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Tag: nanowrimo

It’s done!

Last Sunday I finished the second version of Sky High’s draft, and I already sent it to my alpha readers. Time for celebration! ūüôā

Yes, you read correctly: That’s the second draft and I sent it out. So, how does this fit¬†the revision¬†process which I said I’d follow here?

Let me rewind a bit.

About two weeks ago, I bought the NaNoWriMo story bundle Рa great wealth of resources on how to write, which I can only recommend. I started by reading Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys. He breaks down the essential elements, which make up a story, into a very easy structure. His down-to-earth pragmatic approach to writing, and making a living from your writing, appeals strongly to me.

Next, I chose Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith. The book is actually a polished version of a series of posts he has up on his blog. You can read them online here, as well as his second book, Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing.

Dean also has a very pragmatic approach to writing, which is very similar to Algis Budrys’ – and that’s probably not a coincidence, since Algis was Dean’s mentor.¬†These two posts resonated most with me:

Speed: Writing Fast is Bad:

After finishing NaNoWriMo in 2014, I was wondering: If I can write almost 2000 words in about 2 hours per day, how come big writers publish only 1-2 books per year? The numbers just didn’t add up – especially looking at grand masters like George R. R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss, who take years to finish a book.¬†I wasn’t able to get a satisfying answer and concluded that these people probably spend a lot of time on book tours and other promotional events.

Therefore, reading this chapter was a revelation. ūüôā

Rewriting:

Brandon Sanderson once said – I believe it was on Writing Excuses – that it took him so long to become published because during his initial years he never edited his books. So, naturally, I assumed that this is what I had to do: edit and rewrite.

Dean has a valid point, though: When you’re creating new content, you’re working from the creative side of your brain, whereas when you’re editing you’re working from the critical side. And the critical side is just not as good at creative tasks as the other half. So when you edit, you’re basically submitting your work to all the rules and assumptions you’ve picked up during your life. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a bland mush, and nothing of your style – nothing remarkable, which makes your work stand out from others –¬†will be left.

You still have to review your writing, for consistency and spelling mistakes etc., but Dean recommends you don’t rewrite unless you’re getting paid for it. His reasoning is simple: Instead of wasting all that time trying to make the perfect book, you could be creating new assets – new stories.

I love his pragmatic reasoning, and his approach to writing is very appealing to me. I have to admit that I was demotivated by the prospect of having to revise my story 8 times. And the idea of rewriting it doesn’t seem fun – especially¬†after seeing that¬†I really like what I have written. So I decided to work from a 3 draft system, like Dean:

  1. Write the story
  2. Review for consistency and spelling/grammar mistakes. Then send to alpha readers
  3. Correct mistakes found by alpha readers, then publish / submit

 

So here I am. I decided to go for Indie Publishing and will now work on the book cover, and setting up everything else required to make my book available to readers.

Have any thoughts or comments? Send me an email or post here! ūüôā

 

 

Sky High Update and Writing Resources

It’s been a while since my last post, and it’s been a while since I had time to work on Sky High. There’s a lot going on at work right now, and family events have kept me busy on the weekends. Therefore, today’s post will be rather short, so I can use the time to edit my book instead.

There’s a great offer up at http://storybundle.com/nano¬†right now. For as little as $15 you get 13 (!) awesome books about writing. And for $10 more, you get all of last year’s NaNoWriMo storybundle-books as well. That’s 25 books for $25!

Go check it out! I did, and I have just read Writing To The Point¬†by Algis Budrys. It somewhat changed my perspective on writing, and took away some of my worries about editing Sky High. ūüôā

That’s it for today –¬†I’ll get busy on Sky High now.

To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo…

I’m getting closer to finishing the first draft of my novel Sky High¬†and I couldn’t help but notice that it’s almost time for NaNoWriMo again. For those of you who have not heard of NaNoWriMo before, here a brief definition, taken from their website:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

You can find a more detailed description of how it works here: http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works

Sky High was my NaNoWriMo 2014 project and made me reach the 50000 words goal for the first time. It was a huge rush, but it also took a toll on my private life. With a 40 hours day job, a pregnant wife and Japanese classes on Saturday mornings,¬†there was little time left for writing. However, to get to 50000 words in 30 days you need to average 1667 words a day – that’s almost two hours of daily writing time for me.

