soniaraowrites

about writing and other such passionate matters

Archive for the category “A-Z Blogging 2014”

WORDS, WORDS AND WORDS

 

WORDS

WORDS

Words have power. And word counts have even more power. They definitely do in NaNoWriMo.

Fifty thousand words, written, make you a winner. Written by hand or then typed out on a device. All goes. When your manuscript is uploaded during validation the word count should show 50K words. That’s all.

Those that write by hand (Salud!) can have someone verify the wordcount for them and they can then upload a document of equivalent words. Same is the thing to be done if you are writing in a language other than English or in a script that is not Roman.

And now for the maths of it:

50,000 words in 30 days are1666.6666 or 1700 words in a day.

Is it easy to achieve? Certainly, with a bit of a stretch. There are two ways to do this:

If you are a thoroughly disciplined writer with a stretch of time at your disposal, then you can write during the time slot you have identified is available to you in the day and cruise easily towards the finish line on the 30th of November.

On the other hand, if you are pressed for time, write wherever and whenever you can. Waiting for your turn at the doctor’s? Write. Feeding the baby? Write. Waiting for the bus to arrive? Write. Bits and pieces of writing will cumulate into a sizable total.

What is your favoured method of writing?

Writing Tip # 23

Whenever you think of your story, certain impressions and visuals will flit through your mind. Capture them as much as you can in words and/or pictures. These are outlines of your scenes. (Sonia Rao).

 

This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Pic courtesy: http://ithinksummerland.blogspot.in/2009_11_01_archive.html

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UTTERLY UNFETTERED

Writing is an act of praying. Or at least an activity that connects one to an energy that cannot be named or even defined but can be considered to be ‘other worldly’. Don’t we often exclaim at something that is immensely creative with the words, “out of this world”?

And having faith in this universe/muse/divine energy is the only way in which NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org) can be won.

One comes into NaNoWriMo usually with just a desire to write a novel. Very few are well-versed with or even trained in the art of writing a novel when they attempt NaNo for the first time. Inner editor, writer’s block, outlines, plot points etc. These words form the jargon which the first time writer is lucky not to be acquainted with at that point.

Unfettered creativity and enthusiasm are the oars that will help the newbie writer to traverse the sea of words that will one day, hopefully, coalesce into a manuscript.

Do this, utterly unfettered, once, twice, three times, during NaNo in November or in any other month of your choice and be unsurprised when you notice the tremendous improvement in your writing skills as well as an ascension in your self-confidence as a writer because when writing is unfettered and authentic that is when the magic begins.


Writing tip # 21

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. (Jack London)

 

This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

OFFICE, OFFICERS, OFFERS

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) earlier known as the Office of Light and Letters is a c 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by Chris Baty.

Every newbie Wrimo worships Chris Baty and so does every veteran Wrimo because the NaNoWriMo he founded is so awesome. There is though a limit to what a man can do alone so helping him sustain that awesomeness is a group of dedicated staffers.

Since I first became a Wrimo in 2009, Heather Dudley was a familiar figure in the forums moderating and ensuring none of the posts violated the ethics and essence of NaNoWriMo.

Now, many years later, Heather Dudley is the Lead Forums Moderator.

Another well-known figure was that of Emily Bristow aka Lazym, whose name is so deceptively inapt because the major activity that took place behind the scenes to ensure the unimpeded conduct of NaNoWriMo could be partly attributed to her. She will be missed this year as she goes forward to fulfill her creative urges. We wish her great success in her efforts.

When I first became the ML in 2011, it was Sarah Mackey who was guide and mentor and general information and feel-good cheer dispenser and we hope to see her again in this year’s NaNo after her maternity break (hope she posts pics of the baby). In her place we now have the soup for the soul Paige Knorr (couldn’t help that punny remark since Knorr soups are a popular pre-dinner snack in India) who has kept us abreast of all things official in NaNo as efficiently and lovingly as Sarah used to.

