Saturday, November 6, 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021 - End of Week 1 Encouragement: Get Some Sleep

Scott D. Parker

How’s the book coming along?

Today is Day 6 of NaNoWriMo (although for me, it’s still Day 5). If you’ve kept up the daily 1,667 words pace, Day 5 will have you at 8,335 words total.

I’m happy to report that, as of Day 5, I have reached 11,220 words. That's pretty remarkable considering I'm writing in a combined genre brand new to me. I’m actually 2,885 words ahead of schedule, which is fine by me. Remember we have a holiday here in the US on the last Thursday the month. Ideally, I want to be able not to write, although I probably will squeeze in some minutes and words.

The week went pretty well for me this week, writing-wise. I woke at 5am each workday. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I work from home, so I had a nice 85-minute session each of those days.

Tuesday and Thursday was a different story. I go into the office and arrive at 7am. To do that, I have to stop writing at 5:55am. It’s a shorter session, but I bring my Chromebook and finish out the day during my lunch hour.

But I immediately noticed something on Tuesday: I cannot stay up late on Monday. I did, quite by accident, and I really felt it on Tuesday. Wednesday night was different as I went to bed early and made up the sleep time. By now, Friday afternoon, I can feel the lack of sleep. So looking forward to the end of daylight savings time this week. The extra hour of sleep arrives at the perfect time.

So I have two pieces of encouragement for you writers who are on this NaNoWriMo journey

Don’t get too bogged down in the daily weeds. Maintain the overall goal: 50,000. Some days, you’ll blow past the 1,667 mark. Others you may fall short. You can make it up. Don’t lose sight of the end goal: a completed story. In the end, it won’t matter if you didn’t reach your daily goal for a third of the days and exceeded it on the rest. All that matters is a 50,000-word completed novel.

And keep yourself healthy and maintain your sleep schedule. You can’t write if you’re sick or tired.

Until next week, keep writing!

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Knights and pawns


This week, Beau takes a look at White Knight and Other Pawns.

"Bracken MacLeod has penned a brisk noir thriller that leaves you panting, with the icy fingers of street-raised psychopaths tickling the back of your neck. Dennis Lehane's sensibility with the pedal mashed to the floor and the key broken off in the ignition, WHITE KNIGHT is a heart-thumping ride with an inevitable outcome you can't see coming."
-Thomas Pluck, author of Blade of Dishonor and Bad Boy Boogie

"I urge you to pick up WHITE KNIGHT by Bracken MacLeod at your soonest opportunity. If you enjoy noir that deposits you in the midst of a fevered nightmare and holds you fast with sweating palms and palpitating heart as street justice is sweetly measured out, this is the fiction you must read. This is a hugely masterful accomplishment and that is an understatement."
-Les Edgerton, author of The Bitch and Just Like That

"Bracken MacLeod s WHITE KNIGHT packs a novel's worth of action and emotion into a tightly spun novella; and it proves two of life's most enduring truths in the process: no good deed goes unpunished, and there is no stronger pull for the righteous than to rewrite the wrongs of the past. A powerhouse of a book."
-Joe Clifford, author of Give up the Dead and Broken Ground

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Beauty of White Noise

What people who write can tolerate as background noise has always been of interest to me.  There's the proverbial image of the writer sitting in a cafe scribbling in longhand (or nowadays, working on a laptop), and one thinks of say, Hemingway, ever the spinner of the most romantic images, doing his thing in some Parisian cafe with coffee (the liquor to come later in the day) at his elbow.  John Hawkes, a master at creating imaginary landscapes and bizarre characters, not a realist by any stretch of the imagination, said he could write with people in the room with him, his wife and kids, even if they were chatting away. On social media, I continually see people talking about what kind of music they like as their writing music, depending on what they're actually writing, be it a scene that's scary or calm or violent or sexual or whatever. To each his own, in this regard; I almost never write, or edit, with music on since it only serves to distract me.  I do find music helpful, from time to time, to get in a certain mood before writing, but that's about it. Overall, I'm a "silence" while writing person; the closer my surroundings are to soundless the better I focus and the easier I find it to work.

