WordKeeperAlpha and National Novel Writing Month

In the beforetimes, there was National Novel Writing Month.  A spectacular explosion of writing and creativity, it brought author to keyboard like nothing since the creation of the typewriter.   When I first participated it was an interesting experiment to see if I could manage to write a full fifty thousand words in a single month.  By some miracle I managed to do it!  It was awesome!  I felt invincible and was keen to keep using their mighty handy tools and graphs to continue on into December.

But then they disappeared: Gone until next November (or the camp event that’s in the summer but we all know that it isn’t as good.) This, I thought, shall not stand, for I have a need for those motivational tools.  Thus was born the inspiration for WordKeeperAlpha.  Now, just a couple short years after my first NaNoWriMo, its a thing that I created that people actually use.  This is enough to blow my feeble mind.

Now, I would never want people to not participate in NaNoWriMo on their website.  That’s where the magic really happens.  You get together with your fellow authors and keep pushing the words out until you hit your goal.  But, if you use WordKeeperAlpha too, and want to keep track of the words you write in November, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting your project set up.

First, if you don’t have one, sign up for an account on WordKeeperAlpha.com.  Go on, I’ll wait until you’re up and running.  … … Good?  Eh, they’ll catch up.

Next, go to your Goals and Projects page, and click the “Add a project button.” Refer to the image below to add in the information then click “Create”.

nanoproject

Bam! You’re already ready to go!  But wait, you probably want one of those nifty graphs like you see on NaNoWriMo.org.  For that, you’ll need a goal, in fact, you’ll probably want two goals.  First, we’re going to create a repeating monthly goal, which is what will create that nifty graph.  Before we do that though, you’ll have to remove any other repeating monthly goals that you might have, or just edit one.

Use the information below.

nanogoal

Make sure you keep the project field blank.  Due to a problem with the way I originally made the code you can’t have a project selected for that graph, but its something that will be fixed in time for next year’s NaNoWriMo.  This means that all the words you log in November will be displayed on the graph…which is a short coming, I know…but if you’ve got time to write more than one thing in November you really have my respect.

Next, you’ll probably want a repeating daily graph.  Use the information below to create it.

dailygoal

There! You’re done and ready to go for National Novel Writing Month!

Some people have asked me if there’s any way to support WordKeeperAlpha, (yes, they really have) and one of the best ways is to spread the word.  The more users I have the better I feel about myself as a human being.  It’s a sweet balm to my black soul.  But, there’s no financial way to do that yet for reasons.  While I will have something soon, this month, if you’d like to do something for WordKeeperAlpha, instead think about going over to NaNoWriMo.org and making a donation.  Without them, this crazy project never would have happened.

In future years, once I’ve gotten better organized, I plan on doing an actual campaign for them, so for now I’ll just send people to donate to them directly.  The good people at NaNoWriMo.org depend on the donations of all the authors they encourage every year.  So if you’ve got five dollars to spare, go and drop it in their tip bucket, or give them a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.  We want to keep them doing what they’re doing and supporting developing authors into the far future.

Ok, that’s enough chatter from me.  I’m six hundred words into my day’s word count and I have much more left to do.  Later, Keepers.


#NaNoWriMo 2015 Preparations

Wow. It’s been two months since I actually sat down and did any writing. I know.  I know.  For someone who, someday, wants to make my living writing this is not the way to go about things.  I’ve got lots of excuses and reasons but really, it just comes down to a profound lack of responsibility.  If I ever want Impervious to be done, I’ve got to sit down, focus, and glue my hands to the keyboard.

And so, that’s just what I’m going to do.   Just… not with Impervious.  November is mere days away, and I’m feeling like the perfect way to get my ass back in gear is to start something new and fresh.  Let an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for months out to play.

Last year, I tried making the second draft of Impervious my NaNoWriMo project, but it didn’t work out so well.  The year before, I took a break to write something new and different, and it just worked great.  I think that’s because during that first draft you can really give yourself permission to suck a little bit and just have fun with what you’re writing.

So far, I’ve stuck entirely to fantasy because, well, to be honest, I haven’t had to research much for it, so far.  Why do certain things work? Magic, that’s why.  Well, screw it.  I’m going to write some science fiction for this years NaNoWriMo.  I’ve got a fun story in mind that should let me have a lot of fun.

What’s it going to be about? I’m not telling you, random internet stranger.  We’ll see how it goes during November.  Then maybe I’ll share a few details.