Now that Chris Baty  is Board Member Emeritus, the other Chris aka Chris Angotti is the director of Programs (overseeing NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo and Young Writers Programme) while Grant Faulkner is the Executive Director.

The IT system of NaNo is the lifeline of millions of novel writers all over the world and the magicians who keep the digital wheels spinning are Dave and Jezra. A happy hi-five to them.

Then there is Tim Kim, who as Editorial Director takes care of all matters related to communication – including The NaNoWriMo Blog – and also oversees the interns.

NaNoWriMo winners are a pampered lot. Besides the purple ribbon of the winner against their name, they get access to some wonderful offers. The far and wide reach of NaNoWriMo has drawn many sponsors that provide goodies to the winners. CreateSpace and Scrivener have been around for quite a while and recent additions have been Wattpad, Kobo Writing life, Lulu.com, Storyist software, and many more.

Scrivener : As their tag line says: Outline. Edit. Storyboard. Write., is a word processor and project management tool for the Mac and Windows.

CreateSpace (put creativity to work, is what their tagline mentions) provides Wrimos with a host of publishing options.

Free proof copies delivered anywhere in the world are some of their exciting offers for the winning wrimos.

Kobo Writing Life: A wonderful cache of 10 exciting books were offered absolutely free to the winning wrimos.

And many many more such offers.

 

(This post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014 (actually, catching up with the challenge))

JOURNALING

The Artist's Way

The Artist’s Way

‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron is an iconic book which helps artists to unblock and find their creative groove once again.

The Morning Pages, which Cameron advocates in this book, for all, blocked or otherwise, is a form of Journaling as well as a form of meditation. For those not aware of it, morning pages are three pages of unedited writing you do as soon as you wake up. These pages are read by no-one, not even by the writer.

Morning pages can be a helpful tool to prepare for NaNoWriMo. If one has been dwelling on the story in the mind, then there is a good chance that insights might crop up during the writing of the morning pages. My morning pages are a jumble of words and if such an insight occurs I make it a point to circle or underline it so that I can retrieve it later.

Journaling in its simplest form can be taken to mean free writing. Many misunderstand free writing to be aimless writing. It actually entails writing non-stop on a particular topic for a fixed time or number of pages. This gives the conscious mind a chance to move out of the creative mind’s way as the ideas begin to stream in. This works wonderfully for character sketches and world-building for novels.

What has been your experience with journaling for NaNoWriMo?

Writing Tip #10

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” (Sylvia Plath)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Pic courtesy: http://bestisyettocome.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/taking-the-artists-way-out/

INDIA

India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.

This is the first line of the National Pledge of India and every time we recited it in school during assembly following it up with giggles was mandatory as one smart aleck or another invariably added the words ‘but one’ behind it.

But then, this post is not about the National pledge. It is about wrimos from India and NaNoWriMo.

India is part of the continent of Asia and though many people around the world think that the preferred mode of travel in India is the elephant they would be highly mistaken. India is now among the top countries in the world that suffer from pollution from the gases emitted by cars (We have all the Audis and the BMWs and the Mercs, and the others too).

All things are not as dull as the smog, though.

There is a burgeoning rise in people participating in NaNoWriMo. The number goes up every year and the enthusiasm is inexhaustible.

Last year there were around 3,500 participants which saw an increase this year. The most popular genre of writing is fantasy and the age of the participants varies from 13-75 (to the best of my knowledge of the active wrimos). One of the most exciting happenings is that many of the nanonovels have been published. In fact, one of the Wrimos, Prem Rao, has three published NaNo novels and one book of short stories which he wrote last year (nanorebel).

And yes, India is a beautiful country full of spicy diversity.

Writing Tip #9

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay?” (Stephen King)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

 

HAPPY HOURS

 

HAPPY HOURS

HAPPY HOURS

Wikipedia describes Happy Hour as a marketing term for a period of time in which a public venue, such as a restaurant, bar, bowling alley, stadium, or state/county fair, offers discounts on alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine, and cocktails.

