NaNoWriMo, November 2013, is over, and I’ve learned something about myself as a writer. I am not flexible. I do not adapt well to change, and the pressure to perform does not make me a better writer. I spew out verbal diarrhea–the words are there, but how good they are is another story. In other words, this old dog can’t learn new tricks!
I wrote a 70,000 word novel during Boot Camp in April, and I had a great time because I did it my way. In Plain Sight, currently available as an ebook and available as a paper back in January, was my boot camp effort. But this time, the results are not the same. Why?
I absolutely cannot write a decent, effective novel by simply adding words each day. Opening the file and adding content may have provided lots of words for the challenge, but I have no idea how many of them will be of any use in the long run. I’m sure I repeated information numerous times. I may even have made errors in the story as new thoughts came to me, but I couldn’t go back and change them–very frustrating! What it comes down to are twenty-five more or less connected chapters that need to be revised, cut back, and put together into something I can be proud of someday.
I’m not a plotter, and I think that’s the problem. I tried to use a beat sheet, but it just wouldn’t work for me. I made a synopsis and tried to stick to it, but when my characters wanted to take a different route, I felt honor-bound to force them back in line. I usually let the characters drive the story; this time, I did it the other way around, and I’m not happy with the results. It did not make for a pleasant writing experience.
I may be a pantser, but I’m an organized, editing pantser. I am a constant revisionist. As a rule when I write, I always start by reading the previous day’s work, editing it, sometimes going back to the beginning if I change story-line, and then I add new words as they come to me in that way. If the story seems to be going one way and needs to change direction, I have no problem hacking as many words as necessary and starting again. Not being able to go back and revise as I wrote drove me crazy.
I suppose if I’d wanted to, I could have done it my way, but that would have meant straying from the synopsis and deleting words, and that would have affected my Suspense Squad team mates. That was another thing I found difficult. Being part of a team in the Entangled SmackDown added pressure because, like everyone else, I wanted my team to win. I wanted to do my best for them, and so I avoided doing what my heart, fingers, and brain told me to do, sacrificing my need to revise as I went along on the altar of higher word count.
I have no idea at this point as to what comes next. I’ve got the document saved, and I’ll start revising it — probably in the new year. I have another book to revise and edit, and I’ll probably work on that one first. I may drop the paranormal elements in the story and make it a simple suspense–I’d be more comfortable with that. We’ll see.
Participating in the Entangled SmackDown for NaNo was a great experience. I did meet new writers, and I enjoyed the sprints and chatting with others. I also think that learning that I can’t work that way is valuable too. The more I know about myself as a writer, the better I’ll be in the long run.