Posts Tagged ‘Nanowrimo’

Nanowrimo Triples Your Productivity

Saturday, January 30th, 2016


So I’ve got enough data now – two months – and it shows my productivity in non-Nano months is about one third of the Nano goal. Because December and January are 31 day months, by now I should have produced a notch over 100,000 words if this was National Novel Writing Month … but instead I’ve produced a notch under 30,000.

The picture is a bit muddled since my productivity in successful Nano months is slightly higher than 50,000 words, and my productivity this month is slightly higher since I’m not counting some writing (some edits to stories, plus all the nonfiction writing I do at work). But it shows the social effect.

Nano triples your productivity.

-the Centaur

The Benefits of Social Support

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

December 2015 Writing 1.png

One of the things I’ve noticed is that its a lot easier to do things with social support. “Back in the day we used to call that peer pressure, son.” – but not so fast, Tex; hold on. When you try to do something for yourself, by yourself, it’s easier to give up; but when you involve another person, it’s far easier to hold yourself accountable.

Social Support in Nano.png

Now, I think there’s some actual scientific studies on this, but that’s not what I’m referring to: I think I have directly observed this in my own life. You are the easiest person to fool, of course, but I am trained as a scientist, which means, in part, that I observe the world, that I record what I observe, and I analyze it, looking for patterns. And above, you can see that the only two times I failed at a National Novel Writing Month like challenge were the two months I didn’t do it with the social support of the formal challenges – when I tried it in the off months of August and December.

December 2015 Writing 2.png

The same thing happened this year: my December writing, which I’ve consciously tried to keep up each day, has in truth been quite spotty. Now, there are vacations, holidays, and the year end crunch in there, but it’s surprising that I got so little done – and perhaps NOT surprising that the days I did best were the regular writing group days of the 29th, the 22nd, the 15th, the 8th, and the 2nd (at least best compared to the days immediately around them; the 22nd was thin).

December 2015 Writing 3.png

So I got a little over 1/5th of the writing done in December than my typical November (and a lot less than in this previous November, which was epic). Perhaps that’s because in Nano I’m writing new material, and in December I also edit, but still, the social support – a group of peers who are trying to accomplish the same goal – really seems to help.

My wife and I have noticed the same thing at the gym; so has my friend Gordon. Jim Davies and Lou Fasulo do the same thing with their epic New Year’s resolutions. Agile development is a mixed bag at best and active, harmful voodoo at worst, but its daily standups nonetheless have the same kind of social effect.

So if you want to do something … consider finding a friend who wants to do it too.

-the Centaur

Eight Hundred Fifty Thousand Words

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

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So another Nanowrimo draws to a close. The title says HEX CODE, but today’s writing was finishing out a few details in scenes in BOT NET (the second part of the Spellpunk trilogy manuscript I’m working on) and then a new beginning for ROOT USER (book 3). That new beginning, which played out a scene I’ve had in my head a long time, was very easy to write.

“That’s a damn shame,” says a distant voice, “so large an animal, in so small a cage.”

Muzzily, I grogs awake. What the fuck? Can’t they see I’m sleepin’? But then the words they’ve spoken starts to set in, balls in a Pachinko machine, rattlin’ in through the Pascal’s Triangle patterns in my brain to rack up a score of maximum annoyance.

The cage, you see, is large, for its type—a safety cage. Eight by thirty, made of elaborate wrought-iron vines, fashioned special from a welder we knows in Little Five Points, the safety cage is the largest and nicest I’ve ever been in—and the largest we could fit on our front porch.

The porch is big, and Southern, in front of a house big, and Southern, a third of the way down Fairview from Moreland, not three blocks from L5P. Pretty big even by Atlanta standards, but county code sez leave the front door unblocked, so thirty feet wide is was the cage limit.

Not that it feels limiting; there’s lamps and books and ferns and an ahw-SOOOME sectional sofa we found at an outdoor patio store, which stretches almost from the porch door on the left to the <regulation width with code #> stair down to my den.

It’s a full fourteen feet of sofa, fully twelve feet of it usable—which is a good thing, because stretched over it right now, covering just about its full length this very instant, is the enormous animal that the annoying interpopers have named.


That’s why the last day of Nano has that spike: let your inspiration flow!

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That brought me to over 65,000 words, the most I’ve done in Nano, as far as I know, ever:

Nanowrimo 2015-11-30c.png

SO I have a new record to beat. But I also cracked 700,000 words on my spreadsheet … which means, since I’ve done Nano at least three times before, my total Nano total is 850,000 words.

