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Showing posts from October, 2018

NaNoWriMo Eve

It's NaNoWriMo Eve!

It's also some sort of free candy holiday today but that's not what's truly important.

In order to prepare my mind for NaNoWriMo, I've done my best to think about NaNoWriMo as little as possible for about the last thirty-six hours and it's been tough. I keep getting ideas in my head and I don't want to listen to those ideas and fixate on them. I want to go into this with a clear mind aside from my five written up ideas.

I'll be choosing my idea when I sit down tomorrow at the keyboard. I was going to outline and make more detailed notes but I decided that I just want to let whatever and whoever pops into my head guide me through the month. I know that might sound nuts especially because, if you know me in real life, you know I am hyper, super organized. Definitely a planner. And that's exactly why I want to do this with no plan whatsoever. I need a planning break.


That's not to say that I won't plan ahead a bit as I go along but I'm going to try to keep the strictly structured me out of the way in November as much as possible.

I'm also not going to be up at midnight tonight writing. I'm thinking the first words will hit the screen sometime after 6AM tomorrow morning. I still have a job and responsibilities and being up at midnight on a weekday just wouldn't be a smart thing to do.

So, before I go, I do plan to check in here with status updates from time to time so check in here or on the Twitter every once in a while and, if you are also doing the NaNo thing this time, good luck and add me as a writing buddy. My user id is upinthisbrain.

Shifting gears

Two and just under one-half days left until NaNoWriMo begins and I am slowly switching gears, moving from the high speed of the last few months to a slower pace moving forward, a pace which I hope will help give me the energy I need to get some writing done in November.


After seeing AlienCG's recommendation, I am also going to go with OneNote this year for NaNoWriMo. The only difficulty I see with it is that there is no built-in word count but I can easily save in a Word doc at the end of each day and get my counts there. I used Google Docs in years passed but I really like the idea of writing outside of a browser window. I'm thinking it will be a bit less tempting to open another tab and get lost in YouTube or Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, I'm thinking I'm going to have to spend as little time as possible on it next month. It is a huge time suck and there is not going to be any time to waste. Even though I don't have as much on the calendar in November as I have since August until last weekend, it is a very busy month for me and it's going to take some real changes in how I spend my time to have the time to write in addition to getting everything else done.

Of course, this is all my thinking on the outside of November looking in. The reality will hit November 1st and onward. Maybe I waste plenty of time now and I just need to recover some of that wasted time to make my way to 50K words.

Right now I am just looking forward and wondering how it will all turn out.

A solid idea and a bit of prep might help but right now all I have is five files, each with a sentence fragment describing an idea at the top. No character names. No settings. No decisions made. That's how I did it the one year I "won" and that might end up being how I do it again.

Having nothing to say

A couple of days ago, I decided to go ahead and knock out episode 397 of the podcast which will drop to a device near you on November 2nd.

I tried three times to record a monologue for the episode and each one derailed in a brain fart.

I had nothing to say or, maybe more accurately, I had things to say but nothing to share. There was nothing that I was saying that felt interesting or entertaining or even necessary. I was about to give up when I had a different idea and that idea, with absolutely no words from me, ended up being episode 397.

Maybe the topic I was trying to talk about was too vague. Maybe I just hadn't had enough coffee yet.

It certainly makes me continue to question personal podcasting as a creative outlet. I'm happy with defined topics like we discuss on the Garbagecast Conversations. I enjoy talking about music on In Your Earholes.

But when it comes to an impromptu talk about myself, I think I'm about talked out!


The rumors of bossjock studio's death were somewhat exaggerated

I've said many times that bossjock studio is/was my favorite podcasting app. It gave me the ability to record a podcast with tons of clips in real time with only the app and a USB microphone plugged into my iPad.

Yes. Real time. No editing here. WISIWYG (what I say is what you get).

