Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing With Abandon (An IWSG Post)

The first Wednesday of each month is devoted to The Insecure Writer's Support Group in which writers everywhere can voice whatever worries they have and receive some words of encouragement in return from those who have been there and done that. It was started by the Ninja captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, himself and has done so well that it now has its very own website and Facebook page. Click on the above link for more information and a complete list of participants...

So, like many writers around the world (280,977 according to their site), I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. If you're unfamiliar with it, the idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That's an average of 1,667 words a day. It can be occasionally insane. Well, at least the way I do it. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Anyway, I do it because despite the (occasional) insanity, it's ultimately fun. It's ultimately exhilarating (especially when you do hit the finish line on time), and at the end of it, I have a brand new story. Sure, the 50,000 words never seem to include an ending. Or a proper beginning. Or the vast majority of the middle (wait...what the hell am I doing with these 50,000 words??), but I still have a story.

And the best part is, I even like it. The story, I mean. You know, in addition to having had written it.

One of the NaNoWriMo taglines is "Write With Abandon" and it's a philosophy I want to carry with me into December and every month after because I'm realizing more and more that it's a good one. A lot of the time I think I get too bogged down with trying to make a first draft a perfect draft, and for whatever reason, I let myself off the hook in November.

Maybe it's because in NaNos past, I've used those thirty days to experiment in genres in which I normally wouldn't write or haven't written. So maybe subconsciously, I feel there's nothing to be lost, so why not go for it?

Or maybe it's because I'm a complicated freak. But that's a post for another time.

This year, I'm a NaNo Rebel and am working not on a brand new novel, but rather striving to add 50,000 new words to my current WIP, Second Nature. And I have found myself itching to hit that delete button and wipe out entire sentences, paragraphs, and even scenes because I don't feel they're good enough. But what I should be thinking is that they're not good enough yet.

The following Nora Roberts quote kind of sums it up perfectly for me:


So even though I'm somehow perpetually 2,000 words behind the daily target, and am missing huge chunks of plot, and actually have a character named "Mercenary Guy" because I haven't gotten around to giving him a proper name or, you know, anything else (though I suspect he may be a mercenary...) yet, I'm having a blast. There is some really horrible prose to be found on these pages, but it's getting easier to accept that and move on. Even with all that moving on, I may fall well short of the 50,000 words in 30 days goal (according to my stats page, I won't be finished until December 12th), but I'm enjoying the journey.

And that's what really matters.

Here's hoping I can keep that going all year round.

Happy writing, all.

64 comments:

  1. It's fascinating to me that you use NaNo to experiment with different genres. You're right -- that would make it more fun. I think you're awesome just for doing it at all. Good luck! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My next NaNoWriMo, I really want to try writing a spy novel. I'm positive that it'll end up being more Get Smart than Bourne Identity, but that can be fun, too.

      Delete
  2. That's actually my favourite part about NaNo; you can just let go of your inner editor and get those words on the page. I know that my first drafts are absolutely terrible anyway, but I also know that they will be improved during edits. Good luck with NaNo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laura. And as much as I'll hate the editing stages, I really do know how awesome it is to take the chunk of clay that's your first draft and start molding it into something better.

      Delete
  3. Yesterday I wrote at least 1,000 words that may or may not have made any sense in my NaNo document, but I think somewhere in them was at least an idea. Keep having fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I ended up writing a little over 2,000 words yesterday (and yet, I'm currently 2,000 words behind. Go figure) and I just sat back thinking "what did I even write?"

      Delete
  4. Thanks so much for the reminder to "write with abandon." It's something I constantly forget in my efforts to create a somewhat organized first draft. This NaNo, I'm letting myself be freer, and I'm also not being so Delete-Key-happy as I was in the past.

    Good luck! And keep having fun! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been a lot less delete-key happy this month. So far, anyway. I feel like I should just dismantle it or something, but I've kept my deleting to a minimum.

      Good luck to you, too!

