As I sit here outside Starbucks on a day that actually feels like fall here in Houston (Friday; gray and cool), I’m thinking about writing. Specifically, I’m thinking about my recent output: not much fiction, whole lotta blogging. Reminds me of the appellation that’s been given to me (Blogger) rather than the name I by which I'd rather be known: Writer.
To write means to write. Most of these writing blogs all boil down to the same thing: Write. Repeat. But I’m also cognizant of the mental part of writing, the thinking, the planning, the outlining, the revising of story structure before you put pen to paper. I tend to fall into the Gay Telese, F. Scott Fitzgerald school of writing: plan it all out first, then write.
That’s been my bane in recent months, however, too much planning, not enough producing. Guess I thought I had to get it complete correct and perfect before I even began. You see, the first novel I wrote I had all planned out and it worked brilliantly. The opposite (i.e., everything I’ve written since except my western story at Beat to a Pulp) is a mish-mash of half-assed planning and muddling, leading nowhere. I don’t like to work that way. The muddling scares me.
The Houston Texans are no strangers to muddling. They have muddled through various NFL seasons since their inaugural 2002 contests. For the past two years, the Texans, on paper, were a good team. No Indy or Giants, but a team that should be competitive almost every season. The same predictions were made in August, before the games actually started being fielded. Our record is 4-3 and we’re picked to win this Sunday. I’m hopeful.
The thing is our coach, Gary Kubiak, likes a certain type of offense: use the run to set up the pass. His problem is the running part. For five games, it was all but nonexistent. Three weeks ago, he adjusted. In the second half of the Texans game against the Cardinals, he abandoned the run and went to a passing attack. The Texans almost pulled off the upset. A week later, they did, on the road at Cincinnati. Same thing last week versus the 49ers.
Kubiak adjusted. And it’s paying off. Thus, I’m adjusting, as well, in two ways. One, I’m starting my next book with only Act I laid out. I think I know how the book is going end. I’ll make a point of writing it on a piece of paper, in ink, something I can’t change and can return to when the book is done. I’ll also be channeling Lester Dent, who famously wrote his first Doc Savage novel in less than a month and continued doing so for years after.
The second thing I’m going to do to kick my butt into gear is participate in NaNoWriMo. The premise is simple: write everyday for the 30 days in November with the end result being a 50,000-word manuscript. In the age of gimmicks (yeah, it's a gimmick), why the heck not. My main goal is to create the habit of writing *fiction* every day. My second goal is to have a 50,000-word manuscript that I can then edit, edit, edit into something I can start pitching next year.
Earlier, I wrote the simple formula for writing: write, repeat. I loved the writing process of my first book, all of it: the late nights, seeing the movie in my head, casting it, and planting that last period. Having written a book, it's a feeling unlike anything else. I haven't repeated the process. I want to. I'm going to. I’m putting myself out there. My word is on the line. No matter what happens, I’ll report back in December.
Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo? What gimmicks or tricks have y'all done to kick-start your writing?