…No more, no less. Five is right out.
And so we wrap up week three of NaNoWriMo. As I announced in my last post, technically, I’ve already won. That hasn’t stopped me though; in fact, it hasn’t even slowed me.
I’m up to fifty-five thousand, one hundred and twelve words. One hundred and thirty-six pages. Twenty-seven chapters. One betrayal, one death. More of the latter coming.
Lessons learned this week:
1. Hail the Outline: herald of all things good and organizational
Yes, I’m still talking about outlining. I never thought I’d say this: the outline is the most important thing you can do for you writing (at least from my perspective). I don’t know how many times I’ve gone back to it, revised it, loved it, yelled at it. It’s reciprocated and been very flexible with my constant mental flux. It is the glue that holds my novel together. Without it, it would be a jumbled mess of disjointed scenes. I can’t imagine how anyone writes anything of length without an outline.
2. NaNoWriMo is a social event, which can be good and bad
Tiffany pointed out that a lot of people participate in NaNo for the social aspect. A community of people doing the same thing, working towards the same goal. I like the concept; people getting together is cool. But when the content you’ve written on the forums outweighs the content of your novel 30:1, you’ve kind of missed the point. I spent about 15 minutes looking at the NaNo forums and decided to never go back. There are plenty of distractions in this world without you actively participating in a distraction created by the thing you’re trying to avoid being distracted from. Or something. Keeping a small group of people who are interested in your writing enough to provide feedback is the perfect level of social interaction.
3. While we’re talking about distractions
I’m a pretty busy dude. I work full time, I’m on a business proposal team, half of a wedding planning team, half of a home owning team, I’m a cat-dad, I try to fix everything that doesn’t work, I like to read, play instruments, exercise, and play games. This month, I changed almost none of my habits. Despite that, I met my goal, and I met it early.
Distractions are bullshit. Bullshit you make up to avoid doing something you really don’t want to do. If you find yourself preferring Fark or FailBlog or FPSs over writing, you probably don’t really like writing as much as you think (or have convinced yourself) you do. If you love to do it (and get a thrill from writing a great scene that ties in well), you’ll make writing one of those things you actively want to spent time on, not the other way around.
4. The writing environment is important
I know a lot of people like to work in the same physical location: a coffee shop, a home office, a table at a local park. There’s method to this madness. The same, comfortable situation gets me in the right mental state and reminds me where I’m going with my story. It’s the same effect as listening to music while studying, or visualizing your performance in a sport before you actually play. Your mind builds associations with your environment, which leads to you quickly getting into the right state of mind. We’re all creatures of comfort; use that to your advantage.
5. Don’t wait for a muse, or inspiration, or a moment of magic
Years ago, I bought into the concept of “the muse”; the magical fairy that flies into your brain and defibrillates the creative part of your mind at random. I used to rely on this fickle mistress in college, hoping she’d show up sometime between when my papers were assigned and when they were due.
As I’ve gotten more comfortable with my wordology, I’ve found that the muse is fake. Like Mr. Peanut and Topcat. You are your own inspiration. The more you write, the more you’ll write. Go ahead, try it. It really works.
With one week left, I’m going to try and finish my first draft. From there, I get to enter the wonderful mystical realm of self-editing. I’m guessing it’s going to be more Tartarus than Elysium.
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers!