I’ve just had a chat with M. D. about her experience with NaNoWriMo this year. She told me she completed, even exceeded the 50K goal last year and expects to do the same this year. There are some differences, however.
Last year was frenetic, with huge numbers of word every day. She missed only one day of writing, which proved productive but mentally and physically exhausting.
This year, with last year under her belt, she’s more relaxed. You only have to look at her statistics on this blog to see that. The grey parts are the number of words she should have written to meet the daily goal, the green ones what she actually wrote, the red ones the parts she’s missed. So obviously she hasn’t been writing every day.
On the other hand she tells me that she’s having a lot more fun. She now sees the month as a time to completely ignore her internal editor, to try new stories, a new style, a new tone. If turns out she doesn’t do anything with the 50K? She doesn’t care. She’ll have learned a lot in that month. Here are some of the things she says she learned:
- For a first draft, turn off the internal editor (IE); that means use as many of the things you’re not supposed to use such as adjectives, adverbs, flowery or melodramatic expressions and, horror of horrors, clichés.
- Try something stylish. In this case, she’s dumping her two favorite punctuation marks: the comma and the dash. She noticed that she uses them heavily and this time is trying to write without them as much as possible. It completely changes the style of the writing.
- Think outside your own box. M. D. has been working on my Case Files, of course, and has also written a more serious novel, Synergy, but this time she’s writing a story about farming on another planet, with murder, sabotage, and romance sprinkled in. Since she’s turned off her IE, she doesn’t tell herself she’s not good at it. She just writes, chuckles, and moves on.
- You can’t go back. She’s had to resist going back to read the story. Sure, she’s taking notes on what happened so she can jog her own memory, but she’s not reading what she wrote. If she did that, that damn IE would sprout again (it only takes a few drops of revising to do so). Can’t do that. Once the story is done, it’ll be time to reminisce and correct the past.
There were other things I wanted to ask but M. D. was in a rush to go back to her writing so I let her go. Besides, I have a new client coming in and I’m looking forward to telling him to get lost.