I’m gonna miss you, October.

I don’t know who Adrian Snell is, but I may have to buy this album just to support such cool cover art.

I logged into the site this morning, to the WordPress dashboard, and saw the graph of my site stats.

For nearly an entire month, the traffic here was triple or more where it usually peaks. Of course, that was due to putting up a post every day about a horror movie with a Halloween tag on them. The biggest draws being the posts about vampires. The Nosferatu post alone doubled the traffic in a day.

On Halloween itself, the traffic dropped to half what it had been. And then yesterday was back to regular levels, where I suspect it will stay until December, when I might go on a Christmas movie reviewing spree.

However, those lofty heights of getting nearly 400 hits per day has strengthened my resolve in one way – I need to post more, and consistently. I may not succeed in daily postings, but I’m going to try very hard to keep October’s posting momentum through November.

At the very least, coming to post here every day this month will give me an opportunity to say things like – Day 1 of NaNoWriMo and I got 2,236 words. Probably my best start ever.

Anyway… post at ya later!

The AlphaSmart NEO

AlphaSmart NEO
You are the One, Neo. I have spent my entire life looking for you.

So, a month ago, I wrote about wanting an eInk writing device. I then purchased an AlphaSmart NEO from a seller on eBay for around $40. The idea is to have a tool, with a good physical keyboard and free from distractions, to take with me anywhere and be able to write. As bizarre as this thing may look, it’s actually pretty incredible. Though the memory is limited (not really) and you get only 8 files, the total storage capacity is around 72,000 words, which is enough to win the NaNoWriMo and then some. The screen IS small, but this isn’t an editing tool, it’s a writing tool. Just write, edit later. Boot up time? Instant. It saves after every keystroke. And it runs over 700 hours on 3 AA batteries. I’ve only used it about 50 hours so far.

I’ve hauled this thing with me to places like the Renaissance Festival, the back yard, the mall, work, the hospital. I get inspired, I bust it out and write. It helps that I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a small backpack with me most places.

One of the coolest parts of this device is how you get the files off. For most other portable electronic devices these days, you’d either be saving to “the cloud” or you’d plug it in via USB and drag & drop the files. The NEO, however, is a fully functioning keyboard. When you want to get a file off, you plug it into your PC with a USB cable, the PC recognizes it as a keyboard, you open the program you want your file in (Word, Notepad, Google Docs, WordPress, etc), put the cursor in the correct field, select the file on the NEO and press Send.

As an example, yesterday I had to take my father to the doctor. I also needed to write a review of a movie for Shakefire. I took the NEO with me and wrote the review while I was waiting at the doctor’s office. When I got home, it was lunch time, so I made some lunch. I then sat down in front of my PC, hooked up the NEO, opened up the entry form for the site and pressed Send. While I was eating, I got to watch as the NEO typed out my review. It types a little faster than I do – well, I probably beat it in raw typing speed, but it types at the same speed without stopping. And as it typed, I read. Because I could read comfortably and my eyes were incapable of glancing ahead (the NEO hadn’t typed it yet), this lead to more critical reading. It was as if I was reading someone else, not me.

In addition to the editing, there was a certain… gravity? weight? added by watching the words type out. Something very satisfying. I’ve written a lot in my life, but when I’m done I’m always done, the writing just is. Watching the NEO re-type everything I’d written, it just adds a level of “I wrote that” pride that I didn’t have before.

Another nicety, since this thing can’t do much more than write, I get more writing done. When I sit at a PC and write, if I have a question about what I’m writing, some detail, I’m tempted to Google it.  Doing so often leads to a lost twenty or thirty (or more) minutes reading sites, checking emails, and doing stuff that isn’t writing. The NEO allows for much more focus on my writing. Sure, there are programs you can get to disable your Internet access, but as easy as it is to disable it can also just as easily be re-enabled. With the NEO there is no Internet access to enable.

Anyway, I’ve written more in the last month than I did in the previous 5 or 6 before it. The freedom the NEO has given me is unparalleled. I can’t say I’d recommend the device to every writer, because every writer has their own style, but if you haven’t found a style that works best for you yet, I’d totally recommend giving one of these a shot. Buy one on eBay, and if it doesn’t work for you, sell it on eBay.