And then, something went wrong. bossjock studio stopped being updated. Dropbox support went away. The app is a bit unstable in iOS 12 since it hasn't been updated in so long.

Then, word came from the Virtual Yooper that bossjock studio has disappeared from the app store. If you uninstall it, it is gone FOREVER. That's when I started looking for a suitable replacement app because I really don't want to have to buy a whole new setup with a mixer and a new mic and all that. I want to keep it simple.

And, I wanted to write about my disappointment over the end of bossjock studio here today. So I decided to do a little research and went out to the bossjock studio website and, guess what! It forwards to the future home of a new app, Backpack Studio!
Click me to go to the website for Backpack Studio! Fill out the survey. Volunteer to be a beta tester!
That's right. It looks like we'll get a new and improved version of bossjock sometime in the future.

Yay! Long live bossjock Backpack Studio!

Two NaNoWriMo resources that have been helpful for me

First is a podcast. 

This year, NaNoWriMo and SheWrites have teamed up to create the Write-minded podcast and each episode has been full of great stuff about not just NaNoWriMo but creativity in general.

The website is here: http://podcast.shewrites.com/episodes/
The direct feed is here: http://podcast.shewrites.com/feed/
The NaNoWriMo page about the podcast is here: https://nanowrimo.org/podcast

Second is a book by NaNoWriMo Executive Director Grant Faulkner.

The title is Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo.

As I type out this post, it is just $1.99 for your Kindle on Amazon. Of all of the writing books I have read lately, this has been the one I have most enjoyed and I am taking reading it very slow so I can have it for my breaks at least in week one of NaNo (unless I just end up tearing through it before then which certainly might happen).


I have found that every little bit of information helps but too much information is information overload and just wears me out. It's getting down to the last days before NaNo now so I am really slowing down what I am taking in to my head at this point.

Until the end of the month, I am trying not to completely overthink the writing process but the two resources above are providing just enough to keep me on track.

Clearing the way for NaNoWriMo

I spent time yesterday and today (so far) trying to rid myself of what could turn into distractions in November while I am focused on NaNoWriMo.

I took a lot of time to look through my to-do list for items I could complete now so they would not linger into next month. The biggest of these tasks was getting my benefits setup for 2019. The smallest involved sending some emails.

I cleared out files filled with stuff I previously thought needed to be kept but apparently had no use. I tossed calendars I was gung-ho about the using at the start of the year but had ignored pretty much ever since.

I went through files on my laptop and deleted everything I didn't need and organized files I might need in the future but have no need for right now. Out of sight, out of mind.

I removed miscellaneous items from the desk in the home office and the little desk my personal laptop sits on. Less tchotchke stuff sitting around, less to look at, think about, and dust.

And, yeah, I even dusted and I hate dusting.


Lastly, I organized my podcast for the rest of the year. I plotted out my schedule all the way through the Christmas episodes. I even put together the next episode, dropping November 2nd, and I put files in the folder for the one after that which I intend to record and post on November 16th.

I know that there are unforeseen things that will come up. I am not sure if Donald Rumsfeld would classify those things as known unknowns since I know unknowns may happen or as unknown unknown which means we don't know what we don't know, I guess. Who knows? It's all confusing and even more so now that I tried to write that out.
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.                                      
- Donald Rumsfeld

The known known I know (?!) is that every little and big thing I can get done now, in October, is one more thing that won't stand in my way of getting 50,000 words out of my head and into the laptop in November.

Preptober pitfalls

This is the year I'm going to prepare for NaNoWriMo ahead of time.

That's what I told myself at the end of September.

Then I came upon someone on YouTube that said their prep began in December of last year and they've written a twenty-plus page outline, biographies of each character, charts, etc. etc. etc.

Then I started reading some books I found for my Kindle and discovered a lot of the same. There are many people who seem to have entire careers set up around writing about writing but have done very little writing about anything other than writing. It seems odd following guidelines on how to structure a novel from someone who has never written an even semi-successful novel.

