This week: Na-Now What-Mo?Edited by: Nicki <3's Mara!!
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Like many of you, I've considered myself a writer my whole life. But in 2007, I shifted out of hobbyist mode, started writing for an audience, and embarked on the exciting journey towards publication. As I continue on that path and delve ever deeper into the craft, I feed an insatiable appetite for creative writing theory. I seek out how-to books and workshop experiences to augment and amplify whatever talent I possess. For those of you like me, here's a little theory to appease your hunger.
December is Na-Now What?-Mo
National Novel Writing Month is nearly over. For marathon writers everywhere, the end of November cues a collective sigh of satisfied relief. The rigid, daily ritual of vomiting out 1660-word bucket-fulls of raw, creative genius will slacken, and like coming off any intense schedule, participants will often be left physically exhausted and emotionally drained. It's natural to need a break from writing after such a strenuous stretch. But beware: that little break can easily turn into weeks of full blown writer's neglect, especially around the holidays when seasonal demands take priority over creative pursuits. Don't let a film of dust form on your keyboard! Here are five ideas for warding off the pitfalls of writer's burnout and maintaining a sane dosage of NaNoWriMo momentum:
1. Resist the urge to jump right into NaNo novel revisions. It's too soon, and your burnout will likely intensify. Put the manuscript away; close the file, tuck it neatly into its folder tree, and leave it there. Stephen King says in his book "On Writing," that he puts a new manuscript in his desk drawer for at least three weeks. That way, when he does read it, his 'fresh eyes' easily detect plot holes and character development issues needing attention during revisions. Sage words from a true master of the craft.
2. Write a new story. It doesn't have to be a new novel; in fact, I suggest tackling short or micro fiction. It'll be good to finish a project, bolstering confidence to then go on and finish the NaNo novel. The idea now is to shift gears, head down a new path and see how the perspective changes. Entering a contest is a great way to prompt you while presenting a deadline to keep you creatively on track. Good ones that run every day or month are "Daily Flash Fiction Challenge" and "Twisted Tales Contest" .
3. Try your hand at one of those God-awful end-of-the-year letters people like to send at Christmas time. (Okay, I admit it, I write one every year. Don't judge me! ) Instead of recapping all the wonderful accomplishments you and your family members have achieved, which tends to bore even the most loving of readers, try approaching it as an exercise in creative nonfiction, where you share a special memory or an insight gleaned in 2012. Even if you don't end up slipping a copy into every holiday card you send, you may uncover something about yourself you wouldn't have known had you not articulated it in this way.
4. Find yourself too burnt out of creative energy to write? Practice your revision and editing skills by pulling out an old story from your portfolio and revamping it. Not only will this train you for the revision phase of your NaNo novel, but you may uncover that elusive twist of magic that takes the story to the next level.
5. And if you really can't get that NaNo manuscript out of your mind, don't fight it. Try writing short stories or scenes starring your novel's characters. Explore them from outside the timeline of your book. Tell about an incident from their childhoods, or describe their first kiss. You never know what you might learn about them that may come in handy during revisions!
The intensity of writing 50,000 words in a month is exhilarating but exhausting. In the weeks following NaNoWriMo, beat writer's burn-out by writing a little every day. Look for new projects that kindle the fires of creativity. Before you know it, the time will be right to re-read your NaNo manuscript and start revisions. And when that time comes, you'll be ready!
Question For Next Time: How do you decompress after the intensity of NaNoWriMo?
Thanks for reading!
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Question For Next Time: How do you decompress after the intensity of NaNoWriMo?
Last Month's Question: Do you use semicolons in your fiction? Why or why not? And, were you surprised by the poll results? Here's what readers said:
Jeff -- I used to avoid semicolons in my writing, but as I've developed as a writer, I find myself using them more often. The most common way I use a semicolon is to join two sentences that I don't want abruptly divided with a period. Flow is very important to me in my writing and semicolons (along with dashes and ellipses) are all tools available to create cadence and rhythm to our words. Heck, if they thought it was important enough to give it an actual key on our keyboards, who are we to refuse to use it?
