Tag Archives: WriMoFoFo

Wri-Mo-Fo-Fo Delay

I only started WriMoFoFo today. The last two weeks at work have been possibly my most stressful ever, and I started forgetting words. It was like anything non-work related got jettisoned from my brain. I tried to log into something which I open every single day and I couldn’t remember my password. That’s when I knew I was stressed.

So rather than heaping more stress onto an already overloaded system, I decided to delay until the long weekend. Now that I’m here I can still feel the stress in the pit of my stomach and slight flutters in my chest, but I’m a whole lot better than I was earlier in the week. At least my words are coming back to me now.

Needless to say that my WriMoFoFo target is going to be pretty low. I think I’m going to try for just 15K instead of my original target of 30K.Also I decided not to add the extra bits into my novel, so those 15K are going to be made up with a few short stories that have been wafting through my brain.

Who knows, if things go well I might even be able to use this as a warm-up to try another NaNoWriMo. But I’m not promising anything yet.

To add, or not to add…

We’re just a couple of days out from WriMoFoFo – Write More for Four (weeks), and I’m starting to have doubts about my chosen project. I’m expanding a novella to a novel because I had ideas about other things I wanted the character to do which I didn’t include in the original novella. I had intended to put them in, but I was writing it for a specific novella submission call and I didn’t write them so I could bring down the word count.

The problem I’m having now is that I’m questioning how much the extra bits I want to add really contribute to the story. Yes, they will give some cool action and danger for the character, but when I get back to the main storyline, will they actually be important? Will the reader be going ‘Oh, that’s why she got chased by the X’.

Unfortunately, I think the answer is no. It’s true that I wouldn’t come back to the original ending and run with it exactly how it is, but for the amount of change that I’m anticipating, is it worth sending the character on that little side journey other than the excitement I get to write it? Does it contribute to the story?

Again, I think the answer is no. It contributes to the world, and I know a lot of people love world building in novels, but I have always said I’m all about story. So here, nearly on the eve of WriMoFoFo, I think my project might be a waste of time.

I’ve got 2 days to make up my mind, and if I don’t work on this project, I need to decide on what project should I work on. Well, I’ve always said I love a deadline.

Wri-Mo-Fo-Fo 2019

I know that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner, but November is full of great weather and catch-ups with friends. Instead, I’m going to join a few folks from one of my writers groups for WriMoFoFo (Write More For Four) in October.

The timing is perfect; my project at work gets handed over on September 30th so I should (hopefully) not be so busy and stressed, and I’ve just got to the part in my novel re-write where it is all new words. There is nothing like a WriMoFoFo for getting the new words out, so I’m signing up.

It’s open to anyone, so if you would like more information check out my friend Elizabeth’s blog. You can share your progress there, or post on your favourite social media platform with #WriMoFoFo.

One of the great things about WriMoFoFo is it allows you to set your own word target. Sometimes 50k is too big a stretch (the target for NaNoWriMo) so this lets you aim for your perfect four-week goal.

We have a week to plan, so come and join us!

Jan-No-Wri-Mo Week 1

I consider the week as running from Monday to Sunday (and the year very conveniently started on a Monday to align with this) so I won’t update my weekly word count until I finish writing on Sunday night. Having said that, I am currently on track to meet my week 1 target of 11,000 words.

Despite having a visitor from Melbourne for a couple of days, I was always confident I would make week 1. I’m full of enthusiasm, I’m working on a new project, and I’ve put myself out there on social media committing to it. If I didn’t make week 1 then I’d seriously have to go back and re-read ‘Maximum Willpower’ by Kelly McGonigal -because that’s what a writing challenge is all about; willpower.

For me writing is not about inspiration as much as motivation. I need to really want to write the novel to be able to write it. Wanting means I will make myself get up early, turn on the computer and sit down and write. I’m also very regimented, so not only do I have a daily word count, but I have a break word count too. I can’t take my first break away from the computer until I have written over 1,000 words. That includes breaking for lunch. I can end up having some late lunch breaks on my writing days.

If you are trying JanNoWriMo and you’re finding it hard to hit your targets please don’t give up, get less perfect. Because I know I have to write, but I don’t always know exactly what should be happening in the novel, I’ve given myself permission to get it wrong. I’ve also given myself permission to write badly. This helps with pushing out words.

Think of this as your scratch draft of the novel which never has to be seen by anyone. It is the bones upon which your edit will layer the flesh of your proper first draft. As long as the beast can stand up on its own by the time you get to your first version of ‘The End’, then I’m sure your edit will later turn it into a living, breathing thing.

