Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Day 15 of NaNoWriMo. In which I realise a few important facts.

Firstly I would like to apologise for the length of today’s post. I got carried away writing it.

It’s day 15, the 15th of Novemeber and we are officially halfway through NaNo.
The word-count for today was suggested to be 25,000. ... I hit 60,000 words a short while ago. Apparently I’m an over-achiever which is aided in no short order by my unemployment and poor social life. I’m pleased though although some odd things have been happening. I jotted them down in my writing journal and here is an interesting excerpt:

Thursday 10th November : 6,529 words in Day 10
I was writing earlier, slightly exhausted but writing none the less. I managed to hit over 5,000 words in a day and if I hadn’t been so tired I probably would have written more. The thing is... in my semi-exhausted state I seem to have added some extra bad-guys. It wouldn’t be so bad but I don’t know who the hell they are! This apparently is common of the Week Two in NaNo. You either lose all interest and your novel away forever or you toss in a plot twist, even if it is unintentional.
                My plot is twisty enough without extra characters and bad guys appearing but my brain is demanding them. I foresee a weekend consisting of mapping out my plot twists, figuring out who the hell these bad guys are and even more writing.

I never did get the weekend of mapping started, let alone finished but I did get some writing done. I managed to hit 50,000 words the next night which seemed to befuddle my regional meet group (that was an amusing day). It also just goes to show though that no matter how much planning I do, characters will at some point take over.

It happened again last night as I was reaching desperately for 60k. I’d reached the end of my detailed planning but REALLY didn’t want to stop writing mid-flow to plan in detail some more. So I did what any self-respecting aspiring author would do. I carried on. I’d just reached a very relaxed, semi-irrelevant part of the narrative which was focusing on one of my numerous sub-plots, meandering along and letting the plot carry on as a chick-lit for a while. Then ‘BAM!’ an unexpected part of the main plotline just slammed itself (or herself as the case became) into the story. It has turned into one of those completely unexpected things that happens when you through aside your carefully constructed plans and wing it. Never in months of plotting could I have come up with that twist. It just kept unravelling and unravelling and more twists came. The character is now related to the major plot theme and the villain of the novel AND she’s involved in the romance sub-plot as part of my Male Main Character’s past(which is rather long). That was in only 3,000 words as well. Very exciting stuff when you think about it.

            NaNoWriMo is helping me to realise a few things about the way that I work best when writing and about the writing process in general.
            First is the fact that what you produce in November IS a first draft. You’re trying to get words on a page, as you think them up. They’re not meant to be finely honed works of art and they won’t be. They’ll be rambling patches of thought tangled into one long narrative. You’ll have mistakes, you’ll have random bits of stuff that won’t make sense and will later get cut. You’ll also have gems, patches of writing whether they’re description, dialogue or just babbling, that are so amazing you wonder where the hell they came from, that an hour of careful sentence construction could never hope to replicate.
          That’s all ok though. It’s a first draft. Things you hate can be removed later, parts you love can be kept and expanded. That long rambling monologue you have that is a paragraph all on its own because you started to have a thought, began to write it, lost it and carried on writing anyway until you found a new thought but still ultimately went nowhere? That can be sorted out, possibly separated, even removed all together (see what I did there?!).  That’s what the editing process is there for. I embrace editing. I even do it for this blog now.
Writing is like thinking and interacting with people. The first draft is your initial thought, like wanting to say ‘your hat looks stupid’ or ‘I want to lick your face’. It’s the ID portion of the process. Editting is like the Ego, it stops you from just blurting out those things. Editting refines your novel, poem or whatever creative piece you’re working on. It takes the aweful things away and leaves all the nice, socially acceptable pieces.
            Secondly it’s taught me a lot about how and when I like to write. I like to use my laptop. I like to write in the evenings until after midnight when the house is quiet and I’m free of distractions. Unexpectedly I discovered that my most productive place to write was not, as I believed, on my desk in my room (actually a set of plastic drawers covered by pretty scarves from Primark) but at the kitchen table, on the computer chair I drag daily from the living room (a whole 20 foot away). That was surprising. I also discovered that I do not in fact write well with iTunes playing in the background as I thought, I in fact like to have Capital FM on, even if it does play the same songs over and over. It’s less distracting as I have no control over what plays next and so cannot distract myself fiddling with it.