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I feel pretty happy about that. Nano has brought so many creative ideas to the table, I can’t even begin to describe it. Easily a half dozen completely new ideas came to me this month – one even within the final writing session just before midnight tonight. I have to credit Nano for giving me this inspiration.

Now, onward to the next round of edits on THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE … and the 50,000 other projects I’ve been putting off, like my library … though I *might* take out a little time to play a video game, or, perhaps, read a book … you never know …

-the Centaur


Saturday, November 28th, 2015

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So today I passed my all-time record (for as long as I’ve kept records) at Nano, completing 60,900 words at Nanowrimo. The key I think is not just taking this week off, not just keeping going, but daydreaming about my characters—then, whenever I get inspired, writing that scene. Almost all of the huge spurts you see below came out of that:

Nanowrimo 2015-11-28b.png

Today, it was pretty easy to write. I got about 500 words finishing up a few loose ends. Then I wrote a longer scene with Cinnamon and her fae mentor the Huntswoman, and almost a day’s worth of writing popped out of my keyboard. Then I decided to write another scene, one from ROOT USER (the third book in the trilogy, of the large manuscript I’m working on) and got 2000 words in about 30 minutes (!), all from choosing to write this:

But no matter how I tries to ignore it … I can’t ignore what they says next.

“And if they lose a hunt,” the jerkboy says, “guess what? They eat the loser—”

“You take that back!” I shouts, poppin’ to my feet. I hops over the nearest table and barrels down on the boy, who’s hoppin’ to his feet as well, his buddies standin’ to come to his aid, actin’ like I’m neither a girl he should play nice with nor a monster who could rip his throat out. “You take that back this instant!”

“What?” the boy says, eyes gleaming at me. “The part where they eat the loser—”

“We are not cannibals!” I screeches, snarlin,’ my whiskers comin’ in, my fur comin’ out.

“I bet she’s eaten her share,” one of the other boys says. “Like, weregazelles and shit—”

“The herbivores are our friends! We runs together! Nobody eats nobody on my hunt!”

“Your hunt,” he says. Everyone’s circled around us now, the boy standin’ out front. He’s big, so, I guesses, he guesses he can take me in a fight. Good fuckin’ luck. He grins with a nasty smile. “Like anyone would follow you—”

“I had twelve followin’ me on my last hunt,” I says. “Thirteen, actually—”

“I thought you could count,” he says. “What, you lose one? Eat one?”

I snarls and steps forward, and he leans back, fists up. I raises mine.

Then I turns away. “Not worth it,” I mutters, lookin’ at the huge crowd around us. He swings and clocks me behind the ear, and I kinda shrugs and shakes him off. “Not worth it at all,” I mutters, boltin’ through the crowd, walkin’ fast towards the exit. “At all—”

“Where are you going, Miss Frost,” says the proctor.

“The deans’s office,” I says. “I just picked a fight.”

“Wait just a minute,” he says, hand reachin’ for me, but I shrugs him off.

“Get off me, or I go to the safety cage,” I says, snarlin. “And call for my Mom.”

“Yeah, call your mother,” says the jerkboy, who followed me.

“Christopher, I see your mouth is open,” the proctor says coolly. “Close it.”

And the scene which follows, in which Cinnamon goes to see the Dean of the Claremont Academy, who’s more cool than even I anticipated — I mean, drill sergeant in a former life? Really? Makes sense. And helped me crack 60,000 words:

Nanowrimo 2015-11-28c.png

But the point is, never give up on Nano. It will continue to reward you, all the way to the end.

-the Centaur

Viiictory the Thirteenth

Monday, November 23rd, 2015


At last, I’ve completed my 15th National Novel Writing Month challenge successfully! Victory, for the thirteenth time!

Nanowrimo 2015-11-23a.png

The graph says “HEX CODE”, but as I’ve said before, I discovered in July’s Nano that the manuscript I was working on was actually a trilogy – I already knew that Cinnamon appeared in a trilogy of books called HEX CODE, BOT NET and ROOT USER, but I was puzzled as to why the HEX CODE manuscript seemed both so cramped and so overstuffed. The reason? I was already writing the trilogy, with a discernible “hex code” appearing first, followed by a “bot net” then a “root user”. So I split the manuscript up … and just kept writing, until, earlier this month, I rolled over the end of HEX CODE.

Nanowrimo 2015-11-23b.png

Perhaps that’s why I was doing so well this year, or perhaps it’s because I’ve written almost seven hundred thousand words in National Novel Writing months at this point. But regardless, I had some real bursts of creativity in there. But even then, I have to tell you: it was always hard. The hardest words on this one were the last 8 … when I thought I was done. But you have to keep going! And the scene that popped out after that is beautiful.

