Posted by: victanguera | November 2, 2012

Doing the NaNo Thing

So how many of you are doing NaNo this year? I’ve signed up again. As late as the day before, I wondered what possessed me to once again say I’d try to write 50,000 words in one month. After all (as you can tell from the blog silence), I haven’t really been writing much in the last year or so.

When it c omes to writing, I’m my own worst enemy. Because I don’t (and can’t plot–trust me, I’ve tried), my stories meander. Go in one direction and three pages later change direction. Only to go back to the first direction. I introduce characters when I run out of ideas. And two scenes later forget that character even exists.

For the last three NaNos, I’ve tried to “fix” that problem. I’ve tried to be more consistent with plot. To keep characters that I introduce, or only introduce those that belong in the story. But my writing has been stale and flat. It has no life. No action. No… anything. Well, yeah, lack of words does kind of affect a story. And not in a good way. Hard to be a writer when you don’t write.

But last week, one little comment from the editor where I work changed everything about how I think about my ability to craft a story. For the last two years, I’ve been a copy editor at work. I’ve seen what I do as line edits. Misplaced modifiers. Grammer issues. Missing hyphens. Small stuff, and not anything exciting. But the editor doesn’t see my function the same way I did. Instead, she said she relies on me to catch overall logic breaks in articles. Things that skew off in the wrong direction.

Those problems that exist in all my first drafts.

Until that comment, I’d never thought editing/re-writing was a skill I possessed. Kind of figured I had to get things right the first time or my story would be broken forever. Now to put aside that need for perfection long enough to get 50,000 very broken, illogical and unformed words out onto a page. I can always fix the logic later.

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Responses

  1. Ah. I tend to find the results so broken if I *don’t* plot that I have no choice but to plot myself 🙂

    • Well, mine are just that broken as well. That’s why I tried to plot. For whatever reason, all I wound up with are three half-finished things (don’t even qualify as novels!!), and a whole lot of “I’d rather be knitting”.

      I’m not saying it will work better for me this year, but I’ve got to try to finish something again. Broken or not, that’s my only goal. FINISH the whole thing. All the words. And then figure out what story I wanted to tell.

      Yeah, I know, that sounds so backwards.

  2. I don’t do NaNo, but it sounds like it could be good for you. Now that you know that rewriting and shaping is a skill you possess, you can rely on yourself to apply that later, rather than trying to do it as you draft.

    • Exactly. I remembered that for the first couple days, but my inner editor is taking to me again. It makes writing difficult. But I’m still over word count and not done for today.

      • I saw a good post about NaNo here: http://tinyurl.com/be7ztzc. It gave some good examples of what can be learned from the experience.

      • That’s a great blog post. My first year felt like, the others not so much. This year, I’m trying to just write like that and let the ideas flow. It all comes down to how well I can silence my inner editor. She became quite vocal when I tried to fix that first NaNo. And that inner editor stifles creativity, I’ll tell you!


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