So this NaNoWriMo thing is more difficult than I expected.
Yet, at the same time, easier to get the hang of than it seemed a week ago.
As I predicted, the difficulty stems from the “no-editing” guideline. In order to reach the seemingly more-exorbitant-by-day 50,000 word count, there is no time for rewording, thesaurus searching, or even rereading. I was forewarned about this and intended on leaving my ‘editor’s cap’ behind for this adventure, but as always, easier said than done.
The first week I spent writing and writing and writing: Ooo, a spelling mistake. Wait! Does that make sense? No, I shouldn’t mention that yet, it was make it more suspenseful if I waited until I outlined the other scenario… blah blah.
My word count was suffering.
While in journalism it is beneficial to refine as you write, saving you time down the road, this technique is proving less fruitful for book writing.
Five days in, I received a week one pep talk from Jasper Fforde:
And this is why 30 days and 50,000 words is so important. Don’t look at this early stage for every sentence to be perfect—that will come. Don’t expect every description to be spot-on. That will come too. This is an opportunity to experiment. It’s your giant blotter. An empty slate, ready to be filled. It’s an opportunity to try out dialogue, to create situations, to describe a summer’s evening. You’ll read it back to yourself and you’ll see what works, you’ll see what doesn’t. But this is a building site, and it’s not meant to be pretty, tidy, or even safe. Building sites rarely are. But every great building began as one.
I spent Saturday trying to block out the desire to perfect. Eh, did over 2,000 words; not as much as I know is possible for a four-hour stint at the pub. I mean, if nachos, beer and free wi-fi can’t inspire me…
Then on my Monday commute, I thought back to Augusten’s words: I have a horrible memory. I have to just sit down and go back to that place. I don’t know what I’m writing; I just relive it and get it down. (or something to that affect)
I took out my laptop opened up my manuscript and went back to the place I had been last discussing. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I only stopped writing because I was the last one sitting on the train car in Penn Station.
I got back on the train to go home that night, and once again whipped out my pristine white Apple and continued where I left off. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And again on Tuesday morning, I repeated this routine.
When getting to work on Tuesday, I uploaded my wordcount: More than 3,000 words over the course of two hours and 15 minutes of train rides.
I think I nailed it.
Since then I have added up near an additional 3,000 words in less than three hours time. Not bad, not bad at all. I haven’t a clue how it sounds as I have not re-read more than a sentence or two to determine what I was talking about when I dive back in. And I do not plan on rereading it until I have it all on paper, and that’s not just the 50,000 NaNoWriMo words, but the entirety of what I might want it to say, because the more I go on, the more potential I see for multiple stories.
I took this on to jumpstart my 2009 goal of writing a book—which has been redefined to “first draft of book” now that I am familiarizing myself with the process. But in ten short days I have begun to understand the intensity—and emotional upheaval—of memoir writing.
But like they say, “you can’t edit a blank page.” And while I can’t wait to start sorting through a decade of thoughts, experiences and anecdotes, for now I’m enjoying reliving, processing and documenting them.
Now, with 33,611 words to go, the only challenge is maintaining the momentum.