Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The end of November came...

I managed a pretty respectable 30,069 words, I believe, during the month of November. I didn't make the 50,000 target, and for that I feel a shade of disappointment, though it is only a shade - I said at the outset that I would be happy with 10,000. I managed triple that! Plus, it's 30k words that I didn't have back in October. I'm proud of what I achieved, and that the writing in my first draft thus far doesn't entirely stink.

I think it's important also that I reflect on what I learned during the process:

Be realistic
For the first couple of weeks, I wrote like a man obsessed and managed to keep slightly ahead of my targets. Things then arose in my personal life that bumped writing way down the list of priorities, and I initially felt a bit of resentment for a couple of days. I got over it, and accepted that I wouldn't hit the 50k; that it was unrealistic and unfair for me to still try and aim so high. I lowered my target to 33.3k (two-thirds), and then to 30k. I write because I have a need, a craving, to express creatively. I shouldn't try and force that against all odds - it's enough that I am writing.

Planner, not pantser
The double-whammy. I had spent months planning the first six chapters of my WIP, and had outlined each scene of every chapter in detail. I whizzed through writing those. I could easily write 3,500 words in the few hours I had spare each day. However, I only had a rough outline for what sort of events needed to happen in the second quarter of the book (and even rougher for the third, and very little for the ending). I tried to plunge on with writing chapters 7 through 11 regardless and got nowhere fast. I was down to maybe 350 a day, and it was like writing through treacle.

Outlining looks to be essential to me. It still leaves me, in fact it gives me, the freedom to pants it. I need to have that framework - only then do the characters take control and lead me along the way forward.

Violence is not for me
I have one scene at the end of the first quarter where one character dies in quite a brutal fashion. I found that really weird to write - easy, in that the words flowed, but it felt utterly horrible. I was quite discomforted by it; in the end, once it was done, I had to just walk away. That style of writing is not for me!

I found a lot of support online - the NaNo community is great, and I stumbled upon quite a few people, particularly on Twitter, that I will be keeping in touch with in future. I am drawn to positive people, and there are so many out there, blogging and tweeting... It's great. Day-to-day life is full of negative nellies, and if I am to embark on a writing adventure then I want to have some constructive shipmates sailing with me.