Clearly NaNoWriMo has taught me more in two weeks then three years of a Creative Writing course at uni ever could. Makes me wish I’d just done straight up English Lit. Either way...
NaNoWriMo, I salute you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day Nine

                NaNoWriMo is now in full swing. It’s day 9 and my intent to blog every single day during NaNo has gone completely down the drain... oopsie o.0 But I’m here now and ready to fill you in on my fun adventures of NaNoWriMo for the last 9 days while I take a small break from actual writing.

                Amazingly I am well ahead of the suggested word count. Using some very complicated maths (read common sense) the creators of NaNoWriMo figured out that the participants need to write 1,667 words a day to hit the 50,000 word goal. The suggested amount for today, Day 9 is 15,000. I am on 41,742. Clearly I’m working well beyond the predicted amount a day. It probably helps that I have no job and very little by way of a social life. I have been writing every day though, getting used to my characters and each day I find myself writing more and more. It’s been taking me less and less time to warm up and getting into the writing groove as I call it. Although there are a few flaws and small holes in what I’m writing I realise it’s just a first draft and many of these things can be easily fixed when I go to edit.

                Distressingly though my characters keep hijacking the story. It’s supposed to be a supernatural thriller. Instead my main characters (commonly called MCs in the forums) have taken over and turned the story into a chick lit romance that just happens to have vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures. I’ve shrugged my shoulders and decided to just try and gently steer them back in the right direction. If I try and force them back on track there’s a strong chance that they could screech to a halt and refuse to play. What makes me laugh the most about the whole situation is that I never used to believe that characters could take over. I just figured that this was just crazy writers speaking who took themselves too seriously. In this case I’m glad I was wrong. It really does happen that you want the story to go one way and then your characters take an idea and run off with it in an opposite direction then you intended. More and more, especially in the last few days, I’ve found myself yelling at my computer and my characters to stop it and do as I say. It’s gotten so bad that a member of the regional chat-room (a happy advantage of NaNoWriMo) sent me a link to an image that he says basically sums me up right now... it’s now my desktop background.

                The chat-rooms are another good part of NaNo, participants are split into regions, based on the area they leave and many of them have chat-rooms. In the Notts NaNoers chatroom I’ve made some pretty good friends (at least I like to think so) that I see once a week in an actual pub. We talk, we eat and we generally relax and unwind (often hitting each other with wooden spoons for misbehaviour). I’ve been to two meetings so far and the group members only seem to be getting crazier. I feel right at home. Happily these meetings continue throughout the year although it changes to just once a month after November. I’ll be sad to see an end to the weekly meetings as I have so much fun at them, often staying much longer then I intend to. My parents are just glad I’m out the house.

                Hopefully I’ll have another update for you soon. In the mean time, you other NaNo-ers out there: Have fun and Happy Writings!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day Three

So NaNoWriMo has hit its third day, at least for most countries east of the UK. I have, rather surprisingly, reached 10,000 words already. I was shocked to be honest when by the end of the first day I’d managed to hit 5,000 and then when yesterday rolled around and I finally finished my writing for the day I saw I’d reached 10,000 words! If I can keep writing at this rate I should hopefully hit the word count by the 10th of November. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I want to hit higher than the 50,000 word goal of NaNo though and actually finish my novel. That could mean that I am, finally, able to submit a novel for publication. 

That is my main goal in life, to be published. I’m willing to work jobs that don’t really have anywhere to progress to so that I have enough time to write and create. I don’t know if I’m good enough to become a writer, all I know is that I have enough ideas that need working on to keep editors busy for years. I can see how what I’m writing now can progress into a seies, full of characters and reality clashing with the supernatural. My only real problem in writing novels is that I’ve never actually gotten around to finishing one. Hopefully NaNo may change all that.

I keep hearing all these horror stories about it though. I suppose most of them come from people who are juggling other things such as children, work and university rather than an unemployed layabout like me. I am doing daily chores for my mother before I start writing though so it’s not as though I’m spending my days sat on my backside watching Jeremy Kyle and writing.