“I never had any doubts about my abilities. I knew I could write. I just had to figure out how to eat while doing this.”
Cormac McCarthy

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

got no room for lazy lungs in here (drop and give me twenty)
Tue 2017-11-28 23:45:59 (single post)

Just under 4,000 words today. About 7,700 words remaining to the win. Y'all, I am going to do this. I didn't really get started until nearly halfway through the month, but I am going to do this!

I admit I still don't quite know where the story's going. I don't know a lot more about it, plot-wise, than I did while I was still brainstorming. I know a lot more about the characters, though. They've come into closer focus thanks to flashbacks, random details, and tangents in their interior monologues. Not to mention simply demanding of myself that I look closer at entities I'd been guilty of glossing over before, like the characters' homes and workplaces. Even the car Delta drives on their fateful road trip is more fully realized, along with it the state of the international automobile industry.

I feel uneasily like I haven't earned this win (assuming, as I do, that I will win). I feel like I'm just plastering purple prose and sentimental hooey all over the page. I tell myself that this is the only way I'll find out what's in my story--just get it all down, jumbled and overwrought and repetitive as it is, and worry about how to organize the information later. It's not unlike researching a paper for school. You can't worry about the structure of the finished paper if you're still just taking notes on your subject. You may not have even found the piece of data you need to really decide on your thesis yet. Keep taking notes.

So OK, yeah, I just had my characters barf their entire backstories onto the page at each other with no regard for pacing or the art of the reveal. So what? Now I know their backstories. Really, it was me they were telling. I needed to be told.

So by the end of the month I won't have a novel, but I'll have taken some 50,000 words worth of notes on who my characters are and where they might be going. I'll have slapped down a lot of raw clay on the workbench and squished my hands through it in an aimless but satisfying way. Squish, squish. It's kind of fun. Shaping and refining the clay can happen later. For now (squish), observations on its color and texture are sufficient. (Squish.)

Meanwhile, I went to roller derby practice tonight for the first time in more than a week. It was lovely to see my league mates again and skate with them, and it was really pleasant to practice hitting each other. (It was a particular shoulder hit to a backwards-facing blocker's chest. It felt oddly football.) My lungs protested, especially when we did twenty minutes of sprint intervals at the end. Hell with my lungs. They've been lazing too long. Time they were expected to do some real work around the joint.

and i will put the days of white-knuckled computing behind me
Tue 2017-11-28 01:05:16 (single post)

You may have occasionally heard me complain about my laptop.

You may have heard me say such things as, "I think my Asus is auditioning for the part of the typewriter in Stephen King's Misery, because every day another key on its keyboard seems to stop working." (To wit, the "s", the +/= key, the caps lock, the delete, the digits 3 and 7 on the number pad, and the digits 5, 6 and 0 on the top row, including their SHIFT and F components, nixing the end-paren and the hot keys governing volume and screen brightness too. It's an electrical thing. Sometimes they work, mostly they don't. Sometimes when they don't, if I keep hammering away at them anyway, the computer will simply die.)

You may have, perhaps, heard me lament the operating system's tendency to just can't and to forget how to even when I am tasking it cruelly by, say, attempting to run a web browser and Scrivener simultaneously. We are talking five, ten, fifteen-second pauses between my hitting ALT-ESC and the Start menu appearing, between clicking on the little volume icon and having the volume slider appear, between my typing one letter and then another letter into a Facebook messenger conversation.

You may even have heard me curse and seen me facepalm because I forgot to take the wireless keyboard's USB dongle out before telling the computer to hibernate. Because obviously if I leave the wireless keyboard's USB dongle in, the computer will crash rather than hibernate. Obviously. Who do I think I am, expecting the computer to successfully hibernate while anything is plugged into its USB ports? Why is anything ever plugged into the USB ports? Who does that, anyway?

