For Camp Nanowrimo this year, I’m tracking minutes spent actually writing fiction, as opposed to new words or some other measure. All well and good, but how do I track it when I’m so distractible? How do I tell genuine research, for example, from a distraction? How do I count minutes when I lose track of time so badly that I forget to set a timer for—how long? Was that an hour that slipped by? Do I count time when I’m staring at the screen for—seconds? Minutes? while my brain throws a distraction event and I check out of the planet temporarily?
Seriously, I have little sense of time passing. It’s the ADHD thing. I have a bunch of systems in place, and yet I still manage to miss occasional appointments—I live in dread of it.
So I’m doing the best I can, here. RescueTime helps if it hasn’t crashed and I’m on my Mac. I assume any time Scrivener’s on screen I’m writing. RescueTime’ll catch any time I check out for more than 5 minutes. And I close Scrivener when I’m done on the Mac so RescueTime can’t count any time when Scriv’s just onscreen momentarily.
iOS has been more of a problem historically. I resist using a free service, but I’ve finally given in and turned on Apple Screentime on both my devices. Again I only count time in Scrivener, regardless of whether I was really, really researching or whatever. I’d rather under report than over report.
Other than that, I can only hope that the time I spend tuned out makes up for accidental double recording.
So as far as I can tell, I managed to catch up to “par” today as far as reaching my 3000 minute goal for the month. Onward!
Wow! This is amazing. There’s no comparison to writing my entry for last year’s NaNo Los Angeles anthology. Last year I scrapped a 4,000 word draft at about this point, and was scrambling to make the March 21 deadline from scratch. This year, I’ve only scrapped about 900 words. I will have time to adjust and polish before the March 31 deadline.
What’s the difference? There’s two parts. First, last year was when I finally created my own method of, for lack of a better term, “outlining.” I learned how to identify what I think of as “islands” and Save the Cat! (Blake Snyder) describes as “beats”. (I hate that term, by the way, but I’ll use it so as to communicate.)
I know that Mr. Snyder insists that all 15 of his beats be nailed down before starting to write, but I… well, I just couldn’t. Not the way he does it. What I did was write a logline using the “enhanced logline template” from Save the Cat! Strikes Back (also Blake Snyder), Chapter 1. This rocks for me.
The enhanced logline hits the high points of the beats (“islands”) without forcing me to think of a precise beginning or ending in advance. It skips several of Mr. Snyder’s fifteen basic beats—but the logline structure enables me to just write in my usual “seat of the pants” manner. When I start writing, I think, “Okay, I have a 4000 word hard limit, so that means everything up to and including ‘breaks into the second act’ has to happen in the first 900 words or so…” This helps keep me focused. Usually no more than a paragraph into a diversion, I’ll be able to ask myself, “Will this get me to my next island in 900 words?” If not, it goes. Often I don’t even bother writing the paragraph. “Yeah, that’s interesting, and if I had words to spare I’d go there, but…”
(By the way, if you want the lessons of Blake Snyder’s books condensed to one volume and re-phrased for narrative fiction rather than screenplays, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (Jessica Brody) will save you the tedious translation of screenplay jargon into novel jargon.)
The other difference is that last year, I hadn’t had the experience of working with professional editors on fiction. I hadn’t had five subplots ruthlessly cut because—Dun! Dun! Dun!—they had nothing to do with the main story. In a 4000 word (max) science fiction or fantasy story, I can’t mess around. I need to get my universe established without wasting words, and get the story moving—fast. Maybe I can wander a bit in a novel—but if a subplot has no effect on the finale, I can and should chop it no matter how personally interesting I find it. Not helping me get to an island (beat)? It’s got to go.
In case you think that this eliminates all the art in a story—it doesn’t. I composed my best sentences in last year’s story because I absolutely had to cut something and yet convey its concept better. My story was more compelling for cutting extraneous events to the bone.
So onward! This year’s NaNo Los Angeles deadline is coming!
Once again I’ll be submitting an entry for the sixth annual NaNo Los Angeles anthology! This year’s theme is “exploration and the unknown”, with an added element of “something left behind.” I’m already two-thirds through it, despite medical appointments. I might even finish it before the deadline this time!
To quote from Final Fantasy XIII: “Plans? Heroes don’t need plans!”
Yes, I will do something new for NaNoWriMo this year. I don’t have a name for it because I don’t know what it will be. I’ll start a new Scrivener project and look at the blank screen and start typing.
Or perhaps I’ll start handwriting, as I do quite well with handwriting recognition on my iPad (credit to WritePad for iPad)—it’s perhaps the best way for me to Just Start Writing. I’ll switch over to my Mac once I’m rolling, but there’s nothing like handwriting for jump-starting ideas.
In any event, my goal is 50,000 new words in November. They may not all be on my new project—I’ll likely keep on working on the interminable Novel In Progress as well.
To get the commitment going, though, I just created that new project on my iPad. See y’all November 1!
Oh no! The PhatWare apps have been removed from the App Store! They still work on iOS 12.0.x, so if you have them you’re good, but they can’t be purchased or downloaded from the App Store any more. 😦 My bad.
That’s right—Shadowed Doorways, the fifth annual NaNo Los Angeles anthology is now available on Amazon.com! My story, “Fire Assurance,” is one of those featured in the blurb:
These stories and twenty-two more comprise our fifth edition of the Los Angeles NaNo Anthology. NaNoWriMo participants across the globe submitted short stories involving elements of darkness and concealment. This year’s diverse collection includes the most powerful and fascinating entries we received.
So open that door and take a step into the shadows beyond. Who knows what might be waiting for you inside?
I’ll make no profit if you should buy the book by clicking here—all proceeds go to support NaNo Los Angeles and National Novel Writing Month, and their literary educational programs.