Saturday, 13 November 2010

Through failure I can grow (or at least that's what I have been telling myself)

Last year I entered NaNo with no plan, just commitment.  I successfully completed my novel which was more like a crap stream of consciousness (interspersed with some fun dialogue)... but I succeeded.

This year I had a plan, I had character profiles and a chapter outline.  And I found myself floundering after day six.  Floundering so much that I find myself on day 12 having not written anything in days.

I have failed.

But I stopped writing because I wasn't feeling what I was writing.  I would re-read some of my handwritten notes for the now RIP WIP (thank you blasted laptop from hell) and knew that it was good.  Not Melina Marchetta or Cath Crowley "good" but it definitely kicked my NaNo piece's arse.

Truth be told, NaNo was a chore.  There was no conviction in what I was writing.  I am under no misplaced belief that what I write is publishable but I have always had a sense of freedom when hearing the scratch of pencil on paper or the clicking of my fingers on the keyboard.  Words would fly by if I were in the moment.  A conversation of sharp dialogue would be done before I realised.  But I wasn't "in" it this month.  So I stopped.  Writing is about having fun for me and I wasn't having any.  Hence the lack of content on the website.  I needed a break.  A break from writing and reading.  I just needed to think, sleep, read good fan fiction, eat carbohydrates and be.

I've also decided that I am going to start rewriting my deceased WIP.  I was passionately into that idea and I keep thinking about it.  I just needed to commit to the idea, not NaNo.  I was actively grieving it while writing NaNo, almost like dating someone else while still feeling the loss of a lover.  Sounds weird I know.  I knew I wasn't ready but I charged ahead anyway and felt the repercussions :(

Please don't feel this is a reflection on NaNo.  This is a reflection of where my head is at.  I started NaNo and three days in realised the book I was writing wasn't the one I planned.  And I liked it more than what I planned.

Then I started writing what I planned.  And it wasn't fun.

Apparently being a pantser is how I stay involved, engaged and inspired.  All my efforts to be more deliberate in my storytelling robbed me of flow.

So NaNo might be over for me this year but it wasn't an empty experience.  I learnt a few things:

  • planning isn't something that helps me write authentically (at this point in time)
  • return to father/daughter WIP asap
  • the aborted 3 day novel is something I need to return to
  • my planned idea has a great concept but was fundamentally empty in heart.  
  • if I am in a stressful environment I have no access to my creativity (what little there is)
  • (also....I am becoming more and more mystified by the six months (3 years ago) in which I was writing 4k daily on my FNL fanfic....all crap but still mind blowing considering my schedule at the time. And no, I am not telling you the name of one of the many Tulie stories I wrote or where they are posted!)
I've read a few articles that dump on NaNo this past week or so and I feel that it is largely unwarranted.  Sure there are people that get off on bragging about their mammoth word counts and a small percentage that feel the product is publisher ready but that's not looking at the wider scope of things.  NaNo's about challenging yourself, learning about your creativity, speaking to like minded people and crafting something, anything or nothing.

While I feel a little disappointed in the result of my second NaNo, I am appreciative that it assisted me in muddling through some things.  And what better way to do that than on a page - whether it be notebook or web - each word tugs us closer to a better understanding of ourselves, each other and the world around us.  (And a larger word count!)


Ynysawdre Elderly Residents Association said...

I think you are totally awesome Adele. To know this about yourself and be strong enough to say "I need a break" is fantastic.
I agree it has to be fun.
I love your blog, enough if I dont comment enough and look forward to your renewed enthusiasm after your break.
Love the new background too :D

Ynysawdre Elderly Residents Association said...

I think you are totally awesome Adele. To know this about yourself and be strong enough to say "I need a break" is fantastic.
I agree it has to be fun.
I love your blog, enough if I dont comment enough and look forward to your renewed enthusiasm after your break.
Love the new background too :D

bibliophile brouhaha said...

Hey, I hope you keep on trucking! I enjoy reading your posts, and I hope to join in next year. Please don't get discouraged! A good story will come around in its own time.


Kathryn from Schoolmarm Style said...

I'm still plugging away on mine, but took a major break for the day after only 200 words because I was veering into Nicholas Sparks' territory. I love this blog. As a middle school English teacher it is an absolutely ESSENTIAL read for me.

Anonymous said...

That's one reason I've never participated in NaNo - I can't write anything when I try to make an outline. I've tried, oh how I've tried, but it turns writing into work instead of free-flowing fun.

I think the idea of NaNo is great, just not for me.

Anonymous said...

I've done the same as you-spent too much time plotting and then I'm over the writing by the time I get to it. I've learnt to set a word count and just write whatever scenes pop into my head, out of sequence and just play with the words. And it's so true that it has to be fun and fresh.

I also recently remembered part of a novel I wrote, just for fun and 20,000 words just poured out of me. When we make it 'work' it kills the muse.

Robyn Bavati said...

Great post, Adele! You were so right to stop Nano if it felt like it was becoming a chore. There's definitely such a thing as overplanning. I think the trick is to have some idea of the direction you want to go, but part of the joy of writing is the exploration and the surprise of finding out where your inspiration takes you.

Unknown said...

Of course you didn't fail, silly! You're still writing! Hopefully some day we'll all be writing reviews of the RIP WIP that turned into a BOOK :)

StephanieHuszar said...

Hi Adele, have been reading your blog for a few months but never commented before. I really enjoy reading your reviews -- discovered Melina Marchetta through you, so thanks for that! Good luck re-starting your WIP -- I think it's a great decision. It's too bad the evil computer took it the first time around. I know sympathy doesn't help, but you have mine anyway.

I wanted to tell you a little WIP saving trick I do. After every day's writing, I send my draft as an attachment to my email. For me, it's easier than backing up to a flash drive, since that requires me to actually get up from my chair, walk across the room to get my flash drive, plug it into the computer, etc. Bottom line, the less effort it requires, the more likely I am to back up. (Lazy of me? Yep!)

Anyway, good luck!

Midnyte Reader said...

This is my 3rd year doing Nano. I have 7k I don't think I will be successful this year. However, I have so much going on I'm not beating myself up over it. I also read a great article about how succeeding in Nano doesn't make you a writer...writing makes you a writer...and like you, I need to keep working on my WIP.