NaNoWriMo mistakes and outlook

It’s been silent here in the last week, but fear not, I have gone nowhere.

I spent the last week toying with the next project that tentatively pushed itself forward now that my brain has space for a new idea. It’s not completely new and I really like it, though it’s still very raw and has nothing more than three characters and genre(s). I also thought about how to go about it and how to incorporate it into the blog.

I still like the idea of doing things project style, because in the end, every story is a project.

But before I dive into the next challenge and my thoughts on what I want from it, I want to do a quick review of my “failure”.

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NaNoWriMo: a cheat sheet to a better experience

It is the season. National Novel Writing Month is upon us. In about a week, the first people will be deep in despair about having driven themselves of a (figurative) cliff already. Others will have almost won (Trust me. It happens. I see people chunk out 50k on day one almost every year. They exist. I tip my hat to you, speed writer folks.) Some will be writing deliriously, some will probably get so lost in the trenches of the community and what it has to offer that they’ll count themselves lucky to resurface in time for Christmas.

The NaNoWriMo experience is about as individual as it’s participants. But while the whole thing is a glorious bout of scheduled madness, some people get overrun by it. They get discouraged, hurt, and lose their drive to write.

I’d like to give a little guidance and offer some perspective on a few things, so that everyone can make NaNoWriMo their best experience

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Calling bull on writers block – stop playing victim

If you google writers block, there are a ton of articles about how to beat it, how it happens to everyone, how it is inevitably linked to being an author and how it’s nothing to be ashamed off.

On the last part, I agree. No one should be ashamed of struggling with their writing. The only emberrasing thing is calling it writers block and acting like it is an almost incurable disease.

Here’s why.

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Resisting the God Complex – the value of trial and error

I recently rediscovered Tim Harford’s Ted Talk about Trial and Error and the God Complex when I listened to an episode of the Ted Radio hour about Failure. I couldn’t help but think about how relevant all of this is to writing. It also connects back to what I talked about last week in regards to being able to let others critique your work and resist the urge to want to produce perfect work from the get go.

The God Complex, named such by Archie Cochrane (a Scottish doctor who had a more than interesting biography), is described by Harford as follows:

“..the symptoms of the God Complex: no matter how complicated a problem, you have an absolutely overwhelming belief, that you are infallibly right in your solution.”

So, what’s that got to do with writing?

Everything.

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Misguided perfectionism – on trusting the process

For many years, I have resisted to let others critique my work. I have shown things I have written to people, but I was very strategic about it. The texts went to readers who I knew loved my style but who are, first and foremost, uncritical in their reading. It was great for my ego and bad for my writing.

It took me a long time to understand, why I did that. Was it purely an ego thing?

Yes. It was.

But maybe not the way you would think.

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Entitlement – First (but most certainly not last) rant

Let me state an unpopular opinion: the fact that you have written something or are attempting to write something and have a platform on which to talk about that (be it a blog, a forum or any kind of social media) does NOT mean that ANYBODY in the whole bloody world has to care.

You don’t deserve comments, feedback, reviews, cheers or  really, any kind of response to it just because it is there.

You don’t deserve a single thing but one.

Your own respect. Your pride in yourself for setting up shop or already having gone the distance. You are the only one whose support you can and should demand at all times. And you know what? Most people let themselves down and want others to do the work. That, my friends, is not on.

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War in fiction – setting up the conflict

If you write fantasy or science fiction, more often than not at least one of the conflicts involved is military in nature. Wars heighten the stakes, make it easy to set up parties against each other on a grand scale and bring some action to the page.

While writing war seems daunting in a realistic setting because “there is just so much to reasearch”, especially fantasy autors often seem to award themselves more of a creative liscence. Which, in my opinion, you shouldn’t, because it takes away a lot from the potential of the setting and the credibility of the conflict. Putting some effort into the set up not only makes your world immediately richer and feeling more real, it also will help to improve your overall story.

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