Strategies for Success in NaNo

Revision as of 17:59, 22 October 2016 by NewMexicoKid (talk | contribs) (Brian's Workshop: Strategy for Success)

Number of attendees

24

Other events

Intro

Forums

  • reference desk - get answers
  • plot doctoring - get plot help
  • NaNo artisans - get covers

Other Events

  • Fountaindale Library, Bolingbrook
  • Regional kick-off Naperville Municipal Center

Online chat room

End of the month

  • Be sure to validate; record your history.
  • Prizes

After NaNo

  • Join the Writing Journey - our year round writing group
  • Monthly meetings January - June and in September
  • Critiquing group
  • Keep writing, get involved in some writing group or critiquing group.

Brian's Workshop: Strategy for Success

  • interactive presentation (mirrored from http://briancable.com/nano/NanoPresentation.html
  • Going into November, you might encounter Resistance
    • Steven Pressfield, "The War of Art" (originally the Writer's Life)
    • Resistance = the force that keeps us from doing what we want to do
    • Resistance is fear. But Resistance is too cunning to show itself naked in this form... So it brings in Raitonalization. Instead of showing us our fear (which might shame us and impel us to do our work), Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn't do our work."
  • What are you worried about?
    • not enough time?
    • ideas aren't good enough?
    • will get stuck?
    • won't stay motivated to finish?
    • specific elements in your novel?
  • Staying motivated
    • "Go on... without me"
    • 2nd and 3rd week you start to slow down and have a hard time to come back
    • 2013 graph for NaNo
    • rewriting a novel, word for word!
  • Things you can do: remind yourself
    • Put a reminder (e.g., in your smartphone) to remind yourself to NaNo every day in November
    • Repeat daily, start on 11/1/2016, after 30 occurrences you're done.
    • once you get started, you can keep going
  • Establish a writing ritual
    • Mihaly Csikzszentmihalyi, Hungarian psychologist and former head of the dept of psychology at the University of Chicago. He wrote the book: Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience
    • The importance of rituals with surgeons. Automatic pilot on mornings before an important operation: focus on the event to be enacted. Habitual behavior lets them devote their undivided attention to the challenge ahead.
    • Special computer for working on personal stuff.
    • Headphones, computer glasses, music play list.
    • Writemonkey (full screen app blanks out the entire screen)
    • Same playlist during NaNo.
  • Daily rituals of writers
    • Gustav Flaubert's Ritual: when writing Madame Bovary
    • Madame Bovary took five years to write
  • What are some rituals that you've done to get into the same mindset
    • Coffee, tea
    • Silence (no music)
    • Open document, stare at it, cry while waiting for inspiration
    • Go back, retype paragraphs (don't have to think, put into a writing mindset)
    • Automatic writing: don't think, let the fingers do the work (stream of consciousness)
    • Prime account on Amazon to look at first pages of popular books, read the first or second sentence or first paragraph to get you in the flow of writing.
    • look at a particularly badly written passage for motivation on what to do better
  • Challenge someone
    • NaNo isn't really a competition, but you can turn it into one ;-)
    • Challenge someone in NaNo
    • Am I winning or am I losing
    • egg the other person on.
    • best way to challenge someone
  • Stay healthy
    • It's easy to not eat well during NaNo, but don't forget you need to sleep, eat the right foods, and stay hydrated
    • When you get stuck on something, you can go to sleep, sit down with a fresh head and solve the problem.
    • Walks are good for creativity.
  • Lose control
    • John Cleese - nearly headless Nick
    • creativity: open mode or closed mode: John Cleese on How to be Creative (658 - 817)
    • closed mode - there's lots to be done, we have to get on with it; slightly anxious mode (anxiety can be exciting); we're impatient with ourselves; tension, not much humor; very purposeful; stressed and a bit mad, but not creative
    • open mode: relaxed, expansive, less purposeful, more contemplative, inclined to humor; more playful. Curiosity can operate (we're not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly). This allows creativity.
    • It's good to be in both of these modes: open mode to generate ideas and make decisions; once decisions are made, switch to closed mode to get those things done.
    • If you start to lose motivation, you have too tight a grip; you might lose the excitement that might come along. I'm more of a pantser; part of the enjoyment is the discovery of how characters might interact in situations. This excitement helps me to get through the writing process. So open things up and get more of an open mode mindset.
    • Humor is the fastest way to get into open mode.
  • Won't have enough time in November - Time to write
    • NaNo takes time; 750 words per hour = 67 hours to be invested. You might think it hard to find this time.
    • The Turkey from Thanksgiving - always a problem
    • Finals
    • Black Friday sales
    • Life in general gets in the way; and then you're too tired to do anything else
  • There's a No in November
    • Limit your commitments; don't fill empty days with events
    • Give your best time to NaNo (a time in the day when you are most refreshed and recharged; e.g., get up earlier to write)
    • Spend time now to save time later (cook meals in bulk, stock up on snacks, clean home before NaNo; slow cooker meals)
    • Remove distractions (consider disabling internet and notifications for apps)
    • Utilize little time pockets
  • Writing apps
    • Evernote
    • vim
  • Markdown
    • simple mark-up to describe formatting of normal text
    • italicizing
    • convert markdown with pandoc
    • markdown editor has split windows and shows formatted version
  • Saving time?
    • schedule the time to go write
    • know the dates that are bad so you can get ahead before or catch up afterwards
    • turn off all push alerts
    • tape your shows and don't watch them
    • if you have children, make the time you spend with them quality time; then if your spouse watches them more, you're spending quality time with them.
    • No Plot, No Problem: take your kid to Borders and let them read in the library while you're in the cafeteria writing
    • Go to Chucky Cheese and let the kids go (and you can write)

Worried will you get stuck?

