Posts Tagged Nanowrimo

No, No, Nano: Why November Doesn’t Work for Me.

Reasons November is not a good month for NaNoWriMO

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  1. Thanksgiving,
  2. Especially if you are hosting a dinner
  3. Or have company for the weekend,
  4. And even worse if you are traveling.
  5. Volleyball is still going, including Selection Sunday
  6. Basketball gears upvolleyball_clipart_5
  7. Really bad if you have men’s and women’s ticketsbaketball-ball
  8. And if you’re one of those crazies who also has football tickets? Exactly when would you have time to write?football-ball
  9. And there’s NFL games, NBA games, and hockey, too. At least I think that last is true.
  10. Some Nanoers gather to write, and probably eat, but since the month is bracketed by Halloween candy and Thanksgiving, that in itself might not be a good idea.
  11. There’re all those craft shows for holiday giving, and
  12. That day after Thanksgiving where so many shop.
  13. Start of Christmas cookie baking.food-clip-art-clipart-4nTEryGiA
  14. Other holiday planning and doing.
  15. And it’s close to the end of the semester for many schools.

There are plenty of good reasons to take the challenge. For instance, this site lists 14 published books written during Nano. There are sites that give you ideas of how to make this month productive, as well as this blog by WFWA and RMFW member, Jamie Raintree, with ways to convert this month into a productive year.

Even with evidence that this month truly does work, I’m not participating. When I’ve attempted this exercise in the past, I’ve ended up with a mess. I did “win,” but I’m still trying to untangle the knots from four years ago.

My writing group has tried some alternate “months of writing.” We’ve picked a month with the idea of writing a story a week. Each week one of us emailed prompts. Although I haven’t checked with the others, I know at least two of the stories I produced have either been published or are slated to come out soon. This shorter, more focused exercise works better for me.

Are you Nanoing? How has the process worked for you in the past?

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Writing Classes on the Web

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I just completed my first online class through Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I’ve taken online classes of various sorts before, two through Mid-American Review, another one or two through a large nationally known commercial writing school. This recent class was by far the most inexpensive and possibly the shortest in duration. The class, Heroes, Henchmen, and Sidekicks, presented by Angie Hodapp, was an expansion of a workshop she’d presented at the Colorado Gold conference in September. The class was just what I needed to spark my attempts at revising the mess of a novel I’d written a few years ago during NaNoWriMo.

At first I hadn’t been sure I wanted to spend time on an online course. The last one I’d taken had cost me something like six weeks take home pay and in the end I came away with little other than some praise from the leader. He called my novel “heartbreaking,” which I considered a good thing, but the rest of the class had been a waste of time, and, unfortunately, money. When I realized how little this RMFW class cost, though, I decided I might as well give it a go. It helped that another member of my writing group had also signed up.

As I say, overall I’m happy with the information presented and the spur it gave to my revision, but some other, more procedural or technical, aspects of the course just didn’t work for me. Every other course I’ve taken had a reasonably easy way to follow discussions, even if some of them took a bit of getting adjusted. This class utilized the yahoo platform, probably due to the availability and, I’m assuming, low (free) cost. I spend much of the first day or two trying to figure out the platform, and after some instruction by the leader and other class members, I could make some sense of the board. Still, it was very difficult to follow discussions, probably because other participates also didn’t know how to utilize the system, and because the workshop had something like 49 participants! Unwieldy on any platform, I suspect.

Elsewhere on this blog I’ve mentioned for me, a successful writing event, whether an online course, a workshop, or a retreat, is if I come away with a new writing friend, or contact. With the unwieldy number of participates in the course, it is understandable why this didn’t happen. It is hard to make connections when you can’t find the person you were originally talking to! Prior to sharing any writing, one of the other class members who lives in my immediate geographic area asked if I participated in a writing group. I told her the rudimentary details of WURDZ, gave her my email address, and heard nothing.

Another reason I did not forge a new friendship is that almost every other person seemed to be writing in a genre that I wasn’t. The predominate genre seemed to be fantasy, with historical fiction or YA the second most common category, and usually YA fantasy. Even though I may not have read every single introduction–hard to keep track when they appeared all over the place and days after the class started–I didn’t see a single  “women’s fiction” writer. One other person said she wrote mainstream fiction, but after reading her first assignment, I suggested she might be writing more of a thriller, and since it usually seems easier to sell something if you can file it under a specific genre, maybe she should consider that.

