Writing about writing

Posts tagged ‘National Novel Writing Month’

The Write Stuff Club

First of all, I can’t believe I haven’t written in this blog for so long!!

Secondly, since I last wrote in this blog, my school has started a creative writing club and I am one of the advisors for it! The best part is that just about every faculty member in our department is an advisor; that way we can spread the love around and no one faculty member is obligated to be at every single meeting or responsible for everything club related.

As a new club, we have a fairly low membership so far, but we are gaining recognition and membership with each passing day. In fact, just today, we had someone stop by to tell us he wants to be in the club! We are confident that our club will only continue to grow as more and more people find out we are even on campus

The first big thing that we did as a club was invite an author to our campus. Originally, we had thought we would have her come just to our club meeting, but the more we talked, the more we wanted her to come so anyone across campus  could come hear her speak. Angela Pisel came to our campus on Wednesday, January 25 and shared her writing process with a room full of folks eager to absorb any and everything Angela wanted to teach us!

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By the way, if you haven’t had a chance yet to read her book, it’s called With Love from the Inside and it is AMAZING!!!

Last November our club also participated in NaNoWriMo. Most everyone in our club who participated won–reached his/her 50,000 word goal.

As a writer myself, I am thrilled to my very soul that we have FINALLY gotten a creative writing club on campus. We have talked about it ever since I first started here more than seventeen years ago, but we’ve never done anything about it….until now!

Check us out! The Write Stuff Club

Writer’s Software: To Use or Not to Use

It is my biggest dream in life, right now, to finish and publish my memoir. I wrote the draft several years ago and have worked on it off and on since. I have found it difficult to keep up with what I’ve written and what I haven’t written as well as in finding a particular section–quickly–while using Word and/or Google Docs. Both programs are easy to navigate and certainly great to use as a writer. The best part about Google Docs is that it automatically saves and I can access it wherever I am as long as I have internet access.

But the struggle to revise such a long document is real. As you know if you have participated in NaNoWriMo any time over the last several years, NaNo winners often receive some awesome goodies that participants do not. One of those goodies is 50% programs like Scrivener or FastPencil and the like. These companies also make their software available for a free trial for November for all NaNo participants.

I did try Scrivener one year during NaNo, but I found it very distracting during the first draft stage, so I quit using it and never looked back. Since the whole concept of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days with no revision, software like the ones mentioned were clunky and kept me from simply writing. What about you? Do you prefer to use writing software such as Scrivener when writing the first draft, especially when participating in NaNo?

Now that I have a really solid draft of my Memoir complete, I am finding it very difficult to use Word or Google Docs as I revise. When I want to find a particular passage/section in my book, I find it difficult to navigate approximately 80 pages of a single-spaced document. I can do a search, obviously, for what I am looking for and that does help. I am thankful for such features in your basic writing programs.

But when it comes to the serious revisions such as seeing at a glance the chapters and overall content, Word and Google Docs are not helpful at all. But software like Scrivener is fantastic in that area. I can view all my chapters at once either in outline form, as part of my Binder, or on a digital cork board. I can move chapters or sections around with a flick of my mouse rather than having to highlight and drag whole sections, possibly losing the whole section or putting it in the wrong place because of the sensitivity of the mouse. (Know what I mean?)

In Scrivener, I can also use a split screen right there in the program so I can compare sections. I don’t have to open two separate windows and place them side-by-side or one on top of the other on my screen. Scrivener does that for me.

Scrivener also easily formats my book when I am finished. It creates the title page, keeps a running total of my overall word count, adds chapter titles as well as chapter breaks, and so on and so forth.

I have only just started using Scrivener as part of my revision process. I like what I see and what I have used so far. There is a lot to the program, though, and I am finding myself feeling at a bit of a loss since I am not familiar with the program. It is fairly self-explanatory but there are some cool features that a newbie won’t know without either playing with the program or having someone else show him/her.

So what about you? Have you tried software like Scrivener or Fastpencil? What do you think of such programs? Why? Do you prefer Word or Google Docs? What are some positives/negatives about each of the various programs–to you?

I really am curious to know what you think…..