This is the computer that Asus sent me to replace the computer that lost its ability to "see" its fully charged battery, such that if I unplugged the thing from the wall, it died. So the computer sent to replace the computer that started going electronically haywire is also now going electronically haywire. And both of them seemed to run out of memory for ridiculously banal tasks. And its/their warranty is entirely expired

This is a computer that might make you ask, "Why have you not replaced that computer?"

Well. As of tonight, I HAVE.

I did it. I bit the bullet and I spent a slightly uncomfortable amount of money on a computer that, by any measure, ought to be way more computer than I need. It's from the upper-middle range of Dell's "gaming laptop" line, an Inspiron 15 in the 7000 series with an i7 quad core, 16GB DDR4 2400Mz memory, 256GB solid state boot with 1TB storage, bluetooth, dual-band 2x2 wi-fi, and a ridiculously fantastic video card that I will probably never properly appreciate due to my pathetically low-tech video game tendencies.

Also, it's Dell. I have bad-mouthed Dell before, because every Dell I've ever owned has required me to avail myself of Dell's extended warranty repair service. However, my Asus experience has not been devoid of warranty repair interactions, and those interactions were much less friendly than their Dell counterparts. Asus didn't give me the option to extend the warranty past the first year. I had to pay for packaging and shipping. I had to practically pull teeth for them to give me status reports. Whereas, with the Dell I ordered tonight, I got the four-year extended warranty for the price of three, and longer extensions were available. When in the past I had to ship my laptop back, Dell sent me a prepaid laptop-shipping box with a comfy customizable foam interior. And once they didn't even make me ship them my computer, but instead sent a tech to my house. He sat down at my kitchen table and operated on my laptop right there.

I will bad-mouth Dell no more. I have tried both the Dell way and the Asus way of dealing with laptop misbehavior. I am resigned that laptop misbehavior is inevitable, and I prefer the Dell way of dealing with it.

The Cyber Monday discount wasn't nearly as deep as I'd hoped, but, gods damn it, I will have a computing environment that is not painful. It's supposed to arrive on December 12.

Until then, I continue chugging along with my external keyboard and other such coping mechanisms.

I am chugging along quite nicely. I got a bit behind on NaNoWriMo over the weekend, partly because no matter how much willpower I've got and how many over-the-counter remedies I use, being sick is going to slow me down; and partly because it was a weekend, darn it, and I was going to enjoy it. So now I'll need to do 4K per day to hit 50K on time. But I did make my 4K today, plus extra. And tomorrow I won't have a computer to shop for and a bunch of overdue tasks to accomplish. And I'm done being sick! It only gets easier from here.

I've only 11,649 words to go. It's not enough to finish the novel in, but it might be enough to help me figure out how to finish the novel.

YPP Weekend Blockades, November 25-26: ...i dunno, what do YOU wanna do?
Sat 2017-11-25 14:47:08 (single post)

The Emerald Ocean is carrying almost the entire weight of this weekend's blockade activity, as it seems to do most weekends. The Meridian blockade schedule is as dead as Jade's, Obsidian's blockade scene hasn't properly been born yet, Cerulean's just got the one blockade (a defense against Admiral Finius), and what few scuffles there were on Opal's agenda have already ended. (To be fair, what few blockades wind up on Opal's agenda are usually already over by the time I wind up blogging. It's a time-zone thing.)

The majority of Emerald's blockades are attempts to wrest control of an island away from the Brigand Kings and back into player flag hands. They all involve fairly weak BK forces, each having just one unit of fleet might. Don't expect any of these to last long. If you're looking to haul sunken BK treasure, better job quick before all your opportunities are gone.

In other events, Cerulean flag Midnight Yacht Club would like to know what kind of events you're interested in. They plan to host several contests in the new year, and it would help to know what sorts of activities the rest o' you scallywags would be tempted to participate in. Meanwhile, they're holding a whisking event tomorrow for those pirates in need of dots on their maps. Though there will probably not be enough people from MYC online to staff a ship at every island, Lanlaiely proposes to be online and "hopping from island to island" from 2 to 4 PM Pirate Time on Sunday, November 26.

