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6th-Nov-2010 06:10 pm
travelling, stony
November is usually the month where I am frantically writing along with everyone else who has novel-type inclinations. This time I am not.

The last time I skipped Nanowrimo (back in 2007) it was because I was "too busy" for it. That decision ended up being torturous and I resolved never to miss NaNo again, for fear that I might be pushed "to the brink of depressed insanity and, in a moment of panic ... drop out of university with a semester left to go, strip all of my clothes off, run into the woods, slit my wrists with a twig and write my story in blood on the tree trunks..."

..... That's a direct quote from this very journal in 2008. Who the fuck comes up with this stuff?

Anyway, though. I'm surviving this month without any crazed, naked, forest-related shenanigans because I have another novel-related thing on my plate: editing the novel that I've already (mostly) written. It would be hard to turn my brain on to something else at this crucial juncture in the novel's growth, so it's "NaNoEdMo" for me instead. I still hope to finish for November 30 -- so I can recapture the great feeling of closing out November with a bunch of novel-stuff accomplished.

(November 30 is historically a good day for me... the date of several NaNos finished, and also the anniversary of my romantic partnership -- whaaaat? Two years this year, somehow.)

But I found it hard to force myself to mass-edit in the same way that NaNo generally forces me to mass-write. My (speak of the devil) partner suggested I keep track in the same way, to which I snapped at him that you couldn't keep numerical track of how much editing needed to be done, it was more subjective than that, and bla bla.

Well, allow me to eat my words.

After a few days of no progress, I decided to take his advice and created a status bar file in Photoshop that I can easily update depending on how far through the novel I have gotten. It is currently my desktop background. NO MORE PRETTY DESKTOP PHOTOS FOR YOU, SELF. JUST THIS PLAIN STATUS BAR UNTIL YOU FINISH.

Turns out everything is easier when it's quantified!

How's NaNo going for you?
6th-Nov-2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
You could always try the "edit by retyping almost the entire thing with edits" form of editing....
7th-Nov-2010 02:01 am (UTC)
This is really sad but I actually did try that!! Considering the utter bulk of what I've written, though, it's really not that practical -- 302 pages, 142,665 words..... holy shit, how the hell did I manage to put so much BS into the world?! AGH. Editing this thing feels like attempting to change the diaper of a gigantic, flailing-limb-ed baby.
6th-Nov-2010 10:15 pm (UTC)
I'm an artist. I don't do Nanowrimos, but I wish you good luck this month.
7th-Nov-2010 02:02 am (UTC)

But did you ever consider it? Writing is a part of comics, too, after all! It might be a good exercise. I actually used NaNoWriMo to flesh out the story for a comic one year....
6th-Nov-2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
I am doing the knitting equivalent which is making a sweater of 50k stitches or more. So far I am behind! In fact I am not even started. Hmph.
6th-Nov-2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
Oooh, that makes me wonder how many stitches are going into the ginormous wrap-thing I'm knitting right now... Aw. Only about 40,000, if my estimations are right. Boo.

But then, I started it October 28th, so it doesn't count anyway.

Edited at 2010-11-06 11:22 pm (UTC)
7th-Nov-2010 02:05 am (UTC)
If you were simultaneously doing NaNo and, uh... KnitMo... then you would probably be the craziest and most multi-task-y person on the planet. Probably! Anyway, I would be impressed is what I am saying
7th-Nov-2010 02:04 am (UTC)
The mere fact that you are attempting such a thing is enough to impress me to the max! Knitting extra-impresses me because I am hopeless at such tasks. (I still have/wear the mittens you made me that time! They are very helpful for when I need my hands to be purple, which is pretty often.)

Good luck!!!
7th-Nov-2010 04:28 am (UTC)
I find this idea of NaNoEdMo intriguing--I need to develop revisionary discipline. Also, that status bar is a thing of beauty.

That said, I find reverse word goals helpful on those rare occasions I do get around to revision. As in, I have to cut at least X number of words from a given section, or cut it down to a round number.

I've got 12,520 for this NaNo so far. Still need to write for tonight, though. I minored in Procrastination, so it's nice that I get to use it IRL.

Turns out everything is easier when it's quantified!

16th-Nov-2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
NaNoEdMo is going pretty well! It's definitely made me pick up the pace as far as revision is concerned. Usually I just pick at a few pages at a time...

Re: Status Bar: THANK YOU! It's actually a gradient hidden under a white square on an upper layer. The gradient part (should you ever attempt your own status bar) is key. When it started changing from red to slightly-more-orange I was SO EXCITED. (You'd think I didn't make it myself and know what to expect. Whatever!)

From your journal, it sounds like you've got this NaNo thing down pretty well! I'm impressed at your self-discipline in terms of your daily word count. How do you keep it up like that? I generally tend to do 0 to 500 words per day through the week, then frantic 5000 - 9000 coffee-marathon word bursts on the weekend...

I guess everyone works differently, but still! I'd be curious to hear how you get yourself into the writer mindset every day? Work and etc tends to shake me out of it...

Anyway I wish you good luck and continued success on the NaNo front!
17th-Nov-2010 02:26 am (UTC)
. . . you know, somehow I completely missed that the bar changes color as you progress. Does my brain think lj-cut text is unimportant? Who knows. ANYWAY, you're right--that makes it so much more encouraging. It's funny how we have to trick ourselves that way. Even more so that it works.

