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NaNo NaNo Boo Boo

November 8, 2010

You know if there’s a punny title, it must be journalism!

So what I WANTED to say the other day when I started to write about NaNoWriMo was that I was flailing, only a few days in.  Having done no pre-writing and waiting until the last possible second to choose what I was going to write about, I defaulted to a story that was very well-known to me, as I had probably started writing it as a teen, with the seeds of it existing when I was in elementary or middle school.  Inside my head was this whole island–which later became a country, and then an alternate universe, then back to being a country again (but will probably go back to being an island again)–where people had their own language, gods, customs, etc.  Where anything could, and did happen.  It was, of course, very drama-heavy, like a soap opera, and while I always get some joy out of writing about it, there was something lacking this time around.

I quickly realized that this was because I wasn’t doing a NEW story set there, but rather an old one.  The retread made me feel uncreative–like I was repeating a story I’d heard many times as a child.  But there was something more going on too.  Something that I didn’t realize until I started fresh.

I’ve only done NaNo once before–and failed in an anti-spectacular manner, starting strong and puttering out quickly–but it seems that even in that short period of time, I’ve come to embrace the idea that NaNo is not about crafting, but writing.  You write and you write and you keep writing, and you can look back on December 1st.

That’s why it didn’t feel like NaNo again until I fired up Write or Die, a program that allows you to set a word count and an allotted time for you to reach your goals.  I usually give myself an hour to write 700 words and end up doing it in half the time, but I type really fast.  I can’t stop and think much while the program is running, which really works the best for me.  I already see where I’ve made some mistakes in the first chapter, but I can just leave myself a note about it and deal with it some other time.  After I’ve created the bare bones of the story.

With Write or Die, I ended up knocking out over six thousand words in two days–nowhere near where I “should” be to hit my goal on time, but a respectable beginning.  It’s not a method that will work for everyone, but it sure helps me.  I’m thinking about paying the money and getting the desktop edition eventually.  (But he’s serious about making sure everything’s pasted before you move on.  DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING.)

I’ve found joy again in NaNo, and I think this might be the year I “win.”  I hope so.  I definitely was being lazy yesterday and still managed to up my word count.  All I have to do is say “Okay, how much can I write in fifteen minutes?” and fifteen minutes later, I’m in the zone and ready for more.

It’s not exhilarating, exactly, but it makes me feel good.  Not like a “writer” again (and not like a “Writer”), but it’s a great sense of accomplishment.

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