Draft Zero (Finally!)

I’ve only been meaning to post about my Draft Zero technique for AGES. XD

Many of you have asked if I’d share a little bit more about it, when I’ve mentioned this writing method of mine.

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve finally written a post about it and I’m sharing it today as my first-ever guest-post, on the blog of my dear friend Lisa Pickle!

If you’d like to hear about my favorite writing tip I’ve discovered, you now can!

There’s also a Howl’s Moving Castle reference. (Because obviously. We’re talking about me…)

Get ye hence and read! ๐Ÿ˜€

And maybe leave a comment if you’re so inclined!

(And follow Lisa because she’s lovely. ^_^)

My (Not-So-)Secret Weapons For Surviving NaNoWriMo

So, confession time. It’s Monday, which means I post here (usually). I had an idea for a grand POST TO END ALL POSTS about NaNo and surviving and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW, IN ONE HANDY POST. Unfortunately, I’ve neither written it, nor have I taken my own advice and gotten prepared for NaNo yet, PLUS I realized that most of my tips are… well… in previous posts?

Therefore! I will mention a handful of new things I’ve discovered that help, and then leave you to peruse my previous NaNo posts (linked at end) for further tips, if you’re so interested.

Because we’re a half a month away from NaNo (WHAAT???) and I’ll be honest: I’m not ready.

I’m so, so not ready.

I need to go spend my time prepping for NaNo, plotting my novel, and trying to conquer my several-miles-long to-do-list. IN TWO WEEKS, MIGHT I ADD. *tries not to collapse and curl up and hide behind a tapestry* Rehashing all the stuff I’ve said about NaNo in previous posts is, sadly, not going to help with that. XD

ANYWAY! Behold, a few of my recently discovered (since my previous posts) not-so-secret weapons for conquering NaNo!

Tools in My NaNo Toolkit

Time

(pinterest)

Time is your enemy during NaNo (TICKING DOWN TO THE END NOOOO) but it can also be your friend.

How?

Well, I’m a long-time advocate of wordwarring (with friends, and with oneself on a timer), but also: during this last Camp NaNo, I discovered the magic of setting a timer for an hour and focusing on writing just for that time. Can take a break afterward, but focusing NOW. Just for an hour.

I can usually write 1K in an hour, which means (theoretically; hear my story laughing at me. XD) it should be a couple of hours per day, yes? *cough*Leavemetomydelusions.*cough*

Make time your ally: use it with timers and word-sprints and chunks of writing time for focusing.

Make it work FOR you.

Scrivener

Screenshots for this year (below, top) and last year’s NaNo (below, bottom)

SCRIVENER IS MAGIC, OKAY. I used it last year and it. was. amazing. I hate buying software and stuff because I’m cheap and like free things, but I tried it free for a month during NaNo last year and loved it so much I got it (half-off with a NaNo coupon).

The plotting and organizing features give me life, and having a word-count goal set on each individual chapter/section/day was SO helpful — and the fluidity of being able to merge or separate them at will was amazing. I also utilized the full-screen writing mode to lessen distractions, and loved to make it a slightly-smaller window to write in, with a small window of my browser open in another part of the screen, showing the counting-down wordsprint tool on the NaNo site. ๐Ÿ˜€ SO motivational!

All the planning

This one is both old and new. I’m keeping notes in a dedicated-journal just for this project, which is helpful/inspiring. The journal and the scrivener are the new things, but planning is SUPER IMPORTANT. Unless you’re a pantser, in which case I salute your bravery. I reeeally need to do a braindump scribbling-down of all my ideas (so many scenes and things in my head!) and then organize those and make an outline… But anyhow. Plot plot plot!

Bullet Journal to stay organized

Please note, I keep an “ugly” bullet-journal, which is to say, I don’t make mine a work of art and I don’t actually “journal” much (like talk about what I did; I just mark stuff off).

It’s like a daily/weekly/monthly/planner thing which I use with bullet-points of to-do-lists and things going on, and I usually plan it out a week or a month in advance.

I’ve done stuff like this before, but this is the first time I’ve had an actual bjournal (my abbreviation) to do it with.

I have a page or two of to-do lists for October, and will have one for November. I have a page for a to-do list for each week. And I have a page for every day, with info at the top about stuff going on, and a to-do list. Also daily trackers in a list on one page for keeping track of stuff I should do every day and don’t want to rewrite over and over, and a calendar list so I can keep track of what’s going on.

It doesn’t have to be fancy (in fact, please don’t try!) but both for pre-NaNo-prep, and for NaNo itself, it’s very handy to keep track of stuff!

NaNo runs at an insane pace, and I’m seriously going to need this in order to keep life/writing/ML-ing straight. Not to mention daily wordcount goals listed each day… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Draft Zero

Last but not least: Draft Zero.

I SERIOUSLY need to do a post about this, but it’s basically getting the story down in its most basic form. It’s a mix of extreme plotting (but super vague too? It’s hard to explain) and very rough first-draft. It kind of bridges drafting and outlining so that I can Howl* myself into writing without actually writing, and then it’s easy to expand into a real first-draft.

