Well, folks, we began Week 3 with me thoroughly paying for running myself into the ground last week. Seriously kids, don’t push yourselves so hard, it never works out in the long run, and one day I shall learn to practice this instead of constantly ending up as the demonstration model in why we keep teaching it…
So yes, writing while battling through the migraine brought on by exhaustion and far too many far too late nights? Not fun. Don’t be like me, kids.
Something I forgot to tell you all last week was that I now not only have one nano-buddy, but two! Yes, another mutual friend heard us chatting about it and has bravely undertaken Nano this year as well. To both of them go the full credit for encouraging me to stop beating myself up about my writing and actually make time to sleep, and for this I cannot thank them enough. We often talk about writing buddies as people who encourage us to keep writing and finding inspiration, but I feel that we must also give them the credit they deserve for encouraging us to take care of ourselves and stop undermining ourselves. Thank you both so much!
So writing progress this week has been… mixed.
It’s fine, I managed to get at least a little bit of writing done every day, so that’s good, and at this point I’m just aiming for being comfortable in my writing rather than giving myself grief for not churning out a consistent amount every day.
Speaking of things which are different from last week – and indeed speaking of things that I’m not beating myself up for anymore! – I’ve also relaxed a bit on only having one Nano project on the go.
Some things you only learn about yourself the hard way, I suppose, and one thing I have most certainly learned over the course of this month is that I do not deal well with only having one writing project on hand. I’d previously assumed that my tendency to have upt o five stories running through my head at a time was some form of procrastiation, where I hid from difficult bits. And you know, maybe it is? But to steal one of my favourite character descriptions from John Le Carré for a second, I have “a mind like the back of an envelope” and I seem to be far more productive when I hop between stories whenever I have a brainwave or feel in the mood for a different tone of story, than I am when I force myself to keep staring at the same story every day and wind up hating the very idea of it. Or worse, the mental toll it takes on you when you do give in and work on a different story for a while, and then spend that time feeling bad because you’re working on ‘the wrong story’ all the time.
You shouldn’t hate your own stories while you’re writing them after all. That’s what editing is for…
(Thank you again to Icklespan and lsilverlock for helping me reach this realisation and showing me that it’s not a bad thing to have multiple stories to tell!)
If you are like me and need to have a few things on the go at once, and you want to do Nanowrimo and thus need to keep track of your word count, this is my Top Tip:
Have a random unsaved and untitled document open and keep copying and pasting your words and paragraphs into it as you write. No order, no worrying about paragraph breaks if they don’t copy over, no nothing. You’re not keeping this, after all, all you’re going to do is delete it all at the end of the session. All you need is for all the words to be in there at the end of the session or day of writing. Then just note your number down and enter it in! It will save you the headache of needing to juggle a lot of different numbers and you’ll get that nice sense of accomplishment in seeing all your hard work in one place.
This also helps me when I’m back filling parts of a story too; if I’ve had several chapters or sections in a story and I’ve known the start of every one of them, then I can get all that down, then go back and work out how each section progressed from that flash of inspiration.
And I’m happy to say that the results have certainly paid off because instead of just sort of enduring Nano for the sake of feeling like a ‘real writer’, I’ve relaxed a lot and had a bit more fun and a sense of progress. With the additional reward of another badge!
Now, in terms of the main Nano project, i.e. The Book, we have hit a bit of a – what do they call these in workshops and things? Oh yes – a learning opportunity/experience. So I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been struggling so much with large chunks of the book, because it can’t all be due to the foolishness of trying to write the book 18 months after I wrote the plan. (Don’t do this to yourselves, kids! Don’t be like me and get scared of your own story…)
Anyway, what I realised eventually was that for all that I knew how the story was going to go, I’d competely lost sight of my fairy characters. (If you’ve been here for a while, you might remember me talking about creating them back in the day, but if not, here’s Part 1 of 3) Like … I’ve completely lost them. All the stuff I need to know in order to write conversations: how do they talk, how do they address each other, what gestures do they make, which of them is a pacer and which of them sits perfectly still and barely blinks? All those things? Not a sodding clue!
Thankfully, that detailed plan continues to be useful, because I could sit down with it and highlight all of the scenes which are just the humans doign things and I’ve been concentrating on that. It’s avery disjointed way to write a book, I’m not entirely sure I like it the longer I do it, but at the very least it means that I am still writing something for the book rather than sitting there feeling lost and stranded in Chapter 2…
So yes, progress is being made, but not always in the way I was hoping for. But all progress in our creative endeavours is worth celebrating and cliched as it is, sometimes the most valuable thing really is the lessons you learn along the way!
How’s everyone else’s Nano going? Does anyone have any tips, especially for conversations? But also just generally anything helpful you’ve discovered during Nano this year that you want to share, do leave them in the comments below!
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