Monday, November 5, 2012

Moving up by a NaNo-meter #1

Howdy folks!

I am currently at a 9530 words as I write this.  I'm pretty excited to be at this point keeping a steady pace of writing.  This year has been so much more difficult than last year was, but rewarding in new ways also.  Perhaps because last year all I had to worry about was writing during my time off for the most part.  But now I'm home and all the responsibilities of being home are cutting into writing time.  This killed me during both Camp NaNoWriMo events earlier this year, but something about the main event is different.  It is simply that I've chosen to find a way to make this a lifestyle here, not just a flash in the pan event this time.

Writing as a lifestyle has been the dream I've been chasing for some time now.  And during events like NaNo you have the support and community to help you develop it.  I'm hoping that I'll be able to develop a habit of writing these first twenty seven days.  So far I have been able to anticipate when I might miss a day, and I've written four out of these first five days.  No small task, let me tell you.

Because this month is really all about learning how to write more frequently and reach deeper for the stories within us, I figured that I would share some of the things that help me to reach my wordcount goals for NaNo and what I've learned over these past five days.

1) Don't be afraid to rewrite a scene if it doesn't feel right.

Sometimes when we are drafting we write a scene and just try hard to get it to fit what we want to have happen in the story.  During NaNo they often tell us to not bother doing any revisions to our work.  And I have to say, that's silly.  Keep the words, they are important, but rewrite the scene.  Don't let yourself get into a place with what you are writing that you no longer like it because you are writing so fast that you aren't invested in your story.  Remember that you are writing to become the best writer you can be.  Rewriting is a part of that process.  You might say that there are other writers who haven't needed to do that.  Guess what, likely your not going to be one of them.  And in reality they could have given us better writing if they did revisions.  That's just the nature of the beast.

For me this has resulted in some great things already.  The first scene I tried writing just didn't feel right at the end.  So I decided to rewrite it.  Funny thing is I discovered during the rewrite the voice of the story.  With the voice I began to understand the main character better and found myself wondering new questions about him.  Particularly what made him give up his faith.  I'm hoping to discover that this month as I write him.

2) Don't be afraid to write things that don't have anything to do with the story you are working on.

This sounds like advice that is weird doesn't it?  But we all need a break from some kinds of writing.  I use blogging as a break from writing fiction.  Oddly enough this break gives my mind a rest from the challenges that fiction forces me to face, and I am able to remember for a little bit, why I began this journey.  It isn't because writing fiction is easy.  It is because I enjoy it, in every moment of its difficulty.

This NaNo I am attempting to write several short stories.  But the longer I'm working on it, I realize that I'm not going to get to more than the one short story I'm working on.  Much of this has to do with the fact that I'm going to write about this character's childhood to inform myself about it.  I'm going to take the time to really get comfortable with this character, not just on the superficial level, but I want to know him as well as I know myself.  Because a character that well developed has power to drive a story on their own.  And because he is a major character in my novel it will just work to inform that also as I write.

3) Butt in Chair Hands on Keyboard everyday.

Last year during NaNo I didn't write everyday.  I would slack off because I thought my brain needed time off.  And during those times I underwent a period of just feeling disoriented, not because I didn't need time off, but because I wasn't approaching it in a balanced way.  We usually make time to talk to friends everyday, our spouse, pray, or read.  What makes writing different?  The fact that it uses up so much brain space?  Or perhaps because it is hard.  The other things we do everyday aren't hard. But the reason they aren't hard is because we do them everyday.  By doing them everyday we reduce their difficulty and increase our skill in doing them.  Thus the only way to make writing a lifetime habit is to BiC-HaK everyday.

4) Believe in yourself.

Nobody else can really believe in you until you do.  NaNoWriMo has such great energy because literally people from all over the world come together to belief that they can write a draft of a novel in a month.  Each person comes with a different idea of success, willing to work hard to achieve that.  Do you understand what kind of power is found in that?  And that power isn't bound to just NaNoWriMo season.  It lives within your fingertips each and everyday.  It takes hard work, time, and consistency to develop that power into a future.  It doesn't matter whether you are a neurosurgeon, a musician, a homemaker, or a businessman it takes those ingredients to find success. I want to apply these ingredients to make myself a writer. You can too.

You probably got to the end of this post saying, "OG, we knew all that already. We heard that in our writing class, or on Writing Excuses, or at the last Writing Conference we went to."  That's cool.  I'm just another voice telling you the same kinds of things you already knew and needed to hear again.  Honestly I'm just trying to egg you on for the adventure ahead.  I find myself to be the very happiest in my life when I am writing.  It just makes the rest of it all make sense.  I just hope I'm not the only one who feels that way (and even if I am, I'm not going to stop).

Thanks for reading if you're just trying to support me this month, and if you are a fellow NaNoer, take some of this advice to heart and move in the directions of your dreams.  It might take us a year, two, or even ten, but writing is less about the words and entirely about the ideas we can grapple with and trying to make our writing as perfect as our ideas.


A video on how to make our words as awesome as our ideas.

This is the OG, finishing the day at a grand total of 10652 words. Peace!

P.S. Due to Blogger being a pain, there will be a revision of picture and video sizes later.
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