November 19, 2011 4 Comments
We’re halfway through the month of Novemeber. For a lot of people, this means that we’re that much closer to Thanksgiving and turkey induced comas. However, for writers all around the world it means a mad dash of writing frenzy geared towards writing 50,000 words of a novel in a mere 30 days.
National Novel Writing Month has been sending writers into an over-caffeinated state of creative fever since 1999. Winners have the satisfaction of meeting the goal, getting posted on the winners’ page on the NaNoWriMo website, a certificate, and a snazzy web badge.
I’ve been meaning to participate in NaNo for several years and have only just managed to actually write something this year.
I’m currently sitting at 10,824 words. It’s considerably less than the halfway mark that I should have hit by now. On the other hand, it’s 10,824 words better than I’ve done in previous years.
One of the pieces of advice they give you on the NaNo website is not to worry about quality. Just write. Don’t worry about editing or getting everything just so, get the words on the paper (or screen). It sounds really easy in theory, but it’s been anything but!
I can admit that I am totally a ‘Type ‘A’ personality. I edit things as I write, agonizing over every sentence to make sure it reads just the way I want it to and conveys exactly the right thought. Needless to say it tends to take me a while to get things finished. But oh boy, are they pretty when they’re done!
This has been a huge hurdle that I’ve had to overcome this year. In order to get to 50,000 words, I’m having to forget about that and write a bunch of stuff that I would never want anyone to read as a finished product. It’s just flat out embarrassing sometimes. Or it was up until the point where I was sitting at around 5,000 words this weekend thinking that I was never going to finish.
That was just unacceptable. Definitely worse than writing some trash!
So I stopped trying to write the story in order, stopped trying to plan and plot it all out in advance, stopped trying to follow the notes I’d already jotted down in preparation, and just wrote. I made far more progress in just a few days than I had in the eleven days leading up to that point.
I also discovered that I was definitely what writers refer to as a ‘pantser’. If I try to plan out more than a loose outline and some general motivations for my characters, the story just doesn’t want to write itself. It’s made a big difference in my outlook on the contest and my novel. Not to mention the boost in confidence!
So, how do you write? Are you a planner or a pantser? If you’re participating in NaNo, how are you doing and what’s your writing groove? If you’re not participating in NaNo and have always wanted to write a novel, it isn’t too late. Even if you only get partly finished, it’s a huge step towards writing that book you’ve always wanted to write. And that is just one more step closer to being published!