Nanowrimo 2015-11-23c.png

Regardless, National Novel Writing Month is a joy to participate in, and I’m glad to have done it. The people and the connections I’ve made, the friendships I’ve built, the fantastic events like the Night of Writing Dangerously, the great writing programs that Nano supports, and the worldwide outbursts of creativity have made it all so worthwhile I plan to do it again and again.


So, for now, I leave you with one last excerpt, from BOT NET … containing something I learned about my world of werekindred tonight, when I had to write … and let my creativity take over. As always, excerpts from Nano are first draft material, so, consider yourself advised … but I love what I discovered about Cinnamon’s warehouse tonight.

I looks down at them. All their eyes are glowin. The moon’s gotten into them. It will be up soon. I gots to go take them runnin’ now, or they’ll go crazy. I stands before them, rearin’ up a little, puffin’ my tiger cheeks, lookin’ down at them, and they gets the hint, and steps back from the wall, towards me, towards me, the tiger.

“Alrright,” I snarls. “None of ya get killed, or, as Mom would say, you’re grrrounded. ”

They all laughs, and I grins and stamps a paw.

“You feel the moon?” I says.

“We feel the moon!” they all shouts back. Whoa. Better response then I expected.

“I said, do you feel the moon!” I roars.

“We feel the moon!” the hunt screams.

“Then show me your beasts!” I snarls.

The lawyer strips off his jacket, his shirt, snarling, his head poppin’ out wolf so fast even Tully would have been proud of it. Hanser is a lynx before I’ve gotten a chance to look over at her, and the rest are poppin’ and changing. One buck is havin’ trouble, horns comin’ out of his head, fur crawlin’ over his body, but still no quad form, and I nods to Hanser, who pads over and licks at him playfully as he falls to the ground, crosseyed, eyes half pulled back like a buck’s.

But Willard, man, Willard’s havin’ real trouble. He’s bulked up, six and a half feet tall now, a black fur rug rippling out of his back, and oh-my-bod, what delicious muscles. But the shag carpet, it’s as far as he goes. He grunts, strains, then shakes his head.

He ain’t even taken his shorts off. He knows this is as far as he can go. Personally, I’m glad to have a half-human in the pack—easier to get feedback. He’s obviously got control, or they wouldn’t have given him to me, but is also obviously new to the Life. He needs help.

I prowls up to him.

“This your limit?” I asks, starin’ him in the eye. He nods, embarrassed, and looks away, but I raises a paw and catches him under the chin with the curved side of one of my claws, lookin’ at his head. “Listen to me: there’s no shame in our affliction. Repeat it.”

“Therrre’s no shame in ourrr aff—affl—affliction,” he says.

“Only prrride in our powerrr,” I says. “All of ya. Repeat it.”

“There’s no shame in our affliction,” the lawyer says, like, real articulate, even though he’s on all fours now, and his head’s all wolf. When’s this lack of concentration supposed to kick in? He shakes that wolf head back and forth, then howls, “Only prrride in our powerrrr!”

“Therrre’s no shame in ourrr affliction,” I roars, “only prrride in our powerrr!”

I prowls back and forth in front of them, listenin’ to them repeat it, those that can. The rest yip and yap and bark … except for the buck, who’s sittin’ there, dazed. His eyes are stuck halfway between human and stag, and he looks winded and dazed.

“But never rushin’ the hardest job any human ever has to do: controllin’ their own beast,” I says, steppin’ up to him. “You ain’t ready. There’s no shame; there’s always next moon. But this one, you ain’t ready. You relax, let the elders care for ya.”

The buck nods, still crosseyed, lickin’ his lips.

“Yyyouw waaant meeee,” Hanser yips, then goes quiet.

I looks back to see Fischer, standin’ there, under his broadbrimmed hat. He’s got the doc with him, black bag under his arm, I mean, seriously, cliché! But he nods to us, and they goes and sits with the buck as the rest of my hunt firms up before me.

“Four in front of you, Willard,” I snarls. “Or anyone else wanna sit this moon out?”

The pack howls and yips and brays, crowdin’ forward.

“Nnnever!” Willard says, beatin’ his chest.

“Yall wanna run?” I snarls.

The pack makes a yippin’. Weak.

“Eye said, y’all wanna run?” I roars.

And my whole hunt howls at the top of their lungs.

“Then let’s rrrun,” I roars, and Hanser at my side, bolts off into the forest.

Enjoy. And onward!

