Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Case Study: Amber West Talking to Herself (AGAIN)

(source: lost in the recesses of patient's brain)

So, a few months ago, I took the plunge and signed up for NaNoWriMo –

Wait, what?  You signed up for what?


Is that some sort of experimental medication?  I mean, we could use the money.  And the side effects might be fun…

No, no, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  In November, thousands of people commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days.  In the matter of a month, you have a completed first draft or you are at least well on your way with one.

50,000 words.  Seriously?  Are you sure you didn’t already start taking some experimental meds?

C’mon, it’s not that bad.

Alright, obviously, we are going to have to sit down and discuss the finer points of math again.  You write maybe 5 days a week.  In a good week.  So, 50,000 words divided by 5 days is 10,000 words, divided by 4 weeks is *counts on fingers* 2500 words.  Monday through Friday.  Every weekday.

Ummm.  *consults calculator* Yes.  That seems right.

You committed us to that many words without even consulting me?

You are me.  I assumed we would be on the same page.

Apparently, a page with 2500 words on it.

Don’t be such a baby.  And it’s actually 2272 words a day.  November has 22 weekdays in it.  Not 20.  And if I did write on the weekends, it’s only 1667 words.  Give or take a word. 

I’m not writing on the weekend.

Fine.  2272.  We’ll round up and say 2300.  It’s totally doable.  That’s only like 7 dialogue heavy pages.  Less for descriptive narrative stuff.

You’ve obviously already made your decision.  That’s going to be 50,000 worthless words.  You can’t possibly expect to practically write a publishable novel in a month.

I don’t expect that.  I expect to flush out a story.  I expect to get into the groove of writing a substantial amount of words every day.  In the process, I do expect to write some killer scenes that could become a book later.  By the way, The Night Circus was a NaNoWriMo project.  Now it’s a New York Times Best Seller.

Keep dreaming.

I’m not saying that will be me.  Just saying that it can be done.

2272 words a day might sound ok when you aren’t spending two hours staring blankly at the wall trying to come up with a story idea.  Bet you didn’t factor that in, Smarty McSmarterson.

I did, actually.  I already have a story idea.  Remember that one dream with the nuns –

Oh! Oh! That was like a movie!  You’re writing that??


When do we start?!

Uh, November.

But I want to write it now!

Well, we can do some research now.  We could even outline or plot a little.

*raises eyebrow* Do you even know me?  I’m a pantser.  Strike that.  I’m not even that.  I’m pantsless.  I will not be fenced in by stacks of paper filled with charts and notes and Venn diagrams  --

Venn diagrams?  Why would I be making those?

I dunno.  I don’t plot.  Seems like something plotters do.

Look, think of it as…an adventure.  We are trying something new and exciting.

Plotting is exciting?


It does get us closer to writing that story.

Yes it does.

And 2300 words a day really doesn’t seem that bad.

Nope.  We’ve done more.

True.  That’s ‘cause I’m awesome.

You’re awesome?  Don’t you mean we’re awesome?

Meh, six of one…

So you’re on board then?

Uh, yeah.  It was totally my idea in the first place.



Oh no.  Caps lock and acronyms.  It’s going to be a long November.


Notes by site-owner/psychoanalyst-wannabe: You see kids, when you examine the two handwriting styles, you'll see that not only is the color different, but also the print and attitude. It's a typical case of Dissociative Writing Identity Disorder (DWID), where the Writer's *muse/inner critic* as it were has taken over a facet of their personality. As the *switching* between alter personalities is rapid, we have to concentrate hard on the exchange so as not to miss anything. Most importantly... there will be a test on this!!! *glares* 

Oh and... Happy NaNoWriMo Relaunch Day, WRIMO'S! </Lyn out.>

Amber (Medina) West is currently Director of Dog, Toddler, and General Household duties.  After an abrupt end to her last paying job, she finds herself knee deep in showtunes, first drafts and poop.  Not literally, of course.  She is currently in the midst of making the fifth grade version of her very proud by being a writer.  You can find her here at A Day Without Sushi waxing quixotic about everything and nothing.


  1. "Look, think of it as…an adventure. We are trying something new and exciting.

    Plotting is exciting?"

    This totally made me LOL, because it sounds very similar to a conversation that I, er, had with myself the other day (you're not alone in that whole 'talking to yourself' bit, Amber!). So far, this pantser has not spontaneously combusted from the horrors of venturing onto the path of plotting, but only time will tell. :P

  2. Amber's split personality emerges again, lol. Love it. I'm getting a bit more into plotting with the new book, but I'm not sure I could handle NaNo. I love Amber's bio here, btw. Excellent!

