~ Things you could do instead of procrastinating on the last day before NaNoWriMo 2015 starts. ~
Hello again 🙂
What’s it with weird songs getting stuck in my head. Urgh. Anyway.
First: Thanks to all who have subscribed and liked. I’ll try to keep on writing here as much and often as possibly. (Goal: Still writing each day) Hopefully, I’ll figure out where all my paragraphs go after updating the pages.^^
Second: Today’s post
So, here in Germany it still the 31st October. Luckily, I don’t live in a region in which there’s Halloween-goers, so strike for a night of undisturbed writing. (I believe in truly only start writing when the clock strikes 12 🙂 ) As of now, there are only a few hours left until insanity strikes the writing community again and there’s some last minute preparation you (and I) could do.
I spent a great deal of Thursday night, or rather the very early morning hours of last Friday, clicking myself through some Writing Resources. I simply didn’t have the time before. I will link you to the respective author’s page, because it’s easier that way. If you are a many-times participant of NaNo, you might know some of the resources. But maybe, even you’ll find something new. If you’re new: Look at these things. It might seem like a waste of time (especially as a pantser), but some of them will so save your butt and mitigate many symptoms of “OMG-NaNo-ends-in-three-days-and-I-still-have-to-write-soooo-much”-panic.
A warning beforehand: This post is fairly long. Here’s an overview of what I’ll cover. I hope that the interlinking works, otherwise: scroll like mad^^ (edit: Can’t get interlinking to work right now; might have to brush up my HTML):
- Writing Resources (including: Pantser Special Edition)
First idea for last-minute-preparations: Spreadsheets
There is one NaNoer, Svenja Gosen, who develops them every year with her mad Excel-skillz (they truly warrant the z). They basically allow you to add/type in your day’s word count. The spreadsheet then calculates how much you have already written in percent, shows you a really nice graphic of your progress and how many words you still have left. Of course you see that stuff on your NaNo dashboard, too. However, there’s more. You can write your own comments/notes for each day, add the hours you wrote etc. You’ll get words per hour and all kinds of nice statistics. If you’re into that and love to see what exactly you did each day, this is totally for you. I found it very motivating. ^^
Still not convinced? The spreadsheets also offer some other nifty features like a plot sheet, novel info page, chapter guide, character sheets and example sheets for them, plus a very useful manual. You have all your info in one place looking all pretty and ordered :O) Also nice if your pantser soul gives out and you feel that you really need to keep track of what your story and protagonists are developing into:) Moreover, there’s very pretty graphics for all kinds of genres and tastes. You find them here.
Second idea: Writeometer
This for all people who, too, have problems with procrastination while writing for NaNo and just use their phones too much (like I do). Writeometer is a simple, completely free app for Android phones/tablets. (There might be something similar for iOS) Designed in a somewhat disturbing shade of green, it allows you to create writing projects and helps you to stop procrastinating. You can fill out all kinds of details for your project, like story title, word count you want to reach, and the time span you want it in. (Over time you can update your daily word count etc.)There’s statistics, writing logs, progress bars, and all the goodies, too, of course.
After you’ve done that, you can define the “treats” you can get. There’re three pre-defined treats: eating a cookie, checking facebook and walking the dog, I think. But here’s the catch. You don’t simply get those treats. You have to “pay” for them with guavas, the app’s currency. You can earn those guavas by writing for 25 minutes without stopping. There’s even a nice timer that tells you when they’re over.
Of course you have to be somewhat honest with yourself; there’s no-one checking whether you really did write 25 minutes long. And if you set all treats to only 1 guava cost, that might also not be ideal. I propose thinking about what you really really love to do while procrastinating and set the cost for those things somewhat high… I, for example, will be adding my treat “Watching newest yogscast/le floid vid” with a cost of 4 guavas, because otherwise I’ll just get stuck on youtube. 😀
In addition to the reward system, there’s an integrated thesaurus (Very useful when it’s 3 am and your brain can’t find an alternative word), a dictionary, and a word cloud prompt-generator.
All in all, I think it’s a really nice way of forcing yourself to concentrate on your story, though, and rewarding yourself. Twenty-five minutes isn’t too long and humans just work better with the prospect of a reward after having done something. Moreover, working like this allows you to enjoy your other favourite things despite being in NaNo-hell 😀 Because let’s face it: You can’t always write, or at least I can’t, without running out of motivation and ideas, especially as a pantser.
