Writing: DeNoWriMo the First

Granted I haven’t written here for a while, but I have been writing since the last time I posted. So much so, that I have decided to declare May the first arbitrary Dennis’s Novel Writing Month (DeNoWriMo I). Over the next 31 days, I plan to churn out 50,000 or so words on a project I have been working on–on and off–since last year’s NaNoWriMo. If May goes well, I may well declare June DeNoWriMo II.

What’s the point of all of this? Well, my hope is that I will have something to report by the end of this year, but you will just have to stay tuned. And, while you’re waiting, why not try YoNoWriMo (your own Novel Writing Month).


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Writing: Sharpening one’s focus

I find that it is very easy as a writer to lose one’s focus or to have far too broad of a focus. For me, that lack of focus usually comes from my obsession with writing a novel.

The problem is that–at least I suspect the problem is that–I am not a novel writer in the classic sense of the idea. I cannot nor do I usually sit down and write copious amounts of words every day that can eventually come to represent a novel. Instead, I find that I am more of a vignette writer: someone who write short bursts of fiction, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but rarely of the kind that can be considered a novel.

As a result, I have spun my wheels for almost a decade now trying to finish a novel while some of my widest reaching and most successful works have been short stories that I finished in my characteristic vignette style. Over the past several months, that reality in my writing has come into sharp focus, and I cannot help but pursue the path that focus reveals.

The latter is not to say that I am abandoning my obsession with writing a novel. To the contrary, I am changing my approach to writing a novel that better fits the way I write and why I write that way. The objective remains the same even if the route is different.

So, what is your obsession in writing? What causes you to lose focus? What kind of writing are you the best at? The worst at? What helps you regain your focus?


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Writing: NaNoWriMo Days 10-18: Closing in on home

Day 18 finds me just short of 2/3rds of the way to my goal with 12 days to go. Of course, a busy schedule and a cold/the flu had to intervene along the way, but this story still has legs, and I think it will reach 50,000 words and beyond.

The other day, another writer noted that middles suck, and I am often inclined to agree. I’m also inclined to believe that it its middles that make a story, even if they’re not as memorable as the beginning or the end. I think middles are the part of the story that make it make sense. If the middle doesn’t hang together, then the beginning and end are like islands in a storm tossed sea, disconnected without anything useful between them.


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Writing: NaNoWriMo Days 6-9: Life and writing, writing and life

One of the problems most writers constantly face is how to balance their desire to write with the rest of their lives. Very few of us have the luxury of being able to only write, and quite a few of us have a lot of other things going on that writing. So how do we make it all work.

I’m not going to kid you: you’re going to have to make compromises. Writing is going to have to fit in with everything else, and sometimes making writing fit is like trying to cram one more person into an already stuffed phone booth.

What you have to do is decide that writing is important enough that it has to fit. You may find that you have to write late at night or early in the morning. You might have to write snippets on your lunch break. I’ve even heard of people writing while they’re in the bathroom. Sometimes, it just takes whatever it’s going to take.

It’s probably also going to be hard. You may find yourself even having to defend your writing against your spouse or relatives. That’s just how it goes. Life isn’t perfect, but if you want to write, you’re the one who is going to have to make it happen.

If I’m making it happen, you can too. Just do it.

23,411 words as of day 9.


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Writing: NaNoWriMo Day 5: The philosophy of writing

I have always tried very hard to make sure, as I am writing about writing, to be sure I do not presume or insinuate that everyone else should write like me. What works for me may not work for someone else, but what works for me might inspire someone else.

Today, I found myself being inspired by people who write in ways entirely unlike my own. Yet, in their own exploration of the art and the craft, I found kindred spirits and hope.

I think too many people dismiss writing for a variety of reasons, yet almost all of them spent at least thirteen years or more learning how to do it. Writing is what you make it, and I think the attempt opens pathways in the mind that are worth exploring for anyone.

So, whether you write fifty or five thousand words a day, write them. Mull them over. Savor them. Share them, if you will. Whatever you do with them, the effort will have been worth it.


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Writing: NaNoWriMo Day 1, part the second: Kick-off

It turns out that writers can be something of an introverted bunch despite our exhibitionist tendencies. We went to the North Dayton NaNoWriMo kick-off tonight. Needless to say, my anti-social self was dreading the thought of meeting other people I’d never met, but not to worry, we all pretty much just sat down and started writing.

Frankly, I like it better that way. Sure, it might be nice to eventually get to know some of these people, but at the moment it was just better to sit there and write.

And write I did, finishing up 6,845 words for the day. That seems like a mighty fine kick-off to me.


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Worldview: Writing: NaNoWriMo Preview: Work ethic

Another question that people who are not writing yet tend to ask writers is something along the lines of, “How do you do it?” “Do what?” I usually ask, to which they respond, “You know, write.”

Well, my years of experience tell the that, in order to write, you have to, well, write.

It’s really as simple as that, after a fashion. Writers write, usually every day, and usually a large number of words.

The pace for NaNoWriMo, as an example, is 1,667 words per day. If you write exactly that many words every day for the 30 days of November, you will end up with 50,010 words on 30 November, 10 more than is necessary to “win”.

My goal has been, for a while, to write 2,000 dedicated words a day. What are dedicated words?

As it turns out, I write a lot in the form of emails, posts and replies on social networking sites, an a variety of other venues, mostly on the internet. That kind of writing is what I call opportunistic writing. It can end up totaling thousands of words a day, and most of that kind of writing amounts to very little in the long run.

On the other hand, dedicated words are those committed to a specific idea with the intent of developing that idea to a conclusion. I rarely count my opportunistic writing toward the dedicated total, which means I must budget my daily allotment of words carefully to be sure I have enough to dedicate.

Now, I know that some people write more words, and some people write less. I think there is a critical mass of dedicated words a writer needs to write every day to make the effort worth it, but that critical mass will vary from person to person and sometimes from day to day. While my goal is 2,000, I have, on occasion, written many more words than that.

However many words you might write, the key is that you must be writing them every day. Set a goal you know you can reach and start writing. That’s the only way it works.


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