Nov 1 Write-in Circuit

The morning started out hideously early, and by hideously early, I mean before noon. Whatever thoughts of sleep there were were quickly vanished by the thought of November 1. That meant writing, and there was a lot to write.

For those that don’t know, tias are not terribly familiar with all aspects of Atlanta. This means she has a tendency to get lost. So, tia decided to prepare for November by absconding with her family’s Magellan.

No, not THAT Magellan.

Thanks to the non-musical Magellan, tia made it down to Vinings with only one wrong turn that was easily corrected. Vinings is eerily quiet on Sunday mornings; I guess it has something to do with the fact that nothing’s actually opened yet. So tia waited…and waited patiently for the doors to open.

Poor sad and lonely tia.

Within a few minutes of opening (not even long enough for tia to browse the manga section and see if the next xxxHolic is out, gosh darn it), jazzyjinx arrived to get things started. Like tia in her 09 nano shirt, jazzyjinx came in style:

Nov 1 Vinings - 4

Barely did the lovely jazzy have time to arrange the tables into a shape that would not be demolished by a Tetris when people began filtering in, rapidly:

Nov 1 Vinings - 2

An amazing number of people came to write so early in the mornings, some more hardcore than others.

Nov 1 Vinings - 1

You see that notebook? That’s freaking hardcore.

Everyone quickly settled in to writing, and for the most part there was little sound besides the clicking of keys and the scratch of pencil.

Nov 1 Vinings - 3

Around two, it was time for me to pack up and head to Woodstock, and to my surprise I gained a following on the next part of the circuit:

Nov 1 Woodstock - 1

So brave. So patient.

So onward they drove, and did I mention that the weather was absolutely glorious? I even had a pleasure of seeing a red-tailed hawk zip across the road several feet in front of my car. I’m sure this is a good sign in some culture somewhere.

Despite the fact that Googlemap directions failed again, Magellan got us to Woodstock. The problem was that we couldn’t actually find the shop. Like I said, my companions were VERY patient. It turns out the thing we were looking for was nestled into a corner by the Publix, which makes it a bit difficult to see from the road:

Nov 1 Woodstock - 2

The Kennesawians, some of which had been there since opening, were all nestled into amazingly comfortable furniture, happily typing away.

Nov 1 Woodstock - 2

Lunch was also had here, and it was amazingly excellent. I also had the pleasure of meeting my sister in crime, the Kennesaw ML, redcurl:

Nov 1 Woodstock - 3

Isn’t she cute? 🙂

Two hours and one story later, it was time to move on again to Roswell. Again, thanks to Magellan and no thanks to Googlemaps, there was a minimum of getting lost, but thanks to a slow departure from Woodstock, tia ended up running a little late. The Roswellians didn’t seem to mind.

Nov 1 Roswell - 1

Once the power strip was put in place, ML blather was kept brief and quickly turned into writing.

Nov 1 Roswell - 2

Atlanta seems to have an amazing tolerance for short, non-ninja and mildly obnoxious people. So patient and loving. By the way, this writein was AMAZING. I don’t think any one of the five of us walked out with less than around 2k in the two hours I was there.

On to Norcross, and the Forum which had thwarted Google Maps twice just could not get the better of Magellan. Take that, geography! To everyone’s delight, our ML Matt was in attendance, as was jazzyjinx.

Nov 1 Norcross

Word wars were the theme of the day, including a war between Matt and tia with the loser placing a dollar in the ugly tip jar. Thankfully, I still had ones on me.

The final stop of the day was the Java Monkey in Decatur, and for someone who has never been there, correlating the address with the actual location was difficult, as was locating parking that was not parallel, because tias do not parallel park. (Okay, they can sometimes, but inbetween two cars owned by potentially irate people was not the place to test my ability.)

Nov 1 Decatur

The picture turned out crummy and the people in the foreground aren’t even part of our group, but here we are anyway. Highlights of the writein included chocolate mint cake and sushimustwrite trouncing the pants off EVERYONE with her amazing 20k in the first day.

