Alyss’s NaNoWriMo Tip 2: Go at your own pace.

Yesterday I spoke about finding your pace and sticking to it, and today I would like to elaborate on that idea. We’ve had a crazy amount of wild stats in my country this year. Port Elizabeth Region is currently sitting at number one with it’s average number of words per person, my region’s at number 6. We’ve had a whole bunch of people shoot out from the rest, putting up word counts three/four times more than they should have (yours truly shamefully included). Its impressive, and it can be intimidating.

I’ve noticed that some of the people have been comparing themselves to these over achievers and feeling terribly inadequate about their (on target) word counts that they have been posting. I would like to tell you now that there’s no need for that.

Like I’ve said before, we all have our own pace. Some of us can comfortably write 10k words a day where as others are comfortable to push for 1700 words per say. The thing is that we all have different experience and different skills My saving grace for instance is that I can type very quickly with all ten fingers. Some people write by hand, and that takes a very long time. Naturally, I’m going to be able to go quicker than the person writing his/her book in ink. It makes my effort no more greater than theirs and my word count no more superior. What’s more, some of us (like myself) write whether it’s NaNoWriMo or not. It makes us more comfortable with writing and juggling our characters where as those who do this only once a year needs a little bit more practice and rhythm to get back into the swing of things.

The thing is that (biggest cliché in the world to be stated right now) we are all unique and we have unique goals.

Mine at this stage is to try and oblivirate Port Elizabeth’s average word count, but (lol) that’s personal. 😉

Stay by your own goals and don’t be intimidated by others. Remember you have to do this at your own pace, otherwise you will burn yourself out and then you’ll be of no use to anybody. J

Happy Writing people.


Alyss’s NaNoWriMo 2010 Tip 1

Is to pace yourself.

We had a massive word sprint in our country these past four days. A lot of people shot up to between 15 thousand and 20 thousand words within the first 3 days. Yours truly did almost 25 thousand which is exactly halfway with the set goal of 50 thousand words. The average word scores were amazing for the regions. One of our regions for instance is currently standing at number 2 for average word score per person and yours truly’s region is number 6.

In The World.

That’s amazing.

I found myself thinking about this as I tried to push myself last night to try and reach 25 thousand words. I couldn’t imagine that all of us would be able to keep up the pace because I realized quite suddenly that I wasn’t going to. I had done the one thing I had told myself in the beginning I shouldn’t do and that was out write myself. It hadn’t been hard or at all planned or hard. I had very good dialogue, very good characters and, when I started reading the Forum and Personal Message comments on my word count, I had the motivation to push myself as hard as I could.

It was with this frame of mind that I tried desperately to touch the 25k mark at 9pm last night. I hadn’t done a lot of writing (in comparison to my other days) because I had actually had to work for a bit and I had spend some much appreciated and much needed time with my Other Half. I also had to plan for a crazy business trip that my collegue and I went to in our Mpumalanga Province (Alyss is here right now) and get into bed at a reasonable time that would allow me to get up at 4:15am so that I could fall into the road.

The pressure was up and… I folded.

Just shy of 24k words, I sat back and realized that it was not the end of the world if I didn’t reach my goal for the day. It would’ve been cool and impressive and it would’ve given the other Wrimo’s in my country something to chew on, but I realized quite suddenly that it wasn’t really what NaNoWriMo was about for me. Some considered it their goal to reach 50k words, others set their own goals and worked with them. I knew that I’d be able to reach 50k easily (I did 58k in 21 days last year) but what I wanted to do was to be consident. To write a certain amount each day despite my hectic work schedule and stick to it (also giving myself sufficient space to take a days off to spend with my horse and Other Half without being too jittery about my lagging word count).

In other words, I wanted to be consistent and I wanted to pace myself.

Which I haven’t been doing and when I realized this, I found myself pushing my computer back, staring at my scene (which had been struggling actually) and thinking: It’s alright, I can relax. Tomorrow will be another day. And if it isn’t, then there will be the day after or the day after.

