Thursday, November 06, 2014

If you don’t have it, make it: Re. Nanowrimo

VanGogh-WeepingWomanThis is a counter-post to my author friend Linda Acaster’s post today:
#Nanowrimo is Live – But is it for you?

I love Linda’s fiction and I respect her accomplishments, so this is all in good sport. 

No worries. I’ve heard every negative thing there is to hear about writing 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days: everything from “writing should be spontaneous and not forced” to “whatever you write during Nano will be garbage (or other, strong expletive synonyms).” So from the point of view of someone who is in her 11th straight year of the challenge, plus a couple of Camp Nano sessions and off-site sessions….

Yes, I’m doing Nanowrimo again. Yes, I still have time to write a blog post. Yes, I still read a few other blogs. I even read other novels during November. I’m about to finish Jane Eyre and start on Marilynne Robinson’s newest.

No, I don’t neglect my family. There is still food in the house and on the stove. The dishes get done each day. The carpets get vacuumed. Heck, I even dust now and then during November because I like the shine of my oak furniture I finally have after years of self-assemble cheap stuff that’s better fit for kids and military moves. This year, I have the additional benefit/writing distraction of a beautiful new little soul crawling around the house and reaching her arms up to Grandma to pick her up just because. (Grandma always does, despite word count or lack thereof.) Heck, they usually don’t even remember it’s Nanowrimo month until I regale them with my wonderful (more or less) word count.

My pre-planning these days consists of deciding on a setting, and an art, then picking a couple of characters last minute to throw into the story. They kind of develop themselves as I write.

I will say this method of writing only developed during Nanowrimo one year because I wanted to do the challenge and hadn’t the vaguest idea what I was going to write for it. Turned out that first “just grab characters and write them” story needed very little rewriting and it’s one of my most loved books, according to my fans.  [Protect The Heart] Normally, I do plan my books for some time before writing them. I’m good with either method.

These days I use the fast novel month to write my Ella M. Kaye books since they are all short and non-rambling romances better given to this sort of thing. But, four of my lengthy LK books began during Nano. In 2008, I added 97,000 words to Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents (which turned into about 260,000 words eventually). None of it was more garbage than any other first draft.

In fact, the more often I do these fast writes, the better they get. Like every art, practice increases a writer’s dexterity and creativity. It certainly does not lesson either.

As far as trying it when you “have time,” that is exactly the point of the challenge. If you don’t “have” time to do what you love, learn to make it. For instance, I’ve written this post while entertaining a squirmy 7 month old, first in her high chair beside me then on my lap dropping her toys. with an intermission to watch the birdies and to explore Grandma’s herb shelf. She likes to feel the chives.

I don’t “have time” for Nanowrimo. I make time for it because it’s helpful to me, it advances my career, and because I can and will. I also love to challenge myself.

No gate-keeping from the family, by the way. Writing is my love and my career, and it’s my job to make time for it.

The only real reason I can see for not doing it is simply because you don’t want to.

I have to sigh whenever someone comes up to me at a book signing and says, “I’d write a book if I had time.”   *eye roll inserted here*  You make time for what matters. Until you give it a good try, you just don’t know what you can accomplish.

By the way, I can write 2,000 words in an hour when I’m on a roll, so it’s not much time out of my busy day.

Whatever it is you love, make time for it! It’s worth it.


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Linda Acaster said...

2,000 words an hour??!! I haven't been able to copytype that fast since leaving paid employment, never mind *create* into the bargain. Whoo-hoo! Good on you, girl!

Now I can see why NaNoWriMo is such a fix for your novels.

If I make a blogpost on it next year, I shall be coming to you for an interview.

So, come clean... it is now 8th. How many words are you into your 50,000?

Madeleine McDonald said...

Respect! I would feel pleased if I wrote 2000 words a day.

Unknown said...

Linda, that's on a good roll, not always, and a few years ago, I couldn't have imagined doing so!

At the end of week one, I was at 10,822. I'm currently just over 15K and hoping to hit at least 20K by tonight.

My goal is to finish this first draft and then return to the one in progress from Camp Nano (August) to finish, polish, and release in February.

Unknown said...

Madeline, thank you. :-) I used to be pleased if I could get 500 a day! Some days I'm still plenty pleased with that, depending on other factors. You do what you can do.

(Apparently I'm still signed into my EMK account.)