My NaNoWriMo Do's and Don'ts

DO make a Snowflake outline ahead of time.

DO stick to its scene list like it's the gospel truth so you don't wander off and write another 100k that isn't relevant...again.

DO add notes to yourself in [brackets] as you're writing so you can keep track of changes you want to make later.

DON'T worry what that will do to your word count. Your goal is a finished novel manuscript, not a mere 50k.

DO turn off the Internet. Except to post word count updates.

DO take Saturdays off, or your tendinitis will overwhelm you. Unless you didn't type much on Friday and an idea strikes you Saturday night while you're watching Doctor Who reruns.

DO use liniment during the day and wear your wrist brace at night even if it doesn't feel like it needs it. It does.

DON'T try to set a new personal record for most words written in one day. You couldn't type for 4 days after that.

DO write entire scenes at once whenever possible. Homogeneity is a good thing in scene tone.

DO eat regularly, and with relatively healthy food, so your hypoglycemia doesn't flare up mid-scene.

DO get up between scenes and stretch, exercise a bit, or do a quick chore. The house always looks cleanest during the first week of NaNo!

DO upload your word count every hour or so like the obsessive nutjob you are.

DO check your writing buddies' word counts every morning to see if anyone has passed you.

DO try to stay in the top 5 among your writing buddies' word counts.

DO boot everyone from your writing buddies list who hasn't actually written anything the first week. They're not helping your momentum.

DO remember you have a family, and spend time with them when you're not writing.

Happy National Day on Writing!

There's an animal joy that rises in my soul at the thought of creating new universes. I make new places. I make new people. I carve the mountain ranges; I arrange the women's hair. I release the people into the worlds, and I guide them on their journeys. I get to create encounters and adventures I'll never see on Earth.

At the same time, I am the filter for these places, these events. They are the distilled awesomesauce of planet Earth, through my eyes. Through my soul. My creations are the pure, unadulterated moonshine of my brain, the ambrosia that is freedom of expression...the crack cocaine that is my imagination.

Have some.



My Hero

Anger can come in more than one form. Unfocused anger is the unhealthy sort, where anyone and everyone can be a target, and usually nothing is resolved. But focused anger, the sort that has a pattern and a path and a targeted goal, can work wonders. Studies have shown that arguments given in anger (read: rants) are more coherent and organized than those assembled in a neutral state of mind before any editing is done. You know the type: you get fed up with a series of related issues, and you spell them out, one by one, with accompanying examples. Look, angernization!

My own current anger is in retaliation against my own passivity and laziness, as well as events beyond my control. I had a hard summer: I pulled a tendon in my leg, which resulted in no exercise and little movement for four weeks, followed immediately by two weeks' vacation, consisting mostly of car rides and unhealthy food. I gained weight. As a former 116-pound black belt, my pudge well and truly disgusted me. But not as much as my fatalism. Two weeks ago, I organized workout music and planned an easy exercise program that my leg, still recovering, can handle. And I ranted at myself, out loud, in wickedly organized fashion. It felt good.

I'm happy to report that my body still likes to be in shape. After two weeks, I've dropped a nice seven pounds and an inch here and there, and I feel stronger and healthier. Fitting back into clothes I had to put away is a serious joy.

My goal is to drop twenty pounds. I don't know, or care, how long it will take. I WANT this. I DEMAND this.

And this is where I whip out the "art" portion of this post, because I can't help wondering whether one of the characters in my current fantasy trilogy project is inspiring this change in me. Here's how I wrote him in book one of the Seals of the Duelists, titled Elements of Allegiance:

Bayan is a young man, just 15, when his magic powers appear. He doesn't want them; he wants to marry his girlfriend. His worst-case scenario is being sent to live on a mountain ridge nearby, causing his girlfriend to leave him, but things go from bad to worse immediately, and he learns he has to travel over a thousand miles away, leaving family, culture, language and climate behind, and go deep into the heart of the empire that has taken control of his homeland, in order to be trained by the imperial duelists to do a lifelong job he despises.

Yeah, he's pissed. He's so pissed that it affects his magic while he bides his time, looking for a way to escape and return home. At a critical point in the story, he has to deal with his anger, because in its unfocused state, its disruption of his magic could be deadly. After all, he doesn't want to die, he wants to go home. So he finds a way to focus his anger. It never goes away (spoiler?), but only one of them can be in control, and Bayan DEMANDS that it be him. Because it must be so, and so it is.

Did my character inspire me? Is he saving me? (My hero!) I've experienced a lot of anger during my life, and I thought that's where Bayan's issues came from when I created him. But maybe I've held the keys to my own freedom all along, too. It just took some fiction writing and the summer from hell to help me see it.