Maintaining NANO Momentum

My next NANOer is Ryan Nelson.    Ryan has been my guest on here before for his recent release, The Fifth Clan. (see links below).  I  think Ryan explains quite well the  struggle that most of us face with our real life responsibilities, and finding time to write. It has to be a passion to continue to write when life makes constant demands on you pulling you in twenty directions already.

Are you a nano newbie? Seasoned veteran?  Old timer?

I’m not a newbie, but I wouldn’t say seasoned veteran or Old Timer either. This is my third year doing NaNo.

 Have you finished and/or won nano in the past?

I have not, unfortunately. My first year, 2012, I managed just over twenty five thousand words before the wheels fell off the wagon. Last year, 2013, I did less than fifteen hundred. Not even one full days worth of writing and life just got so crazy that I gave up out of frustration.

How do you prepare for nano? Or if this is your first time,  how have you prepared?

Wait, we’re allowed to prepare ahead of time? 0_0 In all honesty though I got the idea for this years NaNo project about three weeks before NaNo officially kicked off. Prep consisted of bouncing the idea off of a few friends, then I sat down and started outlining individual ideas in a paper notebook with a pen. After that I sat at my computer and started outlining individual chapters in Scrivener.

How many hours do you see that you will be able to write each day?

Man, who has enough free time that they can measure it in hours? I have kids and a day job. I measure my writing time in, ‘Hey, look! The kids are distracted, grab the laptop! Go, go, go, go!’

OH man!  I’ve so been there!  Now that my kids are teens it’s getting easier. Tell me briefly your nano book idea, and what inspired it.

Briefly? Ok, briefly. Well basically the idea consists of Will-o’-the-wisps. In this fantasy world that I have yet to name, everyone knows that if you follow the Wisps they will lead you to adventure,  fame, and glory. But you will also have to deal with being cold, hungry, and scared; which all goes along with ‘adventure’. Most people don’t bother anymore since it’s not really worth dealing with all the downsides. David is the first person in generations to decide to follow the Wisps, and things don’t go exactly as planned.

Do you have a routine or ritual that you go through before you begin writing?

No, no ritual or routine, really. I just start writing. After the obligatory animal sacrifice to the gods of creativity of course. They accept bunny peeps in sacrifice, right?

Last I heared they did.  You’ve made  alms to the great god of caffiene, right?  You have to appease that one or  there  is no release from the great river of creative thoughts.

What  do you use for your writing?  Word? Scrivener?  Pen and paper?

Pen and paper for my notes and such. The actual manuscript is in Scrivener, all the way. I still haven’t gotten into the more advanced tools but even just using the basics it is an amazing program. And I love how there’s a word count goal and daily minimum counter. I can set myself a deadline and it helps me stick to my goals a little easier.

That is one of my favorite features of Scrivener! The daily word target, I love that .  It really does help me stay on track. Well, most of the time it does. Do you find free writing during nano liberating or do you struggle to not edit as you go?

I still find myself editing. Mostly in the fixing of typos and such, but I’ve rewritten a sentence on occasion because as soon as I typed it I realized there was a better way to do it. Otherwise though it is fun to just get it out on paper (so to speak) and worry about fixing it later.

Do you write chronologically or when you hit a  tight spot, do you jump to another scene and come back?

I tend to write from Chapter one to chapter End, in order. I have on occasion skipped ahead, but not often. It might help me actually to keep from getting bogged down in one thing to just skip ahead and at least continue the story elsewhere until I can figure out how to fix that one tight spot.

How long do you let it sit before you go back and edit and revise?

Are we supposed to let it sit? Last book that I published I let sit for a couple of days and then I was editing and revising like a mad man.

My Facebook author page can be found at:

shadow's birth

The Shadow’s Birth can be purchased at:

‘The Fifth Clan’

fifth clan


New Projects

Starting a new project is always exciting.  This is when the creative is at their best.  New, exciting, exhilarating, no boundaries, the sky is the limit, and your imagination is free to run wild.  Firing synapses create their own special sort of “spark juice” that fuels the muse and keeps her euphoric.

Alas, in every project there comes a point where the newness wears thin and the work part begins.  Creative muse goes poolside, munching bonbons and sipping fruity drinks while Javier fans her with a giant palm frond.  Helga, the über nazi muse takes over and slaps her riding crop in her hand as she paces behind the creative, threatening harsh punishment if I even think about quitting.

