Seeing as it’s half way through NaNoWriMo for 2011 I though I should do a post on it. Well, to be accurate it’s half way through and I’m still on target, which is the important bit.
This is my second year doing NaNo, I ““won”” it the first year I attempted in 2008 with a SF story that had been percolating in my head for a couple of years. I didn’t start in 2009 and 2010 mainly becasue I was travelling in November for both those years. If you don’t get off to a good start with NaNo on November the 1st, it is a struggle.
Others seem to see business travel as a good opportunity for time to write. On the face of it sitting in a lonely hotel, or more likely a lonely hotel bar, should be ideal for the creative process. Sequestering yourself works wonders. But despite good intentions I never seem to get anything done when I’m traveling.
Not that I hadn’t been writing during 2009 and 2010. I’d added another sixty thousand words to the 2008 novel for starters. But those years just weren’t NaNo years.
This year however I decided that seeing as I knew I could do NaNo, I needed to up the ante.
First I decided that I’d step out of my science fiction comfort zone and instead write some literary fiction set in the present day. A character piece about a group of tango dancers who live in a small country town. Now I do know a little about tango, and I grew up in a small country town, so it’s not completely out of my comfort zone. And it’s also another one of these stories that’s been bouncing around for a couple of years. But still, it’s not Sci Fi.
Second I decided that instead of adopting the NaNo recommendation of turning off the spell checker, covering the backspace key and pumping words out (NaNo is about producing a first draft, not a readable first draft), I would actually attempt to not only hit the 1,667 word count target each day, but produce decent edited prose along the way.
This is turning out to be a more significant challenge. Not becasue the process it different, it’s actually closer to the way I would write outside of NaNo. But it’s tough to produce 1,667 edited words per day.
As I’m doing it I’m finding myself drawing parallels to the old statistic you’d have learn years ago about programming. It goes, a programmer on average produces one hundred lines of code a day QA’d and delivered to a customer. Sure any decent programmer can type more than a hundred lines in probably forty five minutes if they’re in the zone. It’s getting it to a quality level the customer will accept that takes the time.
And that’s what NaNo’s like. It’s that forty five minutes of work that get’s you your hundred lines of code. And for discovering if you’re capable of writing a book it can’t be beat.
This time though my goal is to be able to give this book to my beta readers on December the first and not have them think I have the English skills of a nine year old.
So far I’m keeping up… just.