Lesson #1: Plotting is Awesome, But It’s Writing That Counts
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I spent a few weeks in October trying to outline, brainstorm, and plot my still-unnamed NaNo novel. I had a bit of success early on with characters and storylines, but at the last minute my muse jumped ship and went rogue, leaving me with roughly a half-dozen different directions and a whole lot of heartache.
Once November 1st rolled around, however, all that angst went out of the window… and that’s because my characters decided that they were going to take control. Hence Velda, one of my main characters, deciding that she wasn’t the mousy, timid girl I had met during my brainstorming sessions. Now she’s a grouchy, somewhat-bitchy 16 year old with a chip on her shoulder. And Helena Grey, the character I introduced in my last ROW80 check-in, wasn’t even supposed to be in the novel, but I started writing and lo! There she was.
Lesson #2: Go With the Flow
This is my 2nd November NaNoWriMo, but my 4th attempt at throwing down 50k in 1 month, if you count CampNaNo ’11 and ’12. I’ve reached 50k every time, but this is the first year that I’ve been really content to go with the flow. Instead of obsessing over potential storylines and plots, I’m picking one and following its lead. There will be things that need to be tweaked once I go back to edit, but I expect that these days. And that’s because I’ve learned….
Lesson #3: It’s All About the Zero Draft
…that I work best when I can vomit words all over a zero draft. This untitled tale is WIP #5 on my list, and the first one where I don’t feel stressed out or worried that my first attempts are imperfect. As much as I hate to admit it, my need for perfection not only slows me down to a snail’s pace but also sabotages my creative attempts. Instead of throwing myself into the writing process, I get tripped up with “right and wrong” (I am a horrible goody-two-shoes perfectionist) and end up paralyzed with indecision.
This zero draft is disgusting. It is dripping with cliches and repetition and really lame metaphors and tons of blanks spots, all flagged with my handy “[ins word here]” brackets. But my zero draft also contains the skeleton of what will eventually (hopefully?) become a beautiful, complex, multi-layered novel, plus tons of notes on the spots where I know I haven’t gotten it right. This is a win-win as far as I am concerned.
Lesson #4, Writing By Hand is the Trick
I’ve posted about writing by hand before, but this month it seems to have become my #1 solution for getting stuff done. I’ve been really distracted by practically everything for the last week, and the internet has been one huge shiny sparkly thing for me to poke at when I’m supposed to be writing. I’ve got it bad, you guys, switching windows when I’m half-way through a sentence because I’ve decided that looking at FB/G+/Twitter/a million other things is a really good idea.
At the moment, shutting the computer down to work through scenes by hand is the best solution I’ve come up with. It’s a little more work in the long-run, since I have to go and type everything up once I’m through, but it is exactly what I need in order to stay focused.
This morning I’m hovering around 12.3K. I didn’t do as much writing as Tuesday as I wanted (spent most of the day in the archive/watching election returns), so I’m glad I’ve got a wee bit of a cushion. My goal is to write roughly 2k each day between now and Sunday, just to get a little farther ahead. Provided I don’t run out of ideas (which is a distinct possibility), I should be able to pull that goal off.
So yay! How’s everyone handling hump day? Don’t forget to cheer on the rest of the ROW80 participants over here.