Writing for National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month, sounds like fun. No? Well, I gave it a go, and it was a mother.

The object of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. That’s not a lot when you consider that the total number of words in Tolstoy’s War and Peace has 587,287. Of course, he wasn’t fighting a 30-day deadline. To write, edit, rewrite and end up with a reasonably coherent story, all in 30 days will leave you positively twitchy. Trust me, I bailed on day 28.

Having said all that, if you have some uncontrollable urge to listen to me whine about the NaNoWriMo, I’ve got a couple of posts over on Some Old Dude.

I thought I’d put down a few things I took away from that masochistic exercise.

Everybody has their own way of writing, and if you try to copy them exactly it probably won’t work nearly as well for you.

There are plotsters (planners), those are the people who plan every meal, clip coupons, go to the grocery store, and don’t buy anything that’s not on their list. You can always spot one of these the minute you step into their office. They have a place for everything and everything is in its place.

Then there are pansters, those people who write out a list, leave it on the kitchen counter and wander the aisles trying to remember what the heck they needed. With them, every meal is a surprise. They have notes and notebooks scattered everywhere. For instance, my office looks like somebody dropped a small tactical nuke.

I use a laptop with LibreOffice, others use MS Word because it’s almost universally accepted in publishing circles, but some people; okay, one person I actually met, use devices like this Neo2, which is nothing but a minimalist word processor capable of displaying four to six short lines at a time.
neo2 word processor

If you’re going to write 50k pages in thirty days you need to have your research in order…. in advance. I wrote a thief but had to research locks, alarm systems and any actual crimes using the basic mo and how they got away with it. And where the heck do you sell documented diamonds.

You need your basic character profile (character arc) written down. –My protagonist had a sea change, from a crook with a heart of gold, to a self-centered bastard.

You need the major points in the story (story arc) written down. –Mine went from stealing some diamonds to a murder mystery.

All this points to a need to get organized. Don’t keep notes in several notebooks, don’t use more than one program, keep focused on the task at hand.

It’s only thirty days but sometimes it feels like forever.

Finishing the first draft of my novel –Not

I’ve been trying to get the first draft of my great American novel finished, but nothing is going as planned.

I know there are supposed to be setbacks and the first draft is supposed to suck. But it’s one thing to expect problems, it’s quite another to deal with them in real life. So I keep getting frustrated and starting over, and over, and over. Which accomplishes exactly squat, and leaves me running in place pretending I’m getting someplace.

A friend is entering NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writers Month, where the object is to write a novel with a minimum of 50,000 words in one month. There’s no way in Hell I can beat that, but if they have a “most pages shredded” category I’m a shoo-in.

What the experts tell you to do is just type your first draft. No edits, no spell check, no nothing. Just type.

Shit, I never understood how OCD I was until I tried to take that advice. I can’t do it, it bugs the living piss out of me to leave a misspelled word or a singular/plural error uncorrected. And don’t get me started on sentence structure or dialog.

I’ve gone as far as to buy an ancient Neo2 word processor.
neo2 word processor
The NEO2 has a green screen with black letters that will display six, 16 character, lines of small text, five lines of medium text and four lines of large font text. That’s it.

I even bought a copy of Write or Die for twenty bucks. It’s a program that keeps track of certain word counts with warnings and penalties if you don’t meet your goals.

I especially like Kamikaze mode. “The wee little word monster that runs kamikaze mode has developed a more refined sensibility now. These days he only likes vowels. If you turn on kamikaze mode and allow consequences to ensue, your words will be systematically disemvoweled.” In other words, it removes every vowel from every word you’ve typed. How’s that for an incentive to keep up?

Notebook and Sharpie Pen

A friend gave me this notebook to write in.
Write what you ask? Why my thoughts of course. –She’s an old hippie turned new age, whatever they call themselves.


Dance in the rain? Yeah right, my mamma said I had a choice, I could get struck by lightning, or I could get struck by her hand if I didn’t get my ass back in the house.
Yup, she instilled in me the good sense to come in out of the rain.

Any way, on recommendation of a travel writer, I tried a sharpie pen, which is exactly what it sounds like, a very fine point sharpie.
fine tip sharpie

You can see what happens when you don’t lift your hand high enough or tilt the pen too much. At least it doesn’t bleed through. Because of the way I write it still makes a mess. –So it’s back to ball points.
sharpie text
(And for those of you who know me, I can read it even if you can’t.)


This is how we wrote letters back in the day.

A letter is like an email, but it’s written on an actual piece of paper that you have to fold carefully and put in an actual envelope. You then have to write the person’s physical address on the center of the envelope, with yours in the upper right corner, and the proper amount of postage(money) in the form of a stamp placed in the upper left corner.

You then take this to the post office and they in turn will deliver it to the address you’ve written on the envelope. It’s a long, slow process. It can take as long as a week or even longer to get to the person you addressed it to, but that’s the way we did it back in the day.

If you think about it you probably know at least one person who doesn’t have an email address and doesn’t do text messages. Heck they may not own a cell phone, they may only have a land line(a house phone) and an answering machine. –These people are not as rare as you may think. In fact, in spite of being an endangered species, you can find small enclaves of Luddites any town or city. They’re shy and secretive, but trust me, they’re out there.