So don’t put pressure on yourself to write well, but do put pressure on yourself to write!

Good luck!

NaNoWriMo 2016

Every November writers around the world take part in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that you do 50,000 words in a month, or around 1,700 words a day. I have never stuck to a NaNo ever. This year is shaping up to be no different.

I don’t know what it is about NaNoWriMo that rubs the wrong way with me. I love a deadline, so you would think I would relish this, but for some reason it annoys me. Sure, there is probably a bit of jealousy that others can manage 50K in a month, but I think a big part of it is that I feel like NaNo’s only purpose is to get words on the page, and sometimes writing involves not putting words on a page.

Yes it is easier to edit words than blank-page write them, so you would think that having 50,000 of them would be a bonus, but I have heard too many stories of people rushing off in a direction they could feel was wrong for their story, however they were determined to push on so they could get their 50K for November. So come December they cut out 30K of what they had written. That is disheartening for anyone.

I am a big believer in going with your gut, and if it feels like the story is going in the wrong direction you can bet that it is. I think the best thing to do if you hit that feeling is stop and brainstorm. Think about where the story is going, think about where else it could go and think about where it might have gone wrong earlier. All these things take a bit of time and don’t necessarily get 1,700 word per day onto the page.

Then there is also the fact that in Australia November is always incredibly sociable. We get good weather after months of winter cold, and the build up to Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year. So I’m going to skip NaNoWriMo yet again and think about doing WriMoFoFo (write more for four weeks) in the New Year.

Good luck to all of you giving NaNo a go!

WriMoFoFo – the final tally

I don’t think I’ve hit a WriMoFoFo target since we started doing them about four years ago. I’ve never even come close to hitting a NaNoWriMo target either, but I don’t think that’s the point of these things, the important thing is that I’ve written words.

I started slow this year with WriMoFoFo, and then got slower. And just when all was looking rather lost I set myself a cracking pace of about 1,000 words a day to race to the end. That’s how I handle targets. That’s why I’ve learned never to give up.

It would have been very easy when, after the first week when I was only on 13% and I should have been on 30%, to say ‘stuff this, I’m not going to make it, I might as well pull out.’ But 13% was still 2,933 words. I don’t normally write 2,933 words in a week. So it was still good.

I could have dropped off during week two when at 25% I should have been on 50%, but I could see there were 5,494 words in the ‘FoFo bank, so I couldn’t complain. Likewise at week three when my 43% was sadly far off the 75% it should have been, but the 9,357 words I had written still made me smile.

At COB last Sunday night I had only managed to get to 69% of my WriMoFoFo target. That translated to 15,124 words written in four weeks. That’s a lot more than I would normally manage.

Ask me if WriMoFoFo was a success and I’d have to say YES. I wrote more for four. I didn’t give up and I didn’t berate myself for the days I missed. I set my targets high because I wanted to write a lot of words. I wrote a lot of words, not as many as I hoped, but many more than I normally would.

Even better, I don’t feel burned out. If previous WriMoFoFo’s are anything to go by, I will now be in a habit of writing on Monday and Thursday nights, which is two more days of writing than I was doing before. So, while I may not have reached my word-count goal, I have got myself back into the swing of writing, and that is more important than hitting an arbitrary target.

WriMoFoFo – week 1

It’s been a week since WriMoFoFo started, and I have to confess I did not come out of the gates at a gallop, and actually managed to slow down after that. But as they say, it is a marathon not a sprint, so hopefully I’ll make it up nearer the end.

Firstly, I spent far too much time re-formatting and tweaking the ‘Nifty Spreadsheet’ on the first day (I am a bit particular about my colours and what should and shouldn’t be bold). You would be amazed at how much writing time such things can eat up.

Then I discovered I can’t remember the story upon which I’m basing my screenplay. A little alarming given that I’m the one who wrote the story and edited it nine times. I thought I knew it like the back of my hand, but apparently when they are finished you really do let them go. After all, the bits that haunt me of these characters now are all in the as yet unwritten sequel.

To hit my measly target of 733 words on Saturday I needed to sit down on three separate occasions, even resorting to counting a blog post towards my total. It did not bode well for the week to come.

Day two had me looking at my screenplay with only 27 words on the page and I was ready to give up. I went back to my abandoned novel to get my target and was amazed to discover the characters welcomed me back with open arms, despite my recent bailing on them.

Monday, I spoke to an old friend on the phone for two hours, Tuesday I went out to dinner with my family, Wednesday I spoke to another friend for a couple of hours, Thursday… well you see how my week went.

