NaNoWriMo 2011

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Nov 1, 2011

Filed under: Notices 54 comments

It’s National Novel Writing Month! Years ago I talked about why I thought NaNoWriMo was poorly timed. That still stands. Having said that, I thought I’d use the start of NaNoWriMo to announce my plans:

The Autoblography will end this week, on Friday, at entry #40. (Yes, some of you already guessed that.) The portion published thus far is almost 60,000 words, which is pretty much a novel in itself. I stopped working on my novel so I could write a different one. This is why I can’t have nice things. I wrote the Autoblography in the space of ten weeks. That’s a brisk pace, but it’s about half the speed you’d need to achieve if you wanted to meet the “50k words in 4 weeks” goal of NaNoWriMo. Crimey.

Once that’s out of the way, I plan to put my efforts into finishing my book.

Some people make promises on their blog in order to publicly set goals for themselves. The guilt or danger of public failure drives them. My creativity doesn’t work that way, and I can’t squeeze more work out by making public declarations. So be aware that I’m simply announcing my intentions. No promise is implied. To put it more succinctly: Skyrim is coming out, and I don’t get XP for posting stuff for you to read.


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54 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2011

  1. Halceon says:

    Somebody should write a mod for Skyrim, that gives you XP based on the number of words you’ve written/blog comments you’ve received.

    1. Jarenth says:

      I wonder how many other people had this exact same thought. I know I did.

  2. Primogenitor says:

    Gamification of blogging? That would probably lead to either trolling for lots of traffic/comments or “badger badger badger badger” copy-pasting for lots of words.

  3. Angie says:

    Skyrim is coming out, and I don't get XP for posting stuff for you to read.

    LOL! So true! :D I am doing NaNo this year, and I’m finishing my current novel (only a couple of chapters left, I’m pretty sure) as well as starting something new. Matterofact, I started it a bit ago and just finished the first scene — reading RSS feeds is now a writing reward. My husband pre-ordered Skyrim for me, because he’s a sweetheart like that, but I’m going to have to have him hide it until 1 December. [laugh/flail]


  4. MichaelG says:

    Has writing the autobiography been useful to you in any way? Or was it just entertainment for us, and procrastination for you?

    1. Shamus says:

      It’s been EXTREMELY useful to me. I think I got more out of it than the readers did. A lot of my thoughts on education have crystallized as a result of writing all of this down. I managed to unearth stories I haven’t thought about in decades. Some of my former neurosis now make sense. I never really understood why I didn’t try to go out with Kris, or why I didn’t look for a better job during my time at Taco Bell. It wasn’t until I sat down and tried to put events in order that I began to see these patterns in my behavior and understand what I was doing.

      Also, I came to see what a massive shift there was in my life at the end of the Dark Year. I just thought that was a bad patch in my life (which it was) but I never realized how drastic the post-DY changes were until I listed them all.

      1. Kdansky says:

        Interestingly, I have read a paper on the topic of “talking about your issues” where they conclude that talking about them does not make you feel better, but writing does have a profound effect.

        I hope I didn’t go too far with my sometimes rather harsh comments, but it seemed to me you were in a state where you welcomed a few slaps with the literary trout of ugly truth so you can think over it from a different angle.

        1. Tizzy says:

          I like the way Shamus kept the editorial commentary and foreshadowing very minimal in the series. I’m pretty sure that most of the comments we can make had already occurred to him.

      2. Deoxy says:

        A lot of my thoughts on education have crystallized as a result of writing all of this down.

        I have a child with some issues at least similar to your own; I showed this to my wife (special ed teacher), and she read through every bit of it in one sitting (at least up until the end of school, but I think all of it). It was really useful and good for us, so thanks for that.

  5. karln says:

    This reminded me of the (alleged) finding that telling people your plans makes you /less/ likely to enact them. Not sure where I originally saw this, but I found an outline of the theory here:

    Shamus seems to get stuff done though, so he presumably has a decent idea how it works for himself.

  6. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Wait, are you implying that you exist for other reasons than to provide us with free entertainment? Preposterous!

  7. Airsoftslayer says:

    Sorry to say it Shamus, but Skyrim is coming out, and I don’t get XP from reading your posts :)

    1. Shamus says:

      Truly we are all doomed.

      1. Fists says:

        We can all still get together while it installs, and when we have to rebuild our rigs after they catch on fire because we decided they could probably handle “ultra” graphics

        1. Rodyle says:

          And whenever you ragequit for an hour after you lost a few hours of progress due to some stupid bug.

          What? It’s still a Bethesda game. If I was to buy this game (which I won’t; I game on a four year old laptop so I wouldn’t be able to play this), I’d wait for a month or so. I know that if I were to run into a shitload of bugs/glitches, it’d put me off and I wouldn’t play it for a year or so.

          1. Irridium says:

            That’s what I’m doing, waiting a month or two to buy.