Besides, I’m still working on the details myself.  I’m sort of a hybrid pantser / outliner and I’ll be keeping with that this year.  Right now I’m mapping out the story in broad strokes, figuring out what goes where, what characters I need, and what their names are.  The more I can do to streamline the actual writing the better.

By the by, if anyone wants to join me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo.org, I’m sswanson. Feel free to add me and I’ll add you back.

Any WordKeeperAlpha users should stay tuned here.  Tomorrow night I’ll be posting a quick “How To” to set up a Project for National Novel Writing Month and keep track of your words.  I know my system is different than NaNoWriMo.org’s, at least in terms of how you track your words, but I did make it to be complementary.  I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get the new Goals and Projects pages up and running before November, but I’m sure the current functionality will get you through the month.


Monthly update – WordkeeperAlpha & Impervious

Greetings fellow nerds. I write to you tonight from the comfort of my own home, drinking a nice Blue Moon Belgian Ale and listening to the new Nightwish album, Shudder Before the Beautiful.  Truly, life is good.  However, life has not been entirely productive this month.  Mid-month writing progress is kind of disappointing, as is work on WordKeeperAlpha.

I’ll admit it: I’ve kind of been wasting my free time for the past few weeks.  I’ve been hitting the video games a little hard and its been fun.  Soon enough, time gets away from you and you forget what in the hell you were even working on. Thankfully, last month went pretty well as I clocked in at just shy of fifteen thousand words.  My goal was to write for a total of twenty days, and I made nineteen.  That sort of goal seems to work best for getting my writing done.  You can kind of tell when I got serious about it.

 

April Writing - WordKeeperAlpha April writing – WordKeeperAlpha

 

With that knowledge, I’d have liked to do that again this month, but I’ve putzed away most of the days this month, and the rest of the month is filled with stuff.  I may be digging something of a hole, in terms of my word goals, that it will be hard to get out of.  Right now, I’m doing pretty well for my year goal, only being a few thousand behind total.  This month may be something of a low point for the year.  Speaking of which, here’s how that’s looking:

 

Graph for 2015, Generated by WordKeeperAlpha 2015 so Far – WordKeeperAlpha Graph

 

If you compare that to LAST year, I’m doing pretty good on my goals of writing more.  This is what last year looked like:

 

Graph of writing for 2014 Writing for 2014 – Graph by WordKeeperAlpha

 

Yeah, so if you were wondering, THIS is what’s so awesome about WordKeeperAlpha.  Being able to see that, despite how I feel, I really am doing better, is a huge boon.

So, I might not be making all my goals, but I have been getting much better about my writing.  And I’ve been focusing much better on Impervious.  I wish I was keeping to my one chapter a week goal, but as usual, there are extenuating circumstances.  Most of them are related to my inexperience in writing a whole epic fantasy novel.  Every now and again I come to a problem in the plot that can only be fixed by going back and doing about two weeks of work on worldbuilding and figuring out why something works the way I want it to.

Bah, but enough about that. While Impervious is my main project, I’m also working, if slowly, on WordKeeperAlpha.  So far this month, I’ve identified several areas to improve upon, marked down many new tasks to take upon myself for later versions and mostly played around with the code behind the scenes, making it a bit more robust and preparing it for future upgrades.  I know you, the users, might not notice much, but I AM working on it.

Something that’s really of note though, is that I’m rolling testing for the API.  By that I mean, the first function on the API is live and waiting for someone to try it out.  So, if you’ve got some coding know-how and want your blog readers to see your goals and progress on your blog or website, let me know and I’ll fill you in on what you need to know.  I’ve got another few features to finish before the whole API is good to go, but once it is I’ll work up some examples to make it more easily accessible for the non-tech savvy types.

Now, with my blogging duties done, I think I’ll get some work done on Impervious before I kick off for tonight. Later mi amigos.


I am not my word count

… my story however… That’s a different … story … thing.  You know what I mean.  Tonight is a writing night, a night I’ve specifically set aside for the writing of words and the making of stories.   Only writing is hard some nights.

I know I’m not alone on this.  Other authors get a really good story going, only to crap out half way, either do to lack of motivation, or entirely too much self-doubt, or something else that’s shiny pops up and they just have to chase it because you always have to chase the shiny things! Uhh… what was I saying…something something shiny thing…  Ah writing!

