Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Monday, November 07, 2005

Day 6: Keep On Truckin'

The NaNoWriMo project is chugging along on schedule.

Day 6 word quota: 10,002 words
Day 6 actual total: 10,649 words. A little bit ahead of schedule. Aside from one night I had to quit early, I’ve been a few hundred words over quota every day.

Though I tried to have a ten thousand word weekend, I produced less than half of that.

A few bits of wisdom gleaned from six days of high-speed noveling:

--The ideal “plan-to-no plan” ratio for writing seems to be about 1:1. If I have no idea where I’m going when I sit down to type, nothing happens. If I try to plot out too extensively, I end up losing focus and watch SportsCenter instead. Plopping my ass down with a half-formed idea seems the best way to go. I don’t have to waste energy in wholesale flailing, but there’s room to play and take oddball turns.

--It’s easier than I thought to keep my inner editor from taking over and sabotaging the whole project. The Editor Within has settled into the idea that the first draft has holes in it and that in a month or two, he can feast upon bad scenes, poor grammar, and repetitive prose like a hungry bobcat on a limping raccoon. It’ll be bloody.

--Coughing up acres of unconsidered prose is a little bit like word association games. What comes out of you when you’re writing too fast to censor yourself? What deep, dark oogy things lie within your subconscious? The cool part of this mind-dredging is the inadvertant creation of themes. I have two or three, and I can tell they’ll run throughout the novel. My big struggle is to keep these themes from being applied too consciously, lest they become mechanical and obvious.

--Yes, I use the word “lest.”

--Writing a novel in a month is a lot like going to the gym. It’s good for you, it’s even fun, but dragging yourself to it every damn day can be a chore. I love it once I’ve settled down to hackery. Persuading myself to sit down and resume the hackery will probably grow tough soon. I can feel the urge build. Not gifted with an abundance of self-discipline, my only recourse is to keep the novel as entertaining as possible so I won’t get bored and wander off.

--The founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, was right: telling people you’re writing a novel is fun. “Oooh, what’s it about?” “Am I in it?” “Will you work in the story about the time you got so loaded you yarfed into the bathroom sink and backed up the neighbors’ plumbing?” That I can’t tell them what it’s about nor who’s in it is both fun (makes me seem more mysterious and authorial) and a drag (since it lessens their interest in the ongoing process).

A bunch of you in blog-land are either working on a NaNoWriMo novel or a regular book. Any thoughts on the process?


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