Monday, November 3, 2014

Why Not Add NaNoWalMo to Your NaNoWriMo?

I decided at the very last minute, yesterday morning around 8 am to be exact, to do NaNoWriMo this year. I'd not planned to participate this go around as I've got two edits underway of my own work plus one for the publisher I work for. There is simply no more time in my day. Or so I thought.

One of the key reasons why I changed my mind to give NaNo a go was due to a recent major discovery by me that is probably old news for everyone else out there. But I only entered the 21st century a couple of months ago. My discovery – voice recognition on cell phones these days is so good that it allows me to walk and to talk like an actual lady (meaning at the same time!). Putting Eliza Doolittle aside – I can actually do a lot with my new playtoy. Like even maybe write a novel.

NaNo Does Not Have to Mean Butt-In-Chair:

Traditionally, NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is the annual time when many writers plant their butts in a chair for a whole month writing frantically to create a 50,000-word novel before the bell tolls at the end of November. We ignore jobs (as much as possible), house cleaning, cooking, childcare and whatever else you can manage to ignore for the month. Most of us will also spend a lot of that time eating mindlessly as we glance anxiously at our slowly increasing word count, trying to see if we have any prayer of earning that coveted NaNo Winners sticker.

I don't know about you, but butt-in-chair and mindless/quick food eating for a month is a recipe for disaster for me. But it doesn't have to be that way. What my new favorite tool allows me to do is to write and talk at the same time. For myself, I will be adding NaNoWalMo, National Novel Walking Month, into my WriMo with the aid of three important tools.

Toolkit Item #1 – Good Voice Recognition App on Mobile Device:

Voice recognition is so much stronger now than it used to be. As I started playing with my new phone, I discovered it could take dictation for texts and directions perfectly without missing a word, even with my Southern accent. And I thought -- if the voice recognition is this good and I can do it while mobile, why not use it for my writing?

Last time I used voice recognition, it was with the Dragon, and it did not fair so well. I may be unfair to compare the voice recognition in my cell compared to Dragon as the book I was dictating then was a Paleolithic story with lots of unusual words and names. I also made the mistake of dictating long passages before going back to edit. This time around, I'm keeping the names simple, at least while I create, and will stop to edit sooner – before I forget what any weird transcriptions actually meant.  (By the way, my phone runs Google Now, though I'm not a tech person and am sure there may be even better programs.)

Toolkit Item #2 – Fitbit (or any pedometer):

A wonderful friend gave me a Fitbit a few months ago and having that tool really helps motivate me to get more walking into my day. Most people set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, but I shoot for at least 15,000.

As I've already been walking an hour, now that I'm doing NaNoWalMo, I will simply repurpose that hour and use it along with tool #1 to write. I don't have to add any additional time to my day. Since NaNo is all about drafting and not perfection or editing, there's no reason not to use the more mobile if less perfect technology to create my new story.

Not only can I type into my manuscript I can also dictate blog post -- that's way I wrote this. I wrote 1000 words while walking 3000 steps. Editing, however, is another matter. For me, at least, real editing requires butt-in-chair in front of a big screen and keyboard.

Toolkit Item #3 – Crock Pot:

For me, health problems with NaNo are not just about the sitting but also about the food. So, I'm bringing in another beloved tool to help me with that one – my crock pot. I'm sure I'm not the only writer out there who writes better when I feel better. If I let fast and processed foods into my diet for any length of time, brain fuzz will commence and my writing will suffer for it.

Nutrition is an individual matter and everyone needs to know what works for them to keep their brain functioning at its highest level. For me that means no sugar, no wheat flour, few processed food, but lots of veggies and especially the green leafy ones. If I eat this way and do my walking, I will have the clear mind I need to write the best story I can. I like this 3-server crock pot because I can keep 3 healthy foods going, starting them a time that is convenient to me so that I don't start scrounging for the nearest edible thing when I emerge from my writing trance.

Results so Far:

I just started yesterday, but I've got 4,000 words written during an hour walk yesterday and an 1 1/2 hour walk today (which included this blog) with step totals of over 13,000 both days (so far today).  The quality of what my voice recognition dictation was great with me only having to slow down periodically to clean up a few problems that I might not recall later when I really sit down to edit.

How About You?:

How many of you have tried alternative methods to butt-in-chair to compose your stories? I know a lot of writers have treadmill desks, which I've long coveted. But with this voice recognition so clear, I'm not sure I need that anymore.

If you're interested, I'll keep this blog rolling throughout the month and post how well I'm doing with the writing and voice recognition walking. Please feel free to share your tips and experience. And maybe we can encourage other writers to NaNoWalMo along with their NaNoWriMo.

UPDATED: Read part 2 of this post at Using Voice Recognition to Walk and Talk Your Way Through NaNoWriMo