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, November 25 ***

12:00 p.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Illusion
Attacker: Black Veil (4)

2:38 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (1)
Attacker: Spoon Republic

5:40 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)
Attacker: Spoon Republic

9:06 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (1)
Attacker: Shadows of Sage

*** Sunday, November 26 ***

10:00 a.m. - Albatross Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Jinx (1)
Attacker: Symonds Says

11:03 a.m. - Manu Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)
Attacker: Right Meow

11:47 a.m. - Ashkelon Arch, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)
Attacker: Heavenly Waters

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, November 25 ***

12:04 p.m. - Labyrinth Moors, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Red Ribbon Army
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)

The one that is all whited out and hard to see is a door in a historic house in Ann Arbor.
making awful things happen to fictional people
Tue 2017-11-21 23:51:30 (single post)

Still sick, but getting better. Better enough to take a walk down to the bank and the bookstore. Still sick enough that any pace above a leisurely amble resulted in a painful coughing fit. Three hours of roller derby practice was out of the question. Am spending the evening at home with my writing instead.

I went to the bookstore for more postcards. What with the current Postcards to Voters campaign, I'm going through them pretty fast. I've got a 100-pack of BE A VOTER! postcards winging their way to me as we speak, but in the meantime, I'm fresh out. And the Bookworm has, in addition to its spin-rack full of shiny Colorado and Boulder tourist postcards, a box full of random donated postcards and greeting cards I was looking forward to exploring. I picked out eight to get me through my current list of addresses. They were a mix of historical architecture, tourist souvenirs from assorted locations, and... cactus flowers? Also a moose.

Then, when I brought my selection up to the check-out counter, there was this amazing-looking book of 20 postcards of classic The Hobbit illustrations by various artists, just waiting for me like it knew I was coming. Why yes I snatched it up. Some Alabama voters are going to be getting some very pretty postcards early next week.

The epic word count days continue. Managed the requisite two NaNoWriMo sessions both today and yesterday; now, at 20K plus change, I am caught up through day 12. 3,300 words per day from here on out and I am set.

Last night I did a bunch of mental plotting while I was waiting to fall asleep, which helped prime the pump for today. Of course, I had to pick out and discard the bits of not-quite-asleep-but-already-dreaming nonsense that crept into the mix. Like, I'm running through the scene in which Delta and Michael first meet, and she's paying to replace his lunch (she klutzed his meal all over his clothes as a contrived meet-cute), and they're exchanging numbers, and... helping each other make squares in Two Dots? Because that's what I did before going to bed, I guess?

Hypnagogic contributions aside, last night in bed was also when I realized that, during the tragic flashback I'd written all about Michael's little brother's very short life, I'd never once mentioned his parents' kindertotems. In fact, all through my conception of the novel, I've only mentioned Michael's kindertotem. For those just joining us today, kindertotems are specific to people from Michael's country, who are born in animal form and slowly change to full biological humanity as they reach adulthood. Once they have fully outgrown their non-human morphology, an animal of the corresponding species will show up and become part of that adult's life going forward. Kindertotems enjoy a mild, mostly one-way psychic connection with their humans, and they can talk (when they wish) just like animal companions in any number of fantasy books you may have read, but they remain more or less immature as regards things like imagination and impulse control. So it's sort of like a person's "inner child" but as a concrete, living being.

So, in the flashback, seven-year-old Michael is still part cat, and poor doomed Karlkin is a kitten who's just opened his eyes--but their parents are adults, so where are their kindertotems? What are they? Even considering their come-and-go-as-they-please nature, why don't they show up at all over a several-month-long flashback? Well, I came up with some answers. They are not pleasant answers, but they are in keeping with other things I discovered/decided while writing that flashback. (Michael's father really is a piece of work, you know that?) Michael's mother's kindertotem is a canary, which probably means she herself has a tendency to sing. Or did. Until all the awfulness happened.