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NaNoWriMo 2015–Halfway There

Today is the halfway mark for NaNoWriMo. How is it going, Friends? So far, I have been able to stay on track in spite of my computer crashing. It has been frustrating, I must say. I was ready to throw it through a window, but somehow or another, I have managed to hold myself together and move forward. We had a computer that I had bought my son that he was not using, so at least I only lost a day of writing–easy to make up.

I am actually enjoying the story I am working on. It took me several days to get to that place. When the month started, I had no idea what I even wanted to write about. I had no story, no topic idea. Nothing! My mind was a blank page and I had no words to fill it. I spent the first several days of the month just writing about “things” that were on my mind.

Yes, I am counting those words for NaNo! I wrote them during the month of November, so they count!

But then I remembered a story I had started earlier this year and inspiration struck! Now I making great headway and I can hardly wait each day to sit down and work on my story! Because of the problems with my computer, though, I find myself not wanting to write much more beyond my word count for the day. Normally I would keep going once I would get to my word count. But not the past several days.

So here I am, with a few fellow NaNo-ers at Barnes & Noble, doing my best to write and not chat!

And hoping and praying that the back-up computer I am using will continue working for as long as I need it this afternoon.

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I’m still writing…

It’s been a few months since I posted to this blog, but rest assured, I’ve been busy writing the whole time–just not on the blog!  I’ve gone back to writing in a physical journal by hand rather than writing in my e-journal (PenZu) mostly which means that I’m just not on the computer as often throughout the days as I am when I write online.  I know….I know…excuses only satisfy the person who makes them!

Anyway, since the last time I posted here, I’ve also helped edit a manuscript for a previous student.  I am so proud of her!  Back when she was my student, she participated in NaNo for extra credit.  She went so far as to publish her novel!  Since then, she’s written two sequels–publishing one and the 2nd is the one she’s currently editing in preparation for publication very soon.  She is such an inspiration to me.

Here I’m the teacher.  I’m the one who encouraged her to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I’ve participated in NaNo almost every year since 2004.  I’ve won most years, but lost a few years (mostly when I had severe health issues and was in the hospital). And here’s this young woman who has not only participated in NaNo the past several years and won, but she’s also published two of three novels in a series (with the 3rd coming very soon)!  And I’m just sitting on my manuscript, twiddling my thumbs.  Pathetic.

So I’m MAKING the time over the next few weeks to edit my manuscript and get it out for the masses.  It doesn’t matter if anyone buys and/or reads it.  What matters is that I follow my heart and finish what I started! I have a story to in me and it must be told.

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Not doing well with NaNoWriMo this year

So how are you doing with NaNoWriMo this year so far?!  I wish I could say that things are on a roll and that I’m on track to finish, but sadly, I’ve at least 5,000 words behind.  I have been that far behind before and caught up, but at this point in time, I’m not sure I’m even going to be able to.  I decided to do NaNo this year even though I have a lot going on and I honestly don’t have the time for it.  I even went ahead and pre-ordered the NaNo Winner’s t-shirt!  Somehow or another, I am going to have to find a way to get my act together and WRITE.

I’m having a lot of fun going on Pinterest, Tumblr, and other social media to find great words of wisdom regarding writing and NaNo.  There is a LOT of great stuff available and it’s all fun and interesting to read.  Instead of being motivated to write, though, I’m frustrated because I am simply not motivated.

It doesn’t help that I am sharing my computer with my son.  Just when I think that I will get some motivation to write, he needs my computer so he can work on a report for school.  I have to let him do his homework, so I end up moping around as I wait for him to finish.  I try not to lurk because I don’t want to distract him when he needs to stay focused.  The real irony is that as soon as he gives me back my computer, I’m stumped and can’t write a lick!

But any writing is writing and I have to start somewhere.  So I thought I’d write a quick blog and ask you how you’re doing with NaNo, brag a little bit about the fact that the Dallas Cowboys beat the Jaguars today, and then do some serious NaNo-ing!

Good luck to all you NaNoWriMos!!!!

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Excitement has Petered Out

Just a few short days ago, I was so excited about NaNoWriMo I could hardly stand to be around myself.  All I wanted to do was think about my story.  All I wanted to do was talk about my story.  I wanted–constantly–to find time to be able to do the necessary research for my story.  November 1 just couldn’t get here fast enough!

