Sunday, November 02, 2008

Day two: why am I doing this again?

Actually, the story is going pretty well. I underestimated yesterday's count slightly--I was pretty close to 2000 when I typed it up. I probably added another 1500 over the course of the day today, maybe a bit more. And everything is moving along nicely. I still did more procrastinating than writing, but I'm getting into the swing of it. If I get in an hour before work and another hour in the evening, with a few stints at lunch if I fall behind, I should be able to finish this thing one more time.

But here comes the rant, and one reason why I considered not doing this at all this year.

This year I want to write something *good*. Not "good" as in finished--I realize this is a first draft, and as such it'll be lumpy and rough and have scenes out of place and scenes that should be removed entirely and characters' names will change (one guy has had three names so far) and much revision will be required. But I want it to be the start of a story that actually deserves revision. For me, that means taking my time, thinking about what I'm doing, walking around or reading other things between writing stints, and accepting that I will get in an average of about 1500-2000 words a day if I keep at it. And this is supposed to be a personal challenge. I should be OK with these facts. I should embrace my own strengths and weaknesses and work with them.

But every year, I watch as certain friends end the first few days with over 5k, or over 8k, or 10k, or 12k, or more (not joking), and I feel like throwing in the towel. I couldn't write like that, at least not without serious compromise and a lot of stream-of-consciousness blather. This obviously isn't true for all participants. And does it matter? No. This isn't a race. If that style of writing works for them, I should be OK with it.

But I'm not--not entirely. I end up getting competitive and feeling miserable about my lack of speed and my inability to sit and just write for hours at a go. Logically, I know that not all writers write that way, and my own way is OK if it gets results. But illogically, I don't like being lapped. Repeatedly.

And then I get mad at myself for being mad.

It all makes me very cranky. I wish I knew the solution. Ice cream, maybe. Or chocolate. Or both in one.

I'll leave you with a link I came across while procrastinating today. It's a wonderful post on writing from an author I only recently discovered: Tess Gerritsen. It is so nice to know that I'm in great company when it comes to my inability to plan!


Mike Speegle said...

I think that a couple o' thousand words per day is perfectly sane. That is, sane in the context of writing a novel over the course of a month.

Olivander said...

Someone once asked James Joyce if he'd had a good day of writing. He said, "Yes." "How much did you write?" He replied, "Three sentences."

I'm one of those folks like you who is more interested in writing a story than in writing 50,000 words. A lot of NaNites take pride in cranking out as much stream-of-consciousness drivel in as short a time as possible. ("And then a dancing llama came into the room, and blahblahblahblah...") In my mind, that's missing the spirit of NaNo. 50k is a goalpost to keep you motivated, not the purpose of the project.

If it makes you feel any better, I wrote ~1,600 words on Saturday, and none at all yesterday. I'll try to spend an hour or two a day on my story. I hope I finish it by Dec 1, but if I don't, I don't. After four previous NaNos, I've learned that I'm crippling my creative process more by stressing out over word count and obsessively tracking progress. Now my NaNo philosophy is more along the lines of just, y'know, abide, man.

mpclemens said...

Well, I'm not sure where I fall into the NaNoContinuum yet, since this is only my sophomore attempt. I was going pretty strong until mid-month, when I lost the plot and with it the will to write more than 500 words or so a day. I soooo dearly wanted to off a few characters just to spice things up, and was (and am) jealous of the word-padders would could just as soon introduce tap-dancing llamas mid-story. This is what all the pre-planning was for: the Lean Days in the middle when neither the start or end of the novel is in sight and the buzzards start circling.

I've been blessed with a strong start this year, though I am bemoaning the fact that my MC is still stuck in Ohio, and not off in the alternate realm, but I know that she's going to get there, in about a writing-day or so, in fact, because I made that my own mini-goal. Keeping on-task.

50K is not my goal, the completed story is. I don't think I'll have trouble hitting it, but if for some reason I wrap up short, I will go back and pad. Yes, I want that winner's certificate, dammit.

I will say that I had mildly murderous thoughts about the person at yesterday's write-in who completed her first 10,000 words while I was still midway through chapter two. It passed, though.

Elizabeth H. said...

One of my issues is that I can't pre-plan. And it isn't just laziness. I just plain old can't do it. My story never stays within any preconceived guidelines, so the outline is useless after about the first few sentences. For several stories I tried hard to come up with the outline and scene sketches, etc., etc., etc....but if I really forced myself to follow the plan, the story was terrible. I've often felt like a miserable failure, even as just an amateur author, because I just can't work that way.

That's one reason I was so absolutely thrilled with the Tess Gerritsen article. I swear, I could have written that article...minus all the stuff about agents and all. ;-) That is *precisely* how I function. Maybe there's hope for me yet!

Lisa said...

Keep at it and don't get discouraged. (See the International Three Day Novel Contest for how this cycles, in miniature ... or at least in less time!)

Just keep writing, the month isn't over yet. :D

Elizabeth H. said...

Oh, I know I can do it. I'm a six year veteran of this thing, and I've won five out of six times. But I'll win on the last day, or at least within the last few days.

Every year I find myself really resenting those who do it in two weeks, when that's just not the point. And I resent that I resent them.

Anonymous said...

what's your nanowrimo user name?
I'll have to add you.

Elizabeth H. said...

I'm RosieCotton over there....