Thursday, November 4, 2010

Somewhere in the World A Writer is Writing...

Three days of NaNo behind us, twenty seven days to go. I have visions of writers all over the world sitting in their cubby spaces typing like mad. Each one racing a thirty day deadline to achieve a common 50,000 word goal.

This is an exciting time for me. I've always worked better under pressure. And to ensure that I had the best chance possible to "win" this challenge I undertook a few preparations.

First, I finally finished an outline for my WIP. I used a trial of the software program SuperNotecard. It's like virtual index cards. I'm not really a plotter, at least not on paper. So, believe me, typing out an actual outline, chapter by chapter for the entire WIP was quite a feat. I patted myself on the back, because finally I figured out a pivotal plot point that brings the entire story together. Woohoo! So, after I finished my little "I got it, I got it" dance, I printed the virtual cards because I work with a netbook and the smaller screen isn't conducive when I have too many windows opened. The sad thing is that I won't look at them very much. Because really, the whole story is in my head now. I wouldn't have been able to say that, if I hadn't been forced to sit down and figure out the outline.

The second thing I did was read a book. Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine. Now this book is written for kids who are writers. But, I found it relevant because it doesn't matter at what age you start writing. Writing is a craft and every writer needs tools.

The third thing I did was pour over the many drafts I've started of this WIP. I looked at what was the constant thread through each version. Keep in mind these were incomplete drafts because I never could get past a certain point before I'd start over.

Which brings me to the fourth thing I did. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't rewrite anything until I typed "The End." I realized that with constant rewriting while typing the first draft is so much more than merely counterproductive. It's like a stake in a vampire's heart. It kills the story dead, dead, dead. At least for me. I get so obsessed with making every thing perfect that I never finish story.

In Writing Magic Ms. Carson-Levine states "there is no such thing as a perfect book or a perfect story." That simple statement stuck. I could spend a lifetime working to make the first few chapters perfect before moving on and end up never finishing the story. I recognized that I needed to set a more reasonable standard for myself. That doesn't mean I'll slouch to being happy writing crap. It means that I can give myself some breathing room to make mistakes, especially in the first draft.

The first draft is hard. In my head I already see the story as a finished product. The difficulty comes in the translation from the imaginative concept to the written word and the discipline it takes to get there.

In the first three days, I've had a lot of distractions. Three book reviews to write, two dogs who insist that I should give them belly rubs, scratch their ears, play tug, and give them treats because they are jealous of the contraption that sits in mommy's lap so much of the time, and a nap that just couldn't be put off any longer. Still, I've managed to pluck down 7,701 words. That means about 15 % of my WIP is complete. Now that's progress!

So writers of the world, where are you and how much have you written?

~kristal lee
This entry also posted at the blogunity New Kids on the Writer's Block

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Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so glad I read your post this morning. I'm giving a descriptive writing lesson at the local middle school on the 15th. I'll be checking into the book you mentioned. Any other great resources for young writers?
Your doing great with the word count. Keep writing!

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