Writer's block, an owner's guide: Write Here, Right Now 2008
BBC Radio Scotland are doing it again! The idea of Write Here, Right Now is to write 28,000 words – or 29,000 this year – in a month (guess which!). This year’s event has a crime theme, and there are daily emails of tips on that. If you want ‘em, don’t delay – go for it, anything that might help anyone get writing and might even help them write 29 kilowords is worth a try.
“Enjoy the experience. If you get it right the book will sing and everyone will love it.”
- writer Mike Ashley, in one of those emails.
Published on February 2, 2008 at 3:35 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/write-here-right-now-2008.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: NaNoWriMo: year 3
For the last two years I’ve used National Novel Writing Month as a chance to learn about how writers are motivated to be productive. 143 NaNos volunteered to answer questions during the month, and I gathered some interesting new information.
This year I’m there again. This project will be the simplest of the three. If you’re a NaNo this year, please think about being part of it. I’ll only ask you to do one thing: fill out two questionnaires in the next couple of days. At the end of November I will download your final wordcount from the NaNoWriMo server. And that’s it. Nothing is hidden from you and everyone is doing the same thing.
What I’m trying to find out is what work habits are associated with successful writing. Part of the deal is that I will let you know what I learn. I’m also taking this chance to expand my collection of reversal theory profiles.
This project is the sixth (I think) in a series of studies of the psychology of writing under the auspices of Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, San Francisco.
If you are over 18 and you’d like to be part of this, please go here and do it right now. Thanks!
Published on November 3, 2007 at 8:56 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/nanowrimo-year-3.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: The three day novel, the one month screenplay
I’m clearing up a couple of things from the to-do list today (and I know that to-do lists are an outdated notion, but setting up a more modern system is something that’s still on my to-do list):
The good people over at NaNoWriMo now bring us Script Frenzy. Write a screenplay in a month. It starts Friday. Go for it! (you’re on your own – under union rules I have to be all professional and serious and, you know, tormented about my next screenplay).
And the time gets shorter and shorter. Three day novels, already. I’ve mentioned the ABD Survival Guide before, and now I want to tell you that it recently featured Victoria McGovern’s advice on 3 day novels, 2 week dissertations and more. Ben doesn’t archive his newsletters immediately and at the time of my writing this, the advice is not available on the website. It probably will be in a week or two. Keep looking.
Published on May 30, 2007 at 8:19 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/the-three-day-novel.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: 40 days this time
How odd. How totally odd.
Small world, isn’t it.
One of my most distinguished mentors drew my attention to this opportunity to be supported in writing a first draft in forty days.
I looked. And it turned out the opportunity is offered by the first two people I ever met in California, when I visited the Bay Area with a mutual acquaintance in 1998, and ended up dossing on one of their floors for a couple of nights while having a post-divorce-settlement breakdown. Two kind funny creative people I have never spoken to since then, just because that’s how life goes sometimes. One sunny morning in Berkeley they introduced me to the pancake breakfast, which is still one of my ten top reasons for living in California.
Ah, happy days. Anyway – small world, huh? Go take their class. I recommend it totally, while knowing nothing at all about it. Buy their eggs, too.
Published on January 19, 2007 at 9:52 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/40-days-this-time.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: A bike with no brakes and no gears
In honor of NaNoWriMo there is a series of interesting / useful interviews with authors, about “the essence of noveling: how they write, how they overcome writer’s block and their best written sentence” over on NPR’s website.
I’m indebted to the web site of something called the National Book Critics Circle for this information.
Published on November 13, 2006 at 11:43 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/a-bike-with-no-brakes-and-no-gears.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: More NaNoEvents
I’d like to share with you Wikipedia’s list of fourteen spinoff events from NaNoWriMo. I’d copy the whole thing over here but it is someone else’s property (not sure whose) and anyway if you made it this far you can click once more. Go on, I believe in you. And then come back. In fact, I’ll make it a link that opens in a new window, that’ll help you to come back.
Published on November 7, 2006 at 12:16 am. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/more-nanoevents.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Scene a day
Don’t think I can do NaNo this year. I have six writing projects on the go right now including a non-fiction book that I promised to edit and haven’t begun, and I’m doing contract research on top of my own research that I told you about. Oh, and I’m running my business. And I have a huge new work commitment coming up in the second half of the month.
I’d like to do NaNo, and I’m almost inspired to do it by the people who tell me they wrote 15,000 words on day one. But I don’t think I can do it this year.
