Nano Blues

November is National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo). As always, I started with a thunder and was above the recommended word count each day.

Then real life hit. I got tired. I got sidetracked. I lost steam. They call it “Week Two’d.”

I’m still in good shape to “win” and I’m not giving up on my novel. But I’m starting to rethink the whole NaNo thing.

Last Year I took the month of November to write the Young Adult book “Mythic Waters.” Haven’t heard of it? Oh, yeah, that’s because after getting over 35,000 words I abandoned it. In the last year, I have edited maybe the first 4 chapters. It’s a mess. It’s a gobbledygook of words on a page with no through line and subplots that I don’t think tie into the rest of the story. In other words, It’s going to take me months to edit and I know that. I might even be faster if I just started over.

So now this years NaNo project is “I Blame Lucas” a movie memoir. I told myself that I needed to finish the novel in 2010 because of the yet-to-be released short film “Leah Not Leia” that I wrote and co-produced is a perfect tie in. But I wasn’t working on “Lucas” as much as I wanted so it became my NaNo. I was thinking 30 days, write about 30 movies. I had 37 movies left I wanted to cover in the manuscript and I thought this would be a great opportunity for accountability.

But my new chapters are sucking. The pre-Nano chapters were about 1800 words and they had a nice conversational style to them, they weren’t rushed, they explained the movie, they had a wonderful flow. The new chapters are maxing out at 1,000 words. I’m mostly explaining the movie, a little bit about how it effected me and then moving on to the next movie.

The manuscript is losing its personality and its charm.

Because I’m rushing to get 1677 words written per day to met the Nano goal of 50,000 words in November, I’m really losing what the novel ment to me in the first place – heart. I’m not taking the time to really think about the movie, then write a heart-felt chapter. It’s rush-rush-rush onto the next movie and the next chapter.

A couple of my friends have also mentioned the headache of fixing a NaNo manuscript. Sure we can write a novel in 30 days but won’t it take us over a year to fix it? Does that make sense?

Maybe if I was a faster -and stronger – first draft writer, which I’m not, I’d be really great at Nano. With Screenplays my average is 25 days for a feature length script. I though I could do the same thing with a novel.

After all I do like the polishing of a manuscript. I spend more time polishing a piece than writing the first draft. And as countering as that may sound to my bitching, at least I’m polishing words that I liked in the first place. The Nano stuff, It’s a brain-drain of conscienceless and I swear some of it doesn’t even make sense to me, and I’m the one whose mind it came from!

I think I need more than 30 days to write a workable 50,000 word novel. Maybe I’ll get better, but for now, I’ll stick to taking my time, writing the chapters I like, not worring that word count makes a chapter done, taking a few days on a chapter if it needs it, and getting back to writing from the heart and who knows maybe I’ll still hit 50,000 words in November, we’ll see.


4 thoughts on “Nano Blues

  1. Jay says:

    Fight your Inner Editor. First drafts are supposed to be crap.

    I did NaNoWriMo back in ’06, and I’m so glad I did. Even though I’ve never gone back and edited that book again, it feels good to have put something down. (It’s designed to be the first book in a series, and I have no idea how to get the series where I want it to go after the first book – hence the delay in picking it up again.)

  2. katechaplin says:

    Great article! Thanks!

    Yeah, my Inner Editor is a bitch. She’s hard to fight 🙂

    But see, there is my point, you wrote a novel in 2006 but haven’t picked it back up to edit it. That’s where I fear I’ll be with my two NaNo projects. Why do we abandon them so easily? Is it a Nano curse?

  3. Rebecca says:

    I so admire anyone who can commit to this — every November I consider it (well, since 2006) and every year either I forget, or look at my calendar for November, say to myself “ARE YOU KIDDING ME??” when I see all the commitments I’ve already made in my work and personal life, and give up pronto. But maybe next year. Isn’t there a month for screenplays? Maybe I could get into that…

    And if you haven’t seen this Salon column yet, it made me pretty mad because of all the NaNoWriMo people I know, at least a dozen if not more, they a) got the story down and abandoned it before sending to agents/publishers, b) spent the next year revising and ended up with something decent to send along, or c) still abandoned it after revisions, but were proud to have finished a novel because it was something concrete. For instance, even though I can’t knit worth crap and I’m not as crafty as I’d like to be, at least I know I can write , so I like to think if I was writing a novel it would be more productive than, say, watching TV or staring at my smart phone for a few hours a day:

    Good luck!!

  4. Judy Weldon says:

    I know I can’t write a novel in thirty days! I can’t write a novella in that time. I’m working on a screenplay adaptation of my book and my mind keeps wandering off to Turkey Day” and pumpkin pie.

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