  3. Two words...LOVE THIS! You totally got me all excited to write today :)

  4. So true! Thanks for making light of our idiosyncracies!

  5. Talking to oneself is very useful. At least I think so. :)

  6. Thanks, Stacy! I hate writing a bio, so I am happy to hear you like that one.

    We'll see how this NaNo thing goes. I am excited (and scared).

  7. Yay! Thanks so much, Angie. Happy to get someone writing. Now if I can just get myself writing...

  8. I love amusing bios! They stink of rebellion and whimsy. :D

  9. Why is EVERYONE a pantser these days? What's wrong with plotting! Think of the pretty sticky notes, colorful folders, neat systems, and CHARTS and MAPS and PICTURES and... In case you can't tell, I love plotting, lol.

  10. This was good to read. Thanks!! :)
    I am just as excited as all of you.

  11. Love the piece, Amber. I think you were inside my head, complete with all the different ways of doing the math. But in figuring that, did you account for a day off at Thanksgiving?

  12. Fund this on a Tweet-really good! And I had this discussion last week, NOW it is the "What the H were you thinking" rant over and over in my head.

  13. Great post. This is my 3rd NaNo. Found you through SW

  14. Thank you for providing me with a lovely Tuesday afternoon laugh. Good luck in—I always forget the order—the month-long, November, novel writing thingy.

  15. Melissa Crytzer Fry11 October 2011 at 15:59

    Amber - this is a witty, wonderful post. I loved it. I'm sure you knew that Water for Elephants was also an NaNoWriMo project (a few years later, once fine-tuned). Great post!

  16. Yes! I think that is a nice kick in the pants for anyone that thinks Nano is useless. If it gets the words out, it is good, no matter what form they take. :)

  17. Thanks, Kat. If my blog posts in November seem incoherent, at least you will all know why :)

  18. That is awesome! I may have to bend your ear about your experience with is. Happy to have you visiting from She Writes! (For any of you reading this not involved She Writes - JOIN! It is a great place for writers to connect)

  19. I thought it was necessary for others to know that they aren't the only ones trying to figure out what brand of crazy they are for signing up. We'll all be crazies together.

  20. Nothing I love more than knowing I made someone smile or laugh. Thanks!

  21. Excellent post! I'm a first timer this year, so be gentle to me if we meet on the boards :)

  22. My husband's response to my signing up: "Why can't you just have an affair like a normal middle-aged person?"

  23. You can do it, Alison!!! I know that for a fact. ;) And the boards are a magical place to be. Trust me. It's an addiction. (As is everything NaNo-related.)

  24. Bahaha!!! He's got a valid point. However, he might prefer you cheating on him with a book than a man. Though the book will last longer. :D

  25. Love the conversation! I often have one like that with my muse when I am planning and plotting. Good luck with the nanowrimo!

  26. I was the same when I was formatting it. Amber's a hoot!!!

  27. Great post, Amber! Your dialogue amongst yourself is a story onto itself ;) *Goes off to look up Venn diagrams*

  28. Amber is CRAZY...LOL. Just kidding. I love that girl, especially when she talks to herself. :) I need to go signup. Procrastination....and I even have my story idea. Not plotted. But I have it.

  29. It's my first time, too. Ergo the talking to myself :)

  30. Come on over. There will be lots of coffee.

    Actually, there is talk of doing some special post NaNo meetups all over...I'll keep you posted on that.

  31. Janelle, regular readers of my blog have been privy to my conversations with me in the past. If you enjoyed this, feel free to check out these:



    Yes. That was shameless self-promotion. I blame it on me.

  32. I'd love to call it my muse...but in reality, it's just me. Or her. Or...errr...

  33. I'd like to point out that I am "pantsless".

    Also, I feel like everyone is a plotter. Maybe we all attract our opposite writerly types. :)

  34. pantser and plotter... and now pantsless!! I love it!

    Actually, I'm a heavy researcher, (no outlines or worldbuilding, just research), but once the writing begins, I'm a pantser... although it's not unusual for my story to suddenly take a turn I had no idea was coming... and dragging me along for the ride (which, of course, leads to being pantsless!)

  35. I feel like research doesn't mean someone is a plotter (so I agree with you on still being pantsless). Some facts have to be researched so the writing can flow freely.

    Pantsless writers, unite! But no photos. We're not that kind of site.


    The story written during this Nano is currently on schedule to be published in December. So, take that ME.