Yes! We can't discontinue the semi-colon -- I mean, I'm too old to learn new keyboard strokes! My right pinkie couldn't take it...
BIG BAD WOLF -- (Submitted item: "Redwall Interactive" -- I use them on occasion- they come in handy.
Minna -- Oh yes, I use semicolons in my writing. Plenty of it. I have what might be called a 'days of yore' kind of writing style. The semicolon has a definite feel; it cannot be reproduced by any other way.
The 'days of yore' styles are some of my favorite. I love reading novels written in the mid-1800s, so any author that captures that vibe is talented, in my book.
Joto-Kai -- The thing about a semi-colon, is that people don't need to understand what it is and why it's used. If you use it right, it does its job- unlike, for example the tilde. When I first saw the tilde, I had to ask what the heck is ~.
Love ~ too, though! LOL.
People use the tilde in their writing?? I'm with you; that would have me scratching my head, too!
Kate ~ Midsummer Night Rune -- Great topic for the Drama Newsletter; fun examples for the three usage rules Semicolons are not a lost art in crafting visual, dramatic images. Many writers today are confused by the usage, and insert 'and' in its place and your final example would read, "She looked at me and I was lost for words." It doesn't have the sensory impact, the drama, of the original.
I like using semicolons for effect in poetry as well; an effective way to create emphasis, particularly with enhjambment to incite a longer pause mid-line. Write On!
You're right: the effect isn't the same. A semi-colon is not interchangeable with 'comma + and'. I'm actually confused by the confusion people have with semi-colon usage. It's really not complicated, if you just spend three minutes to learn the rules. Am I right?
blunderbuss -- Thank you so much Nicki for including me in your Editor's Picks. Now I have it clearly written out as to when I must use them, and the vote is overwhelmingly FOR semi-colons - I will happily put them all back in!
But you know, I feel we've proven that there is controversy surrounding the semi-colon. Those against its contemporary relevance are pretty strong in their convictions. Fascinating subject, so thank YOU for helping me shed light on it!
sandybays -- Anything that highlights the use of good punctuation gets a vote from me.
Seabreeze -- Oh please save it. I am just getting comfortable with it and, I do believe, it serves a purpose. Need more votes? I believe more pauses are needed in most of the speech I hear and probably most of the written dialogue. The problem is most people don't write letters anymore. It seems we are in a world of "short cuts". Language has been abbreviated all most to the point of oblivion.
Anyways, cool thread.
Thank you! As a fellow lover of our language -- and of letter writing -- I agree with you that the short cuts and abbreviations we see more and more of are having a negative effect. Great points!
alien2 -- Yes. I use semicolons in my own writing, but it is very rare though.
You bring up a good point: A writer doesn't have to use semicolons, certainly if their presence doesn't lend to or heighten the vibe of the writer's style. It's still important to know how to use them, though. They are, after all, a small part of the craft of writing.
cle001 -- I wish there were one more option for me to choose in this pole:
"Yes. I use semicolons in my own writing; but not as often as I should."
I see that you didn't write this poll, but this would be much more accurate for my response. I guess in the end, though, the polling results would be the same.
That would have been a great addition to the poll choices! I'll bet there would have been many who chose it.
Sparky -- I'm a relatively new user of writing.com in spite of being a member for some years.
Recently I returned to this site after making serious headway with a novel, and along with it a poem that I submitted; the inspiration from this simple act seems to be self feeding, snowballing cyclone or hurricane-like.
So when I saw the heading for this small part of your helpful article, I was keen to see your information and views, and now others; the semicolon is still as important in literature these days (88.4% of current users opinion according to this poll) as a colonoscopy is in medical diagnosis. (Just a random fact http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonoscopy)
Any correction here of my use of said semicolon would be great as like others, I'm confused with its correct placement too.
I think a semicolon should be used to heighten rhythm, cadence and relationship, rather than to simply join independent clauses. If it reads like a run-on sentence even though the semicolon is technically placed "correctly" between independent clauses without a conjunctive, I'd say it's best in that case to split it up into separate sentences.
See you all back here on December 26, 2012. Until then, have a great month!
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