Saturday, November 7, 2009

Things I've learned in one week of NaNoWriMo

Scott D. Parker

1. Having a set time to write really is something special. Up until now, I've just written whenever and wherever I've felt like. The end result is basically writing very little. Since the second day of NaNoWriMo was a Monday and I realized that my evening was accounted for ("Castle," "CSI: Miami,“ write recap of CSI: Miami for BSCreview) I needed to get my NaNoWriMo done before I left for work. Thus, lunchtime writing. Boy, it felt good, too. I got excited as lunchtime approached. I wolfed down my food at my desk. I had brought my Mac PowerBook with me (loaded with Scrivener*) and I scooted out of my office and to the nearest Starbucks, drank their new Thanksgiving blend (no, it doesn’t taste like dressing), and wrote for a sweet hour of bliss. And I was very productive: I wrote over the 1,667 words/day you need to achieve the 50,000 words in a month. On Tuesday, the joy was repeated, excepted I escaped to the local Rao’s Bakery and downed four cups of their Jamaican coffee. This lunchtime writing is fun.

2. Dang it’s loud at Rao’s and Starbucks at lunchtime. When at Starbucks, I zoned out enough not to notice the two men chatting across me to each other, the ready orders shouted for the entire coffeehouse to hear, and the din of traffic at the busy intersection. The time at Rao’s was even louder and there was a television on as well. I had to drown out the noise with my iPod, something I never do. Thankfully, since I’m writing a western adventure novel, I put on my collection of Ennio Morricone and typed away. Memo to self for next week: order in the coffee, shut the door of my office, and write in quiet.

3. I hate missing my lunchtime writing. Wednesday I met some old friends for lunch and we had a good time. Glad I went, too, since one of them is moving to Philadelphia for two years starting today. But I missed my lunch date with my writing. Not to worry, I told myself, I’ll catch it later that evening. Yeah, well, I caught the crud and it laid me low. No writing on Wednesday. And it really irritated me. All I could think about was trying to make up the word count on Thursday. Nice to know the new habit of lunchtime writing could become so ingrained so quickly.

4. The writing itself is a blast. Let’s be honest: I’m writing a western adventure novel in the spirit of Doc Savage, Tarzan, Indiana Jones, and Gabriel Hunt. It’s not Frou Frou Literature by any stretch. It’s to be entertaining, fun, and escapist. I’ve termed this experiment ”writing without a net.“ I have a general idea of where I’m going and what my heroes are going to do but, so far, I’m just winging it. Take, for example, my main hero, Calvin Carter (protagonist from my Beat to a Pulp story last April): he runs through a cantina, gets himself cornered, does some action stuff, and escapes through the backdoor. Now, next step in my head was get him down the street to break into a hotel. Instead, I thought ”Hey, let’s have another guy with a gun guarding the backdoor.“ Viola! More danger for Carter. And more fun for me.

5. Writing is a journey and an exploration. It’s been so long since I’ve had this much fun writing. Yes, I'm writing fast, making mental and physical notes of things I know I need to change along the way instead of stopping and fixing it right away. My main goal is to get to the 1,667 words in the 60 minutes of my lunch hour. So far, I'm averaging 70 minutes to get the 1,667. Here's the cool thing: just like with my first novel, I can’t wait to sit down and write. Bonus with this book: I’m not entirely sure where I’m going. It’s an adventure and I’m the first explorer.

Can’t say the rest of the month will be this happy. In fact, I expect the Thanksgiving week to be arduous if I'm not close enough to the ultimate goal. But, with one week down and only slightly behind schedule, it’s rocking.

*In a great incentive for all NaNoWriMo participants, any person who achieves the 50,000-word goal can purchase the Scrivener license for 50% off the retail price of $39. That way, you get all the features as you set about re-reading the mish-mash you just wrote and try to wrestle it into something manageable.


Evan Lewis said...

Good post, Scott, and your book sounds very cool. I'm trying this NaNo thing for the first time and learning stuff too - like it's a bad idea to make major plot changes after Day 2. It's put me a full day behind my daily goal, but I'm feeling the energy and know I'll make it up. Unless, of course, I make major plot changes again after Day 7, or 8 or . . .

Mike Dennis said...

Scott, make sure and tell your friend who's moving to Philadelphia to avoid reading any David Goodis novels, or he might change his mind.

Barbara Martin said...

I haven't done the NaNoWriMo, but I have an excel sheet based on this to enter daily writing quotas which helps me to keep writing daily. Once you set up your mind to do some writing the plotting and storyline just arrive as if by magic. I wrote my first manuscript basically by the seat of my pants and flew through it and afterwards made the edits necessary.

Perhaps if you put notations to yourself in square brackets as you go along this will make it easier for the edits.

I look forward to the result of your efforts, Scott.

Steve Weddle said...

Good stuff. Closed door at office does seem to be a better idea than coffee shop.

Whatever works, though, you gotta keep in that groove.