You can find the App here (Links to Google Playstore).
Third Idea: Get your writing resources in order
One thing that’s totally annoying to do when writing, is getting stuck on the language-side of things. Even as a native speaker you sometimes just need to look up stuff, when your brains give out. If you have your writing resources not at hand that might become time-consuming, though. Moreover, it very easily turns into a bout of procrastination. Ok, so this might sound a little stupid and very obvious, but the fact is that, personally, I often forget about this basic stuff, because I think “I look that up, when I need it“. Super time-wasty policy that is and we don’t have time to waste during NaNo.
Mostly a point for people writing in a non-native language. (Even if you’re a native speaker, it’s sometimes nice to evolve your language a little, though.) There’s always words or idioms you don’t know and which you can use to spice up your writing:) If you have time anyway, why not use it? The linked page provides several hundreds of English idioms and I am sure that there are also pages if you’re writing in a different language. While it might probably be an unusual last-minute preparation suggestion, it’s one thing I find most annoying when writing. Sometimes, when doing WordSprints, -Battles, -Crawls etc. all the time, completely embracing the NaNo-madness, your style might start to suffer resulting in horribly bland, very basic text. (It’s what usually happens to me after some hours of writing.)
You might think now: “But why is that a bad thing? It’s a first draft either way.” Yes, the monster you’re battling is really only a draft of your story and you will revise and edit the whole thing after NaNo (hopefully), one way or the other. Now, this might be just my opinion and problem, but once I start reducing the “colours” of my language and its spectrum unconsciously, my whole plot and character development will follow after some time. And nothing is worse than if those things get completely out of hand. So, take a break and instead of procrastinating open the idioms page and just browse a category to get new “language inspiration”.:O)
So, you’re a native speaker (or you’re not) and you’ve managed to quieten your inner editor (Ideally). Congrats. No editing for you while writing, no changing words or doctoring with your writing style. “Why should I need a thesaurus or a dictionary?”, you think. Well, I’m sure that most people are writing at night, like me – especially on weekends, because time (duh:D). And even the greatest night owl comes to a point at which he or she just can’t remember the simplest words.
Of course you go sleeping if that gets too worse (or do you?:)), but if it’s only occasional that you can’t find the right word or are not sure whether the word is even usable in the context you intend to use it in, quickly using a thesaurus or a dictionary might lift your spirits and spur you to continue writing. And neither underestimate the power of Google’s instant search. Helped me a million times finding the word I was missing.
Yes, you are a pantser and somehow you always wing it. You write and the stories just appear. You laugh at all those pitiful plotters who spend hundreds of hours researching and developing their plots and characters beforehand. You’re just that good…Or are you?:) By now, you know that I simply love pantsing things and while there’s nothing bad about it, your own creativity might get into the way. You development the most awesome plots while writing and your characters are lively and wonderful. But you’re going to write a freaking FIFTY-THOUSAND-words-novel within a month. If you don’t want to spend hours upon hours afterwards ironing out all the continuity errors when you’re done, consider using the writing resources, plotters use to prepare, while writing.
It’s terribly hard to keep track of all the little details your characters and plot gain while pantsing the story. Why not add them to a character sheet while writing? Print it, put it next to you when you’re writing, tape it to the backside of your PC, make a Google Doc out of it or put it into a Dropbox for all-time access, if you want to save the trees. Writing down everything might seem tedious at first, but later on it’s very helpful.
It’s just a thing that you forget what you wrote during NaNo. Headcanons are a wonderful thing and I love them to bits, but irgh, do they get out of hand. (Always remember J.K. Rowling, kids. She constantly forgets what she wrote in her Harry Potter books and sometimes answers with her headcanon, rather than what she actually wrote.) And it’s easier to spend some extra time taking short notes of what happened, or new ideas you had in an ordered manner, than having to go over older scenes to find out things or just assume that you wrote something. I did that in a regular story once and suddenly everything was messed up, because I thought I had already written the info readers needed to understand the scene, but hadn’t.
Either use the sheets in your spreadsheet, or use these very detailed character charts (and here) intended for story bible use or the plot charts by Annie Neugebauer. I’ve linked to her before, but she’s restructured her website, hence new link. If you’re stuck defining your character’s character traits, check out this list.
