Saturday, November 1, 2008

"I dunno man. That sounds like...a lotta work!"

NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Every year, from November 1st to November 30th, people across the country will sit down and endeavor to write 50,000 word novels in one month. It's a phenomenal feat, because you have to write every day. All across the blogosphere over the next few days, you will read of people challenging one another, encouraging one another, cheering for one another.

I think it's great. I'm not doing it.

Please understand, I'm not taking some weird stand against NaNoWriMo. I really do think it's great, and I really would love to do it. But I'm not. I just finished my first draft of my first novel (you know, the one I think is great that agents will probably tell me was good training for future writings). I'm letting it breathe before going back and attacking the revision process. Perfect time to get started on the second in NaNoWriMo, yeah?


And here's why: 50,000 words and a complete storyline requires two things...AIC and the ability to fly by the seat of your pants.

AIC (ass in chair) I can do. "Pantsing" I can't.

I am a plotter through and through, and I just can't do the pants thing. I think those of you that can are far more creative than I. The sheer emotional stability to hang on breakneck as you trail yur protagonist, weeping as the sorrowful times hit, elated as your heores succeed, and all of this while cataloguing what happens to someone only you know and love. I can't do it. I'm too emotionally invested. I gotta know what happens, and when. If I don't, I'm all to pieces with concern, or guilt, or something.

As I said, you'll see lots of posts where people are encouraging each other to do NaNoWriMo. This isn't one of those. This is to console those of you who look at it and say, "Man, I really want to, but I don't think I can do it this time around."

HOWEVER...I've given you my reason (and it's not, "But I don't WANNA!!!"). If you aren't doing NaNoWriMo, tell me why. Those of you who are doing it are also more than welcome, btw. Tell us why you love it, and maybe it'll spark some of the I-can'ts to become I-wills.


R.J. Mangahas said...

I attempted it last year, but it just didn't work for me. I have nothing against NaNoWriMo, it's just not the way I operate mostly.

As far as "pantsing" vs. "plotting," I do a little of both. I usually just write a few key points then wing the rest.

And btw, congratulations on finishing your first draft. That's HUGE.

jnantz said...

Mr. Mangahas,
Thank you, I really appreciate it. The funny thing is, I've got that next idea floating around saying, "Try me for NaNoWriMo," but I just can't do it. I want to get that first one revised, edited, and sent in.

My first was a little of Pants vs. Plots, and I had to completely rewrite it halfway through. So now I'm trying to go full-out plotter.

Thanks for stopping by!

R.J. Mangahas said...

I can understand that you want to get it edited and everything. But if I may pass on a little advise that I've gotten from several other writers (and this is also included in Stephen King's On Writing) Set the work aside for a few weeks, then go back to it with fresh eyes. You may see things that you won't see at first because you've put a little distance between you and the work.

This may not be what works for you, but I've found that it kind of helps me to do that.

And please, feel free to call me R.J. :)

jnantz said...

I know what you mean. But it has been a few weeks (I finished about 2 1/2 weeks ago), and I'm waiting until my wife (my first reader) goes through it once, to see if she sees problems I may not. But I still don't think I can manage NaNo this year.

Until then, I've been watching movies that I want my next book to mimic (in terms of style, pace) and comparing them to what Alex Sokoloff said about Three-Act, Eight-Part structure. It's kinda spooky how often it does mirror that!