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NaNo: looking back, looking ahead
the arch of the eyebrows gives it away
innie_darling
So, NaNo is obviously over, and I came nowhere close to 50,000 words. That's totally okay, because I was really shooting for 25,000 to 30,000 (which I hit), but I also hoped I'd have the rough draft done by month's end (which I totally don't). I was asked if I was going to continue to post snippets until the story was done, and I've gotten enough "OMG you evil tease, when are you going to tell us WTF is wrong with Dean, WTF Sam did, and WTF you're doing?" [language toned down for decency, hee!] comments to think the best plan of action is to keep going until this bad boy is done. Then I can worry about whipping it into decent shape.

Because that's the thing with NaNo: yeah, I wrote nearly 28,000 words in a month, which I never would have managed in an ordinary challenge-free month. But. In an ordinary month, I would have been much happier with the words I wrote. Don't get me wrong. I really like the story I'm telling, but I think it's not written well. I certainly do like and even love certain passages, but a lot of what I'm churning out seems utterly dispensable to me, and I'm not accustomed to that at all. NaNo pushed me to abandon my usual writing style - which is to edit as I go, making sure I like each word, each sentence, each paragraph before I move on to the next, and also to have the characters already living in my head - and I think what I gained in terms of volume of output is not nearly enough to balance what I lost in terms of feeling sure of the story and loving that I get to write.

Anyway. Enough navel-gazing. More snippets to come - I'm hoping to be very productive this weekend, as I have not a whole lot else going on. Thank you so much to everyone who's been cheering me along the way - you really have encouraged me tremendously, and I very much appreciate it.

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In an ordinary month, I would have been much happier with the words I wrote.

This...is ultimately the gripe I have with Nano, as you know. It's quantity over all else, and it isn't that I don't see the benefit of a solid word count, but. Yeah. ::fidget::

Still -- YAY MORE TO COME! ::snuggles::

I will say one thing for it - it got me to write *something* when it came time for the slash scenes, and I know that ordinarily I would have wanted to plan that part out so carefully that I might have overthunk it out of existence.

But it's been an uncomfortable writing month overall.

Hi. I am sorry you don't feel happy with what you wrote. For the record I have been really enjoying it - I do think you have had awesome passages and I am intrigued by the story as a whole. I do think writing (and reading) a story daily makes it difficult to get a feel for the overall structure, flow and pace of it, which I think is often where problems with Nano and MiniNano arise.

Personally, I do agree with how you feel, in that I feel it too. There were days when I really did not want to write. I made myself squeeze out 100 or 200 or maybe more words if I needed that many to make my point. But I didn't feel like they were good. Sometimes I wrote a lot and felt that half of them were good. But I do feel like the overall process has helped me self edit in my head more before I type - has helped me be tighter and quicker. Even experimenting with different POVs or styles or little bits has been a good experience that will serve me well in future.

I do feel relief now though (and I sense you do too) that I can go back to writing when I feel inspired, and writing less, and having more time to hone it.

And goodness, no worries. I was happy to encourage, partly because I enjoy the story and partly because that's just what Nano/MiniNano are about - helping each other out and encouraging and cheering each other on! I know getting comments helped me go OKAY MUST DO TODAY'S so I am happy to pass that along to others!

Edited at 2007-12-01 05:51 pm (UTC)

Aw, you've been such a champ with the cheerleading, and I'm not even kidding when I say that reading "yay!" comments really pushed me along.

I think you might have picked the smarter way to go about this - choosing to write separate pieces with a common theme rather than one big mess of a story. Because I really did have this whole thing outlined, but of course the story took on a life of its own as I was writing it - they always do - and I kind of floundered, not knowing which way to go, how much detail to weave in, and if I was going to regret putting some information in or omitting other info. It seems like it's not worth the headache - I really don't know how people who post true WiPs (and not just "the whole story's done but I'll post a chapter every Wednesday" stories) handle the stress.

And you did get to experiment, as you say, with POVs and styles and genres, and that must have helped to keep the experience exciting. Anyway, congrats to you!

I find it funny that I think one story would have been easier and you think different pieces would have been!! Hee.

I found that some days I only had the time/inclination for the 150 words I was committed to but putting forth a whole POV in those few words wasn't always easy and so I'd end up rushing a longer piece that I wasn't happy with. Which is why - I am happy with the experience because I felt like I learned to say my stories in tighter, fewer words. I look forward to doing my Christmas gift drabbles and practicing that. (And thank you for the congrats, I appreciate it!)

Perhaps the whole experience was a difficult but interesting one for us both - everyone probably who took part. I think writing different ways suit different people.

Certainly, I know that I write best when I am inclined/inspired and MiniNano didn't dissuade me from that, even though I think writing everyday is probably a good habit to have.

I get what you are saying about the story taking on a life of its own and that's difficult. Some stories, I find, I am able to stick to my plan (and I always plan) and others I cannot. Because the characters go, hang on, I am going to do THIS and then you have to follow that.

The main interesting thing about Nano is getting to discuss the writing process with people after the event, I think! :)

Oh, I think on my part at least, it's a "the grass is always greener on the other side" thing. Probably if I'd done the 30 pieces thing, I'd have griped about not having enough ideas.

The main interesting thing about Nano is getting to discuss the writing process with people after the event, I think! :) Absolutely!

I had one more point then I will go do some work, ha. I wanted to say: you sound like you don't feel happy with the whole experience. And I wanted to say: at the very least you can think that you tried a new way of writing and are able to discard that it isn't the way forward for you?