            Served me well so far, I expect the same with Skyrim. I won’t be fooled again like I was with Oblivion.

            1. SolkaTruesilver says:

              My head and logic tells me your right..

              But my heart tells me: “IT’S FUCKING SKYRIM!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”

              As you can see, I am conflicted.

            2. Jarenth says:

              I, too, feel this way. I got burned on Oblivion pretty harshly, and frankly, I’ve got other things to do. It’s getting to the point where the number of totally unplayed games in my Steam list is threatening to put the Earth off-balance.

              1. SolkaTruesilver says:

                I didn’t got burned on Oblivion, but I just recently got burned badly on Sword of the Stars II…

                I am wondering if I should take another of such risk.. darn.

          2. Rosseloh says:

            Wait for a month or so for the community to release the unofficial fixes, because if there’s anything worse than the bugs in Bethesda games, it’s the fact that they don’t ever release an actual official patch…

            1. Irridium says:

              Or they do and leave a bunch of smaller issues un-resolved.

              Or a patch that completely breaks mods. That was a fun one.

    2. Avpix says:

      I would pay for a mod that replaces in-game books and scrolls with content from Twenty Sided, although things might get weird if Shamus does a written LP of Skyrim.

  8. Vegedus says:

    I find it sorta ironic that the book that is supposed to launch Shamus’ writing career is being interrupted by an autobiography that’s mostly about how he was meant to be a programmer since the day he was born.

    1. Tizzy says:

      Nice. But not entirely accurate: Shamus the budding writer does make some appearances in there too.

  9. psivamp says:

    NaNo is amazingly poorly-timed for college students. I don’t know how Ruts is going to do it. I barely have to time to look at my own code while taking classes and working.

    I would also say that Skyrim’s release is poorly timed, but I’ll just have to fight off the urge to buy it. The fact that I don’t get XP for writing lab reports and balancing chemical reactor processes would probably adversely affect my grades — which, in the long run are more important than Skyrim (by the time I graduate they’ll have made TES VI).

    1. swenson says:

      Yeah, tell me about it being poorly timed for college students. At least I got midterms out of the way last week, but still.

    2. Rosseloh says:

      NaNo, and Skyrim, and Assassin’s Creed, and LotR:War in the North (out right now, playing it tonight), and a dozen other games that I’m not particularly interested in, plus my constant addiction to Lord of the Rings Online. Yeah, I’m just glad that I’m done with college and actually in the workforce — 8 hours a day of a job is a hell of a lot better than 8 hours a day plus homework AND a job.

    3. Dude says:

      You don’t have to do it in November, really, do you?

      You could write the book in May. Or June.

      Or heck, make up your own month.

  10. X2-Eliah says:

    Some people make promises on their blog in order to publicly set goals for themselves. The guilt or danger of public failure drives them. My creativity doesn't work that way, and I can't squeeze more work out by making public declarations.

    Exactly on the spot. Always promising stuff is a massive risk, and frankly if one fails to deliver up – and moreso if there’s a constant stream of apologies, more promises and so forth with more and more absence of content, well… it’s a mess and it harms the audience.
    And I don’t know of any creativity that can be motivated by setting unrealistic bars and deadlines, and stacking up stuff on back-end to have this massive pile of stuff hanging over one’s shoulders.

    Rutskarn?…. Yeah. Basically, that.

    Also, Skyrim skyrim skyrim skyrim skyrim

  11. krellen says:

    Skyrim is coming out, and I don't get XP for posting stuff for you to read.
    Thanks to your donation button, posting stuff for us to read does get you money, however. Surely you can figure out some way to convert that to XP.

    1. Jarenth says:

      “Kids, here are TEN DOLLARS. If I’m level seven by the time I wake up from my nap, there’s more where that came from.”

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        Except the nasty kids might mess up with his carefully built character, destroy the relations and balance of powers he’s been trying to establish. Plus, they might do quests he wanted to have done himself.

        The man’s not Josh, he’s actually careful in the way he’ll play an RPG :-)

  12. Richertai says:

    Shamus, it’s time we talked.
    We all know that Skyrim is coming out very very soon. We all know what that means. If you need to take some time off to get your Dovahkin in order, then go ahead. I’ll be too busy to read your posts anyway.

  13. swenson says:

    It’s a good thing that I decided not to even consider getting Skyrim until I actually finish Oblivion, which I only got earlier this year (or at least do most of it and get sick of it), because I’m doing my fifth NaNo this year. I pity any Bethesda fans who also like to write!

  14. Groboclown says:

    Good luck to all you other NaNoWriMo challengers out there. I’m already behind my scheduled output. Fortunately I’ve got a big chunk of time carved out near the end of the month that I can use, once my story really gets underway.