NaNoWriMo 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011I didn’t post much about this year’s WriMo. After last year’s horrid experience which resulted in my first win but in my complete dissatisfaction at what I wrote where normally I fail but am happy with my writing, I wasn’t 100% sure I would play.

But I did, and after waffling between a couple ideas, I picked one and ran with it.

This year’s major hurdle was a lack of planning. Not on purpose. You see, I was planning pretty well for Idea A and then I ran into a snag. A huge central element of my story turned out to not be feasible. So I could either A) write it anyway and fix it later, B) spend the first week or so of November fixing it and start way behind, or C) go with Idea B. I chose option C.

With my second idea planned only half-assedly, I jumped in. Things were going well to start but my lack of an outline began to show and I stalled out around 10,000 words. I needed to break and fix my outline so I knew where I was headed. I took a couple days off and did that. I wrote a little each day, very little, and about a week later I’d finished the outline and got back to real writing. Only now I’d lost my momentum and my passion for the project. I’ve continued piddling with it and I’ll end the month with around maybe 25,000 words. Half way.

Anyway, I’ll back burner the project and come back to it when I’m inspired. In December I’ll be tackling a different writing project, a re-write of a previous work. In January I’ll be taking on another re-write. In February I plan to be starting on an entirely new project, assuming my research goes well. I am excited for all three projects. And I have a goal now. I want to polish up a couple things enough so I feel comfortable letting other people read them, another pass of re-writes/corrections and then actually paying someone to copy-edit them, either learning to format them myself or pay someone to do it, and then make them available for purchase for Kindle, iBooks and other markets.

I want 2012 to be a good year.

Fifty Thousand Words

For the first time ever, I have won the NaNoWriMo.  By focusing on word counts over content, I was able to bang out over 50,000 words in 30 days…

… and I feel dirty.

In my time on this Earth I have written a number of things of which I am ashamed, but after the first fifteen thousand or so words this year’s WriMo project turned into the worst piece of shit I have ever created.  I will set it aside and sometime in January I might review it, and in all likelihood I’ll delete over 35,000 of those words and pretend they never existed.  And that’s if I can ever bring myself to review it, which I may not, because it really is a piece of shit.

Next year, I think I’ll go back to focusing on content and return to my previous years of losing with style.  I’ve never felt so poorly about winning in my entire life.

Music for Writers

Do you write?  Do you listen to music while you do it?

I do.  In fact, I’ve learned over the years that silence is the most distracting thing in the universe.  Once it’s just me and my thoughts, my thoughts win.  It’s like a category 5 storm of random things crashing around in my skull.  But if I have sound playing in the background, the winds die down and I can focus on my work.  But it has to be just music (perhaps with the occasional commercial), not video.  When I hear things that I know also have a visual component, my eyes are drawn to the visual.  I need to see what images go with the sounds I am hearing.  As my eyes pull away from the page or laptop screen, writing stops.

But what music works best?

For me, the best writing music falls into three categories…

  1. Music that I know by heart.
    This music works well because I don’t have to actually listen to it.  I know every work, every note so well that my brain just latches on and follows along.  I’ll subconsciously tap my feet or bob my head.  Sometimes I’ll even begin typing to the rhythm of the songs.
  2. Music that I don’t know at all.
    Because it isn’t music that I love, I’m able to just sort of block it.  I know it’s there and it still achieves the goal of calming down my brain, but I don’t care enough to learn the lyrics or feel the beats.  It’s just on.
  3. Classical music.
    I’m sure there are studies out there that will show you that brainwaves become more calm and allow for more creativity while listening to classical.  But for me it falls almost into category 2, only I do know quite a bit of it.  It’s just that there are no lyrics to sing along with.  At best, there might be some humming, but not often.

The worst music for me are song by bands I know, or ones I’ve heard before, I sort of like but don’t know well enough for them to be automatic.  This is why applications like Pandora or Slacker or Last.fm just don’t work for me as writing tools on anything but the classical music stations.  Too many times a song will pop up in the play list that drags me out of the zone and forced me to consciously listen, and the writing stops.

So, this month, as I make my way toward 50,000 words, I’ll, more often than not, be listening to classical music.