By the time 10 PM rolled around, tia was exhausted and more than ready to go home. There would still be adventures after she left, such as figuring out how to get out of the parking lot, discovering that free parking isn’t free, and backing into a post in the process.

Curse you, Decatur.

By the time tia got home it was time to crash and prepare for work tomorrow (not necessarily in that order) so there would be no more writing to be had that night, but all in all it seemed like it was a productive first day for everyone.

11/7/09 Pep talk from tiakall

Hey guys!  How’s the wordcount going so far?  Oh, me, I’m currently 2k behind my quota and have less than 10k on one of my stories.  From what I hear, Mattkinsi and jazzyjinx are having it equally rough.  Ah, Nano.  Bringing 150,000 people together for the express purpose of making them miserable.

Philisophical musings aside, it’s the end of week one.  You may be ahead of the daily quota, and if you are, that’s great.  Whatever you’re doing, it’s obviously working, so keep doing it.  If you’re not, well, join the vast majority of Nano.  Even with a great first day push, people may find themselves behind at this point…just in time for the legendary, infamous Week 2.

I’ve had a mixed experiences with Week 2, myself.  Week 2 has been the week that I once made my goal, by keeping writing steadily.  It was also the week that my hard drive decided to completely kaput itself last year.  I spent the entire week typing on a borrowed laptop and public computers.  So however bad Week 2 is for you, just remember that it’s probably not going to be as bad as losing your hard drive. 🙂  Sometimes, I think Week 2 gets a little too much hype.  It seems like a total drag because the initial euphoria has worn off, and you realize that your sprint is actually a marathon.  Instead of setting yourself up for speed, you need to set yourself up for endurance–and this well require discipline, occasional bribes, the support of your peers, the friendly taunting of your friends who you won’t hate for it, the correct mindset and techniques, and of course, mad skills.

Here’s an example of the correct mindset.  Which is easier, 50k in 30 days, or 500 words in ten minutes?  (If you said the first, then you’re probably doing fine and can go back to beating us all with your wordcount.)  This does two things for you: first, it breaks down a big, scary goal into a tiny-bited goal that’s easily obtained.  Most of us can’t imagine exactly how much 50k is.  (I’m referred to the example of The Great Gatsby, but I haven’t read that book since high school, how am I supposed to remember how long it is?)  But most of us CAN imagine 500 words.  (for me, It’s a screenful in Notepad, one page in Word single spaced, and two pages handwritten.)  Second, 500 words in ten minutes makes it much easier to focus.  People in general (particularly all us ADD people out there) find it a lot easier to focus in small bursts, take a break, then focus again.  The part where you actually get to the sitting down and focusing part is the tricky thing.

There are a couple tools you can use to help you get in the zone:

* Write or Die.  Matt mentioned it in his previous email.  I swear by it.  The link is here: http://writeordie.drwicked.com/ .  I personally prefer the Kamikaze mode since it actually makes sure I don’t stop (I can deal with annoying sounds, I have a younger brother.) but as we all know, tia is hardcore and writes in Notepad and stuff, so Kamikaze mode is not required.  There’s a free online version as well as an offline version you can buy.  If you haven’t tried it yet, give it a look, particularly if you’re struggling.  Being *forced* to write out of fear of punishment does amazing things to those phrases and scenes you may waffle on.

* Word wars.  We have an official IRC chatroom mentioned here: http://nanolanta.org/?p=34 .  In the chatroom is a bot which will automatically time wars, as well as send you notices when the wars end.  Even if you’re not the fastest writer (Matt beats me pretty much every time), timing yourself and joining in a short sprint with your peers is another good way to get rid of the waffling.

Week 1 was about getting a good start.  Week 2 is about keeping that good start and keeping the momentum going, and the only way to do that is to get in the habit right now of writing consistently.  This means writing every day.  Yes, even on days you don’t feel like writing.  Yes, even on days where you’re so busy that you feel like you can’t write.  Even the busiest of us will be able to unearth a few minutes inbetween events and bang out a couple hundred words, even if it’s on that spare notepad you keep in your purse/pants pocket.  Even if you don’t make the daily count every day during week two, those few hundred words a day will add up and get you further along than you were before, and more importantly, will keep you writing every day.