Every new project is gold when you have the “spark juice” flowing.  It’s important to go with the brain gush with the initial idea because you want to get as much down as possible.  Learning to use the creative energy to the fullest advantage is crucial.  If you cut off the creative spark before  the brain gush has given the initial draft – regardless of how many pages of writing, or how large the canvas is.  Business plans are drawn on napkins, or in my case on the back of an obituary, are forms of the creative burst.

Every creative person out there knows very well that at some point – –  and you know it will come soon – –  the creative gives way to work.  EEK!  Yes, work.  *sigh*  That four letter word that the less disciplined avoids – work.

I am very guilty of having many, many unfinished projects.  *SIDE NOTE FOR THE GRAMMAR NAZI – I know typically the use of two “many’s” is poor grammar – unless you saw the size of my unfinished projects list, then you might have me add a third. *

Unfinished projects can  be a manifestation of two main problems:

  1. Lack of discipline  – It takes a lot of work to write a book. It takes time with your butt applied in the chair day after day after day.  It takes a great deal of thought beyond the creative spark to come up with a plot, a rising action, the inciting incident, recognitions, reversals and end up at a satisfactory climax with tidy denouement.  My biggest argument against the pantsing from my own experience is that although I wrote a lot of good material, it didn’t really move the story forward in a progressive manner.  It takes brain power to get in there and plan out the story, knowing where you’re going to lead your characters.  I will also have to argue against fully planning  because if I plan my story out completely, it becomes boring.  I know everything, and no new mysteries are unfolding.  By full planning, I’ve expended the creative energy into the plan and haven’t expended it into the brain gush.  Now a larger portion of the writing has become work.
  2. Addicted to the “Spark Juice”.   There is a certain element of operating in the creative part of the brain that is addictive.  Unfortunately, creatives tend to not be self-disciplined as self-discipline is a left brain function, and creativity is a right brain function.

New projects are a regular occurrence.  The trick is to balance the new with continuing the not so new.  Whether it’s writing or in any business, new projects are part of the business.  Very rarely in the workplace are you given one file to work on and only that one file from start to finish.  More often its several files that you work on simultaneously.

That habit follows me with my writing as well.  To me, it is a benefit, because  it keeps the projects new and fresh, and helps keep from getting to the boring work part.  There are always different phases of projects to be done.  One project needs research, one needs some editing , one needs to be written, and the work files continue.

I am going to incorporate two aspects for time management beginning today.  One of my friends from an online writing group shared her spreadsheet with me.  It helped to give me an idea of how to juggle and schedule my writing time/ work time/ family time/ workout time/ cooking time/ and other responsibilities time.  She thought her schedule was tight,  I still haven’t managed to include any sleep time on mine.

The other part  is from 13 Tricks to Optimize Your Writing Routine. I already do some of these things but the others can be implemented.  I’m not going to be getting up earlier, I already get up at 5:30 or 6: 00 a.m.  The staying up later is debatable too as I think part of my frequent problem is the lack of sleep.  I have a writing routine, but I am modifying it. In the words of Veronica Sicoe, “. . . many people misunderstand the term “routine”. Here are a few hints to point you in the right direction:

You know you have a routine when you consistently repeat an activity within set parameters; when you don’t need to be in the mood to get the work done; when the people close to you only need to look at the watch to know what you’re doing; when you can estimate the time you need to finish any task related to that activity and are able to plan ahead.

You don’t have a routine if you’ve made a schedule but don’t follow it; if you turn your TV off, send the kids to their aunt and throw the phone away, but play Solitaire instead; if you talk and talk about your writing or the craft but never actually do it yourself.”

Yeah, well . . . I’ve done that before.  I’m guilty of talking about it and not actually writing.  I’m guilty of thinking about it while playing games.  When someone calls for an impromptu lunch – sure!  This is especially a problem when I’m at the dry work part of the writing.  When I’m having to think out how to fix that giant plot hole that I created during NaNo, any diversion is used.  Unfortunately, it’s highly unproductive!

Working from home requires a lot of discipline, the discipline that has been sorely lacking lately.

Now, those of you who are observant are going to say:  Hey!  Wait a minute.  Didn’t you just lack week talk about not being in a rut in Dare To Live Beyond The Rut?  Yes, I did.  I stand by that firmly.  A rut is to be avoided, but to be productive and effective a routine is mandatory.  Occasional diversions are helpful.  When there are so many diversions that it disrupts the productivity, this is unacceptable.  It’s a fine line, and we tend to veer to one ditch or the other.

Always a work in progress and always a new project to tackle.  My new project?  Refining and reestablishing a working schedule that I and my family can live with.

What about you?  What projects do you need to tackle?  What changes do you need to make?

Write on my friends, write on!