National Novel Writing Month — Cigars and Legs Style

NNWM has been a yearly… distraction for me since 2003, which is close to the start of NNWM. I’ve only once (2003!) been pleased with the result. My intent was to do it again this year, and I’ve gone completely off the rails in a non-Cigars-and-Legs direction with it.

I love NNWM. It gives me a serious deadline. It gives me a manageable goal (1667 or so words a day). It gives me others who are also suffering (though as late, I’ve not been on the forums much.)

I hate NNWM when I get behind, as I have this month. The ick that slowed me down in September continued into October and November. No, not a sickness — just general crap getting in the way. I fear I’ve become too spoiled by the idea of writing a certain way that is limiting my writing time.

And NNWM wants no part of that.

NNWM tells you to put your big boy pants on or go home.

So I’m back to writing fantasy (which is where I started as a writer) and the words aren’t coming as fast as I’d like. But NNWM accepts no excuses or late assignments – it’s either finished in November, or it isn’t. And maybe that’s the thing I need. So here’s how to go about NNWM, Cigars and Legs Style:

– Seasonal beers are good. Beer is a good week day alternative to Scotch because you’re less likely to imbibe too much without destroying yourself. Remember, the idea is not to get drunk. Drinking so much, so fast, that you get drunk is akin to smoking so much, so fast that you get nicotine sickness. THIS IS NOT DESIRABLE.

– Don’t smoke and write. This gives your hands something to do that isn’t writing. Smoke before and after. Save the big sticks for when you get it done.

– Coffee is best black and hot. If you don’t like the taste of coffee, don’t disguise it — drink something else. If you have to hide the taste of what you’re putting in your mouth, maybe you shouldn’t put it in your mouth.

– Waiting somewhere? Write something. Bring a pen and paper everywhere, or better yet, a computer of some sort. I’m never without two ways to write anyway.

– Car rides: Most cell phones can do voice recording. If not, good music and random story thinking. This is what I do every day during my commute: I listen to a lot of music without a lot of words and tell stories in my head. I eventually commit these to paper.

– Writing in VIM: No distractions, no mouse, just the keyboard. This is especially helpful in a full screen terminal.

– Actually, the terminal is all around great. A GNU Screen session open with multiple tabs allows: one for an mp3 player, one for VIM, one for notes, one for a console only web browser (useful for looking up information without the distractions of the current web), all in one compact, FAST experience.

– Blog less! I’ve kind of worked on making this blog a weekly thing, which gives me a schedule, a deadline, and time to think all at once. It also means I can get ahead (though, lately…) if I have time. That’s my December Goal!

– Daily goals. 50000/30 is roughly 1667. But all days are not created equal, especially with a Day Job of Doom.

– Outline, outline, outline…