"But so anyway about that meet-cute in the coffee shop," she said, desperate to change the subject and lighten the mood...

curious fictions would like your eyeballs and wouldn't say no to your spare change
Mon 2017-11-20 15:36:57 (single post)
  • 6,000 wds. long

This blog post is brought to you by the twin forces of ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine, the patron saints of my staying productive while sick. Otherwise I'd be flat in bed, shivering and sniffly and sore. Hooray for modern medical science!

Incidentally, my roller derby habit has the side-effect of complicating self-diagnosis. I mean, are the muscles of my neck and upper back painfully tight because I've come down with a cold or flu, or simply because I had a contact-heavy practice last night?

(The answer, as the kids like to say these days, is, Por qué no los dos?)

Anyway. That is not what I came here to tell you. I came here to tell you about Curious Fictions.

Curious Fictions is a new undertaking by author and web designer Tanya Breshears to bring fanstastic short fiction to a wider audience while giving authors a handy option for extending the commercial life of their already-published stories. Readers can browse stories easily from their computers or mobile devices, and, having created a login and entered their credit card information into their account, can pay for what they read by means of the Stripe system. There are no ads, and the bulk of readers' payments go directly to the authors.

If you want to try it out by reading something of mine that you otherwise might not get to, my story "Lambing Season," first published in Nameless Digest, is in the Curious Fictions library. It is in the fantastic company of (just to name a few examples off the top of the weekly rotating Featured Story carousel) Gary Gibson's "Scienceville," Kate Heartfield's "The Semaphore Society," and Benjamin C. Kinney's "The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R."

And that's what I came to tell you about.

In other news, I'm afraid my weekend was underproductive as regards my hopes for clocking double days on this year's NaNoWriMo attempt. But that I did some work on it both Saturday and Sunday and didn't stint Saturday's freewriting and fictionette work isn't to be sneezed at. I have not historically been much good at getting work done on Saturdays, and I typically don't expect any writing from my Sundays at all. Well. 4thewords tells me I wrote about 5,000 words over the weekend, and by my calculations almost 3,000 of that was novel draft. Some of it was very misguided novel draft--I tore yet another big ragged hole in the plot, as it turns out--but sometimes you just have to write the misguided words to realize how misguided they are.

Today I get to correct my course. And since I'm not going anywhere tonight (I hate being sick, I was supposed to go meet our league's newest members over a round of off-skates conditioning and then help lead Phase 2, but instead I got sick so I have to stay home and I hate it), I have plenty of time to WRITE ALL THE WORDS so long as I can keep myself more or less upright.

Hooray for modern medical science indeed.

YPP Weekend Blockades, November 18-19: This is a test, this is ONLY a test. If this were an actualy blockade, you might win an island.
Sat 2017-11-18 12:54:39 (single post)

This just in: The first blockade on the Obsidian Ocean is LIVE. Or will be at noon game time. CLOSE ENOUGH.

The location is Triplet's Treasure, but the island's ownership is not actually at stake nor will be any time soon. Instead, each of the three flags that come out on top will receive a prize: a nice new flag hall with a charm item out front.

This is a non-sinking, three-round event. All ship types welcome. Canons are real; alliances are not.

With less than an hour to go, the flags who have declared their participation and who are now accepting jobbers include... Amateur Hour, Lion's Bane, Blame Brenda, Fanatical SOULS, Art of War, Organized Crime, and For Fox's Sake (gasp! language! I see what you did there). More have probably joined in the time it took me to type that out. I don't know if there's an official pay cap, but right now I'm seeing no offers higher than 1,000 PoE/segment. Correction: Organized Crime has raised their job offer to 2,000 since I wrote this, and Consequence Free have joined in with an offer of 1,111. Clearly there is no pay cap. May the highest bidder get the most jobbers!

This is not reflected in the schedule below because I haven't actually added Dark Seas to my homebrew jury-rigged klugemonster of a PHP/MySQL interface that I use to collect blockade data and spit it out in a neat little list every week. So that'll be my homework for the week.

