Within spitting distance of 20,000 words in my NaNoWriMo manuscript and I have given up on correcting my grammar because it takes too much time. 😱

Nearing 12,000 words and my shoulders are aching from typing so much each day. I might have to dictate some of my NaNoWriMo words this year!

My NaNoWriMo word count: 7,072. After the first 1,700 words, this story took a sharp left turn and I have no idea where it is going.

NaNoWriMo begins! For the past month and a half, I’ve been training for this by writing at least 750 words every day. I am feeling optimistic about finishing this year.

Tools and Tips for NaNoWriMo

We are mere days away from the start of National Novel Writing Month, so here are some helpful tools and tips for embarking on this bizarre journey:

  • Pacemaker allows you to set a word count goal for your manuscript and then a strategy like “Mountain Hike” in which your greatest effort is in the middle of the month. (That’s my preference, anyway.)
  • Workflowy is a supremely flexible and easy-to-use outlining tool. (Read my interview for more about how I use Workflowy to outline.)
  • These two Mythcreants posts by Chris Winkle have solid advice: “Outline a Short Story in Seven Steps” and “How to Turn Your Concept into a Story”. I also think that Christine Frazier’s day-by-day outline for NaNoWriMo could be useful if you’re starting from absolute scratch.
  • Scrivener is my software of choice. I used Ulysses for a while, but I missed features like the corkboard and the ability to snapshot a draft before revising. (NaNoWriMo participants get a 20% discount on the software, too.)
  • Don’t re-read what you’ve just written. That will engage your editor-brain, and there is no time for editing in November, only writing!

Share your favorite tools and tips in the comments. And good luck!

travelersnotebooks

About that writing offline I mentioned yesterday

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with notebooks. The first notebook I remember loving so hard that I wore it down to a floppy nub was spiral-bound with an orange cover. In my notebook I wrote down a lot of facts that I thought Encyclopedia Brown would need to know if he ever needed my help to solve one of his cases.

Now I carry two Traveler’s Notebooks: one for work, and one for creative projects. I like having this separation between the two worlds. When I switch between notebooks, I feel like Mister Rogers trading his jacket and dress shoes for a cardigan and trainers.

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: Spotify’s Winter Classical playlist.

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Sometimes when I stroll through the circulation workroom of my library, a book cover catches my eye but because my to-read pile is already unreasonably large, I will merely nod respectfully to it and keep walking.

Yeah, right.

Recently my attention was snagged by “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. I was really digging November’s meditations on acceptance. This month’s meditations are on mortality, and they are more challenging. Example: December 1st was “Pretend Today Is the End” with this quote from Seneca:

“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. . . .The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”

–Seneca, Moral Letters, 101.7b-8a

I expected this year’s Holidailies to be about how horrified I am by American politics. But when I considered the meditation, I didn’t want to write about that anymore. I’m no less horrified, and I will continue to combat the forces of darkness, but writing about it online is not how I want to spend my remaining time on the planet. (Writing it all out offline is a different story, and has kept me sane this year.)

In the interest of postponing nothing, here are things I want to tell you today:

  1. Fallen leaves smell really good. I know this because I got a good whiff when I took this selfie even though I have grown to hate how I look in photographs.
  2. I misheard a friend say “Van Gogh’s Mirror” and started writing that short story in my head but if you beat me to it I won’t be too mad.
  3. Reading this essay made me feel somewhat okay again after that NYT piece on Nazis in Applebee’s. And also canceling my NYT subscription. Oops, politics.
  4. I have been knitting a sweater for FunkyPlaid since before we moved to Scotland but I finally got professional knitting help today and I think this year might be the year I actually finish it! Postponing nothing, right?

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Follow the Leader” by Foxygen.

This Week

Life

Hello from the midst of another Portland ice-pocalypse! FunkyPlaid and I have a fire going in the fireplace and still have power, but the sidewalks and roads are covered with ice. Now that I have somewhat recovered from last year’s Project 365, I thought I’d attempt this weekly review again.

To combat the winter doldrums, I’ve restarted my daily mood tracking with Exist, which also integrates data from various other services I use to find trends and correlations. Some of the correlations will be obvious — like a better mood on weekends — but I am looking forward to the less obvious ones.

One of the services that Exist integrates is RescueTime, which I use to track how I’m using my computer time. It tells me that I have been 65% productive, which is a 10.2% increase from last week. (That is an overall productivity score, not only during work hours, so it also includes how much faffing off I do online during nights and weekends. This is intentional.)

Work

Three big deadlines hit all at once, which means that I spent too long in my office and felt pretty disconnected from my team. When I got home each night after work, I was too drained to do anything useful. But somehow I managed to begin a new short story draft!

Media

I finished reading Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt which is a gorgeous novel. It perfectly captures that free-fall of a passionate love affair and all the ennui-ridden rumination that accompanies it. I’m looking forward to watching Carol now that I have read the source material.

I started reading You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life because that seems like a good plan for 2017.

This week I have been listening to a lot of Real Jazz on SiriusXM. I also listened to the La La Land soundtrack a couple of times and finally listened to the newest Dinosaur Jr. album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not. Hearing Dinosaur Jr. again prompted me to once again attempt to reconstruct one of the best mixtapes I have ever received. (Adam, if you’re reading this, that mixtape haunts my dreams.)

FunkyPlaid and I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and enjoyed it quite a bit. We also finished watching Westworld, which was ultimately a disappointment. I loved the first few episodes, at least. Then we started watching Luke Cage which I like so much more than Jessica Jones!

On the Internet

[ more tweets & retweets, etc. ._.-. this section will be better in the future ]

Ink o’ the Week

I gave Rohrer & Klingner’s Verdigris another go, but it is too dark for me. I’m still enamored with the cool greenish-grey of De Atramentis Charles Dickens. Maybe I should look for an ice-blue to go with all of this wintry weather … recommendations?

Today’s big task was to reboot my writing routine, so I downloaded Scrivener for iOS and synched some manuscript drafts to my iPad. I love using Scrivener on my Mac, and I’m so glad that the iOS app was worth the wait.

While learning how to use Scrivener for iOS, I re-read part of last year’s NaNoWriMo manuscript. I had become somewhat disheartened about it after telling a few people bits and pieces of the plot and worrying over their responses. Re-reading the draft today affirmed my belief that there is a story I want to tell in there, and it’s got solid bones that I can edit into something good.

I won’t make the same mistake again, though; from now on, I’ll keep the details of early drafts all to myself.

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Writing from: my study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: soft autumn rain.

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