We’re all writers, and right now we have committed to the task of writing.  Like soldiers on the field, we keep writing even when the weather’s bad or the writer’s block is trying to bomb us all to kingdom come.  Because we’re writers, and that’s what writers do.

You’re a writer.  Goals of writing are NOT beyond your reach.

11/4/09 PepTalk from ML MattKinsi – Falling Behind?

You might have noticed I have a big word count right now, and you might just be thinking how much you’d like to gouge my eyes out, come after me with a wire hanger, or somehow otherwise annihilate me.  And that’s ok, and I’m gonna let you finish, but understand that I, like many of you, am struggling.

I’m falling behind.

Yes, that sounds nuts with a high wordcount already.  I know that sounds nuts.  I know as I sit here reading it, it looks nuts.  But I truly am falling behind, no lie.

I am falling behind in my goal of finishing the novel, which is always a huge struggle for me every year.  Whatever novel has decided to implant itself in my head is just not wanting to come out in the alloted time frame and in the word count I had in mind, so I’m frantically writing to try and finish whatever future epic my muse has in store.  I’m losing sleep, a lot of sleep, over it, and yet I’m falling behind.  I seem to be writing every chance I have, but I’m falling behind.  And that just doesn’t seem fair – shouldn’t the little word count tool at least be able to give me extra points for effort?

And I got a little panicky about it on Tuesday, November 3rd.  And let me tell you, that’s not a fun place to be.  Because when I finally was able to sit down and write, all I felt was panic for being so far behind.  And I got wrapped up in that for too long, and sure enough it ate a good chunk out of my available writing time.  Luckily, I was at a write-in, and I was able to get my butt in gear and started up a fifteen minute word war in our NaNoLanta chatroom.  I wrote as fast as I could for fifteen minute chunks, not worrying about typos or even if I was getting the characters names and times right…I’m still pretty sure my Main Character said it was November when my chapter first started, then talked about Halloween coming up.   But I don’t care (and I’ll fix the month jumping during revision in a few months.)  I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more.  And after those fifteen minutes were up, I took a break to rest my poor little fingers and grab more coffee.

November 3rd is about to end as I write this, and November 4th is about to roll in.  And you, like me, very well be dreading the start of the next day because it means I suddenly have a lot more to write.  Again.  Can’t we just pause the passing of time so we can get to where we want to be?

Sadly…no.  Physics is not on our side on this one.

Some of you might not have any idea about what I’m talking about here – you’re doing great!  You’re cranking out more words than you ever thought possible, and the story is going along swimmingly.  You’re paddling ahead of the game.  And for you out there, I applaud you whole heartedly, and hope you continue to row away.  But I also don’t want you to delete this, because you might find it useful as we get later on in the month.  Trust me.

Everyone, take a deep breath with me.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Inhale deeply, exhale deeply.

Now, I have some words of wisdom for everyone feeling like they’re falling behind: You haven’t missed the boat.

Maybe you didn’t hear about the trip till today, maybe your computer just decided to rebel against the mere thought of the work you’re going to be putting it through and crashed.  Maybe you were able to write some, but got an unbelievable block.  Maybe your life has just been too busy for you lately and you can’t find the time to write.

You haven’t missed the boat.

Sure, some of might be in the boat and paddling away, but I want to point you over to our super duper secret NaNoLanta speed boat.  Its going to get you caught up with the big boat and maybe even pass us.  Jump on in.

You haven’t missed the boat.

And here’s what’s going to give this boat some extra speed.  It’s going to be that boat over there.  See it?  A little far off in the distance.  The one with the gigantic skull and crossbones flag waving.  Well, it wants to prevent you from ever getting back on track.  And it’s time to go to war.  A word war.  I want every single person reading this email to STOP READING THIS EMAIL RIGHT NOW, and go and write as much as you can for the next fifteen minutes.