  • Do something dramatic to your characters
    • You might not be writing the interesting parts, so amp up the drama. Having something bad happen to your characters and see how they respond.
    • Check the daily news; and they are writing stories for people to read.
    • E.g., http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org
      • focuses more on people and stories rather than world events
      • reverse the stories to get the bad news
  • Write your surroundings--observe everything that happens
  • Think of stories from your childhood (cargo net falls on unsuspecting children)
  • Explain your problems out loud -- even if you talk to yourself, it can help you solve your problems
    • triggers your problem solving in your own head
    • have yourself a writing scarecrow for a partner
  • Stream of consciousness
    • typing out thoughts, explaining characters directly, wording things out on paper; count these words as NaNo words
    • can be roughly around the story but it triggers in my mind ideas for how to proceed
    • you can use this to win word wars
  • Walks, drives and showers
    • Go for a walk, especially in nature; go for a long drive, take a long, warm shower (Eureka moments)
    • Do two at once
    • Leave the radio off when driving; this helps you with ideas
    • subreddit: http://reddit.com/r/showerthoughts)
    • Scientific research: Stanford study revealed a person's creataive output was boosted by an average of 60% while walking!

Ideas aren't good enough

  • Prepare by using the Snowflake method
    • start with a single sentence or idea
    • build a paragraph summary of your plot
    • make character summaries
      • summary
      • goal
      • obstacles
      • epiphany
      • synopsis of character story line
    • expand paragraph summary to a page
    • expand that into a 4 page synopsis
    • scenes -> chapters
  • Five bullet points about your novel
    • Four bullet points under each of those; 2 scenes under each of those: 40 items to write about in November
  • Mindmaps can be helpful
    • Mindmapper
    • XMind
  • Discuss with others
    • Everyone has a different POV
    • Can build off of each other's ideas
    • Might point out something you're not aware of
    • Can take advantage of other's experiences

Exercise: On the shoulder's of giants

  • Groups of 6-7 people, take the shoulders of giants worksheet, write an idea on the giant at the bottom, pass the paper to the next person; they pick one of the giants above your idea to improve on something below it
  • E.g., a character or personality or plot point in your novel
  • Human leg bone is found at a dog park
    • dog witnessed who left it there
    • bone is partially eaten away by lye (has a fragment of cloth)
    • told by the dog (dog stories are in); owner is a detective
    • maybe just a mutt from the pound
    • maybe the dog picks up the scent of the murderer and brings the bone to him/her
  • He was tall, thin and clueless. He could bend spoons by just looking at them; but the spoons took on life and became dangerous.
  • Amnesia, doesn't have friends; mental facility. Creates an alternate personality to help her out. Assumes the role of an intern who can't remember names. Hums to themselves to cover up embarrassing moments of losing memory
  • Running away to begin a new life
    • wherever you go, there you are
    • contrast old environment to new
    • remember who you are, find purpose in the environment
    • travel and find a new place to call home
    • journal daily, practice yoga
    • if that's all that's out there, I'll stay here
  • Alex, splitting image of my dead uncle
    • uncle died of suspicious circumstances
    • probably murdered
    • uncle murdered to give Alex a host body
    • dangerous side effect: I don't know who he is anymore
  • Game: Telestrations
    • write a word; they have to draw it; next person only sees the drawing
  • Another technique to stimulate creative voice
    • I make music
    • When I don't plan what is coming out of me: raw, unfiltered feeling
  • Any other hobby could go together with writing
    • I work on designs for different card games and video games
    • I often draw from both spheres

Specific novel input?

  • Procedure of when a police officer responds to a call: what do they say when they arrive?
    • One person has contacts who can help answer this (used to be 911 operator).
    • Reference desk
    • Non-emergency number at the police station
  • Auto-biographical novel = memoir
  • Best way to murder someone
    • has to be specific to the situation
    • Katherine (squiddish) studies serial killers
  • What is the best way to work in the world building? I have a ton of lore but no way to work it in.
    • Have it seep out. Interacting with people.
    • Find a character who is new to the place and have them be helped by someone there a long time.
    • Avoid info dumps.
    • Character obviously knows what should be go on; they shouldn't be asking those questions.
    • Depending on the kind of world, it can be fun to intersperse between chapters excerpts from some sort of lore.
  • Three different worlds in my novel: old west, present day, fantasy world
    • fantasy world in third person past tense
    • other worlds will be with different narrators in first person (one way to separate that)
    • connection between all three worlds
    • Comment: Like the back to the future series
  • Character flaws: how to come up with neat ones to make them endearing but don't turn off the reader?
    • Mute that a bit; put enough in there so they know what it is about. Make it a flaw people can relate to.
    • Or have an unlikeable main character (like Gone Girl or Girl on the Train)
    • Flaws and difficulties (e.g., as comes from a stutter). A character flaw I could understand in people that I love; then I know how to make it lovable.
    • Harry Potter: Snape is extremely unlikeable, but there are insights you can get into his character.
  • Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay (sp?) - why we allow unlikeable male characters; but a..hole female characters aren't compelling?
  • Introduce the character with likeable traits first and then have the flaw revealed (after the reader has engaged with them).
  • Show the character strengths, where the characters are strong. Have them build themselves.
  • William Faulkner: Sound and the Fury. One of the characters is severely mentally handicapped; one of the POV is from that character. But you can see the events also from other characters POV (multiple perspectives)
  • Man called Ove - crusty, unlikeable person character, all through his eyes
  • Grand Torrino movie (Clint Eastwood) - racist old man but you see his humanity
  • A person can love an evil character who redeems themselves.
    • Act of redemption is their death
  • Youtube suggestion: The Five Whys (sitcom between a little girl and her father)
  • Yes, and (rule for improv)
    • Really good for writers