Anyway, be aware that this is indeed the first blockade ever on the Dark Seas, and as such IT IS A TEST. Things may go wrong! Technical issues may arise! Set your expectations accordingly and let the developers know what you think.

Back in the classic Puzzle Pirates world, the Meridian Ocean is silent thus far. Cerulean is chugging along just fine with a nice handful of varied blockade activity. Emerald's blockade schedule consists almost entirely of Spoon Republic scuttling around. Which is to say, they're running multiple and mostly simultaneous defenses against brigand kings up and down all the archipelagos. They're also getting attacked by Frank Town who exist, according to their public statement, in opposition to "the toxic members of the ocean."

Don't be a toxic member of the ocean, mmkay?

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, November 18 ***

12:00 p.m. - Kakraphoon Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (3)

12:00 p.m. - Ventress Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (3)

12:00 p.m. - Cryo Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Jinx (3)

12:00 p.m. - Manu Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (3)

12:00 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Jinx (3)

12:00 p.m. - Albatross Island, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Jinx (3)

9:00 p.m. - Ashkelon Arch, Emerald Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (3)

*** Sunday, November 19 ***

10:01 a.m. - Ix Chel, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Spoon Republic
Attacker: Frank Town

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, November 18 ***

12:00 p.m. - Papaya Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (2)

12:00 p.m. - Diastrophe Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: Jinx (1)

5:18 p.m. - Eta Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Blackstar
Attacker: Babylon

5:20 p.m. - Fintan Island, Cerulean Ocean
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Tyranny

*** Sunday, November 19 ***

12:00 p.m. - Chaparral Island, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Babylon
Attacker: Fleet of his Imperial Scaled Highness (1)

See? See? Basketball!
friday is the new friday
Fri 2017-11-17 22:31:16 (single post)

Sound the trumpets and ring the bells! This week's Friday Fictionette is out on Friday. Shock! Surprise! We are stunned! And also I've already made a solid start on next week's fictionette because--y'all are gonna get sick of hearing me say this--4thewords is 4theWIN.

And but so anyway. "The Rutabagas Remember" is about equal opportunity basketball. Kind of. It's also about making memories that matter. It's 1042 words long. It's available to $1/month Patrons as an ebook; to $3/month Patrons it's additionally available as an audiobook. The usual drill, in other words.

My original plan for cover art was to find public domain or Creative Commons images of a rutabaga and a basketball and kinda fade one onto the other. It looked really cool in my head. It also was going to be a pain in the butt. But that was my plan.

I'd just logged my morning NaNoWriMo session. I was about to have my lunch. First, though, I went for a walk around the neighborhood to figure out what I'd write during the evening session. Meantime I intended to start right in on fictionette publishing procedures soon as I got back and had a bite to eat.

While I was out, I stumbled across two things:

  1. A community garden left to winter over, just behind the nearby church.
  2. A basketball abandoned and left to rot on the shore of one of the little private lakes nearby.

Well. I'm not one to ignore the Universe when it is so very clearly talking to me. I grabbed the basketball, I grabbed my camera, I headed back over to the garden, and lo, a photo was born. It probably could have been a better photo. But it's mine, I took it, I made a cover design out of it, I'm sticking with it.

I mean, a basketball. Just lying there being thematically relevant.

Today went as planned in other ways. I logged two NaNoWriMo sessions which together netted me 3,385 words. It wasn't the 3,500 I was hoping for, but it was in excess of the 3,334-word double-day mark, and that's the important thing. If I can pull double days from here on out, I will win the prize.

And there is a prize. There's going to be a coupon code for 4thewords in the NaNoWriMo winner package; it'll be worth 50% off a core crystal purchase and it'll pop some exclusive NaNoWriMo-themed gear in your inventory. Details about this and more in the NaNoWriMo Forum on the designated 4thewords thread.

That Nano-winner gear will be mine.

