Tag Archives: Time Management

To NaNo or Not to NaNo, That is the Question

croppedquinceOctober again. And, a lot of my writing friends are talking about NaNo. And no, we’re not talking about Mork and Mindy. NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo which is short for National Novel Writing Month. If you’ve never heard of this, you really ought to check it out. Click this for a link to the official NaNo website.

You might be looking at the photo to the left and wondering why a post about NaNoWriMo is illustrated with four lovely quince. I don’t have just four. It’s more like FOUR HUNDRED quince. It feels like it at least. They are here to illustrate that I have many things I need and want to do, quince being the most sweet-smelling of them, that compete with my writing time.

My quince trees always ripen in October. This year it’s a little earlier than usual. I’ve already put up three batches of jelly, poached a few, and made membrillo. I’ve given some to others who appreciate their subtle charm and beauty, and I have plans for the rest. But, these plans take time. You can’t just toss them in the freezer in a baggy to wait for a more opportune moment. The fuzz must be washed off, the ends trimmed and the fruit cooked, peeled, chopped or whatever. I’m shredding some for more quince liquor (a tasty hit for my drinking friends.) I’m going to pressure can some for savory uses throughout the year. My canner can only handle so many jars at a time, my hands can only peel or cut so many of these hard gems a day.

The ever-present question of time management and whether I can juggle everything going on while doing a NaNo project. Nearly 2,000 words a day don’t appear on the screen without some thoughtful planning. And that has to include things like quince, laundry, cooking, parenting, being married, etc. I’m also taking a night class every Tuesday that requires preparation. While it is a writing class, its focus is on editing and refining. I am supposed to be editing and re-writing. I fill my writing time with criticism and doubt over every word choice and plot twist. And minutiae like a character’s hair and eye color shifting from one chapter to another. Tracking and changing all of that is hard, time-consuming, and sometimes boring. I am not loving editing my own work.

NaNo is all about the abandonment of self-criticism, the free-form crazed writing that gets done at break-neck speed with little regard to punctuation or repetition. No editing, no re-reading, just writing and getting that first crappy draft out there. It’s a completely different process than editing a rough into something more polished.

NaNo is a distraction from that hard work I am doing on a novel whose arc is known and familiar. It’s filled with the unknown and the process of meeting new characters, new plot twists and new ideas. New words. Fun.

To NaNo or not to NaNo….



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Wow…not sure how THAT happened…..

Time FliesReally?: I haven’t put up a blog since November?

I looked at the last blog post I made and just realized how long it has been since I’ve actually blogged. I chose the word actually here with purpose and not out of the lazy use of one of those pesky “ly” words. I use it because I have been doing a lot more blogging in my head than in reality. Before you think I am a nut case, just consider the fact that I do what’s called “pre-writing” all the time. I think through scenes, dialogue, and all manner of writing while I am doing other things–like taking a shower, driving,washing dishes, or folding laundry. I plot and think through character and structure all without computer or pen at hand.

Sometimes, all that mental work gets transformed into written form, and sometimes it doesn’t. For example, last week, a friend posted a poignant quote by Joyce Carol Oates on Facebook. I saw it while I was working out and thought about it while I showered intending to blog about my reaction. It was a pretty emotional post, and I decided that I would get all sentimental and teary when what I really needed to do was work on the $*(#@*$&?; taxes. I skipped the blogging for something more practical and timely. Replace taxes with holidays, birthdays, traveling and kid related activities and blogging has gotten smooshed right out of my schedule.

I have about half a dozen posts “in mind” about food–no surprise there–and just haven’t gotten around to getting them written up. I have pictures and everything, but when I sit at the computer, I see the little Scrivener icon at the bottom of my screen and it calls to me. (Scrivener is the writing program I am using these days.)

This is all to say, I have been prioritizing my writing more than in the past. Last fall I started the UW’s Popular Fiction certification course. People who know me ask me about the other certification course in Literary fiction I took a few years ago (seven!) and why I am taking another. It turns out that the creation of a novel is more complex than simply telling a story. I’m good at the story telling part–and I have short fiction pretty much figured out. All of the erotic works I have sold have been in the short fiction category. (Two more this year, BTW.) But novels? Dang it. They are tricky things. This course is focused on the novel form.

The class meets once a week for three hours in the evening. We write in class each week–between one and three scenes. I go home and expand on and edit those scenes during the week, making one of them decent enough for the teacher to review. As the book begins to take shape, I am finding myself more and more involved with just the one project– especially when it comes to sitting down and actually writing.

(c) Can Stock Photo

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