Well, I am just going to hi-jack the term and use if for the writing that we do during NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo[dot]org). Writing can be fun and must be fun, but when it is solitary it can get a wee bit easy to procrastinate and then very soon we realize that the burden of unwritten words is weighing us down and that sends our mood further southwards.

This is where the Happy Hour comes in. Since the last two years I have made it a point to conduct online write- ins where wrimos from all over the country converge to write the personal pre-determined number of words. So, all those that have been at work the whole day or have goofed off or could not write for some reason or the other, know that they have one more chance to catch up with their word counts during these sessions which could be held for an hour or more. These hours see a lot of kidding around, banter and of course, writing, too. By virtue of being the ML, I would post prompts at these sessions and all would write to them. But this year, the wrimos have been pro-active and themselves held write-ins that continued late into the night or have begun early in the mornings and sometimes even in the afternoons on popular demand. Word sprints were yet another aspect of these sessions. And the payback is that majority of the wrimos completed their 50K words much before the end of November.

So if one is Happy that the Hour was well-spent in writing then can not such hours be rightfully called ‘Happy Hours’?

Writing Tip#8
Do write to the prompts given even if you feel it does not fit your story because sometimes the prompt can open up another perspective or twist to your story. (Sonia Rao).

 

This is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and today’s letter is ‘H’.

Read about the theme as well as the ‘A’ post here. You can find the others in the A-Z Blogging 2014 category on the right.

Pic courtesy: Wikipedia

Gracias…

NaNoWriMo Donation Station

NaNoWriMo Donation Station

If one thought that NaNoWriMo was just an online novelling activity held every November then that would be a very one-dimensional view of the world’s largest online creative writing initiative.

No doubt it began life, almost thirteen years ago, as a lark by Chris Baty to get his friends involved in an activity which would stretch their zones of comfort while, at the same time, be tons of fun.

Today with almost three hundred thousand persons around the world writing a novel, we come across wonderful stories of wrimos who have fought oppressive circumstances and emerged victorious or regained their self-esteem which years of verbal/physical/ mental abuse had snatched away from them, because they took up the challenge of writing 50K words in one November. A wonderful therapy, of sorts.

Many, like me, found the community and resources to write a novel, when they did not know where to look. And as a NaNo ML I’ve had an opportunity to make contact with some amazing people who have become friends and at the same time it has all been very soul-satisfying.

It also conducts the Young Writers Programme in which thousands of children are provided resources to reach their creative writing goals.

The most wonderful part is that participation in NaNoWriMo is absolutely free. It is a non-profit organization and depends on donations to continue with its yeoman service. Even the goodies for the winners (anyone who writes 50K words in a month is considered a winner) is sponsored by enthusiastic companies with a view to encouraging writers.

I like to show gratitude to NaNoWriMo, to say gracias, by making a donation. There are other ways to donate too if one is short of cash. Find out more by clicking on the Donate tab when you land on the home page of nanowrimo[dot]org. Donating cash, though, makes you an angel (yes, you get a halo on your profile).


Writing Tip#7:
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name. (William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014 and today’s letter is ‘G’.

Pic courtesy nanowrimo[dot]org

A Fardel of Fillers

(fardel: (n) a bundle; filler: (n) anything that adds bulk)

I confess.

I am as guilty as many other wrimos, of padding my manuscript with fillers during NaNoWriMo.

Writing 50K words can be a stretch if one is pantsing a novel. Just one word, or a sentence and we are off, flamboyantly, on our fantastic novelling journey. When one begins writing a novel without having researched, outlined or planned it, there could come a time when one runs out of inspiration or even relevant matter to write about. It is dangerous to carry out research during the course of NaNoWriMo because the deep pits of the netherworld of research can rise up like a sinkhole and engulf you, leaving you floundering with a gasping-for- breath low word count and an unfinished manuscript.

