Thursday, November 29, 2018

Update on, ya know, the writing stuff

I haven't been a very active blogger in the past few weeks. It's not just because I'm doing NaNoWriMo and just barely squeaking by with the recommended word counts, though. I'm just pretty overwhelmed with a bunch of stuff that's going on and it's pretty hard to be creative in this environment, while also being able to reflect on that creativity in a satisfactory fashion. I wish I had a way to address the other stuff in a way that would make everybody happy, but I don't, so I'm just treading water the best I can.

Normally when I would write a book, I'd just write it as time permitted. Usually I would take said time out of my sleeping or ignore something else to work on it, or I'd just happen to get really creative during stretches of my life where I had more time. So this is really interesting; for NaNo, I'm writing a little bit every day (haven't missed a day, though I've fallen short on word count maybe twice, and made up for it the next day), and I haven't really gone on any epic writing jags.

In a way, I like it. As I said in a previous blog, having a goal also gives me permission to stop. In the past, if I just ran until I dropped, I ran a lot farther, but it wasn't sustainable over long periods of time, and the tradeoff was a lot of physical and emotional exhaustion. It is nice to have something that is easily sustainable, though I think there are definitely days I would prefer to skip my writing session when I just couldn't cram one in. I certainly wouldn't have normally been writing new material while away for the weekend attending a wedding, or on a day where I went to see my grandmother possibly for the last time.

But in another way, I do not like it. It sometimes does feel artificial, like "okay, the butt is in the chair, now make the story come out, because this is when you have time to do it," and then, like, I have to. And since I stop and start more frequently than I tended to doing it my original way, I definitely lose momentum. Sometimes I find a good place to stop for the day based on word count instead of story arc, and then when I sit down the next day I'm not sure where I was going with that. I have to wonder how different the book would be if some of those scenes had been written uninterrupted.

Programs like NaNo do encourage a writer to be content with crap words just because they are any words, and I have always thought I was kind of "above" that--not that I don't write crap words (because I absolutely, ABSOLUTELY do), but because encouraging you to just get something down is about getting past blocks I don't really have. I don't have an overenthusiastic inner editor who stops me from saying anything unless it's perfect. But maybe if I had more breathing room to decide "do I need this conversation? do I need to go here? maybe I need to do some groundwork on the worldbuilding or figure out the character relationships more solidly before I write this?" I would write better the first time, instead of feeling like I succeeded just because I wrote some words, any words.

That's a victory for some, and not one to sneeze at, but I didn't really need that validation. I know I can write words. It's been interesting, though, to be on this side of the experience--I always figured if I ever participated in this program, I'd wipe the walls with those word count goals, churning out huge tomes ahead of schedule like I've always done before. This has given me an opportunity to be, uh, average I guess. Hitting word count goals consistently throughout through discipline and perseverance, and completing my 50,000-word goal right on the day it's due.

My novel is now at 49,008 words. I have until tomorrow to hit 50,000 to "win" NaNoWriMo. The book will absolutely not be complete at that point, so I'll keep working on it and see how long it takes me to finish, but maybe not at the same pace, or maybe at a more "natural" pace for me. They acknowledge in the program that 50,000 words is very low for a  novel--that books in the market are almost all longer than that for YA and up. 

When I win, I think I will be a cheeseball and order a shirt.

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