Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Post Nano offerings

Nanowrimo has ended, and I'm still writing. Not as much, it's true: 1200 or so words a day, instead of 1700. I am writing fewer words, and for less time, but more efficiently. 

Instead of fifteen minutes, then half an hour of preparation to do another fifteen minutes – that's what I pretend I'm doing, “preparing” – I am now sitting down with a timer set for one hour, with the deal that I only write during that time.

This ability to sit and write, without looking at social media, getting up to make myself tea, ask my cat questions about her dining preferences, wonder why I still don't have a pair of Totoro socks, etc, is completely a product of Nanowrimo's word sprints. I now know what that mind set is, and can click into it after November.

It only took me four years of participation in Nano for me to learn that...

Oh, and the other thing I learned this time? Type without looking at the computer keyboard or screen to reduce the pressure (and boredom) of writing a scene that isn't flowing to me easily. Seriously, this has been a major help.

The lesson from two years ago: I learned about dictation into my phone's “notes”, speech to text.

Last year's lesson: I tried and failed at using Scrivener to write a first draft. I think I've learned that one long and messy somewhat linear file is just the way I write, and I'll probably have to accept it. No more happy visions of an organized novel from the very first words. Sigh.

Nano is different from my normal writing in another way, as well. Namely, I usually, in non-Nano work, think about what I'm writing a bit more as I go. Which makes for better writing, perhaps. It certainly means less of a mess to clean up in the rewrites. 

But since the Nano goal is to fast track your way past a probably debilitating inner editor, it makes sense to sail right on by your English teacher internalizations for a month. Which segues into my take on revision -

After having done this for a handful of years now, I want to disagree with the usual advice offered for slow cooker novel revisions: the classic recommendation to stick the completed first draft in the drawer for at least two weeks and forget about it. It just doesn't work as well here for me.

Having joined the break neck November lemmings, I have written too fast for me to have sufficiently communicated to my future self what on Earth I meant half of the time.

Given the empty fortress that is my memory bank, I have to go back over the manuscript as soon as I reach the end in order to nail a few stragglers to the table.

Then it's drawer time.

Okay, it's actually a file on the computer that sits innocuously inside another file, to be forgotten about until I gather the nerve to print it on paper.