Angie had mentioned doing a longer version of this course, and I think that would be helpful as cramming in six lessons in two weeks when you have to go to work, read material for your writing group, do your own writing, as well as live you usual life, is a bit much. Even though I more or less stopped writing down the lessons, I read over each and thought how I would use the information in my revisions.

For the time being, I’m toying with the idea of taking the next online class offered by RMFW–Editing and Revision for Fiction Writers.  With decreased expectations of finding a like-minded writing companion, I might be freer to learn and enjoy. Possibly I’ll have a heads up on the class platform as well.

I’d be interested in hearing of online schools or classes you’ve participated in and what you felt you got out of them. Were they useful? Did you make writing friends? Please leave a comment, and check out the RMFW classes, too. One may be just right for you.

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Grit and Writing leads to Success?

Tom HIlbert, the coach of the Colorado State University volleyball team, posted a Weekend Ted Talk. The talk, via The Huffington Post, was titled The Key to Success. The CSU Rams are currently one of two undefeated teams in D-1 volleyball in the nation and are ranked #10. I’m suspecting one of the reasons Tom found this talk interesting is its relation to the team and the fact that they keep finding ways to win when this year had been presented as a rebuilding year. Friday night’s game was played against Air Force, our instate conference foe. The Falcons are perennial bottom dwellers in the conference standings. CSU is 41-1 against them, having last lost in 1982. While watching the cadets battle us on Friday, I turned to the woman sitting next to me and said, “They play with grit.” Even though they had to know they were likely to lose, they kept playing without a hang-dog attitude. One very long rally earned the respect of the crowd and they were given a round of applause.

The aforementioned TED talk suggests that IQ isn’t a good measure of success but grit is. What does it mean to have grit? Merriam-Webster online defines it as “mental toughness and courage.” Dictionary.com includes pluck, an indomitable spirit, and firmness of character. The lecturer, Angela Lee Ducksworth, defines grit as the passion and perseverance to accomplish long-term goals, or working hard to make dreams or goals a reality.

I never feel bad when CSU beats AF, mostly because I know these players have a chance to be successful in other areas of life, partly due to their grit, but obviously, grit in this instance does not guarantee success in volleyball. My question is, does it equal success in writing?

Ms Lee Ducksworth states many talented individuals do not meet with success, just as there are many smart people who are not successful. Submitting writing for publication is the one area of writing  that I would agree requires grit. When you are faced with a deluge of rejection, you have to be able to get back up and resubmit. One other quality of grit that is mentioned in the short lecture is that those who demonstrate it do not believe failure is a permanent condition. Definitely a necessary characteristic to have as a writer. Most published authors had to exhibit some amount of grit in order to obtain the state of publication. One of the few successful authors who comes to mind who did not have the grit to continue to seek publication is John Kennedy Toole. Confederacy of Dunces,

the 1981 Pulitzer Prize winner, would be considered successful by most criteria, although the same may not be said for the author since he committed suicide prior to the book’s acceptance. It was his mother who exhibited grit in her determination to get his book published.

What about other aspects of writing? Does it take grit to finish a novel? A short story or poem? Or is the grit in the editing and rewriting? And even if you have the grit, say, to finish Nanowrimo, we all know that 50,000 words does not equate with success in publication. Possibly we could use the mentality that those who are successful have the grit to revise and rewrite to the point that their work is accepted and published. Certainly that is one type of grit, the determination to be published no matter what, and by that definition, anyone who is unwilling to conform to the exacting demands of agents/publishers/genres may not have the grit necessary for publication. Of course it is necessary to be flexible enough to listen to the critiques of others, but to some degree it seems to me that saying that an author who has spent time and effort concocting the best piece of writing of which they are able who is still not able to find a route to publication lacks grit, is an example of blaming the victim. Often you hear that if you are good enough and have worked at perfecting your craft, you will find success. If that is true, then someone who doesn’t find success did not maintain grit long enough.

This unsuccessfully published individual might still have had the grit to finish a novel or other piece of writing, but does having a finished product equate with success?

If you are a talented author with the will to complete a piece of writing and the grit to seek publication, are you guaranteed success? I think there are plenty of us out there who would respond no. What other factors are involved in writing (as in publishing) success and do they require grit in some form?

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