I mean, I look back to early stories - how I approached them, what I wrote, how I thought about them, even, and I feel embarrassed and want to hide away my face. But it's all a learning curve that brought me here. I feel like I look at, approach, feel differently about my writing now, which is...good.

So....everything that helps right? No point me feeling bad about those things.

Even if all this taught you was to definitely trust your instincts, then, that's a good thought/feeling to have! :)

I think I'm not happy with the experience because it's my second time trying this. The first time was last December, in what eventually ended up being "Nothing To See Here," and I knew I had a tripartite story, and I had the idea for Kathleen chasing the boys and the bit with the Colt, but I was unsure of the rest - how I was going to keep the three strands of the story even with each other, how many OCs I wanted to create, if Kathleen and Sam would each pursue romantic relationships, etc.

So this time, I thought I did everything right. I plotted. I outlined and re-outlined. I had a handle on Sarah and Jo and June (whose role somehow got whittled away to practically nothing at all). I was still a little hazy on Rob, but I was hoping the character would speak up for himself and figure out where all of this was going. And even though I learned from last year's NaNo and did everything right this time, it still was not an enjoyable experience. I still dreaded coming to the computer every night to try to spit something out - something that hardly ever approached the great story in my head.

Aw hon. Dreading coming to the computer every night is not a good thing. At you can set this method of writing aside and know it's not for you. ;) If it doesn't suit you, then it doesn't - no matter.

But I expect probably you feel more disappointed, because you did everything right so *why* didn't it work? And also if you approached a story idea you loved and feel like the method of writing it has made it become a disappointing product. That's a shame. (I feel that way about a couple of ideas I used in my MN. Now ...they're gone and done and I feel like they can't be redone). But...I don't know. We'll live and learn, eh?

First drafts are meant to be shit. It's the manure for the rose that will be there tomorrow

Maybe so, but this is messier than what I'd ever make a beta look at. It's my responsibility to do as good a job as I can up front, and not force her to deal with something as disorganized and inconsistent as this.

I think partly what I've been (selfishly) enjoying about this is a kind of a peek into your writing process. I think I'm much the same way, I like to fiddle a ridiculous amount with each sentence and phrase. But then, the downside to this is that often, I don't really get anywhere. There's often not a sense of story development, for me, I get bogged so easily in my nice words that the story drowns. (okay and this is The Comment whose Metaphors Wouldn't Die, but I'm just going to go with it). Maybe one November when I'm not so crazy busy I'll have a try. But I don't think it's really for me, either - but I think my problem might be of discipline. You've rocked this. Seriously. I mean HOLY HELL. You just wrote nearly 30,000 words. OMG.

There are already some fabulous passages in it (and I mean that, really beautiful excellent awesomenesses abound) and the story is addictive.

Nano's kind of pushed you to a limit you might not be happy with, but I think it's a great story, and I'm looking forward to more updates, but also to seeing what you do with it when you rein in the beast and make it do pretty steps like you want. And I REALLY want to know what happens. Like, a crazy amount. :D

Anyway thank you for letting us look over your shoulder!

Oh, shoot, you're going to be the one who's actually going to make me edit and polish and post a final version, aren't you? Even when all I want to do is just finish the damn draft, make a fort out of the blankets on my bed, and write all the other lovely stories that have been swimming in my brain for the last month.

But I know exactly what you mean about the peek - I've certainly been enjoying my view into others' minds as they post. I guess I've just never thought of myself as a particularly interesting writer to *watch* - I don't have any writing rituals, don't listen to music, do so much editing as I go, etc. Modesty aside, I can see why people might like to *read* my stuff, but I guess I'm still a little stumped about why anyone would want to know *how* I do it - there's no magic, no mystery there.

I obviously can't recommend NaNo as a way to write, but you might enjoy trying a mini version for yourself in a different month - a drabble a day, say, or 300 words a day on a longer story.

And thank you so very much for your kind words here and throughout the updates! I treasure them.

I don't have any writing rituals, don't listen to music, do so much editing as I go, etc. Modesty aside, I can see why people might like to *read* my stuff, but I guess I'm still a little stumped about why anyone would want to know *how* I do it - there's no magic, no mystery there.

I think that's actually what's interesting. You don't talk about your muse, you don't have mixes you listened to, you don't talk about how you can only be creative with a cup of rhubarb tisane and an open eastward facing window. It's just about the story unfolding and seeing it appear bit by bit, and talking to you along the way, it's been interesting. And nice.

And you don't have to edit the final version OF COURSE if you don't want to. But... this is a good story. :D



Hee! I guess I don't separate writing process from myself like that - don't make sacrifices to the muse - because it seems so very much a part of myself. I think in words, and even the pictures and sounds I'm sometimes overwhelmed by usually get words to shape them somehow, even in the privacy of my own mind.

I am, frankly, jealous of people who can do amazing things with tools that seem less everyday than words - paint, musical notes, etc. But words are nothing to scoff at, and I know I'm lucky that I love them so much.

which is to edit as I go, making sure I like each word, each sentence, each paragraph before I move on to the next

I work exactly the same way, and I'm so impressed that you were able to put it aside for the sake of getting the draft out. I'm glad you're going to continue posting this!

Thank you very much! It's so weird, isn't it, to be writing against instinct? And it raises the question of what the value is of the product, because how important is instinct to our work? If a writer is intelligence plus instinct plus word-sense plus emotion (plus probably lots of other things), how much does it change things to have instinct drop out?

And congrats to you on the success of your NaNo stuff!

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