The books and information from many websites that I read suggests an overwhelming amount of preparation. It's more than overwhelming. It's daunting. Discouraging. No wonder so many people start NaNo and fail with all that the writing gurus say we must to in order to be successful!

A few of the gurus I researched said they have about a 50 page outline that takes a year (!) to create and they also analyze each character down to favorite foods and colors even if that information never comes up in the book!


I do feel like I got some tidbits here and there out of all of my reading that will guide me along during this NaNoWriMo such as insights into how deep into a character I should go and how even the simplest plan will help me keep my momentum going during the sometimes difficult middle weeks (2 and 3) of NaNo.

Finally, to offset all I read from people who only write about writing, I started looking for interviews with real, successful authors like Atwood, Hemingway, Groff, Irving, Ross, etc. and I found that a lot of them simply write and write as much as they can as fast as they can, typically between 1500 and 2000 words a day and they acknowledge that much of the first draft will be crap but the magic is in the rewriting after the fact. Sounds a lot like NaNo, doesn't it? None mentioned a traditional outline. There was some discussion of index cards.

Of course, these are talented people with a knack for story telling but also they are free from the constraints of all of the processes that the guru writers who only write about writing want us to use. I think you do have to be quite confident, maybe even nutty, to write page after page without tons and tons of prep but I also find it freeing and I think doing too much prep might squelch that freedom and fun.

All that said, I have four ideas written down. Each idea is just a few words so far. I intend to expand on each one this week so I can determine a clear winner before the insanity begins on November 1st. That expansion will include a simple summary, an initial list of characters and an outline of chapters (hopefully) and will be about 48 pages shorter than the 50 page outline suggested by the gurus.

It's not about WHERE we write

As NaNoWriMo approaches, I have been doing the best I can to keep my mind off of deciding what I am going to write (maybe that will happen next week?) so I find myself diving into other NaNo-related topics. One that keep popping up is where I am going to do the bulk of my writing.

In previous years, most of my writing has happened at home (right where I am writing these words right now) but for the last month or so I've been thinking about how I can get a bit more mobile. What will be my primary writing device? What bag will I use (I love bags!)? What notebook do I have that will fit into said bag along with said device? Where all can I venture out to?

My brand new NaNo mouse along with the laptop I picked up super cheap at the pawn shop over the summer which will be my primary NaNo device either on the road or at the kitchen table!

But yesterday, sitting out on the deck reading one last book to prepare my mind for the month ahead, I had one of those epiphany things! Spending time deciding where to write and getting to these places is time I could be actually writing. It's all a big 'ol distraction. I can stay right here in town if I need to escape the house. I have access to various quiet buildings. If I don't want quiet, there are several coffee shops and restaurants I could occupy a corner of. I could probably even sit in a corner of the band room during lessons or after school rehearsal and type, type, type.

I do like the idea of writing buddies and meeting other people who are attempting the same crazy goal of 50K written words in thirty days but the priority going in will be simply to meet my daily writing goals and if I accomplish those goals just popping open the laptop at my kitchen table over thirty days, that will be just as good as undertaking a NaNo tour of far-flung coffee shops. It's all about the writing.

The wave of calm

I don't want to get on here and say I have a totally new attitude about life or anything but there has been a wave of calm in my life lately leading to at least a slightly more aware attitude that seems to be taking me into new directions.

OK, so we can play some Patti LaBelle, let's say I have a New Attitude!

We should take any opportunity we can to play some Patti.

I don't know. I think realizing I needed to throw the brakes on the podcast at the end of August was a huge step for me. Not quitting in frustration. Adapting.

It took me a bit longer to figure out how this blogging thing fits into my life but I feel like I'm in a good place here now also and I think NaNoWriMo is going to be another big step because I feel like I'm going to do it differently than I have in the past.

In fact, I feel like I'm doing a lot of things differently than I have in the past.

