So I’m coming to the conclusion that I may not be NaNoWriMo material. One of the first rules of NaNo that you’re given is “turn off your inner editor” (followed very often by “don’t use your delete key”). Well, after deleting 230 words on Wednesday that I decided didn’t work for the way I wanted to develop that chapter, it’s clear that my inner editor does not have an off switch (one of the many joys of obsessive/compulsive personality disorder). While I can see the potential value of mass dumping words on the page, just getting everything out of your head and onto paper in a mad rush stream of consciousness, then worrying about editing it down to something worth reading after the fact, that is just not how I write.
For me, I need to develop the narrative as I write. I need to feel that what I’m writing adds to the story, and has value in the long term. The idea of writing whole scenes that I’m likely to just delete down the road drives me nuts. Which means that I do analyze what I’m writing as I write it, letting my inner editor help me decide if the story is moving in the direction I want it to. On the plus side, I feel this gives me a much stronger, tighter first draft. The downside, of course, is that it is a much slower process. So while I’m fairly confident I can reach my 50,000 words, more and more I’m starting to think it’s going to take me a wee bit more than 30 days to do it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret participating in NaNo for one second. Even less than halfway through I already consider this to be a very rewarding and worthwhile experience, and at the end of the day I plan on calling the event a personal success regardless of how many words I end up with when all is said and done. I truly feel I’ve grown as a writer over the last couple of weeks, and more importantly, I have a much better idea of where my deficiencies are as a writer, so I know what I need to focus on improving in the months ahead.
Along with dealing with my inner editor as I write, I’ve run into one other little wrinkle this week in trying to get in my daily word count. The section of story I’m currently working on involves breaking one of my secondary characters out of prison. In my outline that I did prior to the start of NaNo, I simply listed that section as “Chapters 6 & 7 – Prison Break” figuring that was enough to let me know what was going on in those chapters. Silly me!
I now find myself focused on researching prisons and prison breaks. Which means my writing has slowed to a snail’s pace while I figure out the details of these chapters. Under normal circumstances this would not be an issue – on the contrary, for me the research aspect of it is easily as much fun as the writing itself (especially when it’s a fun research topic like prison breaks). But when the story itself is essentially on hold because I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next (and I don’t have it in me to just skip this chapter until later), getting my daily word count in becomes something of an impossibility.
So wish me luck as I return to mapping out an exciting prison break! And stay tuned next week for the third of my NaNoWriMo updates.