Seriously.  Go.  Once again I’ll wait.
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I wasn’t kidding.  Go write as much as you can for the next fifteen minutes.  Time yourself, or if you don’t have a timer, let me point you out to a Word War Winner’s best kept secret, Write or Die.  Click 15 minutes and put it on Kamikaze mode.  And get started.  And you’d better write for all fifteen minutes, or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise.

Now, I want everyone getting this to flood my inbox with how much you just wrote in those 15 minutes just now.  Go ahead, hit reply, send me how much you added to your masterpiece in those 15 minutes, and come on back.

Some people can get 1300 in those fifteen minutes.  Some people can get 200, and let me tell you, both are huge successes.  Let’s say you can get 200 words in those 15 minutes.  And let’s say you want to get 2000 words today to give yourself a cushion.

That’s 10 fifteen minute chunks.  Yes, that’s two hours and thirty minutes of writing.  And you might not have the time to such a long span, or the attention span to write such a long span.  Well, let’s find some time for you.

I bet you can get in 30 minutes of writing before you go to school or go to work – get up after the alarm goes off instead of snoozing your way through a half an hour.  That’s 2 fifteen minute chunks right there.  8 to go.

I bet you also squeeze one in during lunch, or while in between classes.  There’s 7 more.

I bet right after work or your classes, you could go somewhere before heading right home and get in at least 2 more 15 minute chunks.  And we’ve got five left.

And I bet you could take an hour of writing time at home for four more 15-minute chunks, and then right before bed for one final chunk.

There, we’ve worked in our 10 chunks.  And even if we averaged 200 words, we’ve suddenly got 2k more written in our story than yesterday.  Even if you’re blocked, start with this sentence.  “<insert name here> decided it was high time to change his location and go shopping.”  And write.  You know, if it doesn’t advance your plot, thats fine.  Here’s another secret for you from the LitFic genre – not every word has to matter for the plot.  A word is a word.  But you’ll be surprised what pops out for your plot when you’re done with those 15 minutes.  My plot made a sharp turn to the left tonight during a 15 minute word war and ended up in a much better place as a result.

Many wrimos feel like they have to do all of their writing for the day at once.  That is soooo not true.  Split it up into chunks.  And at the end of the chunk, write yourself a real quick note where to go next.  That’s the secret to my high word count right there.  15 minute word war chunks with random notes on where to go next.  Using these 15 minute chunks, I was able to get to where I needed to be for the end of the day, and even got a head start on tomorrow’s goal.

I bet you can too.

And, if you’ve made it reading this far, congrats.  I would like to throw out a reminder to everyone to update your wordcount on the website daily so we have an accurate picture of our war with Denver, who pulled ahead yesterday!   You can update on the top of any page of nanowrimo.org after logging in.

Very exciting chat-news

Ok, I realize I might be one of the only people to find this exciting.  But we’re changing where we are having our official nanolanta chats.  We were using the irc server irc.mibbit.net, which was fine if you had an IRC client.  But if you were stuck using the webpage…it got a little annoying with the constant beeps and brown background.  So, we’re switching to irc.gootchatting.com, and it has a much nicer website appelet to use.

http://www.goodchatting.com/rooms/nanolanta.php

If you get stuck with a nickname you don’t want, you can always type into the channel “/nick <insert new nickname here>”

If you’re an IRC geek like me, the info:

Server: irc.goodchatting.com

Room: #nanolanta

Now, even more exciting than beeps going away, we have a bot in the chatroom.  Think of a bot as a computer program.  This bot is there to be a word war organizer – it times word wars, will keep track of who is winning, etc.  If you ever visited the #nanowrimo chat before, this is the same BattleJesus bot.  If you’ve never seen it before, you will be blown away by how useful it is!

So, geeks of Atlanta rejoice!  And, everyone else who doesn’t really care about the chat room change, just let me be for a couple of minutes 😀

10/31/09 PepTalk from MattKinsi

I’m writing to you before the official start of NaNoWriMo – we have about 20 minutes to go.  You may be thinking to yourself right now some of the same things all of us are thinking – Will we be able to pull this off?  Will we make our goal?  Will anything I write be good?  Am I completely nuts for wanting to do this?  Am I good enough to do this?