I'm not saying that I don't get frustrated from time to time and that things are always going perfectly 100% of the time but I find myself retreating to that calm place more easily lately when things do get out of whack and I believe the reason is that I've been better about making rest a priority and setting realistic limits.


What vacation?

I was on vacation this last Monday through Thursday. You would have never have known it if you had followed me around. I was insanely busy. There was not one day, not one waking hour, without something that needed to be done. I'm actually thankful to be at work today so I can take a break from my vacation.

Remember the excellent movie "What About Bob?"

Dr. Catherine Tomsky: Relax, Leo.
Dr. Leo Marvin: I'm relaxed!
Dr. Catherine Tomsky: Take a vacation.
Dr. Leo Marvin: I'M ON VACATION!

That's about what it was like.

And I see NaNoWriMo looming in just over two weeks and I wonder how on Earth I will have enough free time to do it.

I did finish a book I was reading this week and I am not going to start another one. That will save me some time.

And, marching season ends on the last Saturday of the month so I won't be gone all day on Saturdays once November rolls around.

Time will slowly free up.

It's just hectic right now. Mighty hectic.

A lesson learned from stepping back a bit from podcasting

Once I stopped the weekly podcast, I realized that the nice gift of not having to analyze my daily life in order to pull out the "good parts" to share. By the "good parts," I mean the entertaining or opinionated little snippets from an otherwise average, mundane life.

This is why in podcasting weekly and mainly about my own life, I felt the need to present the exaggerated parts of myself and got quite frustrated when my days were routine and not productive for material.

No one wants to hear a line by line analysis of my grocery list compared to a line by line analysis of the receipt showing what I actually bought versus what I went into the store to buy.

OK. Maybe there is a weirdo or two that would find that fascinating. I started to find it fascinating just writing that out but, of course, I am also a weirdo.

I know that people do enjoy the exaggerated, irregular parts of life such as stories from my Taco Bell days or the guy that spun around in the department store bathroom stall while peeing and laughing. But, these are not normal occurrences and they are finite.

There is not enough material in my life to sustain a weekly podcast of just the exaggerated.

So, I go through most of my week now thinking occasionally about the next show (the next one is already planned but nothing has been done yet) but not fixating about which snippets of my daily life will or will not make the cut and that is how I had been living my life for most of the last five years.

A Harlan Ellison quote about cop shows applies perfectly to how I now feel about the grind of weekly, personal podcasting: "It just gets to be a drag after a while."

Split online personality

What is a split online personality?

This blog was once titled "Up In This Brain" but I wanted to use that name for the podcast in 2013. So, this site became "Up In This Blog" just on the basis of keeping it similar. It sounds a lot like this is the colonoscopy of blogging which as true as that might seem was not my intention.

Both sites have separate Twitters because, as I mentioned Wednesday, I got into my head that sharing everything in one place was sort of spammy. I don't know why I felt that way but I did. So I have two Twitters to maintain which seems dumber and dumber as I go along.

I've also had websites, blogs, Tumblrs, podcasts, etc. all under separate names. Sometimes the names have changed right in the middle of doing something. URL's have been bought and cancelled. It's all confusing.

I don't know why I did it. I think that I sometimes hide my creative projects in different places, maybe afraid to truly be who I am to everyone all at once. I control who sees what by keeping things separate. It certainly has to do with self-esteem or lack thereof. It also has to do with worrying too much about what other people think.

However, I am slowly getting my act together. I moved my NaNoWriMo account back to upinthisbrain this week and I have a request pending with Instagram to get my user id there corrected back to upinthisbrain.

Symmetry? Cohesiveness? I don't know. I do know that slowing down the podcast and stepping back a bit has given me the chance to do some in-depth observations about who I am as a creator and who I want to end up being.


It’s so busy

After yesterday’s post, I was looking at Tumblr and, like Twitter, it’s just busy - non-stop streams of information assaulting your senses. It’s also a fantastic way to do no work at all. Just scroll through posts all day and avoid doing what you are researching to do.