And it is okay to add fillers to your fantasy (the novel) during NaNo. Some of the many popular ways it is done is by writing recipes in detail of the food being consumed in that particular scene while some wrimos name and describe each and every object present in that particular setting. I have at one time rambled on about monsters under the bad and ended up with a story of a boy suffering from ‘Monstritis’ which might not work in my novel but perhaps I could turn it into a short story for children.

The fardel of fillers, which makes the novel unnecessarily bulky and a burden during editing, shows up mostly fourth novel onwards (the first three novels are pretty easy to write) and it can be tackled to a certain extent by having well thought out characters and a well-defined conflict.

Have you ever added fillers to your NaNo novel?

Writing Tip #6: I have this feeling of wending my way or plundering through a mysterious jungle of possibilities when I am writing. This jungle has not been explored by previous writers. It never will be explored. It’s endlessly varying as we progress through the experience of time. These words that occur to me come out of my relation to the language which is developing even as I am using it. ( William Stafford).

 

This  post is part of A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

Today’s post is of course based on ‘F’

The Evil Editor

The ghosts of all  books one ever read.

The ghosts of all books one ever read.

If you dare to edit your novel during NaNoWriMo the ghosts of all books you have ever read will take to squatting over your novel as well as your imagination and they will cause such a creative block that you will need many NaNoWriMos to complete one manuscript. The situation might sound drastic and it actually is, too. Because it really happens! These ghosts have been responsible for many a blocked writer and unwritten stories.

Unlovingly called the Evil Inner Editors, these ghosts are powerful and the only way to circumvent their influence is to tell them that you are going to write the worst story ever (this is scary to them because that was essentially the line/lie they were going to feed you to scare you and now they have no more weapons in their ghostly arsenal) and if they are nice and quiet in November you will let them read your manuscript in December. Now, this is a sneaky thing to do because you are going to need their services after NaNoWriMo ends if you want to make your Nano novel publishable. Instead of begging them to help you out in November you have turned the tables on these Evil Inner Editors into making them beg you to allow them to help you.

Once you’ve mastered the art of controlling these ghosts, you must continue to add to the ghost brigade by reading more and more books from your genre of choice ((to get a grip on the style the genre demands) and other genres to get new ideas for stories.

 

Writing Tip#5: If you look at it (Writer’s Block) as an opportunity, you will find a way to strengthen and broaden your ability to create characters and story. You’ll see that maybe you need to go deeper into your story and strive for another level of richness, full of texture and dimension. (Syd Field in Screenplay)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014

The letter of the day is ‘E’.

Pic courtesy Velinov

Daily Discipline and Deadlines

The box  tells the final figure while the graph gives the true picture.

The box tells the final figure while the graph gives the true picture.

There are two kinds of people doing NaNoWriMo.

Those that write 1666.666 words on every day of the 30 days of November and sail easily into the winning enclosure and get the winners ribbon without too much of disruption to the schedule

The other type is the one who procrastinates in a major way and writes erratically, sometimes just 80 words and other times, stuck to the keyboard, churns out a total of 10K words in a day.

Which is better? It will definitely depend on the personality of the writer but the second method can cause not a little bit of stress towards the end of the month when the deadline approaches, and that is exactly what motivates some wrimos to really go for it.

This is then the USP of NaNoWriMo. The deadline works like the prod that everyday life is not able to provide and the community of other wrimos adds the fun element to the intrinsically solitary pursuit.

In addition, NaNowrimo makes it easier to do it the first way with its word count widgets and graphs and other techno knick-knacks. As you update your word count everyday and see the graph rising, it motivates one to do it again and again everyday till one crosses the 50K mark.

I belong to the second category and every year I determine to do it the other way but so far I have not succeeded even though I have been a winner all the years since I first started in 2009.

Perhaps this year…

What kind of discipline do you follow? Daily or the deadline-induced?

 

Writing Tip #4: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks, the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it as if the muse’s convinced I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” (Maya Angelou)

 

This post is part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.

My theme for 2014 is here.

This post is about ‘D’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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