-the Centaur

Nanowrimo Continues …

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

Somewhat over 25,000 words. Closing in on the end of HEX CODE. That is all…

-the Centaur

Getting it together

Friday, November 13th, 2015

What you see there is my “working stack” at home … the piles of books for my most active projects. These include Dakota Frost (shelves to the left and right that you can’t quite see), Cinnamon Frost (middle shelf on the right, middle center shelf and others below), robotics at work (top shelf on the right), Thinking Ink Press (bottom visible shelf on the right and middle center shelf), Lovecraft studies (middle center shelf and top shelf on the left you can’t quite see), and general writing (above, below, all around).

I accumulate lots and lots of books – too many, some people think – but there’s a careful method to this madness, as most of these books are not recreational, but topical, filling out a library around things I’m trying to accomplish. This means that when I’m working on a problem on, say, a Cinnamon Frost novel, and get stumped, I can have the pleasant experience I had last night of glaring at a Wolfram MathWorld article, not finding all the info I needed, peering through the references … and finding that the references pointed to a book I had on the topic, right in the Cinnamon shelf (pictured above).

For a long time I was terrified of my own library. Well, not terrified, but I’d piled up and accumulated so much stuff that I couldn’t effectively use it. This has been accumulating since the days of my condo in Atlanta, which was approaching near gravitational collapse, but I’ve made two major pushes to clean up the library since I moved to California, which organized it usefully, as I’ve reported on previously, and since then two major pushes to clean up the files. I’ve still got a lot go go – you can see more piles below – but now I’ve got a better system for organizing paper, I am starting to develop a system to get things out of the library and back to used bookstores (slowly, grudgingly, occasionally) and … I actually find myself wanting to go in here again.

The piles are still scary, but now I’ve got a nice reading area set up, which I can lean back and be cozy in…

My current reading pile and art projects are intimidating, but now organized and useful and even attractive …

My cognitive science section has developed a cozy, hallowed feel, that makes me want to dig in more …

… and at last I once again have a workspace which makes me want to sit down and work, or write:

I can’t tell you how healthy that feels. I need to stay on top of that. But for now … time to get back to it.

-the Centaur

P.S. Yes, I do actually use all those computers and monitors, though the one on the far right is slowly getting replaced by the floating hoverboard of an iMac that is now struggling to supplant my MacBook Air as my primary computer (good luck, you’ll need it). For reference, there’s my ancient MacBook Pro on the left, which formerly served as my home server; the iMac that’s replacing it, hovering over the desk, a MacBook Air which is my primary computer, and the secondary keyboard and monitor for my old Linux workstation, which is about to be replaced because it’s not beefy enough for my experiments with ROS.

Why yes, I’m writing a young adult novel…

Friday, November 13th, 2015

… why do you ask?

Technically, a Cinnamon Frost novel is an urban fantasy novel with a young adult protagonist. I am doing some work to make it young adult friendly, up to a point, but at some point you have to acknowledge that as much as we all love her, we’ve got a formerly homeless and abused teenage weretiger with behavior problems as our protagonist, in a world which is a “real” world, not a young adult friendly world – and she’s supposed to be a math genius, and if I’m going to have a story with a math genius, dang it, I want the math to be real math, even if takes me a while to figure out how to coherently explain what the heck a “loxodrome” is.

It’s the spiral you get if you run stairs up the side of a dome, but your architect was lazy and made the stairs cut a fixed angle to the meridians in their drawing, rather than a fixed angle that’s useful for constant climbing. Sigh. That’s not clear either. Needs more work. Back to it …

-the Centaur

P.S. And yes, I’m still on track for Nano.

Nanowrimo is going well…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

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… just now getting to the point where I can think clearly. For a refresher, I’m working on the Spellpunk series, finishing up HEX CODE … and, since I discovered last time that I was actually writing all three Spellpunks in the same manuscript, there’s a small chance I’ll finish HEX CODE itself this month and move on to BOT NET. More news in a bit. That is all.

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From My Labors Rested

Thursday, July 30th, 2015


Well, another Nano has come to an end. I’ve added over 50,000 words to the HEX CODE manuscript, succeeding at the month’s 50K as of a few days ago, and last night I added the framework for the last few scenes that the revised story still needed, putting me way ahead of the game. Calling it done … for now, that is.

July Nanowrimo 2015-07-30a.png

It’s interesting to compare this with previous months, as I did before. Even after the huge push near the end, I didn’t quite catch up to the last time that I worked on HEX CODE. I must have been going gangbusters!

July Nanowrimo 2015-07-30b.png

I’d love to keep going, but I now see why in the past, whenever I hit the limit, my writing rate dropped off. By my calculations, I have five novels due over the next two years – one down into the final edits, one in rough draft, one (HEX CODE) almost complete, and two more in lesser stages of completion. So it’s good to take a breather … after climbing the mountain.

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Now, back to CLOCKWORK ….

-the Centaur