First, let me tell you, you are good enough to do this.  Every author who has ever published a book has had these same thoughts when they sit down and stare at the blank screen, the blank page, and start working on their first draft. Everyone who has ever completed NaNoWriMo and won it has had these same thoughts as they anxiously watch the clock count down on Halloween towards midnight.

Next, we are all going through it too.  Those of us who by the end of the month will have hit 50k, those of us who by the end of the month will have hit 100k, or higher.  We all have the same questions running through our mind right now – can we do it?  Can we do it again?  And those of us who have won in years’ past can tell you that the questions don’t go away.  But its what you do with the questions that matters.

You could let these questions get you so jittery that you can’t write a word – then the questions become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you might last just a day.  But you could let these questions motivate you – yes, yes you can do this.  Yes, you are good enough.  Yes, you will make your goal.

We can do this NaNoLanta.  We are all in this boat together – we’ve all got an oar and are about to start paddling across this deep sea.  If you need to drop the paddle for a minute, that’s ok, but we need you to pick up the paddle again.  We are here for you to make sure you don’t drop the paddle down into the sea, and say you’ll try again next year and jump off the boat with your paddle.  (Ok, so maybe I need to work on my metaphors.  But you hopefully got my drift 🙂

Let’s do this NaNoLanta!

Grab your paddle, and lets start rowing…

10/28/09 Pre-Nano Pep Talk from tiakall

As I write this, it is now 11:49 PM on Thursday, November October 28th.  This means that it is not quite two days until Nano.  It also means that I stay up too late and quite possibly have too much time on my hands.

Ahem.

So, you may be feeling excited.  You may be feeling anxious, panicked, or nervous.  Or possibly all of the above.  Don’t worry, that’s good.  Because in two days and (now) nine minutes, you are going to need all that excited/nervous/anxious/

panicked energy to get a good start on your writing.  Ideally, you want to kick off November 1 with the biggest heckuva bang you can and get a head start on your writing.  Head starts are good.  They make you feel empowered by your ability to not only be making the goal but being ahead, and also give you that comfort of a safety buffer if you fall short some day.  I like to go firing straight out of the gate at midnight on the dot (morning people, this is optional) and have the added benefit of a little writing session before I actually start my day after some odd hours of sleep.

But, oh grand and glorious tia, you cry out, oh she who thinks she is almost as witty as Chris Baty, woe is me, for I have no plot/characters/opening line!  Whatever shall I do, and why am I talking like I am in a Shakespeare work?  Fear not, brave WriMo, for I now shall proceed to pull words of wisdom out of absolutely nowhere (read: making it up as I go along):

* Plot is optional.  Don’t be afraid to have your characters putz through a few thousand words or a few dozen dares before you figure out what the heck you’re doing.  There’s a funny story about that, actually, and it’s called ‘my 2004 novel’ where I sort of forgot to get to the actual plot before I hit 50k.  If you don’t have characters, that’s okay too.  Start with you, your neighbor, how you REALLY think Harry Potter/Edward/Legolas should have been, or a snarky narrator.

* False starts just mean more words.  You may get a few hundred words into that idea you’ve had for three months and then decide in a few hundred words that you hate it.  Yes, I am speaking from experience…again.  If an idea isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to ditch it and throw out your backup idea (even if said backup idea is aforementioned characters putzing through a few thousand words.)

* Don’t write your opening line first.  Opening lines are important, and everyone wants the one that’s not too hot or too cold but just right, the one that makes you sit up and go “THAT’S it” when it comes to you.  Ideally, one would just make all their peers come up with clever things until you hit the “THAT’s it” one, but seeing as we are just a wee bit short on time, if the blank page is threatening to eat you, start with the second line.  There is nothing more terrifying than a blank page, but once you get started, you will get rolling.  Alternately, if you’re having trouble deciding between a few opening lines, write them all.  You can always decide later when you’re not on a thirty day deadline.

