At the end of day 20 I finally reached 28k for NaNoWriMo.
This is a supernatural novel; the details are here and a snippet follows below the cut
This year I decided to Rebel because I wanted to make progress with some WiPs, write some fics for the Yuletide fic exchange, maybe revisit last years NaNo novel, etc, rather than write one big project from scratch.
I’m currently at 6318 words before I begin writing today. That’s quite a distance from where my wordcount should be if I aimed for hitting the same number of words each day. But this is no time for despair. I know I can write more words than 1600 in a day, I just need to find the right project to work on and let the words flow.
How are you other NaNoWriMo writers doing?
In November 2014 I wrote on my personal journal: “I wish anyone doing NaNoWriMo the best of luck! I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll probably never do NaNo.” How things have changed. It’s important then to record your thoughts and your plans, to be able to chart your progress and see how far you’ve come.
Post-NaNo I’ve allowed myself to slow down and take a breather. I can’t let the rest of the novel go for too long but I did need to reassess. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the sustainability of 50k in 30 days.
(base image from barn images)
Post-NaNoWriMo there can be a sense of completion but don’t be fooled. That first draft is a great achievement but the novel is not done.
Continue reading Post-NaNoWriMo: Hold Your Horses!
“We have to believe that we’re amazing—at least for a moment. At least enough to attempt this incredibly difficult thing. This is the peak of the creative drive.
But it’s hard to sustain that belief through the grind that is necessary to actually make the idea real. Our spirits fall. And at some point around the midpoint of the novel you’re invariably going to stop, look at what you’ve written—which will be a mess because in-progress novels are always a mess, that’s what creativity looks like and that’s what revision is for—and you’re going to recoil in horror. This is the nadir of the excitement you had felt when you started the novel, the opposite of the moment of amazing that spurred you to begin NaNoWriMo. This is the Chasm of Doubt.”
I’ve been peering at the chasm. I don’t write in a linear fashion. I look askance at the “beat sheet” posts that encourage people to write their story, not just in a linear fashion from A through B to C, but to hit particular notes each time. It seems such a creativity suck. I have more to say about that later.
Writing in a non-linear fashion is the only thing that has kept me going, but now I have what looks like hundreds of unsorted scenes. I had planned to have chapters mirroring the Fool’s Journey from the Tarot, which itself is similar to the Hero’s Journey. The story doesn’t neatly fit into those chapters though (again, more on the futility of forcing a story to fit a predefined template later). I stopped worrying and kept writing. I wrote 2k today leading up to one of the pivotal scenes, a scene I’ve long had planned (it actually existed in another form in another novel idea but it works so well here it’s where it belongs!) When my enthusiasm is up, I can write quickly. When I stop though and see the Things I Have Not Done it looks terrible.
It reminds me of the clearing out project I worked on during the summer (which made for little writing). I was clearing out clothes and books and needed new furniture which I had to wait for since it was being purchased for me as a gift and delivered to me. Every day I’d sort a drawer or more of clothes, or a shelf or more of books, or clean up a wall or replace a floor tile. I’d say “whose stupid idea was this?” when I was surrounded by boxes or bags or heaps of things to sort. At the end of about six hours of cleaning I’d have to clear things away as best as I could without new furniture to store them in, and I’d look at the mess, go take a shower and think “this will never be done” or “I’ve done so much, I can’t stop now.”
Eventually of course it was done. The project was well worth doing. My clothes are ones I actually wear and are tidier and easier to store and access. My books are neat and I can find a particular one if I want it. Everything is clean and refreshed.
It’s that point I’m at with the novel. If I focus on what I have done, recognise how many words I’ve written, reflect on what I’ve learnt about the characters, concentrate on scenes I want to write, I can keep going. If I reflect on the jigsaw puzzle that awaits me, if I think about the scenes I will need to write to join things up but I don’t know how/don’t want to write them yet, if I worry that 50k is nowhere near the finish for the first draft, well, there’s the chasm.
From the pep talk:
“If you’ve reached this point, you now have a choice: you can jump into that chasm, quit your novel, and wallow in how awful you are. Or you can veer away from the cliff. Doing so will be hard, because you’ve already built up the wrong kind of momentum. You’ll have to reverse engines and burn some extra fuel to break the inertia. You’ll have to climb back toward the peak, or at least reach a safe height. You might get back there a little late, but that’s okay. Better late than never.
