Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Writing Novels and Things #13: Making Deadlines

Before I start this post, I just want to say that everything I said in my last post is still true: I have begun editing my first novel (again). In the first paragraph I saw, which I had apparently already edited, I found about eighty mistakes. It was excellent. Still, I am persevering on account of how it is good for me, and things.

HOWEVER, I have also decided that I am going to write another novel. And this novel will be written in November, or 50,000 words of it, and I will be doing it with others. That's right, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again! I said I wouldn't but I will. And the reason that I am doing it again is, mostly, because it makes me write, and the reason it makes me write is because it gives me, to all intents and purposes, a daily deadline.

Writers are, I imagine, like most people, and like to procrastinate. I like to procrastinate a lot. When I'm not procrastinating, I imagine that I like getting things done, but in those times I am completely deluding myself. I like not getting things done, if they don't need doing quite yet. I love writing, but I also like, well, lots of other things and some of these things are a bit easier than writing, so sometimes I do those things instead. Things like watching Hollyoaks and making hummus and eating hummus, things like that.

But when I have a deadline, and certainly one that is imminent, I work hard, like a normal person who likes working hard. When I was doing my CW masters, I read all the books and wrote loads in and out of the classes, because the deadlines were weekly, and I had to do all that work to be good for the next lesson. I barely went out for two years, outside of term-time, and I felt very pleased with myself.

NaNoWriMo is a bit like doing a masters, except it's about 1/24th the duration and involves far less reading and much more writing. When I did it last year, I very rarely felt stressed by the experience, I was just happy. It's satisfying, being able to tick off your word counts every day, you see, and, also, writing all the time is a bloody pleasure. You get to make things up and then make them real! It's pretty sweet.

This year, I have only vague ideas about the novel I want to write. I know I want it to be an comic adult fantasy novel (and by 'adult', I don't mean sexy, I just mean not 'young adult'), and I have some notion of characters and setting, but nothing very concrete. Which is fine! The best part of NaNoWriMo for me last year was watching my own story unfold and evolve before me. I barely even knew what was going to happen then (which would be obvious if you'd seen the first draft - which you will not!).

When I get round to writing my proper literary novel, I will be planning intensely, and crafting as I go, and the writing will take me a lot longer than a month. I don't know if NaNoWriMo (incidentally, the most irritating word to type in all existence) produces good-quality literature, possibly not, but for me it has been so useful in showing me that I can write a book, even if writing a good book is still somewhat beyond me.

This time, I am going to let the lesson stay learned. I am going to give myself a daily deadline for writing (say, 300 words) and I am going to stick to it come hell or high water. Definitely.

Also, this now gives me a deadline less than a month to finish editing my last book. Please do nag me about this.

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