NaNoWriMo Halfway there!

Has it really been two weeks?! (where is an interrobang, when you need one?) Today is day 16 of NaNoWriMo so midnight last night was the halfway point and this is where I was at at 3 a.m:

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As you can see, I’m well on the way to achieving that 50K goal by November 30.

I had a slight dip on days 10 and 11 when I had a severe attack of RSI and attempted to write using voice recognition software. The software was very impressive but I found it very difficult to adjust to dictation for anything but dialogue. The main problem was that, when I’m writing a scene (as against an outline or editing), I go into a kind of trance in which it genuinely feels as though my conscious mind really only becomes aware of what I’m writing when I read it on the screen, the split second after my fingers have typed it. That may sound impossible but I assure you it isn't, especially when you’ve been touch typing as long as I have. I’ve often gasped in surprise as I’ve read something on the page, despite having typed it myself. The upshot of all that borderline split personality disorder stuff, is that dictating requires that I work in the opposite way, and must be aware of punctuation, etc.… so it will take some getting used to.  Of course, the other problem was that I wasn’t able to work while Superman was in the house, so that was a lot of lost hours. Nevertheless, even using the voice recognition for dialogue only, it gave my forearms a rest and I will be using it again (my forearms are sore, as I type) as soon as my new headset, which I should be able to wear for more than 30mins without ear pain, arrives.

I’ve learned and confirmed a lot about myself as a writer and about getting words on the page, the last couple of weeks.  First drafts, of any piece which I intend for public consumption, have always been a struggle for me. I find editing and outlining much easier because they are the very rational application of my craft, and I enjoy the sense of competence they bring and the ability to go and learn what I need to, when I find myself lacking in an area. But the first draft is the time when I need to turn off my internal editor, switch off my analytical mind and just let the words flow, so that I can have something to edit at all – and that’s what NaNo is helping me to work out how to do on demand, rather than just waiting for it to strike (though I have to admit I have allowed myself to adjust to a 4pm – 3am workday, because it just seems to work lol.)

Here are some of the things I’ve learned, maybe they’ll be helpful to you, too.

  • Whether it be the end of the day, or just time for a break, always stop mid-scene, when you know exactly what comes next so that you can slide straight into writing again, when you return. Never, ever stop when you’re struggling for words, it will only be harder when you return!
  • If the scene you are trying to write isn’t coming because another one is clamouring for your attention, give in and write the scene that is being the spoiled brat (even if it is utterly irrelevant) – it’s the only way to get it to shut up!
  • You don’t NEED to go for a drive or even hit Google Street View to get real life locations (or other nuts and bolts-type research) absolutely correct while doing a first draft! Write what the story needs, highlight it for checking during the proofing stage and, when you do, find something which fits the story’s needs, not vice versa – that’s what artistic license is all about!
  • Committing yourself publicly to a word count, or chapter goal can help enormously IF the public you declare it to are your wonderfully supportive husband and your writer friends on Twitter or in real life (who turn up at the door with regular espressos and “keep on going, you can do it!”s and make sure you’re having lunch – because they know you’re not paying attention to that! Thanks, Toni! :) ) 

Speaking of Twitter, a quick heads-up for those following the #nano and #nanowrimo hash tags, and who are using NaNo to get a run-up on a full draft of a novel, rather than a novella or half a draft, which 50K represents. If you’re planning on keeping your NaNo habits going into December and chasing that 90-100K, @JessRosenBooks and I (@Danisidhe) were chatting last night and decided that we would continue to support each other, and anyone else who wanted to join in, using the hash tag #postNano  (I know some people are trying to get the 100K in during November, and, well – jolly good show, chaps, etcetera… but, Sheesh!) Jessica has posted about it on her blog, too.

Once again, if you are doing NaNo and want to buddy up, you can find my profile at: Danisidhe

Time to get back to it! Happy Writing!