High-fives for everyone who worked on NaNo this year and came out victorious — and by victorious, I mean, got words down and learned a thing or two. I wrote over 50k on a first draft that I began earlier this year (but set aside to work on edits), and learned that I can crank out, on average, 1200 words in 30 minutes, if I have even a vague game plan for the scene(s). I have the wonderful Susan Dennard and her hashtag #NaNoDaydreamers to thank, big time. Somehow, knowing that there are others out there all “sprinting” together for half-hour chunks gets me pumping out words faster than if I’m sitting alone. Even with a timer, it’s not the same as writing alongside others. And a big shout-out to my encouraging, inspiring writer buddy Jody Neil Ruth for being an AMAZING sprint partner, and keeping me on my toes! (“Let us go forward together” :).
Writing does NOT have to be a solitary event!
This is my 4th NaNo but I think this year has really driven home that statement to me. Particularly as this has been a very difficult year for me, personally, and just recently, the Scotsman has pointed out that I don’t have the feedback and the recognition for what I do that I used to have. I’m not currently working outside the home, and I’m no longer at university. At uni, I thrived on feedback from the lecturers. Probably in an unhealthy way, I’m the first to admit, but that pushed me to do the best job possible. Decent jobs gave me the same feedback, and for better or for worse, I thrive off it. Even if it’s just a monosyllabic acknowledgement that I did something. I can’t lie; I miss it.
Unfortunately, when I’m sitting in my home office and have no such “boss” or authority figure handing out deadlines and feeding back to me, the stress and anxiety piles on. I love my stories, and writing is what I feel most passionate about doing, and has been for a long time. I’m so grateful for my amazing, hard-working CPs. But at this point, I’m still agent-less, and only CPs, betas, and friends are reading my work. It’s very hard to feel I’ve accomplished much at the end of the day, each day, even if I’ve written 5k+ and feel on fire with my character or the latest plot twist. I *do* write for me; the stories I write are stories I’d want to read. So don’t get me wrong — I get a LOT of satisfaction out of it. But I’ve just recently realized that there is that feedback, that professional interaction, that I’m missing. I’m a people pleaser, and I’m thrilled if my stories make me happy, but I dream of a point where they’re making other people happy, too, just as the stories that come into my life bring me joy and entertainment, thought-provoking concepts and beautiful prose, and characters who feel like friends.
I’ve learned during NaNO 2014 that I not only write better while writing “alongside” others, I feel better.
. . . To that end, I’m looking for another CP to work with — preferably someone who loves Tolkien, all kinds of SFF, and reads widely in other genres. If anyone knows anyone who’s looking for another CP/beta to befriend, please let me know 🙂
On to WIPMarathon!
Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count: Oh gosh. I haven’t done this in MONTHS. Like I said. Crazy year. Before November, I had about 23,000 on the current WIP.
Current report WC + CC/ SC: Thanks to NaNo, I now have over 73,000 words on this WIP! Now, I need to aim for this *every* month.
WIP Issues This Month: No biggies, surprisingly! Since I already knew where the first 3/4 of the story was going, I was able to sit down with an idea for a scene and pound it out. I did realize that I spent a lot of the day THINKING about writing, and then when I sit down, like I said, I write about 1200-1300 in a half hour. It’s rarer that I sit down for 3 hours and write 5k, but I did it a few times. I’d like to be able to do it more.
Four things I learned this month in writing:
1) I draft easier when I feel part of a team/group. Not because we’re competing, but because I know we all want to do our best, and I don’t feel so alone.
2) Simply put, I CAN crank out 5k in a day, when I know where the scene is going. Even if just the most basic idea.
3) Writing dialogue is where it’s at for understanding characters. As DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE author Laini Taylor put it,
“Dialogue is the place that books are most alive and forge the most direct connection with readers. It is also where we as writers discover our characters and allow them to become real. Get them talking.”
4) First drafts are for the writer; subsequent drafts are for others. So use the first draft to figure it all out, and wait until the revisions to worry whether it will all make sense to the reader.
What distracted me this month while writing: Nothing I want to bring y’all down with here. Suffice it to say December will be much better, and 2015 will be AMAZING. So much to be thankful for.
Goal for next month: Finish the first draft of A SIGHT OF NEVERSEA!
Have a great rest of your Thanksgiving weekend, my fellow Americans! <3