Many of you know that I'm a great believer in journaling, specifically as described by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way. (Everyone should at least read the book, in my not so humble opinion.) It has certainly helped me through plenty of stuff through the years.
If you attend the weekly chats, or read the logs later, you'll notice that Dave and I spend a lot of electrons cajoling each other to write more, write more regularly. For writing to be effective long term, I'm convinced it has to be a habit, not a sporadic activity. I'm sure there's someone out there who can dash off a novel over a weekend and have it sold to a publisher by Monday afternoon, but that person is not me. If I knock myself out, I can win at NaNoWriMo, but that still leaves me with an unfinished project.
Being without internet (or power, for that matter) makes you think differently. I'd been waffling about whether to do nanowrimo this year, and had nearly convinced myself out of it. But writing is one of those things you don't need a computer to do, and I have nearly a lifetime supply of paper and pens--as well as a story I've been noodling for a few weeks.
Last year, I wisely decided that I had too much going on to consider another round of NaNoWriMo. Well, this year it looks like that wisdom was short lived because I attended a 'No Plot No Problem!' workshop last Wednesday at my local Borders. And even though we didn't do any of the proscribed exercises--there were about a dozen of us creating an outrageous racket in the otherwise library-like atmosphere--it was a blast. I sincerely hope that we supported the coffee shop and book sales sufficiently for the ruckus.
For every interested person that signs up for our site, I get a dozen or more junk registrations. You know the type. The meds, the enhancements, the playmates, the software (fully functioning, of course), xyzzy, all so unimaginative. Such a time burner. I'd rather be writing stories (or at least critiquing them) than wading through the week's spam registrations.
It's November, and I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. It feels a little strange, but I think I'll get used to it. For the past four years, I've attempted this challenge, made it once, came close, more or less, another time. Realistically, this is just not a good year for me to be taking on this crazy challenge. Between work and other projects that simply must get done, social obligations and the rest, I keep telling myself that I am being realistic. I can always try this during a more sane month of the year.
OK, I'm nuts. I'm crazy as a loon. I'm a fool.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo again this year.
I figured that it would help spur me to finishing up some writing projects. The hand of Fate twists strangely. I was set up to finish the novel (working title: Wasted Journeys, a space opera) that I haven't been able to complete for the past two years... only 4 chapters so far, but I have lots of notes, chapter details, etc. to make the writing go fast. But that's not what I decided to do.
I attended my second National Writers Workshop this past weekend. Once again, it was well worth the $105. One downside was that because it moved from East Hartford to Hartford, Connecticut, parking was not free. One upside related to the move to downtown Hartford was many more restaurants within walking distance of the hotel.
Overall, I thought the content was a bit better this year. Yes, there were a couple of presentations that I felt needing polishing/more content, but what conference has 100% uber-polished speakers? I also like the fact that while this is a conference that is advertised as being 50% journalism content and 50% writing content, this year, the balance did seem to be close to the mark. Backed by the Hartford Courant newspaper and the Poynter Instute, attended by journalists up and down the east coast, it's no wonder that the event caters heavily to what they like to call 'public journalism'.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I haven't submitted a manuscript in ages. So long, in fact, that I can't even remember when. I've been writing, but never finishing anything. So this is my year to complete work and get it on the market. My goal is 50 submissions. Do I have that many stories ready to go out? Not at all. I might have half a dozen, though, that I feel comfortable polishing for publication. Beyond that, dozens and dozens of ideas crying to be written into stories. So I'm not worried about my lack of material. I do have to get going, though. It's February and all I've done is polish up one story.
I went to a NP?NP! get-together this evening with the Northern Connecticut NaNoWriMo regional group. It was the first time that I every actually caught up with fellow NaNo folks at an in-person meeting and it was definately worth it. In spite of navigational issues, about a dozen writers crowded around a cluster of tiny tables in the Manchester Barns and Noble bookstore.
NP?NP! stands for No Plot? No Problem!, the book by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month). Meeting at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore was a natural location for a quick NP?NP! exercise: We were each given 2 minutes to walk through the bookstore and pick up two or three books that were of interest to us. Then, we had about 5 minutes to come up with a character using one of our selected books, and a situation using the remaining book(. Next, we had to title our work and identify the genre. Finally, we had to count the number of words written for the exercise. That was stage 1. For stage two, we handed our books to the second person on our left and repeated the exercise, but with the constraint of doing it in half the number of words used in the first stage. For stage three, we were to write the plot synopsis for our favorite book, again trying to reduce the word count by half. After the exercise, we each shared the results of the exercise and looked for similarities in each of the three segments (a key to finding your voice in your writing). If there is a way to translate this into a chatroom event, I think it might be fun.