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View Diary: NaNoWriMo, or Why You Really Need to Vote (63 comments)

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  •  Rebutting the rebuttal rebuttal (4+ / 0-)

    It is extraordinarily easy to write 50,000 words if you don't care what the words are. Which is sort of my point. How hard it is to accomplish this goal depends entirely on how deeply you care about the quality of your work. The two are tied together. The less you care, the easier it will be to meet your quota. So it's actually providing incentive for you to care less about your writing.

    There is a certain value in learning how to let go of your expectations -- to just put words on the page, which is why many writing teachers suggest free-writing exercises. However, these exercises are only useful for short bursts -- a few minutes, or a few pages at most. To continue such an exercise for 50,000 words is extreme beyond measure.

    I have no doubt you, and many others look at your finished product and feel it's something you can work with. That's the process if you take a month or ten years. The first draft is never complete. However, it may be true, and it's likely true that the part you (or others) can work with is the first 5,000 words, and not the remaining 45,000. Which would have made it nice to stop, take a few days, look over your work at that point, rather than plowing forward without any examination and reflection.

    Learning how to finish something is great, but there are other important things one must learn as well. And if the process of learning how to finish the work throws everything else out the window, it's a meaningless exercise.


    Strange Angels - a progressive online dating site.

    by Zackpunk on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 02:39:49 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  nope (5+ / 0-)

      The only way to get better at something is to practice.

      If you don't put any words on paper because you're worried about getting the "right words", you'll get nothing done.

      The only way to revise a rough draft is to have a rough draft.

      The only way to get through the first two terrible novels that a beginner needs to write before writing something decent is to write those two terrible novels.

      Grunting and straining to create a final draft on your first draft when you're a beginner is absurd.

      Look, if you're a published writer who creates publishable-quality stuff on your first draft, that's fantastic. That doesn't happen to be very common even for published writers.

      •  If you're not "grunting," you're not practicing (3+ / 0-)

        The question is, why you're grunting. If you're grunting from the pain of putting words (any words) on paper, then you're not practicing how to write, you're practicing how to type.

        There's no point in writing a novel unless you intend it to be a good one. And it's true, the first two may suck, but they should suck because you tried to make them excellent and failed, not because you didn't try to make them excellent and succeeded.

        I can imagine with some writers it being useful to spit those 50,000 words out purely for the sake of getting over the terror of having to write so many words, but I think this would be a rather extreme therapy for people with a unique condition. It's not something I would generally prescribe.


        Strange Angels - a progressive online dating site.

        by Zackpunk on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 03:19:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Grunting only for the right exercise. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Susan from 29, bmaples, glorificus
          There's no point in writing a novel unless you intend it to be a good one.
          Yeah, but that's at the end of the process. And the process doesn't end with your first draft. I suppose it could for some. Not for everyone.

          The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
          - Edward Young

          by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 04:15:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's true no matter what (0+ / 0-)

            I mentioned this in my first comment, but it's worth repeating. It doesn't matter if you spend a month, a year, or ten years writing your novel. It's never done with your first draft, ever, no matter who you are. So to say you have to write it all in one month because the first draft won't be any good anyway, that's just not a compelling argument to me.


            Strange Angels - a progressive online dating site.

            by Zackpunk on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 04:39:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well you *don't* have to. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              glorificus

              NaNoWriMo isn't mandatory. Neither is a marathon.

              The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
              - Edward Young

              by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 04:54:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You don't have to either! (0+ / 0-)

                You don't have to constrain yourself with arbitrary word counts and impractical deadlines assigned by some random event. You can customize your daily goals to something that works for you. You can take as much time as you need to make the first draft better. Consider it as an option. You may find it gets you further toward your goal (assuming your goal is to write the best novel possible).


                Strange Angels - a progressive online dating site.

                by Zackpunk on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 05:04:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  rebuttal to rebuttal of rebuttal of rebuttal... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, Deejay Lyn

      I don't think DKos subject fields are going to let us continue this thing...

      I have no doubt you, and many others look at your finished product and feel it's something you can work with. That's the process if you take a month or ten years. The first draft is never complete. However, it may be true, and it's likely true that the part you (or others) can work with is the first 5,000 words, and not the remaining 45,000. Which would have made it nice to stop, take a few days, look over your work at that point, rather than plowing forward without any examination and reflection.
      It varied from attempt to attempt.

      The 2003 win, I wound up cutting the first four chapters but kept a great majority of the rest (with rewrites and edits). If I'd quit during the terrible four I wouldn't have got to the rest of the stuff I really liked.

      In 2006 it worked exactly the way you described. But it was useful to see where I went wrong and figure out why.

      One NaNoWriMo I only managed 8 chapters (about 18k) but they were pretty good chapters and I kept all of them largely intact.

      One NaNoWriMo I kept nothing, but the ideas were used in other stories.

      One NaNoWriMo wound up becoming the basis for an ongoing serial fiction project.

      My point is I've never looked back on a NaNoWriMo, win or lose, and seen it as a waste of time. Something valuable has always come out of it. One year there wasn't a lot, admittedly, but one of the things that did was pretty important.

      But again... it won't be the same for everyone.

      The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
      - Edward Young

      by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 04:50:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Follow up question (0+ / 0-)

        Have you ever written a novel that wasn't a NaNoWriMo? I mean, have you ever sat down to write a novel with the resolve to make the first draft as good as you can, without a time limit? Or perhaps, a more reasonable time limit?


        Strange Angels - a progressive online dating site.

        by Zackpunk on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 04:52:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're actually asking two questions :) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          glorificus

          Second question first: my default is to try to get the chapter "as right as can be." My default is also to get so engrossed in the minutae of doing that, that I take weeks to finish a chapter. NaNoWriMo is a very good counter for that.

          First question second: It depends on where you draw the line between NaNo and not-NaNo. Some NaNoWriMo's have me picking up a story idea I've tried to write in the past but failed to make much progress on. And some writing projects I pick up outside of NaNoWriMo's were based on failed NaNoWriMo attempts. So... yes? No? I don't know. It's all writing, all year 'round.

          The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
          - Edward Young

          by The Baptist Death Ray on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 05:07:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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