NaNoWrimo: Five Things to Do Before November 1st

When you ask what someone does to prepare for National Novel Writing Month, their mind usually goes to outlining, or deciding what they’re going to write. That’s not all you can do to prepare, though. Even pantsers (fly by the seat of your pants authors – as opposed to outliners) have things they can do to make their lives easier when November 1st hits.

1: Story Prep – Whe obvious, figure out what you’re going to write, and if your mind bends that way, ¬†at bit of plot, characters, conflict, etc. If you’re a panster, don’t worry about it, do it your own way. There’s no right way, just what works. I know of some very good and very famous authors who are pansters.

2: Catch up on Laundry and Dishes – When you get off work (or school) and you have to do dishes before you can make food, and you have to eat before you write, that’s not good for your word count. I know, you cant do so many dishes and so much laundry that you don’t have to do it all of November, but you can start off November at least not behind on them so badly that it screws up those first few days word count when you’re most psyched up and ready to write.

3: Clean House – I don’t know about anybody else, but on those days when I don’t feel like writing, there’s nothing so distracting as housework staring at me. When the house is a mess, there’s always something I should be doing that seems more important than writing I feel like I should be doing, and I use it as an excuse not to get my word count. And the last thing I need is excuses not to get my word count.

4: Prepare Quick Meals – On those days when things are rough, and you’re behind on your word count, it really helps to have easy meals in the freezer, that are healthy. Sure you can order pizza, but it’s important to get a healthy meal in as often as possible when your brain is working so damn hard. People joke about living off energy drinks and candy through the month, and we all know that’s not healthy. But not only is it unhealthy, but your overall ability to function, and obviously, to write, will suffer. So throw together some spaghetti sauce, soup, chili, etc, and put it in containers in the freezer, for those days when time is tight and you’re behind on your word count.

5: Talk to Your Family – Family, and friends too, can be a great support during Nano, but when you’re behind on your word count and your SO hasn’t seen you in a week, it can be a strain on things. Not all your family members may be supportive, and they don’t have to be, but do your best to make them aware of what you’re going to be up to this month. Tell them what they can do to help you, if they’re willing, but even if they’re not on board, you should at least be on the same page, as far as their expectations of you in the coming thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon.

That’s the main things I look to. You may be psyched up now, and ready to go, but when week two rolls around (and the veterans know, week two is when anyone who quits drops out, because it’s the hardest week to hack through) you’ll be glad you did a little prep before hand. Happy Nanoing!

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Road To Elysium

It’s that time of year again, NaNoWriMo is coming around, and I’m gearing up to participate.

My Nano history: my friend Turtle talked me into it six years ago; I started three days late because I was convinced that I wasn’t interested until I saw her so motivated and having fun, and the peer support, and finally caved and started. Failed miserably – exams were at the same time. But I was hooked. Same deal next year, but I got to about 25k this time. Next year I hit under 20k, but that was a month before my wedding. The year after that was 2009, and I wasn’t going to school, and I booked time off work in November to prove that if I had the time, I could do it. And I finally did. Last year I got a new job, and the weeks I had booked off in November disappeared. But I was working close to home, and slightly shorter shifts, that gave me two hours a day extra to do it, so I was determined to give it all I had, and I made it again last year, if barely.

This year I figure I got it in the bag. I have 1 week off, and I’ve had my hours reduced at work – bad financially, but writing wise… eh, I’m enjoying the time it’s given me to work on revision, so there are perks. As long as I don’t get overconfident and lazy, I should be golden.

The project this year: Road To Elysium. Breaking away from my usual Dieselpunk, and delving into science fiction, specifically cyberpunk. The setting will be intergalactic, and largely inspired by current economic events, extrapolating the Corporate personhood idea out to where corporations are now government, and there are no nations, just Companies. Workers are often brainwiped to protect corporate informational assets.

There is slavery, though they don’t like to call it that. In this world, people in debt are forced to work off their debt in service of whatever corporation that owns their debt. Whoever owns their debt, owns them. Society is composed of mostly debt slaves, since the companies don’t pay their workers in cash, but credits that can be spent only on company goods, or traded for cash at a pointless conversion rate, so that no one can actually get out of debt. Or their parents debt, passed down to them. The only other option for someone who can’t work, or refuses to, is bankruptcy, in which case they must go to live on one of the refugee camp planets.

