Writing Wrongs

January 31, 2007

So the lovely Anno asked yesterday what I had against NaNo (I know, I know, Iím such a hater of democracy), since what Iím doing is essentially a NaNo type word-count drive.

Letís look at some numbers and Iíll elaborate.

I have 56 days to do this versus the 30 of NaNo. Nearly twice as long. Donít think that matters? Think again. If you want to ďwinĒ NaNo, you have to write 1666.666 (50,000/30) words per day. If you donít see evil lurking in that number, youíre not looking hard enough.

My word count is based in part on time and in part on what I feel I can do each day. When I reach my quota, I can quit. Writing a novel is like running a marathon. Not everyone is in good enough shape to write 1666.666 words every day right out of the gate. Itís a good way to burn out, in my opinion.

At first, I was hitting 930, but I slowly crept up on the word count. I did write 2,000 words one day, on the weekend, but otherwise, I havenít broken 1,600. From a NaNo point of view, Iím a loser.

The process, even though Iím sharing it here, is very insular. I email Kelly each night--that keeps me honest. Otherwise, there isnít a lot of static to go along with this. I donít have to listen to how someone managed to write 3,500 words, whip up a gourmet meal, and shellac the dog, and oh, by the way, her publisher canít wait for this novel. I also donít have to listen how someone typed 350 words that were so tortuous their fingers bled.

Stephen King talks about ďclosing the doorĒ when writing a first draft. I think that can apply to both the writing and the process.

And Iím all about reexamining process. Last year, I looked at revision. This year, one of my goals is to look at generating more material that I can revise. I have nothing against writing faster. But Iím looking for balance.

Instead of pushing myself to write as much as possible each day, I stop when I reach my number (or if Iím on a roll, a little past that). I read. I recharge. I think about upcoming scenes, review character bios and scene cards.

And so on.

I know, I know. NaNo is supposed to fun. (See the part where I hate democracy above. I also hate fun.) Itís supposed to be silly. Youíre not supposed to care how good the story is at the end.

But I do care. A lot. I know this is a rough draft. If I get to the end and realize I need to pull the whole thing apart and put it back together again, thatís okay.

Thereís a balance Iím trying to maintain. I want to write fast enough to squelch those first-draft doubts. But I want to write slowly enough so I donít desperate and decide to drop aliens (or alients as Kyra calls them) into chapter fourteen.

This is my long way of saying that I donít actually hate NaNo, or have anything against it, or think others shouldnít participate; it just doesnít work for me. And hey, this is the rough draft. Itís the time when it should be all about me, Me, ME.

The short answer is I probably just hate democracy.

The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath
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Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 10:32 a.m.