WhyNo WriMo?

Before the post – in my ongoing saga, I’m now at number 3. Please take a moment to tweet, vote for, review, or like me at http://www.ebookmall.com/author/jester-queen

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November is the month of the writer. NaNoWriMo. NaBloWriMo.  Thirty full days of typing and progress. Thirty days of community building and butt-in-chair work. I love it. I love everything about it. I get high on the very idea and spiral around in a dance with myself.

But as enthusiastic as the month of writing makes me, I don’t join either meme. I cheerlead my friends from the sidelines, but I don’t hook up myself. Why? A number of reasons. First and foremost, NaNo especially is designed to force you to write if you’re struggling. It orders you to find the time and offers a community to help you get it done. Its basic premise is that there is never a ‘perfect’ time to get that novel you’ve been meaning to write out of your system. So you should carpe diem (or carpe mensem, I suppose) and do it now. Second, I thrive under different circumstances.

I love NaNo. I seriously love it. I know some awesome writers who just need that extra kick in the ass to get their book off the ground. But I’m not one of them. As the matter of fact, NaNo is all about helping you develop discipline and regularity in your writing. You know the two things I thrive on the least? Yup. Those.

As the matter of fact, every single thing that works for me goes against the grain of good writing advice. It took me YEARS to learn to give my students the good advice and pretend I wasn’t being a total hypocrite. It took me YEARS LONGER to realize why my own teachers gave everybody else in the room but me the good advice and told me, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

And the answer was simple. When I follow the good advice, my writing is shit. When I do my own thing, my writing is good. It isn’t completely true that I ignore all rules– there are some pieces of good writing advice I follow religiously. Like treating it as seriously as my paying gig. (Note – my paying gig has irregular, self chosen hours, too. Coincidence? I think not.)  Like the importance of butt-in-chair time. Like the willingness to write through a plot issue. Like outlining novels. I have got to outline novels or I get lost .Holy shit the outline for Divorce: A Love Story changed sixteen times as I wrote it. But I updated the outline as I worked rather than trashing the document entirely, because it helped me keep my scattered mind focused.

But the two best pieces of advice, the ones NaNo is trying to help people to establish, are the ones that don’t work for me at all. If I try to write at the same time every day, I get bored fast. Like by day two. I look ahead of me, see only the slog and grind, and then I stop. In fact, if I write every single day, I get bogged down fast. I prefer to write a day, edit a day, blog a day, then mix up the order and do it all again, then spend a day in there somewhere sending all my short stories around. There’s a specific set of tasks I do. But I plan only a few days in advance based on what’s going on in my life. (It’s easier to edit at a therapy appointment; easier to write waiting an hour for ballet to get out.)

And then there’s the ‘just write’ focus. That’s so important. It’s so easy to let the internal editor shut a piece down because she’s being an asshole. Me? I don’t write a consistent number of words at a time, and I go back and edit heavily as I work and THEN revise the shit out of it afterwards. I love Anne Lammot’s shitty first draft theory. But my first drafts need plenty of work even after my ongoing edits, and the ongoing edits might slow a project, but they rarely halt one. I have to edit as I go. And I can write between 10,000 and 30,000 words a month reliably and reasonably well.

Finally, there’s this. I’ve written three novels. That push that NaNo is designed to give could just as easily prevent me from finishing another. But I love NaNo, because have friends who might just be able to complete some important work thanks to one of the coolest memes on the web. So I’m cheering for them this month and every time I read their words. And me? I’m plodding steadily along. Or herky-jerkily along. Depending on the day.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.

Comments

WhyNo WriMo? — 30 Comments

  1. I love NaNo and the ideas behind it. I wish I could participate fully the way it is designed but life just isn’t going to let me to do that. So I’m using it as my “push” to finish my novel. Nov is all about the one book more or less. It’s the only way I think I will finish because I am not a planner and I am not disciplined to work on one thing. I get distracted easily…*ooh look a prompt!**

    Ahem…so yeah, I need the deadline, I need to push to finish. Fingers crossed it works out that way
    Hop over and visit Carrie’s recent post Torn Together by Emlyn Chand {Book Review & Giveaway}My Profile

  2. you know my reasons.

