It’s November 1. Time to write.
It’s November 1. Time to write.
Admittedly, that title got away from me.
I am currently debating whether or not I will be participating in NaNoWriMo in 2016. At this point, I have less than a week to decide. I have an idea for a story, some brief character concepts, a general sense of what I would write…
…Here comes the but(t)…
Wait, that doesn’t look right. Anyway. I haven’t finished editing my book from last year. There. I tried to poorly diffuse my shame with a butt and it still didn’t work. And it kills me, guys, because editing is a slog. It’s boring. I hate editing.
I do not know what to do.
I brought this up to a fellow NaNo participant, and I asked, “Do you think I should do it and then have two unfinished manuscripts?”
Without even pausing, she said, “Two. Absolutely.”
I want to agree, but at the same time, I’ve tried to move away from unfinished projects. I always end up with accumulating a stack of ‘to do’s instead of feeling accomplished. And, sure, in many cases I come back and finish, but it doesn’t feel quite as gratifying as having something done and then getting to share it openly.
Now, with that in mind, however, most of the things I do finish are short pieces: short stories, flash fiction, poetry, fanfiction, that sort of thing.
So I pose this to you, dear reader: which is better? One finished manuscript or two unfinished manuscripts?
Now excuse me. I’m going to go wallow in artistic angst (which mostly consists of watching youtube videos).
I’ve mentioned before that I’m still editing my monster of a novel I did during last year’s NaNoWriMo. And y’all? I do not like editing. I am not good at it. Ask me to write something – anything – any length – and I’ll do it. Ask me to take that mountain and whittle it down into a terrarium, and I lose my damn mind.
As I consider this crazy, meandering thing, I’ve found that I have a lot of characters. So I’m trying a technique that uses a tool I’ve read about many writers employing when they are working on books: index cards.
Here is the process I’m using. For now. Until I get tired of it. But you might find it helpful!
Now, take the cards and lay them out on a table or flat surface. How does your cast look? Did you struggle to find things to write about them? Are there characters you could put together into one MEGA AWESOME CHARACTER FUSION? If your book was a movie, would you want to see it?
Over the next few weeks leading up to NaNoWriMo, I’d like to talk more about my editing process. If there are any aspects to this you would especially be interested in hearing about, leave me a comment here or head over to my Facebook page! Or Twitter! Or homing dolphin!
So this weekend I did something that I never thought I would do.
I printed the entire draft of my novel.
Well, I didn’t print it. I had it printed at Fedex. I got it 3-hole-punched and then I purchased a binder for it to live in. I also double-spaced the draft so I had room for notes and line-editing.
And y’all. Y’all.
I will never not print my first draft of anything ever again.
It’s so satisfying. And not because of any sort of aesthetic, like the feel of the paper or the scratch of the pen, although those things are very nice. No, it’s because I’m not seeing it the way I see every single other part of my day: on the other side of a screen. I don’t find myself going cross-eyed at walls of text. I’m not terrified of cutting and pasting chapters because I think that at that moment my computer is going to crash or Internet demons will steal my words away into an oblivion of deletion.
If I want to move a chapter, I literally pick it up and rearrange it.
If I like a passage, I can draw a giant smiley face.
If I hate something, I can punch it without replacing my monitor.
Try it. Print out a short story or a poem or a blog post. Look at it with a pen in your hand. Really read it. Write on it. Cross shit out. Underline words. Doodle in the margins.
It’s a completely different experience.
It’s been three days since NaNoWriMo ended, and it all feels very weird. There’s this huge gap in my day-to-day schedule, like going from taking classes to summer vacation. When I’m not at my day job, I feel aimless. I’ve started keeping lists just so I don’t feel like I’m not doing anything at all.
NaNoWriMo was really, really hard. I did the bare minimum, writing almost every day with the exception of a day or two in the first week as well as Thanksgiving. I was never scrambling to catch up on more than a few thousand words, which I am obscenely grateful for. High five, November Katie.
Here are 5 lessons I learned from NaNo 2015:
Phew. Now what, world?
Okay, so…I can’t even believe I’m heading into the last week of this crazy journey. I have less than 15K words left, you all. 15K. And I’m all, “Oh god, am I actually going to get to the end of this?! Or am I going to have to go all Imperial Affliction and end this in the middle of a sentence BUT IF SO I HAVE TO GIVE SOMEONE CANCER.”
If you understand all that, you are my kind of people.
So let’s see…pointers from this week:
I am grateful for every one of you. Have a great week, and I’ll see you when all the crying is done.
I wish I could say this past week was better than the first, but it really wasn’t. It was just as hard if not harder. I had come out of the box sprinting and started struggling to just maintain a jog.
Even writing this, I feel so damn tired. So let’s head into the bullet points of lessons learned:
Geez louise, you guys.
I won’t lie, y’all. NaNoWriMo is a mud run for writers. It’s trying to take everything you’ve learned over the span of your entire lifetime as a writer and trying to make it all apply in this mad dash of 50K words.
The first week has been good. I’ve fallen behind a little this weekend, but I’m not too worried, truth be told. I’m not at that point where I am desperately counting words, like they are vital nutrient-rich calories while I am Bear-Grylls-ing my way through alien terrain.
There are a few things that have kept me going: Chuck Wendig and his book 30 Days in the Word Mines. Chocolate. Pandora. Field trips to places I hadn’t been before. Visual art.
I’ve also learned a few lessons: turn off word count when you’re trying to get productive. Don’t try and watch anything while you’re writing. Don’t stop believing. Hold onto that feeling.
It may be a Journey lyric, but it applies.
As I type these words, it is 10:53PM on Halloween. I have eaten my body weight in candy and assorted snacks. I have showered, I have drunk water, I have adjusted one of the few clocks in the house that will not magically flip back an hour on its own (I had this conversation with a friend tonight, how the phenomenon of “changing your clocks” just doesn’t apply to most people anymore, since cell phones and computers have now taken over the world. Who actually has to set clocks anymore?)
I am both ready and not ready for this.
I am so excited and so scared. A lot of people don’t get it, because once I answer the question, “Do you win a prize?” with a firm no, people go all funny-eyed. Even better are the ones that go, “Wait, you write?” And then I go listen to Nine Inch Nails and sob into a pillow for an hour.
There are a few things I have ready that I think are going to prove very helpful this month.
How about you? How are you getting ready for this? What are the tools in your utility belt? Tell me about them!