  15. Dovius says:

    Ah, was wondering if you were getting Skyrim. Glad to see you’re gonna be just as doomed as the rest of us.
    Really looking forward to exploring every nook and cranny of that game like I did with Oblivion. Although I’ll probably actually get further than halfway through the storyline this time……
    Because Oblivion Gates can go toss themselves off a cliff.

  16. Alex says:

    I think NaNo is a great incentive for the otherwise unmotivated, but I don’t think it’s the preferable thing toward writing something you would want published. It’s more effective towards getting a rough draft down, since obviously to meet the 50k demand you’ll probably have to write some crap. At least, it’s about the broad strokes for me.

    What I plan to do this year is write the story in this month, per NaNo’s guidelines, and then spend the rest of the year editing and fidgeting over the details. Finely combing over the “WTF was I thinking” bits until it looks somewhat presentable. I don’t know if it’ll be something I’d want others to see even then, but I like a challenge.

    I’m also intrigued by April’s “Script Frenzy”, if anyone’s heard of that.

  17. rrgg says:

    I’ve never been a fan of fantasy games but I’m honestly considering getting this one.

    How far do you think I would get by sticking only to the weapons and armors that don’t look stupid?

    1. Shamus says:

      A naked and unarmed play-through sounds very challenging to me.

      1. James Pony says:

        naked and unarmed
        don't look stupid

        …With Bethesda’s art direction and animations?

      2. rrgg says:

        Bugger, what if I was lenient (no spikes, no horns, pauldrons you can see over, no double bitted axes) would I at least make it halfway up the teirs?

        1. Volatar says:

          Mods are your answer my friend.

    2. decius says:

      Given that it’s going to have (all?) opponents leveled to you, you might be able to do a naked level 1 run.

  18. Alex says:

    My favourite parts of Oblivion were the Oblivion Gates. It felt like closing them actually did make the game world a little better, and a little safer. One of the only parts where it felt like my intervention into a giant game world actually mattered.

    Maybe that’s why Skyrim doesn’t interest me. I’ve heard of cooking mini-games, but nothing so far that would be quite an expedition or with such a tangible, noticeable reward. That, and is a fantasy video game in 2011 really bragging that it has dragons? That’s like a First-Person Shooter making a selling-point that it includes racism.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Have you seen the dragons? The things are AWESOME. How many games let you fight a dragon in FPS mode in real time? Not to mention their crazy-sounding AI. Can’t you even have dragons fighting other dragons?

      In closing, they’re REALLY REALLY COOL dragons.

      1. Alex says:

        Eh, you see one dragon in a video game, you’ve seen ’em all. They fly around, breath fire, roar, you stab, one of you dies. I mean, it was neat in Phantasy Star Online when the concept of fighting a dragon in 3 Dimensions was still new and something to be impressed by. But 80 billion times later, the novelty has worn off for me.

        I’m more concerned right now if this one does that stupid thing where the monsters level up with you. I’m really hoping they learned their lesson from Oblivion.

  19. JPH says:

    Funny thing is, I’ve noticed consistently that whenever I promise or even say I might write about a certain topic on my blog, that’s almost a guarantee that I won’t do it. It’s like the pressure of knowing I said I would do it drives me to procrastinate until it’s not topical anymore.

    Well, I suppose that’s implying that anything I write about is topical to begin with, which is questionable.

  20. Heche says:

    Ha, so I’ve only just realized that the autobiography is called “AutoBLOGraphy”. XD

    1. Nimas says:

      I’m not that bad, but for some reason I always imagine autoblography as autoblogography.

      I’m not sure why.

  21. ENC says:

    Apparently NaNoWriMo (even though it’s international… big woops on their part) is timed for your Winter or something?

    Personally I’d have it January when most schoolkids have it off for Summer holidays (ours go from Dec->Jan), or something like July just after the end of the financial year.

    Oh well, it’s giving me motivation to write my sci-fi novel… if only my uni exams didn’t finish on November 24th SIGH.

  22. delve says:

    Unless Bethesda has taken a page from Squaresoft and changed their character development system dramatically, you don’t earn XP in a traditional sense for anything in Skyrim. :P Now git crackin’ ;)

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      It’s actually worse. You get bettet at things by doing that thing.

      So Shamus would only increase his Bloggin’ skill by writing here. It’s not very useful to slay dragom. Except the Dragons Really Menacing (DRM)

  23. Loonyyy says:

    You could form it into a book: Matthew Reilly initially released “Hover Car Racer” as an episodic book online, before it was reprinted and sold with additional artwork. You could do the same sort of thing. I know if it was sold in Australia, I would buy it.

  24. Azretion says:

    “Some people make promises on their blog in order to publicly set goals for themselves. The guilt or danger of public failure drives them.”

    For data nerds (like us, almost every reader of this blog, admit it ;) ) there’s a site you can use for that:

    Just set a number of pages you want to write per week, and it does make sure you’re within a certain deviation from the line by having you make a “contract”. You bid 0 or more dollars and the idea of risking that amount should motivate you to work!

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