    I think taking this nanowrimo off will help us for next year. The fact you’ve written 3 novels, makes you a writing idol of mine.
    Hop over and visit Lance’s recent post On My WayMy Profile

  3. I’m not going to do it for all the reasons you out lined (thanks, i pretty much write the same way you do except even less structured) and my time availibilty is sketchy, depending on requirements of paying clients who have the nerve to demand i actually do work for them on a schedule! But what do all those abbreviations stand for and where are these memes? Nablo sounds like fun but I’m guessing it means something other than what I’m thinking.
    Hop over and visit Lumdog’s recent post Cluttered HeadMy Profile

    • No guilt needed for this one. I get the sense that it’s a fun-come-if-you-can sort of party. I admire those who can complete it. I’m not up for the long haul though ,for sure!!

  4. I’ve never done NaNo. I signed up one year, and never wrote a word.

    And, I write every single solitary day. I’ve written one novel and am almost done with my second one. I do not do well with numbers staring me in the face every day. “This much down. This many more to go.” That sort of thing is a disincentive for me.
    Hop over and visit Andra Watkins’s recent post Surcee GaloreMy Profile

    • YES! Scott asks me, and dear GOD if anyone deserves an answer to this question it’s him, “How much did you get done today?” And I am immediately and completely defensive. Can you imagine being demanded the same by a word counter?

  5. This is my third year trying NaNoWriMo. Each year gets easier and each year I learn something about myself and my writing style. One of these years, I may actually do something with the tome I write over these 30 days.
    Hop over and visit Tara R.’s recent post GuardianMy Profile

  6. You had me at the title. :)

    I agree… the “good advice” works for most people. Most, not all. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. Good for you for learning to impose order when you need to, and keeping flexible when you don’t.
    Hop over and visit Lauren @ Gourmet Veggie Mama’s recent post Cherry Tomato PestoMy Profile

  7. I love the idea of NaNoWriMo too and would like to try it one of these days, less to get discipline than to see what my brain spits out if I just push-push-push the words out without stopping to worry about whether they make sense. But not this year, for assorted life reasons.

    There was a time when the writing advice people would send me stressed me out, not least because a lot of it is directly contradictory. And then I realized that what works is completely idiosyncratic and that we all just have to go with what works for us and not worry about what worked for Normal Mailer or Ernest Hemingway. Now, if only my family would stop sending those articles…
    Hop over and visit Annabelle’s recent post Trifecta: The YearMy Profile

  8. I’m doing NaNo simply because I have intended to for years. My primary goal is to goose my creative side back to life. I’m pretty convinced it’ll be crap because of the necessary lack of editing but I’m ok with that.

    Already I’m at about half where I should be…

    Jessie, how can the facebook and twitter free vote for you? All we found was that drop down listing Amazing or some other adjective…

    • See – that’s exactly what NaNo is designed to do. It sounds like it’s totally galvanizing you, and that’s the trick. Anne Lammott’s shitty first draft theory is an excellent one. If you scroll down the page, there’s a “like” “tweet” etc. section ,and further down from that, there’s a ‘write a review” part. Thanks so very much!!

  9. I like the idea of NaNoWriMo too. But writing on a schedule doesn’t help me either. It saddens me. It’s when I do my worst work and begin to hate the thing I love so much. Pushing makes my writing awful and I can tell that before going back to check. I know it doesn’t work for a lot of people, but I do better when I edit heavily as I go along. I actually feel freer when I do that, and stuck if I don’t.

    I just wish I could do that and write as many words as you do in a month. :)
    Hop over and visit Sparks In Shadow’s recent post BrowniesMy Profile

  10. Thank you. I have been wondering why I don’t join this whole writing challenge thing and this helped me feel less guilty. I write the same way you do. I edit, edit, edit as I go along, or sometimes when the inspiration hits me, it’s one long writing session and boom, I’m done. Also? I just don’t want to write for the sake of writing and put it out there. What if someone comes along and reads only this one piece of crap that I have published and it is basically a grocery list.

    I should write more words in a month. But, three years ago, I wasn’t writing anything and five years ago, I couldn’t even write about who I really was. So, one piece a week on my blog and two pieces a month on the Huffpo and I am feeling good!
    Hop over and visit Bill Dameron’s recent post StardustMy Profile

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