Tuesday, 2 November 2010

How NaNoWriMo Ruined My Day

Yesterday I posted about taking a swing at the NaNoWriMo challenge. Today I sat seething at the computer. Tonight I cried to my husband, a big blubbering mess. Let me tell you why.

Yesterday I wrote a nice big chunk of prose. It was all planned out beforehand and I was even quite pleased with some parts. Yesterday was a very good day and I woke up this morning, ready to write more. But then I didn't. I'm not just an author, but a trained editor who shudders at anything less than perfection. So what did I do today? I deleted. I moved things around. I rewrote stuff. And not just a little bit.

NANoWriMo is all about word count, and when I delete half of what I wrote the day after I wrote it, I get the sinking suspicion that I'm not playing the game by their rules. Ultimately this will result in what, in the NaNoWriMo world, is called a fail. They want writers to keep writing. And that would be all well and good if I didn't have this compulsive need to fix everything.

While doing my writing degree, we had a similar, but vastly superior, approach to writing. It encourages the same momentum that NaNoWriMo does (possibly the best feature of the challenge) but realizes that 30 day novel sprinting wears out not only the author, but the writing as well. In this approacgh we were made to lie on our stomachs on the floor. In front of us we'd have a large, unlined piece of paper. And our writing utensils? Markers or crayons. We wrote in all CAPS and very slowly. If we got stuck we were supposed to either draw swirls or write the alphabet until we could pick the story back up. This method always turned out my best writing and I still use it today.

Why is it so effective?

Firstly, it slows you down and allows the writer the time to be in the scene. If I write too fast I miss the details. Actually, if I'm perfectly honest, I don't particularly like the pace from writing on a computer. There's not enough time to weight things, to determine the right word or develop the art. Which brings me to my second reason. My professor always said it is so much easier to type sh*t than write it out by hand. She's right. Think about it. When's the last time you messed something up in an email or text? Now how about those old fashioned letter do-das? They always turn out so much better. Don't they?

I'll stick with NaNoWriMo and I'll endeavour to 'win', but I'm going things my way. If I want to delete half of day one's word count on day two? I'm gonna do it. And if I want to rewrite the other half of day one's word count on day three? You know what? I'm gonna. And if on day four I decide to edit it all again. Oh yes!

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