…that doesn’t work for me.
I’ll begin with the sites/challenges that are suppose to kick-start you into writing and then keep you going until the novel or whatever is finished. NaNoWriMo is the most famous but someone urged me to try April Fools when I found it hard to get going again after a hospital experience.
I have to say that April Fools did the trick and having ‘publicly’ committed myself to a goal, I couldn’t face not attempting it. You set your own wordcount for this one and I set 15000 words for April, the minimum needed for a fanfic challenge I’d signed up to. I made the 15000 in eight days, though the story told me it wanted over 20000 words to tell itself properly, thank you. So in a very real way, I’m grateful, both to April Fools and to the friend who sent me there.
However, I think that once actually started, I would have reached my goal faster if I hadn’t got sidetracked into talking to other writers and navigating an almost impenetrable site. I spend quite enough time chatting online as it is and this was a downside of April Fools. Some of the chat was interesting but probably displacement activity. Some of it was inane to say the least and made me wonder whether the people concerned really were writers; I suspect they were teenagers trying to spread their wings for the first time. I imagine NaNoWriMo is similar – I have watched online friends talking about it and have not been tempted to join in. I definitely need the kick-start element but could do without the rest of the package.
I have been hearing about a site called Write or Die, which apparently starts deleting your words if you don’t work hard enough. Another gives you kittens (fluffy pics) if you reach your goals.
These are not what I need. Does anyone know anything different?
Then there are friends who have been raving about various programs designed specifically for writers, sometimes by writers. Scrivener is highly praised. So is yWriter. But when I looked at them I couldn’t think how to use them. After learning all about their multiple components the writer is encouraged to amass vast quantities of notes, and create storyboards, etc. and write all sorts of snippets that can eventually be sewn together into a patchwork quilt/whole work. It sounds to me as if the amount of time spent would be better spent writing.
I don’t work that way. I know writers who do and these programs would no doubt be wonderful for them. I write in a sequence that will eventually, with amendments, be the finished work. I think and write from A to Z and whilst scenes from the middle of a work might swirl in my brain I never commit them to keyboard, even in note form, before their proper time. I have a page of notes to which I add when research dictates, and to which I can refer. I use RoughDraft because I can have all my notes, chapters, etc. open as tabs for swift reference, there is a notepad for temporary needs down the right hand side of each page, and the spell checker doesn’t try to be nannyish about grammar. I can’t see any reason to change but…
There is a drawback to RoughDraft. It produces documents in .rtf format and my betas seem to prefer Word. So I convert everything and then their comments and typo-finds come back in Word and I convert again. By the time we’ve finished there are glitches galore, caused by the constant re-formatting. Highlighting causes a particular problem but so to some extent does spacing.
I hate Word. I hate the way it tries to force writing into its own modes, shoves bullet points and suchlike down my throat, attempts to Americanise dates, and gets in a state about margins etc. I hate the way it’s snarky about grammar when it obviously hasn’t a clue that writers learn the rules and then know when they can ignore them. I’m perfectly aware when I use ‘fractions’ of sentences. I do it for effect. And the Word grammar checker is sometimes really, really wrong. However, Word does spot one of my biggest failings, extra spaces between words. But if they’re at the ends of lines, by the time all the conversions have happened, the spaces creep back.
I tried OpenOffice and prefer it to Word but very few people seem to have it or like it. My main use for it is to download things I want from the internet, such as fanfiction, then converting them to .pdf ready for conversion via Calibre, for my Kindle.
I’m clearly not the kind of writer envisaged by the wordcount challenges or the writing programs. I just don’t function the way they expect.
And yet I still need a helping hand from time to time… or a kick!
My fanfic challenge is now finished – or at least ready for beta – at 28,696 words written over 14 days. Now I need to get on with either some original fic rewrites or some more research into self publishing.