Saturday, November 25, 2006

There are five days left in the NaNoWriMo and I just passed 20,000 words. Making it unlikely in the extreme that I will get to 50,000 by the end of the month. Early in the month, I wasn't worried about being behind, because I knew I had a bunch of time coming up at the end of the month. But you know, life intervened-- I could list all the little things that happened, but the specifics don't really matter. Yes, I could have stayed up until 1 a.m. making up for time that got lost, but I didn't. I have been plugging away at it, though, and for that I am very proud of myself. Not that many years ago, I would have just quit. But I've been writing 500-1,000 words a day with not all that many exceptions. I took four days off when we had out-of-town company, a couple of days off when I had to re-think my whole plot, a day off when my son was home sick. But other than that, I've worked on it every day.

The main thing I've learned is to just keep typing. The hardest part there is to ignore that little voice that is saying, "This is a pile of crap, what's the point?" "This is boring. No one will ever want to read it. Why are you wasting your time?" "No one talks like this [dialog being written]. This is stupid. Just stop embarrassing yourself and give it up."

Because... and here is the best thing I've learned.... as long as I can ignore that inner critic, this has been really fun. Thinking up ideas and turning them into words is something that is endlessly entertaining to me, even if it does turn out stuff that is boring to everyone else. (with the obvious parallel being this blog). And I've learned a few tricks about how I work that have helped, too-- things that I sort of knew before but hadn't ever put into practice. Like: I usually start with the endpoint, and then do the bulk of the writing to figure out how that endpoint happened. Example: I was plugging along with Sarah's school year. I had this really good idea for something that would happen in April, but I didn't feel like I should write it until I got there. But I was totally running out of steam, so I finally decided to jump ahead and write the April scene. That scene poured out like it was inspired and as I typed it, a half-dozen other ideas for things that needed to happen along the way appeared spontaneously. Then I remembered that I'd had this experience before the last time I tried writing fiction-- I would start with a certain scene that came very vividly to mind, thinking it was the beginning. But as it turned out, the rest of the story ended up being about how the characters got there. Which is different than what I've read about other writers doing, but if it works for me I guess it doesn't matter.

So anyway. Yesterday when it finally sank in that there was no way I was going to hit 50,000 words, I was kind of depressed about it. But today, I'm just glad I did this. It was fun. I hope I can do it again next year. And I hope I'll hit 30,000 anyway-- there's still five days to go!

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