Welcome to NaNoLanta.org

We’re being nice and calling this Version 1.  We couldn’t get the layouts that folk were voting on today up in time, so MattKinsi and TiaKall threw together this layout for now.  We will be adding more content.  It will be prettier.  Promise 🙂

Until then, celebrate!  We have a website for the first time in Atlanta’s NaNo History.  We start writing in 1.5 hours, and already our chat room is hopping.

We can do this everyone!

Kickoff Party at Varsity

So it’s a little before 6PM and I’m on the road to the Varsity kickoff party. I’m running a little late since my car started saying something about feeding it a live cat, and well, live cats are a little hard to catch. So when I got there, Tim/MattKinsi had already pulled together five tables in preparation. I arrived with hypothetical cookie cake in tow.

kickoff 1

You see this? This is the kind of thing you get to put up with for the entire month.

People began trickling in only a few minutes after us, lured in by Matt’s fabulous hat and the No Plot, No Problem! sitting at the end of the table. (On the fabulous hat, I was promised a feather boa as well but we couldn’t find any that matched our shoes.) By 7PM, we already had seven other people sitting at the table:

kickoff 2

And then they kept coming. And coming. A lot of familiar faces from the boards showed up, including our amazing motto-maker, Klepto von Umbre, who got called out on it by yours truly. >_> Also present was Hype, who I totally forgot to call out for making our amazing Nanolanta logo (which you can see on this very website!) Sorry. :/

kickoff 3

The amazingly long nametags were passed out, filled out, and pinned to people, and seemed to make good topics of discussion. I have heard that there will be quite a few Humphreys, which pleases me to no end.

By the time the party got started, I needed three pictures just to fit everyone in:

kickoff 4
kickoff 5
kickoff 6

After everyone had mostly stuffed their faces, we had a round of introductions, followed by nano bingo, wherein the goal was to make a bingo by finding people that fit the squares, with things such as ‘has done nano before’ ‘is using an outline’ ‘is writing fantasy’ and ‘does not like sparkly vampires’. The prize was a Nano rock:

Writer's Rock!

writer's rock

Tias, as it turns out, are amazingly bad at nano bingo.

Next, we all had a word war, in which we were all challenged to write as much as we can in three minutes: The topic: a peach. Our two winners, Brian and Hellacoptah each wrote 114 words and got a prize from Matt. Brian wrote about his intense dislike of peaches and Hellacoptah wrote about the last one of the batch which had a mushy side. The fabulous(ly short) ML also wrote a lot of words and her prize was reading her story about the peach that saved Mississippi and didn’t mug old ladies aloud. Yes, this did totally make my day.

Afterwards Matt did some riveting public speaking:

kickoff 7

He even caught the attention of the group meeting in the row behind us, which commented that we all seemed like we were having a lot of fun. The prompts and dare box was passed, followed by the tip jar/pin purchase jar:

boxes

And then it was time to cut the cake. Skip back an hour or two to before seven to a conversation between me and Matt:

Matt: So that’s the cookie cake.
Me: Yep.
Matt: Did you bring something to cut it with?
Me: …Crap.

Thankfully, cookie cakes are not as laborious to cut as, say, ice cream cake, and a plastic knife sufficed.

After that, we dissolved into little groups to chat and plot. I wound up at the self-dubbed “advice table”:

kickoff 9

Whereupon I proceeded to dispense mostly useless information, as I am wont to do. (Whatever the heck ‘wont’ means.) I also took the opportunity to snap up a couple more photos of our lounging Wrimos:

kickoff 11

kickoff 10

kickoff 8

This went on for an hour or so until the car started demanding live cats again, so away I went, to return for the write-ins in November. See you there! (I promise the car will be well-fed by then.)

It’s up!

Sort of.

Yeah, I know it’s ugly.  That will be fixed once the webmasters get their butts online.

In the meantime, on with content.

Dares and nametag are now up.  I can’t get the Google Calendar to work so I will leave that to someone who knows WTF they’re doing.  Off to post the kickoff party writeup.