Of NaNoWriMo, Wizards and a new Novella.

November is going to be busy. In February, I booked four weeks holiday (that is a whole complicated story unto itself). I intend to attend my brother's wedding, try to catch up on garden landscaping and sorting out the edible plants for summer, attend two workshops, Supanova (convention) and a work conference - just to name a few. Most of all, I intend to give my first full-on NaNoWriMo a really good attempt. I look forward to a creative distraction to current stresses.

I attended both NaNoWriMo camps this year - in April and July. Camp is like a mini-NaNoWriMo - you can choose your own project/s and word limit. For my very first camp, I aimed for 10,000 words. I finished with 15,000 words for the month (a record for me).

Doctor Jack's first draft was finished in May - totaling 35,000. My first novella (now with my beta reader). In July I decided I needed complete rewrites on a short story, The Day of the Dirigible and make significant headway on my work-in-progress, The Department of Curiosities. The experience was invigorating. I procrastinated less, I wrote more.

April BLog Posts: Now I have done it! There is no turning back? / Of Deadlines, Short Stories and Novellas / Of Post Camp Progress, Pantsers and Plotters. July Blog Posts: Of Rewrites, Camps and Villians.

November's NaNoWriMo has a new set of rules and will provide a much bigger challenge. Word goal is 50,000 words. I cannot start writing it before the 1st of November. I can outline the plot or characters. In the past, the project had to be a new one. Recent changes appear to allow for continuing with a current WIP, as long as it is new writing and no rehashing of previous work.

As this is way above my personal best word count for one month, I will not be disappointed if I do not make the target.  If I do manage to keep my muse on target, curb my procrastination and manage to make the goal, I will be overjoyed!

Whatever the outcome, I have two options now open to me: to make a start on my second novella, The Wizard of St Pauls or forge ahead with the first draft of The Department of Curiosities.

The Wizard of St Pauls is a story has been mulling around in my head for over a year. It is more gaslamp than steampunk. It is set in the same steampunk world as The Department of Curiosities, with a different agency battling a unique section of society.

On the 1st November, I will know which way the muse takes me. I will keep you posted on my progress and word count, via November's posts.

NaNoWriMo Word count. Total Words- first draft:  

Penultimate Endings and Artistic Adventures

And that is it!  I finished another 500 words yesterday at Writers' Race. 29,543 in total. Finally, the first draft of my novella is done...

Or so I thought.

notebook stessI skimmed quickly through the scenes on Scrivener. My heart sank. Bother! There was a scene and two descriptive paragraphs I had 'penciled' in to 'do later'. I also realised that I had forgotten to add a few paragraphs into the early scenes (on a specific plot point) that tie in later scenes. Without them, things suddenly lob in on the reader with no reference or reason - not in an 'exciting tension building or surprising twist' way but in a 'what the heck are you talking about' way.

This will need to be rectified before I can claim the first draft complete.

I am off for a cup of tea, to rejuvenate my resolve and recover from the (minor) disappointment. That reminds me. This weekend is our  steampunk fundraising event - Teananigans, a belated Biggest (afternoon)Tea for The Cancer Council. You can donate to help them continue with their fight - HERE.

I have been busy making up some Octoarms and have a new item in the range - book brooches - combining two of my favourite things: books and cephalopods.

octoarms brooches 1406octoarm bookmar2k octoarm earrings done

More information on my Portable Art can be found on my website

Managing My Writing: Part 2: Organising Writings

With my inspiration jottings and snapshots all organised, there was another thing to sort out - my actual writing.  That is a more onerous task.  Let me explain.

When I was at school, one of my favourite subjects was English (along with Art and Physics). I was constantly scribbling stories (I even went through the obligatory teenage-angst-poetry phase - no that will never be revealed), doodling pictures and reading anything I could hold of about time, space and astronomy.  I had a bedroom filled with stuff.  I was constantly being asked to tidy up my room. But I knew where everything was. I was happy. I am comfortable around organised clutter.

My creative brain could also be described as creatively cluttered. This influenced my early writing process, which was developed during my senior years in high school. This process still persists to some extent today - for better or for worse.

High School: We would be given an assignment or essay, with usually one to two weeks to complete. For about a week, I would mull it over in my brain. Writing and rewriting it virtually - in my head.

About two days before the essay was due, I would transcribe all the ideas and paragraphs onto actual paper. It was a form of pre-planned  free writing . What ever popped into my head was scribbled down - in what ever order it spewed out.

Back then, I did not own a computer, let alone a word processing programme. I had acess to a communal photocopier, and used a cut and paste regime. (Literally! Ah, the joys of creating student club newsletters. Thank goodness for invisible sticky tape!) Inevitably I would be up into the wee early hours, cutting out each paragraph and sliding the word-covered rectangles around until they were ordered in the appropriate way.

With the bulk of the essay now organised, I had only to write a few sentences (or paragraphs) to allow for smooth segues..  I was often seen, speedily handwriting out the final product, as I sat waiting to go into class - first thing in the morning. I never did miss a deadline. I did get bemused looks from my teacher who patiently tried to instill a less frantic approach to my writing.  (but I did always scored over 90% for my essays. The process worked for me.)

Over the past year I have tried to get some semblance of organisation and better preparation for my stories. I used to be a 100 per cent pantser. This was not an issue when writing short stories.

Now I am writing novella and novel-length stories, this is has been more problematic.  I still free write a lot of my ideas, as discussed in Organising Inspirations, but now I commit them to paper (or computer) as soon as I can. To make this a success, I have salted writing notebooks in several rooms at home, my handbag and by the bed for those dream-induced sparks of inspiration.

I now write information on my characters and try to plan the direction of at least some of my storylines.  So now I am a 70 per cent pantser/ 30 per cent planner. However I was still shuffling around pieces of writing, now using cut and paste on the word processor instead of literally.

In my many readings on writing techniques, I came across a recommendation for Scrivener. I made use of the free trial. It was perfect for my writing mindset. I can set up a virtual cork board and shuffle around scenes to my brain's content - all within the same programme. Hooray! A word processing programme that can accommodate my shuffle method!

Another organisational technique I have developed is to have set aside time specifically for writing. I try to write three to five days a week (as I work part-time for two days at the moment). Times are flexible and vary depending on family and health issues but I always write on Wednesdays and Fridays. I try to write for at least a few hours.

Part of this dedicated writing time, involves Wednesday night Writers' Race, run on Facebook by the Australian Writers Marketplace Online, making this a very productive day for my writing.

With a dedicated computer writing programme, copious notebooks to write down notes - sometimes complete paragraphs and scenes, and dedicated writing schedule I have felt more in control of my writing. I have found I have been more productive over the last year.  And that is what it is all about really - getting that first draft down in some form so I can start on rewrites and edits to give my ideas life.