One of the cool and motivating things about NaNoWriMo is the stats that they provide. Take a look at my 2014 progress:

Sky High NaNoWriMo Progress
Sky High, NaNoWriMo 2014 Progress

As you can see, I got off to a great start, but was struggling to keep up. Around the two-weeks mark I didn’t get to write for a couple of days, but still managed to be right on schedule. However, a week later, things got really out of control.

I still remember my worry about not hitting 50000 words. NaNoWriMo was a constant companion that month, always present in my head. My wife complained that I stressed myself out too much, but at the same time she was really supportive. Because of that stress, I have been saying that I would not participate in NaNoWriMo 2015 Рand my wife happily approved of that decision.

But now the date is getting closer and ideas for new stories are popping up in my head. I feel the temptation:¬†Yes, it was hard. Yes, I put myself under a lot of pressure. But man, I can’t begin to describe how incredible it felt to rush along the words, almost as fast as¬†I could¬†think of them, and discover my own novel.

I’ve said it before: When I read a good book, I eventually stop noticing the words and I just “see” the images they create in my mind. While writing Sky High, something similar happened a couple of times: I stopped noticing¬†that I was typing and just observed how my story unfolded. The experience was quite like reading, but so much more intensive. I guess that, because it was my mind spinning up these images, my immersion was a lot stronger.

I want this rush, I want to ride this wave of creativity again…

But I also have to be realistic. I should not start a new project before at least finishing the first draft of Sky High. After winning NaNoWriMo in November last year, I needed a rest. And then there was Christmas. And then some other things happened in my life. In the end, I did not get back to working on Sky High until July-August this year.

It was hard to get into the project again. Really hard. It had become stale and I had to reread everything that I had written so far.¬†I had already forgotten about important details and had lost the feeling for the story, which made it really hard to find the motivation to go on. (Although it made for an interesting and surprising read. “Oh, cool, I didn’t remember that,” or “What, really?” were just some of my reactions) But I remembered something that Brandon Sanderson said – I think it was in one of the Write About Dragons recordings: The main reason it took him so¬†many years¬†to get published was that he did not edit his books.¬† Back then he would finish writing a story and then start a new project. I didn’t want to commit the same error, so I pushed through and built up some momentum again – although it is¬†weaker now than it was during NaNoWriMo.

That’s why I don’t want to lose that momentum again, so finishing the first draft of Sky High is a prerequisite for participating. But I also do not want to repeat my error from 2013: I got to know about NaNoWriMo very late –¬†maybe 5 days into the competition – and started writing without any idea of what it was going to be. I managed a promising start, but about 5000 words later I hit a wall. I reached the end of the few ideas that I had and wasn’t sure how to continue. So I stalled and the number of words I had to catch up kept adding up. The amount became staggering and eventually I lost all motivation, so I abandoned the project.

In my opinion, for a successful NaNoWriMo, you should start worldbuilding your novel in October already. Think about the setting. Create some history. Invent some conflicts. Build the fabric of your world. All these will work as fertilizers when you start writing in November and grow your characters and story. Every minute spent thinking and plotting in October will pay off tenfold.

So, I should get back to writing. And maybe, maybe, I’ll be able to be part of this great wonderful experience that is NaNoWriMo again.

What about you? I would love to hear your NaNoWriMo stories. What has your experience been like? Is it the first time to participate? Let me know in the comments, or drop me an email.

How did I learn how to write books?

I studied computer science. I’m not native English. Not the best setup when¬†diving into writing.¬†So where the heck¬†did I learn how to write books?

I’m planning to dedicate more detailed posts to the following sources, but I thought you would appreciate an overview. So here I go:

Not on this list is NaNoWriMo, because it didn’t teach me anything about writing itself, but about myself. It showed me how productive I can be and what a rush writing can be.¬†I recommend you give it a try. It’s a huge boost to motivation and helps you push through a very unique experience.

Are you missing anything on the list? Do you have a secret source of writing advice? I’d love to hear from you. Just post in the comments or drop me an email.