Well, as I said a couple of posts ago, I have taken on the challenge of National Novel Writing Month, which began on November 1st. With a goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month, I have just over 11,000 words so far after six days. I’m feeling pretty good about that, but it has not been without its challenges.
The biggest challenge has been trying to adjust my writing habits. I am generally a linear writer, meaning I start at the beginning and I write the story straight through scene by scene to the end. I don’t like to write different scenes at different times and then go back and try to thread them all together like the way they film and edit movies. The reason this is a problem during this month is that I have in my head all of the major plot points of my novel, but my brain hasn’t decided how to get from each one to the next yet. I’m using up a lot of valuable time thinking about direction and details between story beats. If I could get myself to write all the major scenes first and link them together later, I might get to 50,000 words a lot sooner and have an easier time writing those connection sequences. Old habits are hard to break, though.
Another struggle I’ve been having is that the first suggestion I read from every single person giving advice on NaNoWriMo has been to resist the urge to self-edit. They say to just let the words spill out of your head and onto the page and worry about editing after the first draft is done. Again, this isn’t how I usually do it. Normally I make adjustments and edits as I go, not because I think this first draft will be the final one but because I frequently think of new ideas that modify certain elements of the story that I’ve already written. I’d rather make the change now than have to worry about fixing it later on. Unfortunately, they say this takes time away from getting to the target word count and can often result in leaving great passages or ideas behind when they could have made the final product stronger. One fifth of the way in, I’m still self-editing, hate to admit.
Finally, I have to say that I really do feel good about the fact that I have made it to 11,000 words this quickly and I’m feeling pretty confident about being able to reach the goal before the 30th. However, my inner critic has already been hard at work on me. I feel like I have a few sparkles of genius so far, but mostly I’m thinking I have a lot of bland description, weak character development, and a much-too-passive protagonist. I am still pressing forward, but the critic and editor parts of my brain are nagging at me to go back and make some adjustments now. Must…fight…urges…
My kids have a short story assignment that they have to do for their high school Creative Writing class, and my son has decided he wants to try to write something longer than that, so he’s been writing almost every day at the same time as me. His word count is not nearly where mine is right now, but he’s doing well for a kid who hasn’t really tried to do anything like this ever before. I’m proud of him just for trying.
So anyway, that’s the status so far. I hope everyone else out there who’s participating in NaNoWriMo is doing well. Good luck everyone, and keep on writing!
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”