These resources might provide some help, if you just can’t resolve a situation. I will definitely use them:
~ 15 Questions authors should ask Characters
(Interesting article, when you just don’t know how your character would react)
~Subplots and Midpoints
(When you’re in the middle of your story and just don’t know what to do to get up the suspense once again)
~16 Types of Government
(When you suddenly feel the need to add a political subplot)
~The Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test
(When you have the suspicion that your main character has gone dark-side.)
~25 Ways to F**k with your Characters (Explicit:))
(When you just don’t know what could rile up your character and give them a motivation to do something)
~80+ Barriers to Love
(Most likely one of your subplots will involve some kind of relationship. Why not increase the suspense? It’s totally boring, if they get each other after just one chapter:P)
~9 Ways to undermine your Character’s Plans
(Only some aspects of this will help you when stuck, but maybe you’ll just get an idea for your next exposition part:))
~Blog Section that deals with EVERYTHING ❤
(When you have “time” aka. when you would be procrastination either way.)
If you’re a music-writer aka. a writer that is heavily influenced by the music you’re listening to when you write, then use the time you still have and create your playlist now. Creating playlists to write is possibly the worst time-waster there is apart from BuzzFeed and 9gags. And why not use the time you have before the clock strikes 12.
Tipp: Wanna spice it up and you already have a big playlist? Add some “battle music tracks” and challenge yourself to write a conflicting moment or scene every time there’s a battle music title. I did this last year and it did wonders for my general character interaction. (Don’t add too many and too well-loved songs as battle music. You might end up writing the most conflicting story in history, since all modern random-algorithms seem to favour titles that already have been played quite often.)
Last but not least, the very core of battling Writer’s-cramp 😛 My advice from personal experience is to make folder with Forum posts and all important websites beforehand. Yes, NaNoWriMo.org offers you a tool that shows you your watched threads, but that thing literally causes procrastination. Better idea: Bookmark the threads and click them from your browser interface so that you won’t be tempted to search for more…Those forums are the most magnificent place to be while NaNo is happening – they’re also the worst writing poison you can find. There’s always more and the people are so so nice. And all of them have the same interest as you, participating in this insane project.:) Same goes for Twitter. Hence: No-no to “Oh, I wonder what’s new in the idea forum” if you actually just want an inspiration to write in that moment and yes-yes to using pre-selected resources. Most popular word games and stuff are already online, either way.
Fourth idea: Enable your freakin’ Autosave
Yeah. Do that. As in now. Worst thing that can happen to you during NaNo (and it will happen, trust me): Your PC decides that WritingProgramm.exe has stopped working and happy birthday, much luck to you finding those temp-files your PC hopefully has created. Otherwise: Have fun writing it all again. Thus: Backup. Download the Dropbox-, GoogleDrive-, “Choose your Cloud Provider”-App and save all files there. Write in Google Docs. Mail your story to yourself. It doesn’t matter. But save your files in at least two directions. Best in two different physical locations. If you’re using MS Office or similar programmes make yourself familiar with the AutoSave-Option and the Create Backup-File-Option.
I usually write in MS Office with backup (creates a second file) and autosave every five minutes (anything fewer than that lags horribly) enabled. Also, I post the scenes in my ywriter project, since I often don’t write chronologically. Lastly, everything goes to GoogleDrive and Dropbox, because I lost so many chapters due to PC-crashes over the years. Don’t forget to enable the online connection of your cloud-apps, or your files will just be saved on your PC.:)
Yeah, I tried to remember everything that caused me trouble last year and listed it here, because I will truly try to change these things. Procrastination is my worst enemy and it always has been. As has my headcanon. Of course, I decided to start writing this post close to twelve o’clock Friday evening and now it’s half past three in the morning. Tonight you’ll get the first #Progress Update, because I intend to decide on the fandom/setting of my novel today and to do some protagonist exploring later. I’m halfway tempted to write the story without defining genders or names for my protagonists just so see what will happen. All very experimentally this year 😀 I guess I’m compensating for the lack of laboratory lessons ❤
Thus: Goodnight/Morning to all of you and most importantly: HAPPY WRITING ❤ to all who live in time zones in which NaNo has already started.
Let’s slay this beast 😀
P.S.: Sorry if there are missing words etc. WordPress is spazzing out on me and destroys both my text and the editing. u.u