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Finished NaNoWriMo!

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This afternoon, on the train home, I finally finished NaNoWriMo with 50,215 words in the proverbial bank. I can’t say doing this has been easy, especially with everything that’s been going on in my life, and the novel is not quite complete, but I feel like I’ve made a breakthrough – I set myself a tough, but achievable goal and delivered with a bit of time to spare.

This month, I have learned that while it is certainly possible to write a novel on your phone, I wouldn’t recommend it. My sore thumb joints are starting to make me worry that I’ve inflicted a texting-induced repetitive strain injury, so much so that I’ve changed my entire texting posture and technique. As a man who has played a lot of video games, this is a first and a concerning development.

I also have to be thankful that I live in the age of smartphones. I wrote this novel on what is essentially a handheld computer that I carry in my pocket. This computer then automatically uploads my work to a cloud-based storage service that I can access from any number of other devices where I can resume my work seamlessly wherever I happen to be. I’m not certain this would have been possible five years ago. Ten is completely out of the question.

A generation ago, writing was the preserve of people with lots of time on their hands, people who hung out in coffee shops and bars, with a typewriter banging out what they were sure would be a hit. The rest of us, those who couldn’t afford to not go to work, nor be bothered with the hassle of carrying a typewriter everywhere or had the demands of life constantly on our cases? We were out. Writing wasn’t for us.

Thank you, technology. Thank you so much.

I also need to be thankful to my beautiful wife, whose indulgence in my hobby made it possible, and my very cute infant son, who provided the inspiration I needed to even begin such a colossal project. They are the reason I even get up and get myself dressed in the morning.

To those of you attempting NaNoWriMo, or perhaps failing at it, I say don’t give up. Whether or not you finish the challenge isn’t the point. It’s about getting out there and starting something amazing, even if you and your loved ones are the only people who ever read it.

If you want to get better at writing, the only way to do that is through practice, learning what works and what doesn’t. Writing something big, complex and too big to succeed? Think of it as a learning ground. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Some of the best stuff I’ve ever written felt like garbage at the time.

Next week, we’ll (hopefully) resume our regular programming. Please look forward to it.

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NaNoWriMo and Dealing with Life

It is day 15 of NaNoWriMo and I find myself having written just shy of 27,000 words.

NaNoWriMo is an exercise in discipline and planning, about making time for the hardest part of writing – the mechanical placing of words on the page.

Ideas are easy. If you get yourself in the right frame of mind, they can bubble up from inside you spontaneously. The trouble is that the majority of ideas you have won’t work in their raw form. No. They need to be beaten and shaped into something that makes sense, pinned to the board of causality, common sense or narrative rhythm.

That’s the trouble I’ve always had as an amateur. I think much faster than I can write, but I don’t do so in a very linear way, so when it comes time to write, I have to slow down and organise my thoughts. It’s the very basis of communication, but I find it frustrating.

I find if I’m on a roll, I can push out the daily quota without too much disruption to my daily schedule. On days when I can’t think what to write or how to fix something I have written, however, it can be a nightmare of unproductive hours spent staring at a screen.

To remedy this, I’ve taken a bit of advice that I found useful. When the story is going nowhere, have ninjas attack!

Categories: Admin Tags: , , ,

Progress on NaNoWriMo

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It’s day six and I still haven’t given up the challenge. I am at Chapter 13 (of 30) and have added 13,778 words to my project since the 1st of November.

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Another Note on Programming

So I signed up for NaNoWriMo again. This combined with fatherhood, what looks to be a busy month at work and making every attempt to get some exercise, it looks as though blogging may go by the wayside.

In case you’re not aware, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a collective challenge amateur (and professional) writers go through in November, the aim being to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, which sounds nuts until you realise it can be achieved by writing (on average) about 1667 words per day.

I did it last year and completed the challenge, writing the first draft of a story I hope one day to read to my son. I’m currently working on the second draft, and, thanks to the massively expanded scope I had planned, it will absorb an extra 50,000 words easily.

To be frank, this isn’t strictly speaking with the intent of the exercise, which aims at a brand new project, but I really do want to finish this thing.

If you’ve ever had the notion that you have a novel in you bursting to get out, I highly recommend you visit http://www.nanowrimo.org and sign up. The sense of satisfaction you get when you complete the challenge is amazing and, who knows, maybe you’ll produce the next The Great Gatsby (which, coincidentally, runs at just under 50,000 words).

Anyway, what I’ll try to do this November is to keep you updated (at the very least) on my progress.

Categories: Admin Tags: , , , ,

An Not-So-Brief Note On Programming

It has now been almost a year since I last properly updated this blog. Unfortunately, this is what happens to me when I try to take on extra projects that require real commitment – real life comes along and knocks the proverbial pen right out of my hand.

It may interest you to know that in the time since my last update, I have taken on the challenges of fatherhood and all the changes to daily life that this entails.

Being a parent negatively impacts upon your lifestyle, your health, your finances and your sanity in nearly every metric I can think of, and at the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Never have I felt the sense of satisfaction with my life that I do now and can’t even imagine ever going back. Everything ai did up until now seems so aimless, so trivial. For those of you so inclined, kids are worth losing a bit of sleep over.

All that said, I still haven’t addressed the problem of my failing to provide my readers with any new content!

Part of the problem has been that I start writing posts that I abandon halfway through because:

1) The subject is too big and what was meant to be a short, simple, food-for-thought item turns into a 3000 word monster without my realising it

2) I’m not happy with what I have written, either because it’s too short or not well enough written

The irony of my failure to publish anything is that I actually do write a lot of stuff, but it’s all in forum posts where I’m crossing swords with someone I either disagree with or am trying to educate. If only I could take the energy and moxie that drives me to bust out this sort of prolixity on forums and channel it into my blog.

Then the answer hit me.

Why not just blog forum posts I’m particularly proud of?

The best part of this plan is that I’m able to use these online conversations as stimulus and inspiration, which is another hurdle I run into.

If you post on NeoGAF and are familiar with my posts there, I do apologise. Original stuff will come, just a bit later.

Categories: Admin, Parenting Tags: , ,