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Now that we’re approximately 10 (or is it 11?) days from November 1, I just feel BLAH about the whole thing.  I still think my story has credibility and will hold up–and be worth writing–but as of right this moment, I just don’t care about writing it during the month of November.  My excitement has waned and now I wonder if I’ll even bother to participate beyond the scheduled write-ins I’m in charge of.

I don’t know what has brought me to this place of complacency–of just not caring about something that excited me so recently.  Nothing has happened.  No one has said anything negative.  Everyone has been very encouraging and excited.  For once, I won’t be writing and participating in NaNo alone.  I’ll have a whole community of writers basking in the glow of the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days right along with me.

I’m tired.  I have sooo much to do and right at this moment, the thought of the energy and time it’s going to take–that is going to consume my life–in the month of November is more discouraging than exciting.  How am I ever going to find the time, let alone the energy, to write a story in 30 days when I can’t even find time to grade the essays that MUST be graded?

How am I ever going to find the time–and energy–to write a story in 30 days when I struggle to find time to spend with my family?

And what about those extra three hours we have to add to our work week for Retention and Recruitment purposes?  And what about Thanksgiving?!

When I think about writing–again–during my favorite holiday, any excitement I had for NaNo has petered out to NOTHING.  Nil.  Zip.  Nada.

I sure hope the excitement comes back by November 1.  Regardless of whether it does or not, I plan on giving NaNo the old college try again this year.  I have a good story that deserves to be written.  They say that all it takes to write is BUTT IN CHAIR.  So I’ll put my butt in the chair and hope for the best!!!!

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Speaking of loving to Write…..

I keep a journal that I attempt to write in every day.  I don’t make it every single day, but this is the first year where I have written in my journal almost every day compared to previous years.  Look!!!

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Several years ago, I first picked up Julia Cameron’s book, The Writing Diet.  I ate that book up!  (See what I did there?!)  Anyway, in that book, Julia speaks of her daily writing activity she calls “Morning Pages.”  She discusses Morning Pages in greater detail in her other book, The Artist’s Way, but I first read about them in The writing Diet.  Morning Pages are nothing more than writing three full pages every single morning–freewriting.  I loved the idea, so I gave Morning Pages a shot.  More often than not, I ended up doing my “Morning” Pages in the evening rather than the morning.

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I felt guilty that I couldn’t get my writing done in the mornings.  I wanted so much to do Morning Pages just as Julia Cameron suggested.  I loved every single part of the whole idea and I wanted to be successful with it.  But I could not get up early enough to do my Morning Pages in the mornings.

Then I read Mari McCarthy’s Dark Chocolate for the Journaler’s Soul wherein one of the writers shared that she, too, struggled with writing in the mornings, so she simply starting doing “Night Notes” instead.

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Huh.  So I didn’t HAVE to do my writing in the mornings!!!  And I didn’t have to feel guilty for it!  So now I write in the evenings.  I prefer to type.  I did a few practice entries by hand so I could give myself an estimate of the total number of words I wrote in three pages (Julia’s guidelines for Morning Pages).  I found that I could write approximately 750 words in three pages, so I try to write 750 words every day in my online journal.  I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make it to 750 words, mainly because there are some days when I simply do not have a lot to say, but there are other days when I write way beyond 750 words!  I wish my chain would show the days I have written more than once because I have several days when I wrote two or three entries and each entry was more than 750 words.

Currently, I have written approximately 170,000 words just in my online journal this year!!!!!  I will easily hit 200,000 words before the year is out!  Penzu (the online journal I use) sent me a message a few months ago when I first hit 100,000 words so I can have a free year of Penzu Pro next year!  So cool!  (Penzu basic is free, but if you go Pro, of course, there are many options, one of which is the ability to create several journals rather than just have one.  I have divided my by year as well as by other categories as I choose!)

If I am able to win NaNoWriMo, I will easily have at least 250,000 words for the year!  That’s a LOT of writing!!!!!  And I LOVE every last bit of it!!!!  None of the numbers I’ve shared includes any of the writing I do daily for work; I teach English at a community college!  And now I also have this blog as well as two other main ones that I keep!  (See the link at the top of the page, “Joy Regardless.”)

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