Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo Hindsight

Come the end of October, NaNoWriMo was not on my schedule.  Oddly enough, I had been working on a little story that had been inspired by a dream, so when November was almost upon me, I thought, "Hey, why not?"  I talked it over with a writer friend, and the final decision came the next day while writing in my journal October 30:
I am going to do NaNoWriMo.  I have to.
And there it is.

The first week was smooth sailing.  Everything I wrote had been plotted out in Scrivener, writing software that makes MS Word look like Windows 3.1.  Remember Windows 3.1?  Anywho, when I ran out plot during week two, things got rough.

Part of me thought I had plotted half my novel.  Part of me feared I had plotted a third.  The actual amount I had plotted?  One fifth.  Ouch.

I had less planned than expected

Still, I put on a brave face that second Tuesday:
The Battle rages on.  I won't give up until one of us is dead: me or the enemy of apathy and resistance.
Easier said than done, Ladies and Gentlemen.  That's right: Fiction, the art of recording what is easier said than done is itself easier said than done.  But enough trite aphorisms.  They didn't help me complete my novel.

Early on, I used books like The Art of War for Writers and The War of Art as kick-in-the-pants motivation.  They did the trick for a while, and I heartily recommend them, particularly the first one, but ultimately there's nothing that can save you.  Nothing but one thing: God's gift of hard work.

How do you accomplish this hard work? Here's my checklist:

Concentration: Do everything in your power to not be distracted while you are writing.  Or, to quote Cyrus Farivar,
Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.
There is far more truth in this than I'm willing to admit.  In fact, let's move on:

Confidence is key.  Stink, another one of those aphorisms.  But truly, confidence is more important to the budding novelist than the smashing simile I should be able to insert here.  Dark, sensuous thoughts of doubt and fear creep into the brain unless you are the most optimistic or dumbest person ever.
You will never be published.  Your novel stinks worse than Occupy Wall Street.  You have no sense of pacing.  Fifty thousand words is not going to happen, bub.
It calls me bub, because we've been acquainted for some time now.  If you don't know what I'm talking about by now, just go away.  These voices will kill your attempt at NaNoWriMo.  If you plan on entertaining their self-pitying pleasures, don't try to write a novel at all, much less one in a month.

NO EDITING.  None.  Sure, correct little typing errors you made in the sentence you just typed, but if a passage has stood a certain way for a few minutes, let it be.  Don't look at it unless you need to to advance the story.  Resist.

Preferred Medium.  I'm not talking about seances here.  You're welcome to write about seances in your novel, but they won't do much for the NaNoWriMo-acolyte.

My point is this: write in the way you find most comfortable.  We've all read the article or tweet in which successful author opines about the joys of old school Pen & Paper.  You are not that author.  If that method works, fine, but don't feel like you are missing out on something if you do things your own way.  Experiment by all means, but know this: The only way you will miss out is if you do not write at all.

Atmospheric Variety.  This has nothing to do with global warming.  My solution to climate change is clear.  I refer instead to writing in different places.  Writing on the computer you play World of Warcraft on may work just dandy, but sometimes it is best to get away from the old mental connections and write in a new atmosphere.

On Monday November 14, I struggled to get 1,000 words by 4:00 p.m.  Movie night was quickly approaching with another 1,000 words to go.  Solution?  Starbucks.  Yummy coffee + crappy internet = productivity.

These are my super tips for writing a novel.  If you follow them, hey, maybe you'll be as successful as I am.  Sorry: that is the feeling I get from a lot of "Improve Your Writing Today!" articles.  The bottom line is not I'm awesome.  I have one more tip for you that should explain what I mean:

Pray.  It helps.  God helps.  Now go write something.