11.07.20 – 11.09.20
These days have drained me so much. As I mentioned before, I haven’t had to use my brain for more than an hour at a time for months now, and then suddenly I’m in the middle of the biggest writing challenge of the year. It feels simultaneously like my brain is leaking out of my ears and I have completely forgotten how to write a story.
I have started and stopped and outlined and plotted and replotted this book over and over and over…I can’t seem to like it for much longer than a day or so. I can’t quite figure out what about this I hate so much.
For Saturday and Sunday I mostly did a lot of scene work: starting with a specific thing I wanted to happen as part of the plot, deciding who was going to be in the scene, what they wanted, how the scene affected them, what they did, and how they were changed. Monday I started back into actual writing, using the scenes to help guide me. This worked really well, and is a technique I think I might start to use for the rest of my writing career – it’s really nice to have the important parts of a scene planned out before you start to write it, it allows you to worry about other aspects of writing without forgetting to have a point behind what it is you’re putting on paper.
I don’t really have a word count for the weekend, honestly. Hopefully I’ll get back to sanity before this week is over.
Today I had a little bit easier time writing some bits and such a hard time writing others it was physically painful. I was thinking I might go back and write more, but I just hate this story so fucking much.
I think I figured out why though. I’m starting waaaay too early in this plot. I’m including too many people’s points of view.Every chapter should add to the intrigue of the plot: makes you ask questions and then teases you with some answers and eggs you on with more questions. This keeps you reading. You also need some kind of progress – a way for you to measure that your characters aren’t just sitting around with their thumbs up their asses.
While I kind of had progress happening in my story, there were no questions. Even I, as the author, didn’t give a shit about what my characters were doing and why they were doing it. If there was a question, it got answered almost immediately by another point of view in the next chapter. It was just…so boring. No intrigue, no questions, no nothing.
I’m going to keep what I’ve written so far, even if it’s only to reference later, and I think I might have a prologue from a different point of view just to get the “inciting incident” thing going, I’m not sure. But I’m going to be readjusting everything in this book to make it less painful to write. It still won’t be perfect – this will be more or less “First Draft Part Two: The Draftening.” There will still be some major things to take care of and lots of subsequent drafts to write, but hopefully I can get this going. I’ve only been able to make myself write up to 3 hours a day on this book because it’s so painful, and my word count has been pretty poor, considering the amount of time I’ve been spending on it. Maybe once I start enjoying the story and the characters again, I can spend far more time on it and write it quicker so I can catch back up to where I should be by now.
I say “should be” but honestly, wherever I am in this book is where I should be. Writing a book is a very personal process for many different reasons. It is hard, and painful, and gruelling. And that’s okay, it’s worth it.
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo and having similar problems, don’t fret. You don’t get booted off Writer Island if you don’t get 50k words by November 30th. You get the prize of continuing to be able to work on your novel. So if you’re behind or you hate your book, or it feels like you have Spaghettios for brains right now, take a breath. It’s okay. You can do this. You have all the time in the world to get it done right.
I’m only…mostly talking to you right now…
This morning I got back into the ring, trading blows and ducking punches until…my novel kicked my ass. Again. I thought I had everything figured out. I knew where I needed to start, I took out the excess point of view, I had questions planned…but it wasn’t enough. I struggled with this until about 2 (with a few breaks in between of course). Finally I just decided that I needed to stop and distance myself from writing for a little while. I quit for today and am going to take a full writing break tomorrow. No writing, no reading, no reading about writing…it’s just going to be video games and baking. Or something, I don’t know. What it is, it’s going to allow the subconscious part of my brain pick at this problem for a bit.
Or not. I woke up to a friend asking me about my novel and as I told them more about it I started to figure out more problems I had and different ways I could fix it. Then I started to get excited all over again. I didn’t do any “real” writing, but I did do some more planning. It was still at a leisurely pace so kind of in the spirit of a break. This weekend I’ll try to not write for a bit. I think I’ll go back to that 5 days a week mindset and give it a try.
Today I have finally made the conscious decision to ignore my “word counts” for NaNoWriMo and just go back to the planning and worldbuilding stages for now. I have seen first hand what happens when you go into a novel writing awful words that don’t really have a place in the universe you are trying to build, and it is complete carnage. If your goal is to just have something to do for 30 days, then that’s perfectly okay. If you really really enjoy going back and chipping away at dried word poo to find the diamonds and rubies underneath, then that’s perfectly okay. But I’m not a fan of throwing away 25,000 words out of 50,000 because they don’t make sense in context, and I plan on polishing up this turd enough to publish, so I really have to go back.
But what about getting something written and not obsessing over details? When I’m excited about what I’m writing, have a good idea of where I’m going, and I have the time, I can easily write 5,000 words in a day. Now that I write full time, that last requirement is met. I just need to meet the first two (which shouldn’t take too much longer now), and then I’ll be on track to get a novel written in a month. It just might not be the month. Another thing is that I won’t be writing a sentence, deciding it’s not good enough and then deleting and rewriting it 80 times until it’s perfect. I still plan on having multiple drafts. But I want to have my story as close to the original vision as possible before I start on draft number two, otherwise I’ll be spending time with the painful parts instead of the fun ones.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll finish this book and decide that it really wasn’t worth it. That’s fine – I’ll just change it up next time (but I doubt I will go back to pantsing unless I am writing lit fic, honestly).