Monthly Archives: November 2012

The opposite of NaNo

So, we’re heading into the last week of November, which for many people means holiday food and fun and shopping. For many writers, it means either agony or triumph over NaNoWriMo (AKA National Novel Writing Month). Personally, I have mixed feelings about NaNo (as it’s called). Sure, lots of writers finish–or at least start–a novel this way. A few of those novels end up published.

It can spark a love for writing. It can be fun. The sense of community can inspire. But I think it can also discourage. Never mind the writers who pen a 50,000-word novel in November and start sending it to agents in December (yes, it happens). I get the (completely unscientific) sense that for some people, NaNo is the complete opposite of what they should be doing. By November 30th, if not sooner, they end up discouraged. They may end up thinking they can’t write.

The thing is, writing 50,000 words during one month during the year probably won’t make you a writer in the same way running during one month of the year probably won’t make you a runner. And there’s plenty of proof this sort of binge writing may not be the best for you or your writing career.

From Script Magazine: Get A New Story: Binge Writing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be. Click through and read the whole thing. It’s worth it. But I found this study they cite very interesting:

In a 1999 study by Robert Boice, “Which is more Productive, Writing in Binge Patterns of Creative Illness or in Moderation?” the findings showed that:

“Binge writers (a) accomplished far less writing overall, (b) got fewer editorial acceptances, (c) scored higher on the Beck Depression Inventory, and (d) listed fewer creative ideas for writing. These data suggest that creative illness, defined by its common emotional state for binge writers (i.e., hypomania and its rushed euphoria brought on by long, intense sessions of working—followed by depression), offers more problems (e.g., working in an emotional, rushed, fatiguing fashion) than magic.”

You don’t need big blocks of time to write. As this other fabulous article (Get A New Story: Why You Don’t Need Big Blocks of Time to Write) points out: it’s a trap. You can get an amazing amount of writing work done in fifteen minutes a day. This is what Rosanne Bane calls Fifteen Magic Minutes.

Thing is, I’m pretty sure nearly everyone has fifteen minutes they can devote to writing three to five times a week. It sounds kind of like an exercise schedule, doesn’t it? I think the practice of writing has a lot in common with daily exercise. It’s not glamorous. It can be lonely. You don’t “win” anything at the end of those fifteen minutes.

But what happens when you work out at a slow and steady pace for twelve months out of the year? What happens if you only work out for one month during the year?

Apply that same logic to writing. Where might you go and where might you end up if only you took a few steps (or wrote a few words) per day? My guess is farther than you might think.


Filed under Musings, Writing

Because I don’t have a picture of a turkey

Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate. 

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Filed under The cat

Read the Unidentified Funny Objects Press Release!

Read a bit more about how the Unidentified Funny Objects Anthology came to be, the Kickstarter campaign, and its brush with Hurricane Sandy.

And, of course, you can always pre-order a copy (or two) directly from the publisher–it’s the perfect holiday gift for someone who loves funny science fiction and fantasy.

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Filed under Books, Promo, Reading, Writing

World War One: History in an Hour ~ a short review for a short book

Book #6 for the War Through the Generations WWI reading challenge, which means I have thoroughly “waded” into the challenge–and feeling quite proud of myself.

World War One: History in an Hour is exactly what it claims to be: a concise overview of World War I that you can read in an hour (or so–I spent about an hour and a half reading). It is also a better book to read at the start of a WWI reading challenge, not closer to its end.

That being said, it’s a great place to start if you don’t have a passing familiarity with WWI, or haven’t done any serious reading on the topic since 11th grade world history. The narrative style is engaging, and the book itself is broken into sections, which makes it easy to set down and pick back up again. The author doesn’t go into any great depth, but again, that’s not this book’s purpose.

The book also includes short biographies of some of the major players in the war along with a timeline.

So, if you’re looking for an introduction, or need a quick read to round out this year’s challenge, you can’t go wrong with this one, especially if it continues to be free on Kindle.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Reading, War Through The Generations

October-ish review

So I was looking over October, now that it’s over, and discovered something. I managed, without even trying, to send out four submissions this month. Four different submissions that no one has ever read (well, I’ve read them …). And I thought: Whoa. How did that happen?

It was magic.

Actually, when you work a little bit at a time, put some small words on the page, then a few more, and then a few more after that, they grow. It’s only after the fact, after the manuscript is written and revised, after you put a stamp on it (or click submit), that you realize how much you’ve done. Even then, you might sit back and think:

It was magic.

Cover of "84, Charing Cross Road"

Speaking of magic, reading in October was full of it. I don’t know why I’ve never read 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I don’t know why I decided I needed to read it right now, in October. But I did.

And I fell in love. Predictably, I immediately gobbled up Duchess of Bloomsbury Street and Q’s Legacy. Charming, wonderful, meandering books with no high concept, no high stakes, and yet I was glued to the page, kept turning the pages, stayed up way past my bedtime to read.

It was magic.

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Filed under Books, Reading, Reading & Writing, Writing