NaNoWriMo 2010 Begins…

I’m actually a couple days late with this.  I’m also off to a pretty poor start.  In any event, I’m participating again and am now working my way toward 50,000 words.  Last year I broke 5,000 words, which is the farthest I’ve ever gotten and double the year before.  My goal this year is really just to break 10,000.  Of course, I’d love to get the whole 50k, but I also like setting manageable expectations.

This year I’m actually dusting off an old idea and I really want to finish it.  I’d like to get this idea down on paper, and maybe stop having it hang around in the back of my head as one of those things I really should write.

My profile, as always, is here.  Feel free to add me as a writing buddy.  And to throw a little inspiration your way, enjoy this little music video…

What’s in a Name?

One of the things that has always bothered me with my writing is coming up with names.  Every character needs one and mine always end up in one of two categories.  Either their name is unique and awesome, or it is horrible plain and forgettable.  I have spent many any hour agonizing over names and often end up reusing the same ones over and over.

However, thanks to an idea from Corvus Elrod, I started keeping a list of names from spam emails and comments on this blog.  I’ve already got well over two hundred names and I’ve only been doing it for about a week.  The names range from the banal to the exotic and every level in between.  The idea was inspired, so to Corvus, sir, I tip my hat.  I may never have to worry about character naming again.

30 Days, 100 Pages

Tomorrow begins Script Frenzy.

You know, for the last few years I’ve made an effort to participate in the NaNoWriMo, but November is just such as awful time of year.  Everything always seems up in the air, crazy, and trying to add novel writing on top of it just never works out for me.  Threats of unemployment, actual unemployment, holidays, budget concerns, falling temperatures and people who get sick and then don’t stay home getting everyone else sick… I suppose there are people who thrive on that, but for me its just distracting.  I’m going to make an effort this year to try to clear up as many things as possible before November to take away some of the stress and see if I can make a real honest go at it.

April, however, is a much better month.  Temperatures actually rising, taxes sorted out and filed already (or at least sorted out and waiting for the last possible moment to mail them in).  April just seems to have much less drama and stress for me.  Maybe its just me, but whatever the cause, unlike November and the NaNoWriMo, I am ready for April and Script Frenzy.

30 Days, 100 Pages… here I come.

Concluding the WriMo

I didn’t win.  I ran into a few obstacles this year.  I fell into the switching stories trap.  I also got sick… nasty stuff.  And I also suffered from a general unemployment malaise.  You know, you would think that with all this free time I’d get plenty of writing done.  But it turns out then when I’m unemployed I spend all my time looking for a new job and worrying I won’t be able to pay my bills.

Anyway… I did manage to get further than I ever have before.  I got just over ten thousand words on one project and probably twenty thousand across all of them.  I’ve never cleared ten thousand before.  So, even though I didn’t win, I managed a milestone.

But now it is December, and the NaNoWriMo is done.  However, I don’t think I’ll stop writing this time.  I’m going to try to block out at least an hour every day for working on something, and I’ll even try to make it the same something as often as possible.

The Awesomest Story Ever Told

That is the title of my NaNoWriMo project this year.  Originally I was going to work on something called Necromancer, but I stalled out on it really early on and after a few days being totally stuck I decided to bail on it in favor of something that will be far easier to write.

So, what is The Awesomest Story Ever Told?  It is the tale of a clan of ninjas who protect the world from threats of the undead who encounter a spaceship from the future crewed by two astronauts, a monkey and a robot who have traveled back in time to prevent a zombie apocalypse.  Right away they discover that the apocalypse of the future was the product of a group of mad scientists who unleashed the zombie hordes in their bid to overthrow all the governments of the world.  As the scientists activate their own time machine and slip away, our heroes reconfigure the spaceship from the future to follow them.  It is a journey through history fighting for the future and encountering everything awesome that has ever existed.

As you can see, my basic story already contains much awesome.  Ninjas, zombies, astronauts, a monkey, a robot, mad scientists, spaceships and time travel.  There are already plot points to include dinosaurs, cavement, pirates, wild west gunfighters, sharks, vampires, werewolves, a medieval castle and knights, but this story needs to include all of the awesome.  All of it.

So, I implore you, every reader, suggest something (or many things) that is awesome.  Feel free to explain why it is awesome, or don’t.  Just suggest awesome and I will try to work it in to the story, and I’ll give credit to the first person to suggest an item of awesome should this work ever see publication of any form.