Friday, November 20, 2009

Delete key is on hiatus

(Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity, 1944)

NaNoWriMo has been a complete experiment this year. I took a break from agonizing over my latest WIP to write a ridiculous, cliched mystery caper set in 1937 Chicago. I'm not allowing myself to edit as I write (much). I'm not planning to ever shop this thing to agents, see it published or otherwise bring it into the light of day. Talk about relieving the pressure.

I think some of us, particularly writing-world bloggers, can get too caught up in all the publishing talk out there. I love agent and publisher blogs as much as the next person (maybe more) but at some point, it's time to take a breather and just concentrate on the writing. Nothing else. Not my audience, or where it will go on the bookshelves, or which agents might be interested, or what's going on with that lovely blogger over there who just got a major publishing contract and holy crap she's younger than me, and I'd better hurry up and get published while I'm still young and attractive enough to have a pretty book-jacket author photo, and the YA readers will still think I'm marginally cool, and...

This month of NaNo is all about working through my writing neuroses: the constant need to edit as I go, the paralyzing fear that everything I'm writing is crap, the compulsive need to get it "right" the first time.

I've been writing fluffy, cliched and poorly-planned scenes for the past few weeks and completely enjoyed it. I have no idea where the plot is going, but...who cares? This is for fun, not for publication.

More importantly, I've learned lessons writing this WIP that seem so obvious, but have been hard to accept. They're making me a better writer. The lessons can fall under one main tenet:

It's OK if a first draft is crap.

Obvious I know. But so, so hard to put into practice. Then, the following:

1. It's OK if I don't sit for five minutes thinking of the perfect phrase or word to go in a particular sentence. Use what's most obvious or cliched and move on. I get boundless joy from editing, so it'll get fixed later.
2. I don't have to wait until I know exactly what happens next before I sit down to write another scene.
3. And a sneaky tip: don't look at the screen while you write. I've found I get a whole lot more words on the page if I'm not looking at them while I type. If I don't look at them, I can't see bad writing and stop what I'm doing to fix it.
So now for the status report.

Novel Update
Word count: 13,063
Number of times heroine has been followed by someone creepy: 3
Noir films watched as "research": 1. Double Indemnity. Awesome. Movie. Barbara Stanwyck is so, so cool.
Pages of notes taken during Double Indemnity even though I'm not writing noir: 2
Number of my characters described as "shadowy:" 3
Number of people in heroine's bedroom when she awakens in the middle of the night: 1. That she can see. Mwah ha ha ha.
Number of mice I saw this week in person: 1. (Not related to the novel, but ew. Just ew.)


jmberrygirl said...

Thanks for the updates. Very encouraging! I'm stuck in my 18,000 word hole, again. Ugh.

lotusgirl said...

Cool updates.