So, I suspect I’m going to fix my pace a little bit. Settle into the long distance rhythm as opposed to the flash sprint and see how far I can take this for as long as I can take this.

I have to say though – this is truly all I had hoped it would be. I am once again, having the time of my life. 😉

What about you?

Sacrifice Quality

Quantity will follow.

It’s Day 3 of NaNoWriMo.
And, when I say that I find myself staring at the three with a touch of disbelief. This time of the race last year, I was still happily ignorant, wondering what on earth I was going to do to make November pass quicker. This month, I’m already standing at 18,000 words (as of this morning, it’s bound to change later…).
I’m not quite sure what happened.
My plot, my characters and my fingers ran away from me and on the very first day of NaNo, I already produced 10,000 words. To give you guys an indication, my average words per day normally ranges between 2000 and 3000 words. On good days, I’ll cough up 5000. And then I’m pretty chuffed with myself.
To write 10,000? Mind blowing.

I’m doing a couple of things different this year, which I suspects ads to the massive amount of words streaming into my statistics.
In true NaNoWriMo style, I’ve sacrificed quality firstly. I’m adding in bits of long monologues and descriptions to muscle up my plot and my characters would relapse into brief arguments. Not lengthy in themselves but, if you add it all up, I gain about 3000 words.
I’m also not too worried about editing this strangely. Last year I was still posting the chapters which I was working on at my other site and I knew that it would be negative if I just put a whole bunch of space fillers into my chapters. This year I decided to largely keep my novel to myself and first see where I could take the plot before I decided to share it.
I’m also cheating a little, and working on another story, adding those words to my word count. Instead of writing one novel, I write two so, when I struggle in one, I fall into the other for a quick refresher course. This also gives me time to plot on the other one.
And, this year – I have a very basic plot line. I have few characters, which gives me space to introduce new ones (a tactic I learned from a fellow NaNoWriMo Stilldormant) and liven up the conversation when my two characters starts to loose their tongues.

So, things are going well. I know in my heart of hearts that I won’t be able to keep up this pace, that I’m going to sprain my muse’s proverbial ankle. But, like the first racehorses in a race that takes the lead (only to fall back later to the better runners) I’m enjoying my time ahead.
I can hear the others pounding at my heels, but I have to say – I won’t mind if they pass me. Because honestly? The South African Wrimos are doing SO well, that I can’t help but feel proud of their achievements!
Espesually, I have to add, my region. I am a new Municipal Liason, in a new region with a whole bunch of new writers and they are truly exceeding my expectations!
It’s a great feeling.

Understand your Rhythm.

Some of us are werewolves, some of us are vampires, some of us are pixies and some of us are zombies…

What I mean by this is that we’re not the cast for the next teen book sensation, no – we all are active at different times and it effects how we write.

Some of us can only writing during full moon, others only at night. Some like to get up early in the morning for it and others can write through the whole day because they never sleep. It’s what makes us unique and efficient.

I think it’s very important to understand when you like to write the most. Some of us are so conditioned to write during a specific time that sitting down to be creative at any other time will automatically result in procrastination. Some of us are a little bit luckier, able to write on the run where ever and whenever there’s time to yank out a notebook. It’s pretty much an each to his/her own concept and it’s interesting to note that nobody writes at quite the same pace, in exactly the same fashion.

I used to love writing in the evenings. I needed the quiet of the dark to wrap itself around me in order for my creativity to flow. Sleep has never been one of my strong points and I preferred sitting at my desk (then still writing everything out by hand) much more than I preferred lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. I could jot down a word or two during class or when I had a spare moment, but really – my time was best used between 10pm and 4am at night.
In recent years, I’m surprised to note that my window period has shifted. Although I still love writing at night, (especially in the summer when it’s cooler than the scorching hot days) I have to be honest and say that I am more efficient in the mornings. The problem, or rather changing factor (because there’s nothing wrong with writing in the mornings) came when I had to start working very hard physically at my various jobs. I used to come home exhausted and then, writing felt too much like work. I found it easier to concentrate after I’ve slept as much as I could and look at my characters and worlds from a fresh perspective. What’s more, I realized that I’m a little bit more efficient when I’m working against the clock, when I know that I only have an hour or two to spare (sometimes only half an hour) and I have to make the most of it.

