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Writing Under Fire

December 5, 2009

First, allow me to wish a late Happy Thanksgiving and early Merry Christmas to you all!

Done with NaNo, I have a moment to spend here now, though it took me a few days to want to write a single word. That NaNo stuff will burn you out for a bit.

I finished, and ‘won’, tallying a total of 52,941 words the weekend after Thanksgiving. I didn’t finish the novel, there’s much more to tell, but I finished with the word count goal for the month. I plan to polish up an excerpt and place it here soon. Once I do, feel free to offer critique.

I am not so sure I like NaNo. I may not do it again. I really thought it would be right up my alley, since I’ve always worked best under pressure when I write, waiting till the last minute to do essays, research papers, etc. in college, and turning out something brilliant.

I’m finding it’s different with noveling. Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist, but just cranking out words for 30 days till I get to 50K, whether it even makes sense or not, no matter how many problems there are when I’m done – does not appeal to me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s a useful tool in that I can take a great idea and expand on it a bit, and I write a scene here and there that’s pretty damn golden if I do say so myself.

I begin something that’s a good framework to keep working from.

I’d rather not have to go back and try to fix all that though. I’m not saying I want to write the perfect first draft, that isn’t possible anyway.

I have two different software programs I can use to write things in sequence, make outlines, develop characters, etc, and I thought they’d be really helpful this year, but they weren’t. That’s probably my fault for not fully utilizing them. I found myself just opening up Word and writing, sequential or not, just as I did last year. If an idea came to me, I wrote it out, whether it belonged next in the story or not.

There’s nothing wrong with that either, but it isn’t how I want to write.

Even if I do only one page a day – one chapter – however much…

That’s how I want to write. Sequentially. Slowly. Taking my time to edit and polish as I go, so that my first draft isn’t a complete disorganized mess when I am finished with it.

NaNo doesn’t facilitate that for me, at least not at this point in my life. If I were lucky enough to not have to work a full time job, or be able to think about my writing or write more during my workday, it might be different. I could think about what comes next, write down some ideas, then go home and work on them.

Those of you who participated – especially if it was your first time – what are your thoughts on the experience?

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