I guess I just use a combination of bribes (JUNK FOOD, VIDEO GAMES, SCOTCH) and practical math (okay, so I don't feel up to 2000 words tonight--will I feel up to 4000 tomorrow?). I can't count on word bursts on my days off because I always seem to end up with more obligations than on workdays, sadly. It also helps that I have long stretches of solitary busy work during which I can daydream about what I will write once I get home. And of course there's always the matter of control: the rest of my life is a train wreck, sure, but keeping my words up is something even I can manage, haha.

Interestingly, this is only the second time I've ever attempted to write without an outline (the other time I tried it, I found myself jumping from random scene to random scene, heedless of chronology, and crapped out after failing to figure out how any of it tied together). Hell, I didn't even have personalities in mind for the majority of the characters. That may actually have helped, though, since this is also the first time I've really managed a down and dirty rough draft. Usually I mean to, yet end up making fiddly, obsessive edits every paragraph or so, and often find myself staring at the cursor as I try to find just the right words. This time around, I force myself to type and type, and allow all the cliches and passive voice and whatever. The key is not allowing myself to read any earlier than the last sentence--just to get myself oriented again--because doing that would probably trigger my hyper self-criticism. I keep telling myself that however big a mess I make of this draft, I can always fix it in revision. That's why I keep a revision cheat sheet linked just under Write or Die (which is also always a huge help in getting words down). It is not something I actually use during NaNo; it is an amulet against self-doubt. Whenever I realize that something I wrote earlier contradicts something I need later, I just throw in a bracketed note that begins "THE PLANS HAVE CHANGED" to keep it from turning into a block.

Finally, I keep a tight reign on my reading materials. Usually I read whatever, and try to force myself to finish what I start even if I hate it. During NaNo, I can only read fiction and narrative nonfiction that I already know I love.

Thanks for the well-wishing, and same to you!

Pfffffft this comment is so long, sorry. See what happens when I switch off the internal editor?
12th-Nov-2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
"Turns out everything is easier when it's quantified!"

I agree!! I always do this (right now I have a pie graph for candidacy readings), and remember this rule if you have minions one day. It even works for kids: at St. Georges between grades 3-5 I had a French teacher who gave us pacman style stickers (they were just generic round stickers with a pie piece cut out) that we got stuck on a weekly sheet for everyone to see everytime we accomplished something. I was so addicted to getting lots of these!! I always did extra work in that class. And think about how addictive videogames can get when they show an experience bar... Damn them.
16th-Nov-2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah physical indicators of success are really helpful. I like making big to-do lists just for the purpose of checking stuff off...

The best part of the status bar, I think, is that it sits on my desktop. That way, whenever I turn on my computer my lack of progress makes me nervous. That makes me work!!

Hmmmmm... I'll remember that about stickers for when I have to train CRRRIIITTTERS in the future.......... :)

(PS: Unrelated critterish note: I went to the farm with Matt and Walter the other day and made them play Kopf und Füße with me. THEY LOVED IT.)
16th-Nov-2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Everyone should play Kopf und Füße! Tim says there is an artist version of Kopf und Füße and the art is really crazy that's created this way. It was definitely one of my favourite games as a creature.

Speaking of creatures again, if you do use reinforcers like that, just make sure that they have no value on their own. Eg not candy or money especially, but probably not even different stickers they can select etc (the French class stickers were pretty lame before being associated with an achievement and weren't something we kept, but just were up on a chart for the week). The problem with positively reinforcing things with items that already have value is that they can devalue the accomplishment itself and make the accomplishment only worth doing for the reinforcer and not for anything else (eg there are studies where kids stop drawing on their own if you give them things when they draw). The reinforcer should represent the accomplishment but not have any value outside of that. Otherwise you can expect that the behaviour would decrease as soon as reinforcers are no longer presented. Alternatively, what also works is to start on a variable ratio schedule to begin with (ie only getting reinforcers sometimes without any indication of when that time will be; usually you start more frequently and slowly get less frequent), but I think this is more of a useful stategy for training dogs (eg giving a dog a little treat when he comes when he's called, but not every time he comes or he'll stop coming as soon as there are no more treats) unless you use purely social reinforcers that are not clearly purposefully implemented (eg saying that what the kid did was awesome sometimes when it does a particular behaviour) because then there isn't some weird power struggle between you (which is something that dogs have more naturally in their pack). Anyway, I have a billion opinions on this based on my interpretation of the learning literature haha. But this is something that is more difficult to appropriately implement than you'd think. (Note that punishment is pretty useless because it only works under very controlled circumstances: it is the opposite of reinforcement because it works best if it occurs every time the negative behaviour happens and only if the creature is also appropriately positively reinforced otherwise the punishment could be sought out for attention. I think showing displeasure/correcting the situation and removing attention from the creature during negative behaviours and focusing on properly reinforcing positive behaviours is the best strategy for the most part? ie don't ignore the creature in the first place; lots of people are so happy when their kids are finally "good" that they ignore them). Critters are a bit nervewrecking, but I guess Mama worked it out well with us. I still have to properly figure this out.

Uhm, I got a bit long winded there. PREZZIE!
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