Another One Bites The Dust

I wrote a week or so ago about my struggle with NaNoWriMo and my strategy to keep calm and carry on. This morning I finally admitted defeat and abandoned. Early last week I started to have real problems with the plot and though I managed a couple of days of scene writing, I was struggling to create a story which I felt was worth telling. Writing enough words each day itself wasn’t the issue so I decided to have a couple of days off and try and work on the plot.

Being a man, multitasking isn’t my strong point and I had lots of other things to think about. Two days became five and, after a long time sat in the car at weekend coming back from friends thinking about what to do, I’m still no further forward. At one point I was tempted to put in some aliens to liven things up at one point in the style of Jon Pinnock but it still didn’t do the trick!

It’s time to call it quits. It’s just eating away at me and it’s not making me feel better about myself. But before I go away and lick my wounds, here’s the positives and things I’ve learnt against my five problems.

The Concept of NaNoWriMo

I think the word count is quite feasible. I wrote quite quickly once I had the ’story’ and I’m more comfortable with leaving the words alone as a first draft. However writing without a defined objective to the piece works only to a limited extent. I find I’m much more productive when I have a real passion for writing and locking me up in a room doesn’t make more productive. Perhaps I’m really better off with flash and short stories as my medium at least until I build more of a body of work or I need a different structure to my writing process for longer pieces? A few things to think about here.

Research

I’ve found that the lack of research started to bog down my writing. NaNoWriMo isn’t the time to do research. I needed to do more before I started to write especially as it got embroiled with the plot. I got some idea of the work involved with a novel versus a short story. I know what the problem is and I’m confident I can get around this one.

Descriptions / Dialogue

I’ve learned to live with these and decided to fill in the descriptions and actions around dialogue later in the writing process. It was much easier to write the story then add these things in later. I also learnt that I might be better writing longer pieces in the first person although ironically, I like books in the third person more. That’s a discovery.

Plot

I am a planner, first and foremost. If I did this again, I need to have the plot nailed down in detail before I start and do most of the key research. NaNo didn’t work for me because I had a strong sense of characters but nowhere for them to go. I could write scenes but didn’t have the mechanisms to move the story along. I haven’t abandoned the novel but I need to give it a bit of space and come back to it when I’m ready. Scrivener was fantastic for moving things about and in my next attempt I’ll be using the corkboard feature extensively until I’ve got ‘the story’ pinned down.

So I tried NaNoWriMo and I ‘failed’ but I learnt a few things along the way so it was worth a shot. Maybe I’ll try next year and maybe I won’t. I do admire people who are doing it and will complete it. It proves they have discipline and willpower and it breaks the back of the writing but I’m not convinced that it’s a process that produces great writing, at least for me. I’ll just have to develop my own process.

Finally, one of the other things I have come to appreciate is the help of my ‘fellow writers’ who wrote or pointed me to some great resources on creative writing and encouraged me. So thanks to Alison Wells, Claire King, Martha Williams, Rachel Carter, Jon Pinnock and Marcus Speh for their help. They are all talented and generous beyond words and I am all the better for it.

Here’s to story telling!

 

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About Peter Domican
Marketer and change professional. Writer and photographer.

3 Responses to Another One Bites The Dust

  1. Martha says:

    Hello! What a lovely mention — thank you. I’ve just been taking your name in vain over at Rachel Carter’s blog — here. I’m still doing NaNo but I have reservations about November as the month to speed write — as Mum of several in the pre-Christmas gallop, even without NaNo I’m exhausted, frazzled and not looking my best (think fat sack with straw hair). It’s not pretty.
    Fun, but not pretty.

    Next time, I might do a private parallel/group write with a few friends, where the pressure’s a bit less rabid…

    Good luck with your writing — I’m seeing a Domican flash collection on its way — am I wrong?

  2. Martha says:

    p.s. Multitasking is a MYTH.

  3. Pete says:

    Hi Martha,

    Thanks for all your help especially when you’ve so many other things to do! I think for mothers, it’s not the best time of year. I’m not sure I had that excuse.
    It was a big lift to strip away some of the other problems and bring it back to the core problem which was the plot. The writing ironically was fast once I had a scene in my head but it was becoming a collection of scenes and I ended up with some characters that I loved in an incoherent non story which I didn’t!
    The plot was like a broken down car. Sometimes the car can be repaired on the spot but this one needed towing to a garage and I was still scratching my head several days later trying to get it started! I hate giving up but it was becoming counter productive.

    I love flash and short stories so I think I’m going back to basics but try and use some of the things I’ve learnt this month.

    Good luck with the rest of it – I’ll be cheering you on!

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