So now I find myself at Sunday with nearly a whole week’s worth of words to make up. At least I had the good sense to rip myself away from the glorious pre-spring day on Saturday to put some black on a page. I just wish I had managed 733 words worth.

Well, nearly three weeks yet to go, a lot can happen in three weeks, hopefully a lot of words.

P.S. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, and happy first day of spring to those in the southern hemisphere -it seems like it has been a long time coming this year!

Writing for the screen

Before I discovered Lois Duncan in grade 9 (at which point I decided I wanted to become a novelist) I wanted to write movies. I had always had ideas for stories, but thought I would never be disciplined enough to be able to write full sized novels, so to me it seemed that screenplays were the easier option.

Skip forward a few decades and I’ve completed two novels, have another five over half-finished, and about 20 in the first-five-chapters space (where I always hit a wall). I’ve completed exactly zero movie-length screenplays. I’ve written or co-written two pilot TV shows, each about 45 minutes long, and both nearly killed me. Screenwriting is hard.

I like writing flash fiction; short, sharp and shiny prose, get the story across and cut out all the guff. I thought screenwriting would be the same. It really is not. It is so much more.

Over the years I’ve bought and borrowed many books about how to write screenplays. They haven’t helped. They talk about story arcs, ‘finding’ ideas and making believable characters –all stuff I feel pretty comfortable with, but rendering and action scene on the page in a believable and understandable way for the director, they don’t touch on that. How that Int. Nat’s House – Night bit should be configured, they gloss over. I was ready to give up.

Then I started reading ‘The Da Vinci Code’ screenplay. I picked it up from the second hand books shop for $4. It opens with a forward from the novelist, the director, the producer and the screenwriter. I learned more in those 14 pages than I have in the equivalent number of ‘how to’ screenwriting books. The screenplay itself is fascinating, with extracts from the storyboards interspersed with the text.

Finally, I feel like I know what the end goal is! Suddenly it all makes sense. I want to hug the people who produced this book, it is like it was written to answer my questions. So I’m going to dust off my movie ideas (and some simply are movies, they never felt like novels) and try my hand at my first career choice.

That is my project for WriMoFoFo.

Fan fiction?

My novel and I are having a few issues. Two of the characters are working really well with me, communicating lots, handing over great ideas and really coming alive. The other two are being a bit recalcitrant, whispering their secrets to each other and sometimes seeming to disappear off the page altogether. I think it is the wrong time to write it.

But with my October 31st submission deadline looming, and the upcoming WriMoFoFo, I needed to find a YA novel to write. So I jumped into the plans I had uncovered a couple of weeks ago and among the many ideas I discovered I had gone through a fan fiction phase.

It wasn’t your usual fan fiction; borrowing characters from other authors and living lives in other people’s worlds, instead I borrowed people. As I read the old stuff I saw me, my flatmates, River Phoenix, me, my chemistry teacher, Keanu Reeves, friends, me, my parents, Johnny Depp, me. It was a bit embarrassing to read.

The odd thing is, now I never use real people in my stories, I may use a hand gesture or a nervous tick, but I never package a whole, real person. But I can’t work out when my fan fiction writing ceased and my character writing began. There is no archaeopteryx with a few real ones and a few fakes as I made the transition.

Interestingly enough, all of my publications are stories entirely peopled with made up characters. So I’m glad I made the move, because obviously the stories these unknown people tell me are much more interesting than the fantasies I put myself in when I was younger.

Now names, that is a different story! I’m sorry, but if you have worked with me, you probably have a character named in part or full, after you. Please don’t sue; I can honestly say that they aren’t actually based on you!

A strange thing happened on the way to my blog

I opened a blank piece of paper, intending to draft my Sunday blog post, and a story I have been flirting with for the better part of 12 months nearly knocked me over with its opening scene. I watched in my head as the beginning of the story unfurled (fortunately my fingers had enough sense to type what I was seeing) and next thing I knew I had nearly seven hundred words on the page and almost no conscious memory of putting them there.

Inspiration does not strike often, but when it does it is a beautiful thing. I don’t put a lot of stock in inspiration, it is a bit like love after the age of 30; ephemeral and cloudy, and upon reflection you see the dark smudges you were blind to in the moment. Having said that, when it does hit, there is nothing wrong with giving in and letting it rule you for a little while.

So now I have my piece to come back to each night and try to build on. It is my tale to ponder when I’m on the bus, waiting at the check-out, or in a boring meeting – and it feels wonderful to have one of these again. I have been away from my stories for too long, I guess my brain just needed the break.

Might be time for a personal WriMoFoFo?

Happy writing!