Moving right along, here’s yet another speed writing idea that I like. I’m not even sure if it counts as speedwriting or if it’s just applying butt to chair and doing what it takes. Anyway, here it is: the Scene a Day club. If I still wanted to be a screenwriter (that’s so last century – belongs to when I didn’t work among movie people every day, and when I didn’t have a job I loved) I’d be interested in making “a scene a day” a rule. Probably a good way to write a novel, too.
Published on November 2, 2006 at 11:25 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/scene-a-day.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: NaBloPoMo
For those who don’t have the time or whatever else you think it takes to spend November writing a novel, there’s also National Blog Posting Month. I admit I’m tempted. I want to do NaNoWriMo again, AND as usual I have many other commitments including my second research project into the experience of NaNo participants. But I’m tempted. Definitely can’t do both. Hmmm. Suggestions?
Published on October 31, 2006 at 2:06 am. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/noblopomo.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: Today I Wresearch
Last year, as reported here, I used National Novel Writing Month as an opportunity to meet tens of thousands of creative writers and to recruit a few dozen of them as research volunteers. It seemed to benefit their productivity, and it certainly benefited mine. I answered the research questions I had, including getting some surprises, and learned some other stuff too.
I’m doing it again, mostly digging deeper into one of the interesting things I discovered last time. If you’re thinking about taking part in NaNoWriMo, think also about signing up with me on this page. If you’re not, consider it. Of course you can’t write a novel in a month. But you can write a first draft.
Consider: if the draft is crap, first drafts almost always are. It’s part of the process. Some researchers recommend a deliberate two-step process: first write out all the things you want to say, without any regard for literary merit, and then go back and edit. They are two different mental processes, and trying to combine them may be one cause of blocking.
Consider also: if you don’t have an outline of your novel yet, you can still start. Saying you can’t is just a rule you made up for yourself, and you have the right to change that. Other researchers have pointed out that writers have more fun when they’re totally creating than when they’re following an outline. And exploring and having fun must be good for your productivity, mustn’t they?
Published on October 17, 2006 at 8:58 am. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/today-i-wresearch.html
Writer's block, an owner's guide: The Great Scottish Novel
A while back I told you about the study I made, in November, of 96 writers taking part in National Novel Writing Month 2005. I was interested in how they were motivated from day to day. I learned some interesting things that I’m still thinking about. Now may I tell you about the other research project I was running at the same time?
In this second project I took part in NaNoWriMo personally and I kept a journal of my own experience. Here’s how that went.
During the month, I wrote using my laptop computer in different parts of my home, at coffee shops, and at other locations. Usually I would open both the “novel” and “journal” files on the computer at the start of a writing session, and make journal entries as they occurred to me as well as at the start and finish.
After Novbember I left the journal on one side for a month. After that time most of it was unfamiliar. There were passages whose meaning I didn’t know.
I worked with the journal over the next five months, reading through it a total of seven or eight times, and I ended up with a chart of information from my day-by-day experiences.
Just a few of the things I learned from this:
1. I learned the value of freewriting and speedwrtiting. I generated many thousands of words by letting them flow more freely than I usually would. There were days when I typed 1,800 words in an hour, and I found that the writing was no worse than usual.
But sometimes the novel would stall because characters were talking around things without taking decisive action and without me making the effort to introduce stimulating plot developments. On Day 15 I wrote in my journal “it’s been a while since anything ever happened, so the responsibility is coming off them and going back on to me where it belongs”, after which I “tightened the screws a little”.
On the other hand some story events welled up from my subconscious that I wouldn’t have created if I’d been trying. Characterization also happened by itself as the story developed.
Losses of productivity
I repeatedly reduced my efforts just as things were going well. That was a pattern I’d corrected in other areas of my life but hadn’t noticed in my writing. So that was useful. For example on Days 12 thru 17 the journal shows me surprising myself again and again with my great productivity. Then on Days 18 and 19 I wrote nothing at all, and left myself thousands of words behind overall. On Day 20 I realized I was impossibly far behind with my novel, and I decided I had to change plan and treat the journal as part of the novel when I counted my productivity for the month.
Unproductive days; Quality of writing
Over the final five or six days of the month, I was taking less interest in the quality of my writing, and I noticed that this actually improved the quality. I also noticed that there were quite a few days when I did not write much but I felt good about it. I guess I have a tendency to rate quality above quantity even when working against the clock. I’m glad to have this information on matters of quality, because my other research didn’t address those at all.
Published on May 26, 2006 at 11:05 pm. Linking to this article? Thank you! The permanent address is http://www.todayiwrite.com/journal/the-great-scottish-novel.htmlNext Page »