Monday, August 2, 2010

I Hate Coming Up with Clever Titles

It’s that time again folks. It’s progress report day, and I am finally starting to get back into a regular routine. The unpacking is nearly complete, and my new office is almost moved in. I am so excited about having my own writing space again, I grin every time I walk into the room.

I’ve gotten some writing accomplished during the past week. I am working on developing the characters and plot for my next book. Editing is still a pain in the neck, but somehow I feel less pressure to get everything perfect at one pass if I work on another book at the same time. I can only do the really hard core editing a few hours a day, so I finish my editing first, and then I work on my newest project.

I am also thinking about NaNoWriMo. If you’re never done NaNo, you’re really missing out. It’s a month of insanity. An activity that is normally as solitary as writing a book can be trying, so every year I like to participate in NaNo. It happens every November. It’s free to sign up, and the goal is to write a 50,000 words in one month. This puts you well over the half way mark for a finished novel.

Crazy, I know. It’s about 2,000 words a day, which can be difficult for some people. I am one of those typing freaks that can type quickly, and if I know what’s going to happen in a scene, I can really make the words fly. So the word count isn’t the reason I participate. I just love the camaraderie and the forums. A bunch of geeky writers get together and nerd-out for a month. What’s not to love? I also think it teaches writers discipline too.

Some people criticize NaNo for encouraging people to write crap, because the emphasis is on quantity and not quality, but I disagree. People will write crap no matter what month it is. NaNo encourages writers to finish what they start, and makes a lot of fledging writers realize they can actually write an entire book. Of course, they then have to edit the darned thing, but baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Besides, I never sacrifice quality for quantity in my books anyway, so it’s not a problem for me.

In other news, I am working on getting another blog series together, because I really enjoyed my last (and only) one. This series is going to be called “Critical Writing Skills” and going to highlight a skill we should have as writers each blog post. I have three or four skills in mind already, but feel free to leave suggestions of what you feel is a skill every writer has to have. The first post will be published this Wednesday, and it’s on Originality.

How was everyone’s weekend? Did we all make good progress on our various novels?


  1. I am a NaNoWriMo opponent. I bounce back and forth on the issue, but this last year solidified my firm anti-NaNo position.

    First, NaNo does promote writing crap. It doesn't matter what you write, just write. Oh no, my friends, it does matter what you write. It will still be crap, but in the perspective of first draft versus final draft, not throwing words on a page like mud at the side of a house.

    Second, 50,000 words is only a novel if you're writing MG/YA. Every other genre that's a novella.

    Third, and this is what tipped the scales for me, each year participants who "finish" their novels flood agents with queries of their NaNoWriMo "novels." They're of a quality you would expect from the exercise and interfere with the querying process for those who approach this with genuine professionalism.

    (And as a far less salient point, but one I still believe, if it takes a special month out of the year for someone to write, they're not going to hack it.)

  2. I take the position that it is a personal matter. I did it last year, and will NOT be doing it this year. In fact, the only way I would do it again is if I was already at that point with a novel - all the background work done, outline done, but at just the right time to start writing. Holding off writing until Nov. because I had that stuff done took too much momentum from me.

    And this year, I have other fish to fry in November.

  3. I've done NaNoWriMo three times and it works for me. The first time I tried it, I didn't think I could do it - but it turned out to be easy, and that gave me the confidence to pursue other writing projects more seriously.

    I think a lot of the people who write crap are just doing it for fun anyway. Or they are beginning writers. My first NaNo was kinda crappy, but it was an important learning experience. I'd never write just *anything* to make the word count. The last two years I ended up with decent first drafts.

    It did take me a while to figure out the right amount of planning and the timing. If I hold off writing too long, I lose interest, too, and if I don't plan enough, the draft ends up being more crappy than it needs to be. ;)

    It's true that 50k is not a novel in most genres these days, but they explain why they picked that number and it makes sense to me. Nobody keeps you from writing on after November. None of my NaNos were done at 50k.

    As for agents being flooded with crappy manuscricpts... doesn't that happen anyway? I always figure, the more crappy stuff they get, the more my book will stand out if I do it right. ;)

    But I agree with Linda, whether or not NaNoWriMo works for you is a personal matter. It does work for some people, but it's not for everyone.

  4. Ahhhh NaNo brings out such a variety of opinions!

    I think people will write crap/submit too early to agents anyway, so that's not really NaNo's fault. Especially since they have a bajillion posts about how a novel isn't finished at 50K and how you still need to EDIT and REVISE the thing.

    I do agree that people who wait to write a novel once a year will be setting themselves up for failure. A published author needs to be able to write when it's not November.

    The biggest benefit I get from NaNo is the social aspect. It's nice to meet so many other writers. Thanks for the great comments guys!

  5. I did NaNo last November, for the first time. I wrote nineteen chapters of word vomit. I still love the plot idea and the characters, but I realized that in order for a NaNo novel to be worthy of the computer ink it took to print it out, it needs to be researched and plotted before November first. This spring, I went back to the drawing board and plotted out the project. If I can't get the MS finished this fall, I may use NaNo to get the draft finished. (Is that cheating, by NaNo standards?)

    I work best with deadlines, so the time perimeters in NaNo and writing 2K words a day works wonders for my productivity!