The story starts with the main character, who’s been brainwiped, and doesn’t remember anything before being rescued from an escape pod two years ago. A strange woman shows up to take her away from the mining asteroid she works on – her debt is being sold to another company because that company is looking for a “certain type of worker”. What that is, they won’t tell her, other than she fits the bill.

Once they’re free and clear, she finds out that the woman who’s taken her away is an AI from the planet Elysium, a paradise where all inhabitants live in perfect harmony and equality. The woman tells her that’s where she came from, and she’s come to take her home. But the Corporation that owns her debt catches on, and their journey home becomes a desperate flight from the corporation’s mercenaries, among others.

Seeing as I’m breaking out of my old habits with genre, I figure I might as well in other ways as well. I think I’m going to try writing in first person, present tense, just to mix things up. The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi was in present tense, and while I noticed right away, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it. First person is a little less foreign to me – I wrote my first novel in first person (an abomination that will never ever see the light of print on paper). And most recently, I wrote a short story in first person. I hadn’t planned that, I just had the plot entirely worked out, and sat down to write and the first sentence came out in first person. I looked at it and blinked, and went with it. It’s one of my better pieces, but too long for a short, so it’ll probably be a novel some day.

In any case, I’m being ambitious and daring this year – I suppose I had to make up for having a more comfortable amount of time to work on the thing. Which reminds me, I should go finish the outline for it. ūüėõ

Utopias part 1 – Sustainability

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and my idea for this year centers around a Utopia. It’s not something I’ve done before, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. I think the reason I haven’t done it before is because it feels like such an ambitious thing – how vain to put forward what one single mind believes would be a perfect world? How many people have come up with their own picture of a world where everyone would be happy and live in harmony, and been scoffed at because they hadn’t taken one this or that into consideration?

There are a few things a Utopia must be. First, it must be sustainable – what good it a utopia with an expiration date?

Which means sustainable on an ecological level. Which means two things Рfirst, respecting the environment, in some way. Not necessarily revering it as untouchable, but on the other hand, biological diversity is unarguably important. Just think of what would happen to the world if common wheat suddenly stopped growing due to a disease. Lucky thing we can switch to other varieties.

The other thing sustainability means is population control. Whatever plenty there is, a population will grow until it exceeds the capacity of it’s environment, then the population with crash due to famine. It’s a fact. And in case anyone wants to argue that people aren’t animals, we can overcome that, well maybe we are, maybe we’re not – maybe we are in fact capable of defeating our instincts as individuals, but as a whole the above has been true over and over and over throughout history. One might also argue that the areas of the world where the population is growing are the areas of the world where there is not enough resources, however, if the people do not have enough food to fuel their population exansion, what is it that they are eating? Rocks? Sand? This is where the “global economy” comes in – economics of an area are no longer isolated, food is shipped in from other countries, in aid donations, which is only exacerbating the population problem, sustaining the population at an unsustainable level. But that’s another point I’ll have to save for another post.

There are many forms of population control – war being one, famine being another. Obviously those are not the sort of things one would expect to see in a utopia, however. The form existing in China, now, might be viable, but could people be happy with it? Can humans be happy with their reproduction restricted? Keeping in mind that the order of priority in an animals instincts is first survival, and second, reproduction, and all else after those two.

But then look at the countries where the population is declining. Studies show that population growth is inversely related to education of women. If you had an isolated society, where people in general were educated to a sufficient level, would that exert enough of a population controlling influence to keep the population at a sustainable level? Maybe. One major reason for first world people to not have children is lack of resources, which would not be an issue in a Utopia. The reasons for not having children, however, are diverse, from couples just wanting to enjoy their lives unsaddled with children, people having difficulty finding someone two settle down with, health being too poor to bear or look after children, concerns over hereditary diseases, or even not believing that one would make a good parent. In any case, such a society would likely not need to be as severely restrictive of reproduction as China.

Hmm, this is getting long – may need multiple posts. I will get back to this.