Our Masterpieces...Err, Our Novels

Monday, November 30, 2009

Nano-Oh No!

Workout Song of the Day: "MK Ultra" by Muse

So tonight ends the worldwide writing phenomenon known as NaNoWriMo. This is basically when writers devote the whole month of November to write a 50,000-word novel. This was my very first year to sign up for the event, and I was eager to bring the pain. I knew exactly what I was going to write about, I outlined chapters, I fell in love with my characters...and I stalled at just over 20,000 words. Yes, I still have until midnight to meet my goal, but I don't love my characters THAT much to spend 30,000 words on them in one evening.

I'll even be honest--I cheated a bit. I didn't start a novel from scratch, which was part of the rules. Which could also be why I couldn't meet the goal. You see, I was too invested in my novel. I cared so much about what would happen to the characters that I just didn't want to write "junk." Not to say that what I did write wasn't junk; I just didn't want write junk intentionally.

But I have that problem with all of my writing. Even though I know that a story still needs to be revised tremendously, I linger on every single word that I type. That's right. Every. Single. Word. My cousin has this gift of finishing a short story in like a day or two. Me, give me about 2-3 weeks. I tend to over think instead of just getting it all out on paper first. I think that's why I get a little defensive during workshops. I'll slave away for days on a project, all while not turning off my internal editor. And then, when I receive "constructive" criticism (and I use this term lightly), I won't write for days because I can't understand how my workshop members don't see all of the effort that I've put in my story.

Maybe I'm too sensitive. Maybe I don't play well with others since I'm an only child. Or maybe I just need to shut up and write--forget about meaningful metaphors and subtle foreshadowing until the next revision. What do you all think? Do you prefer to edit while you write, or just get everything out and fret over the details later?


Glamour177 said...

I tend to edit as I write, which works against me for the most part since I will read it over again and edit again, read and edit, read and edit, read and - ok, you get the picture. It is a vicious cycle. I can't read my work and not tweak something here and there.

I haven't done any workshops, but that is mainly because I am too sensitive about my work. I don't mind suggestions and criticism, as long as it is coated with sugar, honey, whip cream and a cherry on top - otherwise, I may break down into tears.

M. Hockaday said...

First off, I failed at NaNoWriMo too
:( Don't feel too bad about it.
Now to answer you question, I usually just write all the crap first, but I think that may be because I am impatient. When something is in my head I just want to get it out. Also, it could have something to do with the fact that I am not a fan of grammar and structure (I have always been terrible at this) and I don't care too much for the pretty language. Sometimes, if it comes, the pretty language will just slip in- other then that I just wait until I re-read and I add in a simile or some onomatopeia(sp) here and there :)

And workshops sucks! I feel your pain, I get really defensive about my work too. Don't you just want to knock the people over the head, and scream in their ear "Why can't you tell that I meant THIS!" OR "Hello, that was sarcasm!" ARGH! Frustrating!

V said...

I feel your pain-- I can't turn off the internal editor and I have trouble getting back into things after my work has been workshopped. I have to sit there and tell myself "Get over it!" for a day or so.

I'm trying to change the evil internal editor thing, though...because I always end up rewriting everything anyway, so I'm trying this new thing where I make a note of the changes I want on the draft instead of actually changing things. We'll see how it goes.

I wouldn't fret too much about failing NaNo--20,000 words is still a lot! Keep up the good work. :-)

Pam Harris said...

Glad to see that I'm not a complete freak. I think I may try to do a timed freewrite and see how much I can actually write without anxiety. A bottle of liquid courage may be close by my side, however.

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