      Delete
  5. NaNo appeals to the way I write - I never edit until after the first draft, and I'm perfectly happy to dodge from the first scene, to the last, to the middle. In my head it all makes sense... and then I read it from start to finish and realise it doesn't. Have a good NaNo and good luck :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been dodging around a lot. I'm hoping I can add the adjoining scenes with only a little trouble. Or, hey, maybe even no trouble.

      But let's not get crazy.

      Delete
  6. You sound like your pansting your way through NaNo. That's the best way. My opinion, of course. Anyway, was going to do the NaNo thing this year but had to many interruptions. Grandbaby being one of them.

    Hugs and chocolate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I always pants my way through NaNo. Usually I only start with a name for the main character and a genre, and last year I didn't even start with that.

      This year, actually having predetermined characters and a vague idea of plot has been a little too structured for me. =)

      Delete
  7. I'm glad to be doing NaNo for the first time because the word counts and deadline keep me from constantly doubting myself or worrying about how good it is. And I still haven't named my villain! I just keep using [name] as a placeholder. "Mercenary Guy" sounds a lot cooler.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it's making for some unintentionally hysterical dialogue. I've really got to name this guy soon.

      Delete
  8. A kindred spirit as that Anne-girl would say! My IWSG post was similar today, but you covered it much better. All year I've suffered the perfectionist syndrome and I let it hold me back. Thank goodness for November and the permission to just write.

    Every time I want to delete a section I chant this quote by Shannon Hale--"I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles."

    Keep shoveling sand!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that quote. I need to write it down and post it on the wall behind the monitor, so I'll see it whenever I want to delete.

      Delete
  9. I don't do NaNoWrite but this is a very inspiring post for me. Thank you. And good luck with the rest of the month.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You're still writing a lot and that's what counts. Fix it later. Just keep at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is my evil, diabolical plan. Wait...that's not evil nor diabolical. Hmmm. Now I'm conflicted.

      Delete
  11. Congratulations on participating in NaNo. I've never tried it, but you make it sound (almost) fun. LOL I love the phrase writing with abandon. Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am wishing you well with your challenge. I am going to keep this on my to do list, and try to participate next year as long as the year goes well! Keep us posted! I am interested to know how it goes! Sandy of sandysanderellasmusings.blogspot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sandy. And definitely keep it on your to-do list. I think every writer should try it at least once.

      Delete
  13. Aw, so happy. :) Way to be a NaNoRebel, MJ!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who knew I had it in me to be a rebel?

      Delete
  14. LOL. I'm like 5,000 words or more behind the goal every day. Oh well - you're right! The journey and the work is what matter. Thank you for reminding me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last year I only managed 14,000 words on my NaNo project. It was disappointing, but probably good that I had that experience. Or something.

      Delete
  15. You know you can make up your word count in a caffeine induced haze. Just keep going!

    Heather

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really need to start drinking coffee. Or tea. Or anything with caffeine, for that matter.

      Delete
  16. I'd say you're doing Nano for the right reasons. Who cares if you don't hit 50K. Just get those words written so you can edit the crap out of them later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I do kind of care if I don't hit 50k—I really, really want to, but I know I'll survive if I don't.

      And I will edit the crap out of it later.

      Delete
  17. Mercenary Guy.... I LOVE IT! You know, if you switch that around it could actually pass for a name. (Guy Mercenary.) Here's wishing you all the best with NaNo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should try calling him Guy Mercenary for a while. See how it fits. =)

      Delete
  18. I see a lot of people using NaNoWriMo to work in genres outside of their norm--which is great! It's like a permission slip. :)

    Best of luck on your goals!

    ReplyDelete
  19. We should all strive more to write with abandon. I know I keep wanting to fix things too or sit and think for ten minutes on the perfect description for what I see in my mind's eye, but the best thing about NaNo is to keep writing and not look back until THE END. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. NaNo's not my thing, but I'll gladly cheer you on if it's yours.
    Write with abandon! :D

    ReplyDelete
  21. I don't remember who said it, but I saw a quote from some famous writer that basically said "give yourself permission to suck". When you're writing, it's okay if what you're writing is bad, because everything can be fixed later. The "write with abandon" thing definitely works with that. ^_^

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm unofficially doing NaNo this month. Much like you, I'm working on an existing novel. My goal is to finish it by the end of the month. Best of luck to you this month. I look forward to hearing how you did.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Loved this post. I'm not doing NaNo officially, but I am aiming to finish the first draft of my current novel so writing with abandon is an advice I needed to read right now. Oooh, and "Mercenary Guy" already sounds intriguing, what. . . with him being so mysterious to you even lol

    Best of luck, you got this!

