When I first heard of Nanowrite ( which I think was last year ), I was like uhuh, not for me, who could write 50,000 coherent words in 30 days? I’m lucky if I can manage 10,000 coherent words in three weeks. But this year I thought - what the hell, what have I got to lose.
I signed up maybe five days before it started and hadn’t even settled on a project. I was currently tinkering with my Doll’s novels and thought about trying that out and even entered that as my project until I read the rules - ( Yes, first things first, Peach. Dive in then read the rules. ) - You must start from scratch. Not wanting to ditch an entire chapter, I dusted off a screenplay, ditched most of the characters, scenes, outcome - lol. Not much left but the idea and main character - perfect. With a couple days to go, I cranked out a 17 page outline.
Nanowrite is kinda like setting out on a cruise there’s a lot of fanfare before hand, ticker-tape curls thrown and bon voyagies. Imagine Elvis Costello crooning his approp ‘Everyday I write the Book’ and when the shiphorn blew at midnight - cast off time - ah, the excitement, the adrenalin! My fingers flew across the keyboard. The next day I couldn’t wait to get started again and update my word count.
For the first week I seemed to operate on a pure high. It was part the novelty of belonging to this cruise-like, clubby atmosphere - I’m with nanowrite! Part the sharing of a similar experience - look at all these people who want to write a book - how cool is this! Mainly, though it was being immersed in a fresh project.
Second week the novelty begins to wear off. Not necessarily a bad thing. Can anyone write a book on a high of sheer novelty? Whoever you are out there, let me know. I hit some rough patches. Some might scoff how can you call them rough patches if you consistently made your goal each night and more than your goal. Because some of that writing was done down to the wire. Seconds to the clock an hour left to midnight and I’m taping away, my the little-turtle-that-could pace - a hour and a half = 1 page ( if I’m lucky. )
I practically pulled my hair wondering what comes next. Outline aside, I still had to come up with fresh dialogue and little things on the fly. And there were moments of complete chicken-little panic noticing glaring inconsistences. I forgot my mc smoked and given his position in quarantine he should be going up the wall. Some characters are supposed to go to the bathroom ( don’t ask but it’s essential to the plot ) and they’ve been holding it for over a week - lol. And then I’d write some winning sentence that made me wonder if I really knew what I was doing. A real hum-dinger like -‘ the creatures’ appetite was so fierce they were resorting to cannonbalism.’ Mmm -Yes, I suppose that’s where they shoot themselves out of their paddock with a cannon. Well, at the very least it’s good for a laugh.
But what have I learned? Firstly, a routine. Which is definitely not to be under rated, Before, I merely wrote whenever I felt like it letting precious days slip by. Weeks even, dare I admit months? But I had the time just nobody to push me.
Secondly, I discovered when my best writing times are - afternoons ( when I can spare them ), and late evenings.
Thirdly...Oh, to Hell with the numbers. Here’s the list.
* Daft Punk can add a David Lynch-like twist to your writing.
* Love your first draft - it’s the diamond before it gets cut so don’t be so hard on it!
* Keep your forum chat to a minimum. My best writing days were the ones I didn’t go on the internet.
* Attempting the lambada, in the middle of writing a scene, just because the song came on,
is mere procrastination.
* End your writing day in the middle of a scene and even in the middle of a sentence. It’s so much easier to start the next day filling in a scene. By the time you’re ready to begin a fresh one you’re already in a groove.
* I’m off track, my creatures have planted a vegetable garden and for the last five pages I’ve forgotten their big mysterious project. Panic time? No. I keep going. I decided if the problem doesn’t work itself out to cut and paste for the second draft.
* Open a document a day. For Nano, I named each one Nov 1, Nov 2 and so on. It made keeping track of everything easier, plus, I wasn’t as tempted to reread what I wrote the day before. Oh, also, at the end of the day copy and paste the last few sentences so you’ll know where to start in the morning.
* Don’t tell a lot of people you’ll be busy writing. As soon as they think you’ll be unavailable for a while they’ll panic and become extra pesty.
* Laugh don’t cry at your flaws - Cannonbalism - lol.
* Argue with yourself later. Normally, I could spend fifteen precious minutes tinkering with a simple line like - “Write that symbol.” Arguing, shouldn’t it be, draw that symbol? Put the second option in brackets and power on.
* Set a writing goal. Nothing absurd like I will write a 600 page historical novel about African bush tribes in two weeks. Be practical. How much time can you spend a day writing and what would be your average output for that time be - three pages a day? Five hundred words? Pick it and stick with it. Always undercut - that way you’ll be jazzed when you surpass it.
Overall, I discovered I’m still that kid who loves a gold star. Maybe everyone in Nanowrite is that kid beaming over a badge for a job well done. I think that’s what’s been missing. I’m so busy trying to write a novel, tell my story and have it be perfect that I haven’t even allowed myself to feel pleased about the actual act of writing of conquering small goals. The more I give myself kudos for getting stuff down on paper, the more I put on paper. Whether or not it's garbage is worry for another day -
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