Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Writing Fast: Or, Why I'm Doing Camp NaNoWriMo

You might know about NaNoWriMo, "National Novel Writing Month" (November), wherein a bunch of writers of all sorts band together to write 50k words on some project. It gets called all sorts of things, mainly practice or a rough draft.

I've participated a handful of times. Won a few times, lost a few times, and the losses were due to things like illness or an unexpected loss of computer access in the last few days when I had 2k words left to write.

Well, now the NaNoWriMo organization is running Camp NaNoWriMo, on months other than November. April will be one such month, this year. I'll be working on A Fistful of Water. Technically, you aren't supposed to work on anything that you've already written in, but I won't be counting the first 10k words of that project, because they're already written—and I'm the type of writer who writes a bit, then starts figuring out where I'm headed.

I'm working to reach the point where I produce 50k words a month regularly—and actually, those First Draft Fridays seem to be helping on that front. I finished the first draft of "Thrice Uncharmed" Monday, and I've already been cleaning up my version. Some things like typos and details that don't quite match up might be assumed to be the fault of drafting it fairly quickly, but…those things happen when you write slowly, too.

See, I've noticed that when I write quickly, my overarching plots tend to be more solid, leaving detail issues to be cleaned up.

Well, I'm a details person. Writing quickly therefore plays to my strengths.

To be blunt: Quality vs. quantity is a false dichotomy.

Just think about it. You have to write in order to get better at writing. (Pesky thing, practice.)

So the more you write…

the better you'll get.

That means quantity leads to quality.

Are there limits and qualifiers on what, exactly, is meant by "quantity" and "quality"? Yes. That's why the version of "Thrice Uncharmed" over on Wattpad is clearly marked with the warning "THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT." I've already found typos and name changes and detail gaps.

But the danger in detail-oriented writers is we can get so caught up in getting everything out perfectly that we lose sight of the big-picture story that we're trying to tell. As a detail-oriented person, I can't function as a writer if I try just getting things out and not fretting over spelling and the like. (Scrivener's handy annotation function really helps, because I can select something I screwed up on and hit the annotate keyboard command to effectively delete it, or hit the highlight keyboard command to flag it for later.)

Every writer has their foibles. The trick is, learning to work in ways that help you rather than hinder you. Maybe that's making yourself write more quickly than you naturally would. Maybe that's making yourself write more slowly than you naturally would. (I've encountered both types.)

In my case, writing "fast" helps me, so… I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo, this coming month.

There's also the detail that I kinda-sorta want to finish the Chronicles of Marsdenfel so I can move on to something else. I'm not tired of the world or the characters. I've started Conláed and Manal's story, and I've ideas about what Lallie's up to another century or two down the road.

I just really, really want to have some series or story arc that's done.

I've been working on these Chronicles of Marsdenfel for nearly a decade. I'm ready to play with another story arc. Maybe that old NaNoWriMo that I'm pretty sure is the outline for a trilogy masquerading as a novel rough draft—and even then, the ending scene looks like a good kickoff for another book or three. Or maybe I could rewrite that old novella for which "Thrice Uncharmed" has ended up being a centuries-earlier prequel.

As I mentioned, the posting "Thrice Uncharmed" did very well for me, as a kick in the pants. I even posted the last bit yesterday.

Why'd I do that early, you ask?

*twiddles thumbs* Oh, because I've decided the already-written 10k words of A Fistful of Water will be going up on Friday.

Yes, A Fistful of Water will be my new First Draft Fridays project. If Camp NaNoWriMo goes well, that could be a good 10k words or more posted every week.

And I think it should go well. I just discovered that my vitamin D is nearly the lowest my doctor has ever seen. I seriously have a prescription for vitamin D. The dosage is so high that I would be terrified of taking it if I didn't trust the doctor who handed it to me.

We'll see what happens.

What do you think about writing quantity being needed to develop quality? Are you participating in Camp NaNoWriMo? (If so, what's your username? I'm Carradee.) What do you think of my selection of A Fistful of Water as my next First Draft Friday project?


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