And if it helps, remember: this is what makes you a writer. Yes, this. The sick feeling in your stomach, the weariness you feel, the utter conviction that you are the Worst and your novel is the Worst and everything is awful. This is how writers feel sometimes. (This is how everyone feels sometimes.) But writers do not let this feeling overwhelm them.”
That’s reassuring. That other writers feel this way, that everyone looks at the jumble and considers giving in. Unlike needing to finish tidying my clothes away, I could put the novel aside. But I don’t intend to give in. I’ll keep going until I reach the 50k, and then I’ll reassess where I’m at, where the novel is going, how I can begin to pull the pieces into a coherent narrative. (No doubt I will talk more about that!)
Writers, the pep talk says, know this feeling that it is the Worst, or as I might say, “whose stupid idea was this anyway?” But writers does not give in. That’s one of the lessons of NaNoWriMo. You don’t let yourself get bogged down in the detail. You push on, and push through. You revise later, but you write first.
I’m a little behind but I’m pleased overall with my progress, though I’m concerned that even if I win NaNo there is no way this book will be done. I don’t just mean it will need editing, I mean there is still going to be story to tell. Which is fine, but makes it a little more daunting.
I’ve definitely been learning things about how I work and write, and what I’m capable of, and what helps and what doesn’t. I also know I’ll want to dial back on the wordcount going forwards, because I’ve had to put some projects and activities to one side to focus on NaNoWriMo, but I still want to achieve a decent amount of productivity each month.
I made a collage/mood board at Polyvore early in the month to explore some of the themes of the novel. I think I was mostly right about them, though I’m still learning about the characters as I write, and still discovering things about the story. The image, and a brief text overview of some of the themes, is below the cut.
Continue reading NaNoWriMo – Day 23 update & novel themes
My novel synopsis
Continue reading NaNoWriMo – Day One
Some recs today to help you get ready and excited for NaNoWriMo.
If you haven’t started planning yet, and don’t where to start, I highly recommend Max Kirkin’s How to Plan a Novel. A non-proscriptive brainstorming session that helps you get started. It emphasises the importance of finding your enthusiasm, developing and following the characters as opposed to a strict plotline, and gives you some tools and tips that might work for you.
It’s good to know I’m not the only one who listens to music and imagines music vids/fanvids/trailers of the fiction and characters I’m working with!
Worried about getting all those words written? Rachel Aaron’s How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day might be helpful. At that rate you’d complete NaNoWriMo in five days!
Seriously though, there is a lot of pre-planning involved and if you’re more of a pantser you might not find the process as useful as if you prefer a more coordinated approach. Plus it requires temporary sacrifices – think about how people are describing their preparation for NaNo, such as cleaning the house now because nothing non-essential will not get done during November!
The approach that works for Aaron is to step away from the computer and make handwritten notes about what the scene about to written consists of. This is coupled with some research about how you write – when and where do you achieve your best wordcounts? Find out and use that knowledge to plan your writing. Finally, there’s a focus on enthusiasm, something echoing Max Kirin’s advice. You have to love this story, you have to get excited about it. The words will come more easily if you’re in your optimum workspace, knowing what you want to write, and you’re excited to do so.
I’ve seen lots of advice about gearing up for NaNo and things like “talk in the NaNo forums” and “make a playlist” to get you enthused. Amanda McCormick’s article NaNoWriMo Tip #5 – Get Hyped! gives five suggestions to get you started.
As I said before, I’m not used to this level of planning and I’m still struggling to pin down some of the details. But some of the characters and scenes are very clear to me and I’m making notes before I forget the details. I’m hoping that keeping these in reserve and not letting myself write them yet will let them grow, ferment, brew, and that, in November, I’ll be anxious to write out the full versions of the scenes.
If you want to be writing buddies I’m meridianrose.
I’ve said in the past that NaNoWriMo wouldn’t work for me and at the time it was true. I’m going sum up those reasons and why I think I can now argue against them, or at least live with them, in order to try NaNo this year.
Continue reading Why I Decided to Try NaNoWriMo This Year