With age, though, I have to say, over the years, I have learned what I can and can't tolerate when it comes to noise.  For example, oddly, I find I can write non-fiction, an essay or review, in a coffee shop, if it's not a place overly crowded and any music playing inside, of whatever type, is not too loud.  It's easier to write in a public place if the people there aren't speaking English, like if I happen to be abroad, because I can't understand the conversations and don't get distracted by them.  In a bar relatively quiet, even, yes, with music, I can do light editing of anything I've written, fiction or not, and actually, I enjoy doing this, sitting and having a drink while editing a paragraph or two on my phone.  I guess I've just given in this second paragraph exceptions to everything I said about preferring silence in the first paragraph, but regardless, I'm just trying to be accurate.  In general, I'm someone who when working from scratch does aim for the quietest possible conditions, and this isn't always easy to have. Oh yes, and the other thing, other than public places, with people I don't know, I loathe writing with other people in the room with me. This I can't stand.  A couple of times I've gone on weekend writing getaways with friends (each time, we rented a house with several rooms), and while a few of the people would all sit at one table in the house's large kitchen, each person working on his own thing, I worked by myself in the bedroom I had.  Writing and solitariness, absolutely, go together.

A good friend of mine was recently telling me how he's rented office space to do his daily stint. For years and years, he's done a lot of writing, in Manhattan, in coffee shops, and he's been very productive.  But now working daily in this private space, in a building filled with rentable office space, he's finding the quiet extremely conducive to work and to upping his productivity.  It's not even expensive space to rent, and on hearing him describe it, I thought damn, I can afford that and asked him to give me the details of how to contact the people who rent the rooms. He reminded me that I work, though, meaning I have a daily 9-5 job, and that the offices are only open each day from 10-7.

"When would you go to work there?" he asked.

"That's true."

"You forgot you work."

"I did," I said.  "Shit."


Still, I've taken a step in my own house to fight outside noise.  Most of that noise, by the way, comes from outside my window on my Brooklyn street.  It's a white noise machine I've invested in, the little thing pictured above, and so far so good with it. I turn it on and a susurrus noise comes out, steady and soothing, a little bit like the sound from a fan. I like it, and it works.  It's creates a noise you both hear and don't hear at the same time.  It smothers outside noise well and doesn't distract me at all.  I don't need it all the time, but if there's noise outside the house or in that's a problem for me, I turn it on and let it hum. Or whisper. I'm not sure what you call the sound exactly, but it's effective for focus and a tool I can see myself using for a long time to come. 

Long live white noise!  It's invaluable.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Why I Don't NaNoWriMo


By Claire Booth

November begins tomorrow and that’s a very big deal here in NovelLand. It marks the start of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It started in 1999 as just a thing—get your butt in a chair and get down 50,000 words of a novel, aka a rough draft. It has turned into a motivational tour de force, and now hundreds of thousands of people participate every year.*

I am not one of them.

I can’t write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m much, much slower than that. And I'm fine with that.

I can’t write and then go back and fix it later. If it needs to be fixed, it get fixed then and there. Instead of writing quickly and then doing many more drafts to shape and mold it, I write like a tortoise and then need only one more draft to get it into shape.

I also am not an outliner (for a great glimpse at someone who is, see yesterday’s post by Scott D. Parker). They might write quickly, but they do a lot of their heavy lifting beforehand. I’m quite literally making it up as I go, and that takes time, my friends.

I probably reach the finish line about the same time as a NaNoWriMo-style writer, I just get there by a very different route than someone who can produce 50,000 words and wait until they’re finished to go back and revamp them. (I’m sure there are those few blessed individuals who can dash off that many words in a month that are glitteringly perfect right from the start—but I’ve certainly never met one of them.)

So as people all over the world sit down tomorrow to start a novel, I’ll be with you in spirit, but not in practice. Happy writing.

 *It also has spawned a non-profit organization, a school curriculum, and a mentorship organization. For more, go to