Friday, October 31, 2014

How To Succeed at NaNo Without Really Trying

I've decided to resurrect my mostly-dead blog to celebrate the very imminent beginning of my tenth foray into National Novel Writing Month. Let's think about how old I am for a moment: I have been doing this for a decade. Man I feel old.

In celebration, and to promote the illusion that with age automatically comes wisdom, I would like to offer my NaNo secret, because I HAVE managed to write at least 50,000 words every time so far. I did a post on this last year, but this year I think I have managed to boil down my top seven points into just 20 words, or two principles.

PRINCIPLE ONE: If it helps you produce words, DO IT.

PRINCIPLE TWO: If it DOES NOT HELP you produce words, DO NOT DO IT.

All of last year's seven tips are basically sub-iterations of these two principles. These might seem laughably self-evident. Maybe they are. But I am consistently surprised at how many people don't seem to think this way. And, whether they know it consciously or not, it is the only way people succeed at NaNo.

If it helps you to be in competition with someone, to brag about how many words you've written in a day, or to tell people what your story is about, THEN DO SO. If telling people these things makes you feel like you're setting yourself up for failure--well, preferably think more positively about yourself because YOU CAN SO DO IT, but look at the outcome: if sharing your word count or comparing yourself with others is stopping you from writing, STOP SHARING IMMEDIATELY.

If going to public NaNo events, posting on the forums, or otherwise getting together with groups of people helps you produce words, DO THESE THINGS. If (like me) scrolling through the forums makes you feel overwhelmed with the amount of things you could say, if public NaNo events make you feel shy and block your inspiration, CEASE THESE THINGS IMMEDIATELY. Writers are shy people and muses can be skittish. The NaNo community is, by and large, awesome, but if you're like me and mostly can't stand people looking at you when you're writing, then events designed to help you are actually hindering you and no one planning them wants that.

I could come up with more examples, but I think the gentle reader probably has the idea. This can also be a litmus test for whether you should do NaNo at all: does a deadline just bottle up your muse? Well, IF you want to work professionally in a creative field you'll have to get over that eventually, but maybe at this point it's more helpful to just set a daily or a weekly writing goal--500 words a day or 5 hours every week--and let others keep their insane month-long deadlines.

Okay. Now to go buy bulk coffee.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book List 2014

1. Fables: The Dark Ages, by Bill Willingham et al
2. Gravity's Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon
3. Slow Learner, by Thomas Pynchon
4. The Kingdom of Matthias, by Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz
5. The Story of the Irish Race, by Seamus MacManus
6. Merlin, by Norma Lorre Goodrich
7. Orphans of Chaos, by John C. Wright
8. Understanding Media, by Marshall McLuhan
9. Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card
10. Prospero Lost, by L. Jagi Lamplighter
11. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
12. Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins
13. Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
14. Farthing, by Jo Walton
15. Bellwether, by Connie Willis
16. Shadow of the Hegemon, by Orson Scott Card
17. On Blue's Waters, by Gene Wolfe
18. In Green's Jungles, by Gene Wolfe
19. Return to the Whorl, by Gene Wolfe
20. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
21. The View From Saturday, by E.L. Konigsberg
22. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
23. Vineland, by Thomas Pynchon
24. The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon
25. The Father, by August Strindberg
26. The King of Elfland's Daughter, by Lord Dunsany
27. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
28. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
29. VALIS, by Philip K. Dick
30. The Divine Invasion, by Philip K. Dick
31. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, by Philip K. Dick
32. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling
33. Great World Religions: Buddhism (Great Courses)
34. Great World Religions: Judaism (Great Courses)
35. The Three Pillars of Zen, ed. by Roshi Philip Kapleau
36. The Middle East and Islamic World Reader
37. God is a Verb: Kaballah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, by Rabbi David Cooper
38. Henry IV, Part One, by Bill Shakespeare
39. Henry IV, Part Two, by Bill Shakespeare
40. Henry V, by Bill Shakespeare
41. Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman
42. The History of Atlantis, by Lewis Spence
43. The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett
44. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
45. Mistress of Mistresses, by ER Eddison
46. The White-Luck Warrior, by R Scott Bakker
47. As You Like It, by Bill Shakespeare
48. Saint Francis of Assisi, by GK Chesterton
49. The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch
50. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom
51. The Innocence of Father Brown, by GK Chesterton
52. South of the Border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami
53. After Dark, by Haruki Murakami
54. Doctor Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe
55. Endgame and Act Without Words, by Samuel Beckett
56. Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
57. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
58. Sanctuary, by William Faulkner
59. At World's End, by Tim Powers
60. Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale, by Joss & Zack Weedon, et. al.
61. Avengers vs. X-Men, by Brian Michael Bendis et. al.
62. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling
63. The Elephant Vanishes, by Haruki Murakami
64. Soldier of the Mist, by Gene Wolfe
65. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, by Zack Whedon et. al.
66. Pandora by Holly Hollander, by Gene Wolfe
67. Pirate Freedom, by Gene Wolfe
68. Heretics, by GK Chesterton
69. Soldier of Arete, by Gene Wolfe
70. Orthodoxy, by GK Chesterton