Archive for December 1st, 2008

NaNo… Oh no…

Another November has come and gone… and another “less than completed” NaNoWriMo effort… but it was NOT without its share of learned lessons…

1) I actually liked the feel of chicken scratching out the story… just trying to push, punch and throw words out of a pen and onto paper. It’s liberating, and rewarding, in the sense that more pages are filled, tricking the mind to keep going, and giving a nice feeling of accomplishment. Writing just felt more natural than pecking at a keyboard… the “inner editor & critic” were easier to ignore…

2) While the handwriting approach may work for a general (unrestricted) project, for something like NaNo it is suicide. Not because of the writing, but because of having to write it then retype it… Unless someone else can type it up for you, we’re talking a serious loss of time to do them both in such a short window of days… even if you try to stay on top of the typing from day one.

3) When I chose to put down a few lines, I would manage to log the time… go figure, right? Even when I was working, when I chose to put the effort in I was still able to put together a couple of (journal sized) pages with only minor difficulty.

4) Counter to #1 (above), I need to continue with the keyboard pecking to get to that same comfort level… especially if I tend to start a lot of projects on a computer… and if I want to get to anything longer than about fifteen pages for a story…

5) Reading makes a lot of things easier… the thought processes, feel for pacing a story, and characterizations – the visualization of the story.

6) Plot, plan and outline… It’s not a guarantee, and each writer works differently, but it is a sound strategy to begin with, especially when the focus is on a limited time schedule. Character sketches (conceptual ideas, at least), possible plot points (at least for the inital segments… to give benchmarks and targets for pacing). At the very least, it helps to reduce any possible walls to really big speed bumps – progress may be slowed for a bit, but hopefully not stopped.

Ultimately, I still like NaNo, and the idea behind it. I still plan to continue trying it… but I have other goals that I want to work with. The point behind NaNo is to write against a forced deadline. Outside of any class requirements, there has been no hard and fast deadline for any of my other projects. Even those class requirements were modified, since I wanted to make sure things were “good” before they were turned in.

I have reached what I shall call the “PUSU point”… I need to “Put-Up or Shut Up”… like the weight and fitness issues in America – we know what needs to be done to fix things, and to improve, it’s a matter of doing it. I have drafted schedules and timelines before, but it was outside of any focus… Something that looks good on paper, but with no bite or payoff… something written by someone who just wanted to write, but with no clear goal for publishing and trying to make a living by writing…

There are a lot of stories that I have pent up, wanting to be told, I just need to find and channel my focus to get things down… starting with putting my butt in a chair for some time every day, pecking at keys or scratching a pen across paper. That’s the only way things can work… and I want it to work…

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