Why I’m not editing my NaNo draft this month

One of the fun things about being in a few writing groups is that you get to hang out with other people doing the same kinds of things you’re doing.  Last month it was NaNo, we were all obsessing over word counts, racing each other, and generally just having a good time.

Now that NaNo is done, most of these writers have turned to finishing their incomplete draft (50K words didn’t quite do it), or they are in the process of editing their complete first draft.  Most of those writers shook their head at me when I told them that my NaNo draft went on the shelf and I had immediately started my next project.

Why am I shelving Summerton Blues for now?  Because Stephen King is my hero.  In his book “On Writing” he suggested that instead of editing a project, start the next one.  When the second project is done, then edit the first.  That process gives us some mental, emotional distance from the first work that lets us get far more critical and spot all the things we missed the first time through.  Following this advice has made a big difference I’ve found in the overall quality of the work.

It’s also the same reason that I write a lot of draft posts, let them sit a while , then go over them before posting.  A bit of time and distance does wonders for spotting problems or things that could be clarified.

Additionally, I’m not in any hurry to publish anything, unlike some NaNo writers (I’ve already seen a few popping up in my reader).  I’d rather let Summerton Blues sit on the shelf for six months, work on a few things in the mean time, spend plenty of time editing it before even considering publication.  There’s no hurry, I’ll take my time until I think it’s ready, the same as I will with anything else I’ve written.

So, I’m already twenty pages or so into my next project.  I could talk about it but then I’d have to kill you.  Kidding.  But really, it’s kind of a surprise project, I don’t want to get into it until I’m closer to done.  Until then, Summerton Blues can wait, it’s not going anywhere.

NaNo Wrap up

With a bit of a last minute dash I managed to “win” NaNo this year.  I was on track up until WCFC Bout #2, which put me behind a couple days.  This long weekend though gave me the opportunity to catch back up and cross the finish line a couple days early.

Surprisingly, my novel actually wrapped up about the same time I crossed the 50K mark, which I thought was going to be at least 60.  There are some things that need to get fleshed out still but overall the story is there on the page, which is fantastic.

Now, I just need to figure out what I’m writing next… or start the editing process.  So, new project it is.  🙂

Congrats to all the other winners out there and for everyone else, keep up the writing and good luck!

Writing Group Blues

I just got home from one of the writing groups I’ve joined.  A couple are based around getting together and just writing, this is the only one that is based on critiquing.

Now, I take critiquing very seriously.  When I was in school I was very fortunate to have a series of really good english and creative writing teachers.  They really pushed me to become a better writer, and almost more importantly to be better at giving and receiving constructive criticism.  There’s almost an art to being able to read through someone’s writing, good or bad, and providing an opinion and suggestions.

When I’m doing a critique I’m reading really slowly, carefully, making notes along the way.  I always come up with a few good points and a few suggestions.  Even if I really like the piece, I always try to come up with at least a couple suggestions.  Whether the writer uses them or not doesn’t matter, it’s about giving them a different perspective.  We have to push each other if we’re going to improve.

Today, I handed out the first five pages of my NaNo project.  It’s rough, I haven’t even given it a second look since writing it I told them all that as a disclaimer.  I sat back and waited for the list of issues to roll in.

Their response, “It’s good.”

I asked if the descriptions were too heaver or too light.  “No, they’re good.”

I asked if it flowed well.  “Flow is good.”

I asked them for any suggestions.  I got one, the transition from the first chapter to the second could be a little better.

That’s it.

Now, I know I’ve improved as a writer but there’s no way I’m that “good”.  No, I think it says a lot more about the quality of the criticism than about the quality of the writing.  That’s disappointing.

Lesson learned

My word count for NaNo has dropped off the last couple days.  On days when I would have normally cranked out at least 4,000 words I’ve barely been doing half that.

Today, my NaNo region had a write in and a dinner afterwards.  The dinner was interesting because our laptops were put away and just talked about our projects.  One of the writers said something that really stuck with me.

She said: “If a chapter is boring to write it will probably be boring to read.”

Now that sounds like such a common sense thing but it reverberated in me and made me think that maybe that’s why my word count has been dropping.  I’m bored.  The chapters I’ve been writing have been so boring to write that I can barely get through them.

So, I sat down and took a hard look at what I’ve been doing.  My silly, easy werewolf tale has turned into a serious mystery/thriller, I’ve been filling in some important details but it seems like I’ve been dragging it out too much.  The details are important to the rest of the story but each one doesn’t need it’s own chapter.  The other writer mentioned how a lot of that kind of stuff can be narrated or summarized quickly between more interesting scenes that are written out more.  Maybe that’s what I need to do better instead of getting sucked into writing chapters that bore me because I can guarantee if it’s boring to write it’s going to be boring to read.

NaNo progress

Just a quick update, I went over ten thousand words today in my NaNo draft.  That means I’ve got a daily average of over two thousand words, which means I’m track to complete the challenge.

It’s exciting, I had a few ideas rattling around but nothing really inspiring.  Then, on November first, sitting down in front of a blank screen, I had a quirky idea.  I consciously decided that I didn’t want to do anything too deep or serious, I wanted something almost cheesy that I could have fun blasting out in a month.  Rather than going with something I wanted to get just right, or was too emotionally invested, I just wanted something entertaining to write (and hopefully to read).

Here’s the synopsis from the NaNo site:

A small town sheriff is faced with two sets of strange murders.  One seems like the work of a big, deranged animal, the others almost seem like professional hits.  The strangest part is that the bullets being pulled out of one set of bodies have been coated with silver.  Any other sheriff might not have any idea what was going on but for this one, he knows all too well, he’s been a werewolf for over three years.  He’s a good man, a good cop, but once a month he turns into a feral beast.  Assisted by his trusty deputies, the sheriff needs to get a handle on these murders and put a stop to them fast, anyone could be next and it’s only a few more weeks until the next full moon.

When I started writing it, it was going to be a kind of campy comedy piece, totally different than the other projects I’ve been working on, but the more I write the more serious it’s getting.  It’s still fun and pretty light-hearted but it’s rapidly turning into a thriller/mystery, which kind of surprised me.  It actually has some meat going for it, I’m getting excited.

Ten thousand words down, only forty thousand left to go!

NaNo

I haven’t been posting much over the past few weeks.  I’ve had some personal things come up and I’ve been sick for the last week and a half.  Being sick is no fun.

I’ve also been focused on a Halloween short story I was writing for my daughter.  She’s been out of town for a while and I thought it would be fun to share something with her.  I wrote a fun story with a little bit of everything in it, ghosts, monsters, bullies, and adventure.  Using Scrivener I formatted it so it could be read on her iPad and emailed it to her and her mom.  She hasn’t finished it yet but I’m hoping she enjoys it.

In other news it’s November, NaNoWriMo time!  I met up with the regional group today and got started on my new project.  In three hours with them I got almost 4,000 words knocked out.  Not a bad start, if I do say so myself.  I won’t be able to keep up that rate but I figure the more I can get done earlier the less pressure there will be later.

Good luck to all the other NaNo writers out there!