(Also I have now defeated a whole bunch more monsters and I've completed the torch quest and a bunch of Nano-related word-count quests and some quests involving a checklist of marionette varieties to defeat and and and and I finally SUBSCRIBED, ok, I bought the big bulk package, I am IN THIS EVERY DAY for YEARS TO COME)

tangled mess here i come
Thu 2017-11-16 23:00:42 (single post)

This 4thewords experiment has been wholly successful. Three days after registering, I am done with blog backfill, I'm ahead of schedule on this week's fictionette, and I'm starting to glimpse some small hope of actually reaching 50K words on the novel by the end of November.

My work habits have improved, too. I have barely touched my usual procrastination enablers all week. In fact, today, I didn't play Two Dots or Dots & Co. at all, and when I tried to get caught up on the blogs I usually spend too much time reading, it was with a feeling of reluctance. Like, I didn't want to, but I felt like I ought to. As though staying caught up on the current comment threads was some sort of obligation.

I am enjoying writing more than I am enjoying the things I tend to do when I'm avoiding writing. It's magical.

I confess, I did not get 1800 words in last night. I was tired and only got 1600. Got only another 1600 today. Not so bad, really. Running in place beats falling farther behind. Still, starting tomorrow, I hope to get on a 3500-per-day track. I've rearranged my timesheet template to indicate that I should work one novel-writing session during the morning shift and one during the afternoon.

It's not going to be that hard to come up with the words, not if I keep doing what I did today. Here's what I did today. Ready? It's so stupid. In the flashback I spent today's session writing, I got the plot totally wrong.

See, I'd already decided ages ago on the details surrounding Michael Fischer's family. His little brother died in infancy; his parents broke up over it. That's not the part I got wrong. The part I got wrong was forgetting that the whole reason Michael jumped at the opportunity to take a foreign internship and get the hell ouf of there was, his parents were getting back together and he didn't want to be within miles of the inevitable drama. OK but so except during today's writing I got distracted by a last-minute inspiration and hared right off into an alternate universe where something entirely else happened. And I didn't realize that's what I'd done until I'd logged my word count, packed up my computer, and headed off to scrimmage.

Oh crap, I realized, I'm going to have to write a lot of that scene over again. And I'll want to somehow synthesize the initial backstory with the new inspiration, figure out how much of what I came up with today is bunk and how much actually improves on the original plan. Which is hard and has me sort of running around in mental circles trying to keep track of everything.

It's NaNoWriMo. I'm not going to erase anything. I'm after word count! Keep today's work, write the scene again tomorrow, hell, write it five more times, it all counts! Only, I was also after a vaguely organized first draft rather than a tangled mess that will be a nightmare come time to edit. At this point, I think the tangled mess is the most likely outcome.

Alas, such things happen in November.

work smarter not more panickeder
Wed 2017-11-15 20:49:43 (single post)

Today is my second day using 4thewords to improve my daily writing routine, and already I've figured out how to use it better.

So, like I said, you pick a monster to battle and then you battle it. But on what criteria do you pick it? If you're me, you want to pick it based on the next quest you hope to solve. But you feel like you have to pick the monster whose target word count matches the estimated size of the next writing task. So you look at something like a Wiwaz (a variant of malign animated marionette) and you think, "I want to defeat that critter, it would complete my Dungeon Marionettes quest. But my current task is only good for about 600 new words, tops. Besides, with a 1,667-word target, the Wiwaz is obviously geared toward one's daily NaNoWriMo session. I should save it for when I work on my novel and just queue up a Persea for now."

But hopefully you're not me. I mean, I'm me, and there's not room enough in here for both of us. And you don't want to be short-sighted like that. You don't want to just look at the monster's target word count--you want to look a the time allotted to reach it.

A Wiwaz has a target of 1667 words and a time-limit of 24 hours. Because one Wiwaz equals one day's worth of NaNoWriMo writing.

Immediately I realized that, my process changed. Instead of carefully choosing a monster based on how closely it approximated the size of my current task, then typing like hell once the battle started... I initiated battle with the monster I really wanted to defeat, then calmly went about my day. I got done with the fictionette draft and its author's note, saw that I still had 22 hours left to defeat the Wiwaz, and decided I had time for a leisurely dinner break.