How does this apply to you?

With NaNoWriMo around the corner, thousands (millions perhaps this year?) of people will be sitting down to do some crunch writing, to type out as many words as they can for November. As one of them, I know the worth in finding time to write – trying to squeeze it into a very busy day where it has to compete with work and my private life. It’s therefor logical that I use the time that I have to its optimum. And, I know when I’m dealing with a ‘lost cause’ time, where I might as well get up and do something constructive as oppose to stare at the computer for ages, typing out three words.

I’m not someone who’s very satisfied with a session that produces one sentence.

So, find your rhythm and understand it. It will help you not only through November, but in your future writing career as well.

Some Analyzing…

Having spend a lot of time analyzing a good friend of mine’s blog (The Writeaholic’s Blog – drop by if you haven’t already) I have come to realize that sometimes, it’s important to add a little bit of structure to your blog and work. I’ve been very fortunate to date, because I’ve had quite a lot of time to write before work. I was still fresh and ready from my evening’s sleep to be clear thinking and motivated to put some words to paper which was a luxury I didn’t think about till now.

At the moment, I spend most of my working day either in front of my computer (working on a dastardly Marketing Plan for which I have almost no information) or on the road in traffic. I’m beginning to realize that these two elements aren’t very good inspiration for creative thinking.

But – with NaNoWriMo only 44 days away, I feel quite strongly that it’s time to start working out a regime and get a little bit more organized in my writing.

I’m trying to determine this week how much time I have to write. I don’t really get round to writing over weekends (heck, there’s a world outside to explore and real people to spend time with) so my time is limited to my tea time and lunch time in the office and the time that I have before and after work. This is a slight problem, because I’m too confused in the morning to tie my own shoelaces and too tired of my computer in the evening to bother with it (and, I’m watching Fringe at the moment. Major procrastination station.).

Through analyzing all of this, I’ve come to one big conclusion (and a few little ones…).

  1. I am going to have to learn self discipline. I’ve always been very fortunately with my writing. It’s been a natural process and I’ve been able to do it without putting in a lot of effort (like searching for time to write and figuring out my plots). Things have changed a bit, as my writing became more complicated (clichés just won’t work anymore) and longer. My average story length at this stage is over 85K words. More often than not, I have no idea where I’m going at the start of a fic and it’s beginning to show.
  2. I am going to have to make a list of my current Work In Progress’s and my future Work In Progress’s. It helps to know where you are and where you want to be. I’ve reached a stage in my life where I realize that I don’t want to just work forever and it would be nice to bet a novel published. Yes, Writing is patient, but the market and people aren’t. There are so many would be authors out there and it would be nice not to be one of them but one of those on the other side who have made it.
  3. I am going to have to work on my NaNoWriMo. I don’t think I can handle another year like last year, where I flew through random plots and scenarios just to get my word count up to date. Heck. I have to make a good effort this year. NaNoWriMo is an opportunity to get a story that you’ve always been meaning to write off of the floor.
  4. I am going to have to work extra hard at my job. No use trying to be an author when you’re starving. I also really, really don’t want to go back to waitressing. My boss said the other day that he can see that I’m ambitions. Ambition’s got nothing to do with it. I Am Desperate. I have seen the other side and I do not like it.
  5. I am going to have to work on my blog. It’s such an important and good tool to use. It gives people a contact platform with me. It gives me the opportunity to get more people to notice me. Heck, it gives me a space to rant and rave and that’s always good. But mostly, it gives me a place to put my life into perspective a little bit and that goes a long way in my life.


The thing that’s important I feel is to be prepared. Writing (as with everything else in life) is a discipline. And, it’s a way of reaching out to people. One of the best reviews that I’ve ever received was where a reader came to me and said that she had learned something from my story and my work. That I have given her answers in her own life.

That was one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received and it made me realize that yes, yes – writing is worth working for.