    ReplyDelete
  24. One of these days I'm going to learn to write with abandon. Maybe when I'm done with this novel. I would love to know what that feels like to fly as a writer.

    Keep going!

    ReplyDelete
  25. that is what really matters! keep writing! have that goal and go for it!

    ps, your boss haiku set floored me!!! awesome!
    good luck! may the words keep flowing!

    ReplyDelete
  26. And it is safe to say that we are enjoying the journey, too :)

    GOOD LUCK with the prose, but be wary of Mercenary Guy, especially if he's got an Austrian accent :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good! Liking it is the most important part. It's so much harder to meet 50K when you don't. Have fun with the abandon!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love that Nora Roberts quote--it's very inspiring. Have fun this month!

    ReplyDelete
  29. As long as you are liking the book than is it worth it. And I think it is cool you have someone namex Mercenary Guy for the time being. It makes me like him for some reason. (Kind of like the guys in the Avatar cartoons whom Soka kept naming.)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oooooohh, Mercenary Guy. He sounds like he's full of awesome. So much so that he needs merch. Merchandise for Mercenary Guy. I'd start small. Just a t shirt that says, "Mercenary Guy". I'd so buy one. You could branch out into coffee mugs and action figures later. The possibilities are endless.

    Good luck with Nano!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Mercenary Guy? I do that, although I haven't had a mercenary appear in any of my stories (yet...). I actually have a couple names that I stick in to use for main characters until I come up with real ones. Eventually...

    ReplyDelete
  32. Good luck with nanowrimo. I think if you're having fun with it, then you win. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I have found myself itching to hit that delete button and wipe out entire sentences, paragraphs, and even scenes because I don't feel they're good enough.

    All that means is you're a writer who look at her stuff with a clear eye. Nora Roberts would nod, I'm sure.

    And awesome on how it's going. Mercenary Guy could always be called MG. And then let your readers decide if it stands for Male Gigilo or Muscular Gut or whatever else they'd like it mean. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'd always rather fix the blank page. Much less work. For me, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Firstly, I admire you NaNoNites! You are brave.
    I think your idea to experiment with different genres is a great one. There would be less of a chance to get bored or run out of ideas...
    Smart move M.J.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "Write With Abandon" I like that.
    I was this ==>_<== close to participating in NaNo this year, but then I came to my senses. (; Good luck with it and maybe I'll join in the fun next year. (:

    ReplyDelete
  37. If you're having fun, then I'd definitely say it's worth it!

    ReplyDelete
  38. It's so cool that you do it every year. I've never done NaNo but I did apply the philosophies to my weekends---1 new chapter, no looking back! Keep having so much fun with it. How about you name him Guy Mercenary, hehehe...

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think you are doing just great. You will catch up in the word count department, because you are just great like that. You can do it!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Add those words!!! Go go go! I actually did that last year too, so it's all good. This year, NaNo has been a struggle, but my head is barely above water.

    Here's to a productive week!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I think most people like their NaNo projects. It's so much easier to start anew with a fresh story that inspires creativity than one you've already been working on for a while. The new always pulls you along.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "Write with abandon" is really wonderful advice. I've got a short story for which I need to come up with some original scenes and, though I know the gist of what I want to write, I actually feel scared. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the worry that, after bloodletting onto the page (I do first drafts long-hand), I'll have to *tweak* the damned thing, probably over and over and over...

    And then I read the above and roll my eyes at myself, making baby-cry noises. :-D

    Rock on with your bad self on NaNo - and kudos for the courage to take a current WIP on this wild ride.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Great blog enjoy reading all your stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  44. good luck with NaNoWriMo~ ! i could never write 50,000 in one month! lol

    ReplyDelete