Novel Fails and Holidays

Posted by davidludwig
Nov 30 2012

So this is mostly a quick check in to affirm that it is my intention to resume thrice weekly postings (Monday, Wednesday and Friday–which may admittedly mean you should check on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). A little recap of November, I tried and failed miserably at National Novel Writing Month. Not really a huge shock, I strongly suspected going in that the NaNo approach to writing was incompatible with my own.

For National Novel Writing Month the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days, not because any body I know or could even possibly relate to would be able to construct a publishable manuscript under those circumstances–but because it gets the story written. However rough and likely even nauseating at parts the product is, it is still a product. The theory from there, as I understand it, is that further time spent refining the product and getting it up to publishable quality is easier both to do and to find motivation for. So NaNo’s big push is just to get that initial word splurge out there, the task of shaping it would come later.

That approach just doesn’t work for me, I like to shape, polish and refine as I go. I like to work in several short strokes, writing and refining according to whether the stroke is presently passing over text or blank page. I get into a rhythm and the more the story and characters make sense to me the deeper into I get, and consequently the deeper I can take my audience. Rushing headlong into larger word counts I find it too easy to make missteps, possibly injuring my self or my work in the process (not generally in a literal sense of course) and sacrificing a lot of efficiency and direction in the process. Writing without stopping to edit for me is like drawing without picking up the pencil. Some parts have to be done that way to be done well, but many benefit from stopping to look at your work and maybe even correcting it before moving on.

For me if I bog down in a story the easiest way to regain momentum is to go back and edit. The process of editing re-immerses me in the story and I can carry that momentum forward into new words. It takes a while, but with everything but novels the work does eventually get done.

Who knows what the holidays are going to look like or bring, somehow I found even Thanksgiving to consume far more time and energy than anticipated–and I don’t even remember where those expenditures went. One way or another my goal is to actually finish this novel though, but at a pace that works for me and allows me to take pride in my work. With NaNo officially lost though, I do think I will go back and finish the short-story I began in the same setting first and maybe pursue some early publishing with that while I grind away at the main novel.

That’s the forecast (and reflection) for this Friday. Thanks for all the recent poll votes by the way! It’s great to get some interaction from the internet.

2 Responses

  1. Emilia Quill says:

    I write in a similar manner. The moment I realized this was when I struck a wall, I went back 10k worth of words to the spot where things made sense. Everything after that sucked. The villains were twirling their thumbs and heroes were filling the time by bickering.
    I’m still shocked I didn’t see what was happening.

    I might attempt NaNo some year, but university’s sucking my time and energy. Also I suspect I’d get frustrated with the word splurge and print it just so I could throw it across the room.

    Your plan sounds good, remember to relax during the holidays as well.

    • davidludwig says:

      Thanks for commenting! I don’t think I have much use for relaxing though, so that will likely remain off the official agenda–not to say it won’t happen, but I won’t be trying for it.

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