All in and zero out.

I was thinking about the olden days when we didn’t have the constant stream of information, we had to purposely seek the information we needed. That typically meant a trip to the library or the bookstore or even taking classes. These were accessible things but not so accessible that the inflow of knowledge could lead us down endless rabbit holes and result in us wasting hours and hours.

I guess I am saying there must be a better way.

I guess I am admitting that I learned a bit more about how to outline a novel today but produced zero actual work.

I have figured out what is missing on Blogger

Community.

Writing on Blogger is like yelling into a closed department store. There's plenty of those around. Go try it.

I have a Twitter for this site with a handful of followers and maybe one will see a post about an entry and come here. My tweet about the entry prior to this one had a whopping 4 engagements. 4! And, only 1 link click. 1!

I assume the rest of the visitors are bots or are lost, sent here by Google while looking for something else.

Sure, it's a lot my fault. I've quit blogging, resumed blogging, quit, resumed, changed the name of the site, etc. I think I've done all of that because it's so quiet here - creepy quiet.

Is it the lack of interaction that is frustrating? I don't know. I don't really need interaction. I am writing to write. I think it's the lack of possibility of interaction. I write something here and I know that most likely no one will see what I wrote even before I click on publish.

Blogging is certainly not what it once was but Blogger is the Blockbuster Video of blogging sites. There are no community building tools at all. You publish it and you try to grow a following on a site like Twitter which has plenty of its own problems.

And, I've done myself no favors on Twitter by not sharing my blog to my main account. I feel, maybe stupidly, like I would be spamming people if I did.

So, what are my options?

With Wordpress, you get a built-in community but a lot of the interaction there was spam when I was on there in the past.

With Tumblr, well, let's face it - they're not much better off than Blogger but it doesn't feel as empty as this place does.

So, then what? Do I pick up this site and head off somewhere else or do I keep plodding along and maybe if I build it, they will come?


Who knows. I'm just starting to get tired of standing out in this cornfield all by myself.

Desperately seeking structure

I am thinking about NaNoWriMo a whole month ahead this year. In fact, I thought about it during most of September also but I haven't done a bit of what I would call real preparation. All I have done is worry myself in the realization that I know zip about how to structure a 50,000 word story.

I've "won" once, way back in 2014 and I put that in quotes because the story that came out of that was 100% crap. OK, maybe 90% crap. 10% of it was acceptable.

I would like to go in this time with an idea (I have a basic one) and an outline (I am nowhere near even beginning that at the moment).

I need some structure!

I like structure - lists, index cards, something!
Some of my actual index cards patiently awaiting my story ideas once I figure out how to organize them

Without structure, I feel listless (no pun intended at first but then I went with it) and I think that's why my NaNoWriMo attempts start strong and then end up feeling like an out of control battery-operated scooter that is about to burst into flames.

So, I'm searching for some basic structure or outline that I can use to start organizing my thoughts.

It's already October 2nd so time is ticking down.

Getting out of the house for NaNoWriMo

If I'm going to be successful at NaNoWriMo next month, I'm going to have to leave the house to write.

Part of it is there is no place in this house where I can hide from interruptions, mainly the three four-legged interruptions that constantly need things such as attention (usually involving tennis balls) or passage in and out of the house. Also, they each have different levels of sonic hearing which can cause barking outbursts at any random moment depending on who hears what.

I'll be saying this a lot in November!

The big problem is my never-ending, self-replicating to-do list. I just got up to fix toast and noticed two other things that need to be done this morning. Yesterday was a day of to-do's - one to-do leading to another and no time to slow down, just go, go, go.

That's not going to work when I've trying to type out hundreds of words of nonsense every day for a month. That's why I'll be in coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, parks - you name it - all through the month of November.

Dogs and to-do's out of sight, out of mind.