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Day Nineteen: Hills and valleys November 19, 2012

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, nanowrimo, writing.
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NaNoWriMo is never a smooth slope for me. Real life intervenes, and writing on the weekends has a tendency to fall by the wayside at least a little, with weekday writing making up for it. And, of course, on the other end, some days I simply get into the story and end up writing far more than I need to.

The former, of course, is more the issue at this point this year. The last two weekends I have barely managed a couple hundred words. I did not build up enough of a buffer before the first weekend and only just caught up before last weekend, meaning I am now behind by about 1,500 words after the 2,500 I managed today.

Not that I really regret the lack of writing in either case. Two weeks ago I ran a convention table and last weekend family visited. Though I don’t have plans for next weekend, I still don’t expect a particularly strong couple days for writing. It is far from hopeless or too late, however – according to NaNoWriMo I only need to write a scant additional 100 words per day to still finish on time – as long as I can keep myself writing.

The writing has felt different this year. Every time I have set out to participate in NaNoWriMo, my goal has been to write the best book I can, not just to pound out words just to meet the daily word count recommendations. And the two books I have written during NaNoWriMo that have now been published retained a fair portion of the writing done during the challenge, if not a little polished since then.

This year’s novel, on the other hand, feels less like a rough but workable first draft and more like exploration for what will be a stronger book. I have learned a lot about the characters and setting through writing it, and truthfully my last NaNoWriMo has ended up almost entirely rewritten to its current state, but this is still not what I usually get out of the challenge.

Sadly, it’s also making me reconsider continuing to join NaNoWriMo. I have taken a lot out of it. I now have the discipline to write a book without having a recommended daily word count deadline looming over me, and being forced to churn out that many words this month has resulted in a lot of very rough writing, as opposed to the better considered work I tend to do outside of November. Perhaps this is what this particular book needed, further exploration in the form of writing rather than trying to plan everything out beforehand, but it still feels a little like I’m spending all this time writing and not really getting usable material out of it.

Not all of it is unusable, of course, and perhaps more of it can be worked with than I’m realizing right now; I haven’t reread much of what I’ve written in the past almost three weeks, after all. And perhaps the problem really is that I didn’t have the story and characters planned out so well beforehand and a better plotted out novel would work with the word-churning, rather than the method itself being flawed for me.

It’s still hard to quell that inner perfectionist that has me hesitating before the beginning of every scene wondering where to start. But accepting that I’m using this draft more for the purpose of exploring and expanding on characters and story makes it a bit easier. And no matter what I end up with, good or bad, this month, all I need are words.

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