I have so far only done this in segments — like a scene or chapter at a time (often out of order) and then expand it. I used it especially for the ending of my short story Darkling Reflections (actually the last third of it) and my novella The Rose and the Raven. Super helpful.

I WILL post about it someday, but basically don’t worry about spelling/punctuation/sentences; just write down what happens in brief bullet-point order (dialog included!) and throw in descriptions/whatever, whenever you feel like it. Basically give yourself permission to make a mess on the page.

I may try to do this for NaNo, or I may just do it each day as my outline-plotting before turning each chapter into a first-draft chapter day by day. Not sure yet. Either way, it’s my biggest secret weapon, and with it in my toolkit, NaNo-doubt doesn’t have a chance. ๐Ÿ˜‰

*Apologies for those who don’t understand this Howl’s Moving Castle reference. It derives from a quote Howl said about being a coward — and the only way he can trick himself into doing things is pretending he’s NOT doing them. I’m very Howl-ish and am a slitherer-outer. XD

***

And there you have my 5 new tips. Thank goodness I only did five because otherwise this post would be enormous. XD

I hope these tips (and the ones below) help you. But you know what? Even if you don’t have tools or secret weapons, even if you’re not prepared for NaNo… you can still do this. If you have a story you want to tell, then that is all you need.

All you REALLY need is to show up each day in November at the screen (or pen/paper) and look in your heart and write.

You’ve got this, writer! I believe in you! Now get out there and conquer this NaNo. ๐Ÿ™‚

Check out more tips below. ^_^ THANKS FOR READING, AND GOOD LUCK! โค

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Behind the Scenes: Writing Tag

behindsceneswritertag

I was tagged by Madeline @ Short and Snappy and Abi @ Rambling Writer quite some time ago for the Behind the Scenes Writer’s Tag (here and here) — thanks ever so much to both of you! ^_^ (And everyone, do check out their blogs!)

I may have done this one or something like it before but I honestly don’t remember so I’m doing it regardless. XD Because who doesn’t enjoy a look behind the scenes at how writers write? And it seemed an appropriately writerly kind of post for NaNo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here we go!

1. Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

I don’t eat while I write because I can’t multitask like that. XD I don’t even usually drink a hot drink because if I’m writing I forget about it and it goes cold… (And I don’t have a Meridian to remind me about it like Teague does; not that he notices…)

2. When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

Usually at night. Unfortunately. *cough* It makes for some late nights, I’m afraid… But it seems to be when my brain wakes up enough to be creative.

3. Where do you write?

At my laptop at my desk in my room, usually. Sometimes on my bed or in my big chair though.

4. How often do you write a new novel?

Bahahaha! *collapses from laughter* Um. Yeah, I’m just going to pretend this question is hilarious in order not to get bothered by it. XD I’ve written 3 complete novels so far, over several years, and they were all at random intervals and took totally different amounts of times. There is no “usual” with this odd duck of a writer.

5. Do you listen to music while you write?

Sometimes, if I remember to turn it on (see above snacks question).

6. What do you write on? Laptop or paper?

Laptop if it’s actual writing. My writing notebook if it’s notes or small amounts of plotting.

7. Is there a special ritual before/after you write?

I usually have to be in my room with no one around, and the doors closed, with no distractions and some idea of what I want to write. …This suddenly explains how little I get written. O_O A revelation, I tell you! Moving on… I sometimes turn music on, or go find my plotting notes for that bit, or read the last part I wrote. Other than that, not really.

As for an afterward ritual… not in particular, unless it counts to get up, stretch, stare at the clock as if it’s gone insane because where on EARTH did all that time go, and wander off to get a drink and possibly find some poor soul and make them read my latest scribbles. ๐Ÿ˜‰

8. What do you do to get in the mood to write?

I only wish I knew. >.> I’ve discovered walks are helpful, though. Also going to bed, because that’s when my brain wakes up and wants to keep me awake and make me go write when I want to sleep, because it’s helpful like that…

9. What is always near the place you write?

My laptop? Maybe my notebook and pen. And my phone? Or a glass of water? I don’t know, not always anything particular. *shrug*

10. Do you have a reward system for your word count?

Not usually. It tends to be its own reward, I guess. ๐Ÿ˜‰

11. Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?

I usually have to play the entire scene out in my head a time or two before I can write it.

I also have discovered a helpful phenomenon which is something I call “draft-zero scene-plotting” wherein I just scrawl out the rough scene and dialog without punctuation/capitalization/proper sentences, in order to get the scene down on the page in its roughest form, so that I can then elaborate on it and flesh it out into real writing. That way I don’t have to worry about being “perfect” at first. It’s sort of an extreme sort of plotting, crossed with a very sloppy first draft technique. I don’t use it all the time, but when I do it seems to work wonders.

Speak to me, writers! What are your writing habits? If you’re doing NaNo, how are you doing? (Three weeks down, guys! We can do iiiit!) Did you enjoy this peek behind the scenes? Feel free to take the tag and do it yourself!