creativity. Full of helpful assignments and exercises. One of which is very helpful when it comes to ‘writer’s block’.

You write stream-of-consciousness for about fifteen minutes every morning. It can be absolutely anything. If nothing comes to mind, just write ‘I can’t think of anything to say,’ over and over until something comes to you. Eventually it will.

I recently stumbled on one of my notebooks from 2011 and decided to have a read.

Apart from being quite cathartic, looking back at all my worries and stresses of the time, coming from a position now where I know everything worked out was a lovely feeling in itself. But I was also reading ideas that I’d totally forgotten about. This inspired me to write something now.

Keeping any kind of journal is, in my opinion, essential for any writer. There is a wealth of material desperate to make it onto the page. You just have to be present.

So, if you do happen to find yourself experiencing any kind of block, write stream-of-consciousness for a week, even better, for a month. Resist the urge to go back and read them at this stage. You want a pure outpouring of ideas, worries, strains, anything and everything.

Leave them for at least a week – the longer the better. Then start looking back over your work. Is there anything that jumps out at you or inspires you? You’ll be surprised what hidden treasures are hiding in your own words.