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.

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