Monday, November 12, 2012

Week 46 - Learning by Writing

11 Nov - 17 Nov: Toughing out NaNoWriMo... and on track for completion.

The 'How-To' books are taking a well-earned rest. The excellent websites and blogs full of wonderful advice can wait. I have reached 25,000 words of my creative memoir, and am on the downhill run, with time to spare for edits (and lots of them).

And I am learning... heaps. Here are a few things I have observed about the writing process and my own working habits:

1. Subject Matter: During Week 44, I decided to keep my 30-day novel simple. My memory-driven story, with healthy doses of embellishment, was a good strategy for 'keeping me writing' if nothing else. If it's boring, I can add the flesh to my bones later.
2. Point-of-View: First person narrative is easy to maintain and can not be beat for a quick, intimate story. After an initial struggle between present and past tense, I naturally fell into past tense, and so it is so.
3. Outline: I began with obvious scene or chapter headings, and am able to pick and chose which ones to tackle on a given day. I commit myself to finishing the scene, and then, depending on the word count and energy levels, I move to the next heading, or guiltlessly call it a day.
4. Word Count: 50,000 words divided by 20 headings equals 2,500 words each. When I started, my scenes fell well below this mark, and panic set in. But the more I write, the richer my scenes become, and the word count is picking up.
5. Long-hand: I have always preferred to start things off in long-hand. During NaNoWriMo, I have become very particular about this. I have one exercise book next to my bed, and one floating round the living room, and a bunch of yellow, 2HB pencils scattered everywhere. About 90 per cent of my first draft has been written in long-hand first, and then typed into the computer. Not only do I get that buzz that comes from fingers flying across the keyboard, but when I stumble across a hand-written passage that I forgot to type up, it's like finding twenty bucks in the pocket of an old jacket. Ka-chow word count!
6. Just Writing: It's true, the more you write, the easy it becomes. And I would like to think the quality picks up, too. (Well, here's hoping.)

And for those lexophiles amongst us, instead of writing exercises, here are some other things I have learnt that are a bit more silly:
I plotted NaNoWriMo on my calendar to remind me that its days are numbered.
If a writer backs up to his electric pencil sharpener, he may get a little behind in his work.

 Writing with a broken pencil is pointless.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like the soggy banana left-over from a midnight snack.
 A backward poet writes inverse.
 The depressed writer who threw herself into an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.
And lastly, but most importantly:
A boiled egg is hard to beat.


  1. Puns appreciated. You, my friend, are kicking writer-tush. I'm impressed and can't wait to read the end result.

    1. PS is the egg art yours? Because, if so, if writing doesn't work out, looks like you have alternative career gifts. ;)

    2. Ha ha, and if you need extra income, you could try comedy.

  2. Egg...I love your methodical mind. Longhand. Whew! I don't do that too much anymore except for notes. My longhand story pages overflow with scribbles and rewrites and scribbles and rewrites - they can be quite hard for even me to follow. That dang inner critic. He's much easier to handle with a word processor. Delete.

    It's so great to see your gauge over halfway filled! Man, I'm so excited for you! And me! I popped you a NaNote. Love your cover. It's nice to have a visual carrot to dangle.

    This is quite an adventure, isn't it? I have the utmost faith that something will become of this for the both of us.

    1. An adventure is a good description. I confess that my NaNoWriMo project is rather 'journal style' but I'm having fun with it, especially the embellishment stuff when my memory fails me, which is often.

      Yeah, the longhand thing is a bit of a surprise to me, actually, but that seems to be how the story wants to be written. Weird.

    2. Fun is the important thing, and it's been a blast for me, too. Some of the best novels have been written epistolary style, so with the right embellishments, yours could be right up there with them.

      You go with what leads you. If it's longhand, then let it flow. We all have our process for each story.

  3. The 'How-To' books are taking a well-earned rest.

    Do you too, feel overwhelmed by all the tips, tricks, and writerly advice?

    Didn't Stephen King craft one of his novels longhandways? Sounds right. He said something about the sentence structure being longer, more flowing and fluid. I'm sure he had nasty handcramps though.

    1. Hmm - Stephen King's potential hand-cramps? I'm not touching that one.

      Yep, I've stuffed myself silly with writing books and articles etc., and all I can say is, my inner critic is having a ball. Now I know not only that something IS rubbish, but WHY it's rubbish. Yay.

      Of all the advice, I still think the best one is from Nike.

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  5. Do you still write most of your stuff long-hand first? I might have to try that as my typing skills suck and the keyboard definitely can't keep up with my ideas. Might give the old pen and paper a try.
    Thanks for the inspiration. :)

    1. I don't always write long hand, but I'm sure I write better long hand. I have a tendency to begin a story with pen or pencil and then when the scribbles and arrows get too illegible, I feed it into the computer. Oh the joy at discovering I've written one, two, three thousand words without knowing it!