So, in my famous last post I claimed the goal that I was going to write twenty days this month.  That goal is not off to an inspiring start.  Here we are on the eighth, and I’ve got fuck-all done so far.  As the year goes, I’m not doing so bad, but if I want to finish this bloody book, I’m going to have to start cranking out more words.  I didn’t make WordKeeper just to sit there and mock me for how bad I was doing, sticking to my goals.  I made it to motivate me to see those numbers go up, and while that was happening my story would, of course, be writing itself or something.

*sigh* No, WordKeeper is doing exactly what I wanted it to do.  And if I feel like its condemning me every time I log into it, that’s my fault.  I mean, writing is still fun, I’m still full of stories that I want to tell, but writing this second draft is becoming painful.  Its becoming like … GASP! … work!

I know, I know.  Super surprising, right?  Writing a book is actually a ton of work, like every blog I’ve ever read claimed it would be.  And writing Impervious is still fun.  I still love doing it… its just much more… “work” than it was in the first draft.  I didn’t have to worry about anything in the first draft other than putting words on the page as fast as I could type them.  I didn’t have to worry about consistant worldbuilding.  I didn’t have to worry about settings, or characters that made sense from one chapter to the next.  All I needed was a loose idea of who was going where and I was good for a night.  That is probably why NaNoWriMo works so well for me.

So, no, I am not my word count.  My word count is goingto be hard as hell to keep where I want it while I’m in the middle of the second or third draft.  My book, on the other hand, is my word count.  So, no matter how painful it is on a given night, I need to write, and I need to make those words count.  A play on words was not intended there.  Lots of people don’t like keeping track of word counts.  They say “Don’t count your words, make your words count.”  Which is fine, I guess.  But you actually have to write words to either count them, or make them count … and right now, I’m just about writing them.

Impervious is happening people.  This is a book that is going to exist in real life, and people other than me are going to read it.  I don’t care if its just those family members I can guilt into it.  That being said, my hands are now warm.  I’ve chased the shiny little thoughts down the rabbit hole and I’m ready to get back down to business tonight.  To my fellow authors, whether you’re counting your words or you’re making them count, good luck in writing that thing.  Remember Chuck Wendig’s Penmonky’s Paean.  “I am a writer and I will finish the shit that I started.”


The Second Draft

My thirty thousand word month didn’t really come together like I’d hoped it would.  My goal is to write everyday, but I’m much better writing in spurts than I am writing regularly.  Having my own motivational program is helping, but it is also a bit damning when I look back on the month and see all the days that I didn’t write.

WordKeeperAlpha Graph for March 2015What is really good is that my writing is much more focused. You can see that I’m focusing much more on my work on Impervious, which is what I need to be doing. Unfortunately, as my beta readers know, all that writing you see up there wasn’t on new chapters, like I’d hoped it would be. No, just about everything that you see up there is worldbuilding and character work.

When I had writing group at the start of the month, they pointed out that my current chapter had some serious plotholes in it, holes that would show more and more later in the story.  What it all boils down to is that I didn’t actually think things out beyond a certain point in the story.  Certain characters were also hollow placeholders and needed some serious fleshing out, if only in my own mind.  Thankfully, I’ve got most of those details cleared up, and have several more chapters of details to fill in.   I may have even outlined another book that could conceivably be a prequel.  Go figure.

Which brings us to April.  I still want to do a thirty thousand word month, but I also need to start doing some more serious work on WordKeeperAlpha, which means I’m going to have to temper those goals.  I think, for April, my goal isn’t going to be a specific word count, but rather to write at least twenty days out of the month.  When I sit down and actually get to writing, I can usually bang out at least a thousand words.  So, if I can write twenty days out of the month, I should clock in somewhere around twenty thousand words, which would be pretty respectible.  Not only that, but I’d just about be back on target for the year.

My resolution this year was simply to write more than I did last year.  I’m happy to say that, three months into the year, I am really accomplishing that goal.  In may last year I wrote less than five thousand words, and this month I should clock in at around twelve thousand, which is about what I did in January and February.

Still, I’m finding that getting that first draft done was the easy part.  While Impervious is a much, much better story than it was, its also a lot harder to write.  In the first draft, I could sit down and just write whatever the hell popped into my head.  Now, it has to make sense.  *eye roll* What a pain.

So, this month: write for at least twenty days, minimum fifteen thousand words and make some significant progress on new features for WordKeeperAlpha.  To my friends who are reading this, I’m counting on you to bug me and hold me accountable.  Now, I have some more writing to do tonight, if you will excuse me.