This calls for some discernment, of course. Not every monster has as roomy a deadline by which to hit its target word count. But the basic strategy stands: Consider potential monster battles from the standpoint of not a headlong sprint but a reasonable workday shift. Like, yes, I'm probably going to write 1500 words over the next two hours, given the tasks I've scheduled for that time. Then the battle becomes a vector of accountability: I'd better stay focused and keep my breaks short, because now I have to get both those tasks done over those next two hours.

The moral of the story is, gamification was made for us, and not us for gamification!

(Meanwhile, 4thewords tells me I've written 3,355 words today over 156 minutes--and I haven't even gotten to the novel yet. And I will. Believe it. When I'm done with the Wiwaz I want to go after the Dark Magician right away. That's about 1800 words. I'd love to bash out an 1800-word chunk of novel tonight.)

forward brave dust warriors - for the words!
Wed 2017-11-15 00:31:19 (single post)

Sometimes, you have to ask yourself: Is there room for more gamification in your workday? And the answer is YES. There is always more room for gamification in my workday.

I just joined 4thewords.

Like Habitica, 4thewords is a self-improvement role-playing game. But instead of being checklist-based like Habitica, it's word-count based. It's very simple: You pick a monster and you fight it. You fight it by completing X amount of words in Y minutes. For instance, right now at this very minute I am fighting a Wignow. Wignows are fuzzy and fangy and pop-eyed and cute. They come in many varieties. You beat the plain ones by writing 250 words in 20 minutes. When you hit the target word-count, you get your reward. Then, if you are so moved, you do it again.

Actually, there's a lot more to 4thewords than that. It's a complete RPG with quests, markets, the crafting of simple objects into more complex ones, maps of different regions with their own particular challenges and monsters and quests, and limited-time events as the calendar inevitably proceeds forward through its allotment of days.

We are, as you might imagine, in the middle of one such limited-time event, that being NaNoWriMo. There's a brand new region to explore and quests that will go away when December comes, so you can imagine I'm all fired up to beat all the monsters and solve all the quests.

Which means I'm writing all the words.

I'm looking forward to writing all the words. I am looking forward to them the way I usually look forward to taking an earned break to play Two Dots or Puzzle Pirates or solve another jigsaw sudoku. 4thewords has made writing itself into the alluring and addictive time-sink I can't wait to get back to, just like it always should have been.

This is new.

I've used every bit of today's writing to battle monsters and win stuff. Well, everything but the Morning Pages. Everything else. Freewriting (629 words), this week's fictionette draft (1000 words), today's NaNoWriMo progress (1844 words), today's blog post and all the blog backlog (which I finally completed, though I still need to upload it and backdate it). I wrote about 4500 words today--or more like 5000 if you consider this bit since crossing midnight "today."

And I want to write more because there are so many quests to complete!

I'm completely astounded by how effective this game is at getting me to do what I'm already supposed to want to do but have spent so many cumulative hours of my life avoiding. I never thought I could be this motivated by basically an online word-counting application.

If all this burble and glee has got you intrigued, then you should probably visit 4thewords and sign up. Caveat: It is not free. It is, at its most expensive, $4/month. You pay for subscriptions with in-game items called "core crystals," and you can buy crystals in bulk at a discount, lowering the monthly price to something like $2 and change. But the first month is free, and you get full functionality during that month so you can better evaluate whether it's worth your while.

Spoiler: I am totally going to subscribe.

Anyway, if you do sign up, feel free to use my referral code: XABFN67843 to get 20 core crystals free right from the get-go when you make your first actual payment (and, full disclosure, to earn me 44 of 'em at that time, too, but no pressure). And you can send me a friend request! I'm "vortexae" just like on Habitica (and on far too many BBS systems going back to the mid-90s).

I guess I'm done for the night. Until tomorrow, when I plan to defeat a large number of monsters in Luciola Forest and at Uurwall's Marionette Carnival!