BEWARE … this is a very long post …
NaNo is about writing a 50,000 words novel in 30 days time. As the organizer stresses that it’s all about QUANTITY and not quality.
This works out to be 1700 words per day. I don’t know about my fellow writers, but to me this is a very, very tall order.
My current daily word count is about 200 per day and it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to get it. Main reason that I keep such low word count is to ensure that I have no excuse not to do it on a daily basis. This is how I have managed to keep writing 6 days a week since Jan this year.
My “intuitive” way of writing contributes to the hour which I need to get to the 200 mark. That is to say that I don’t plan or plot. I start writing with a vague sense of the story. First draft to me is always about “discovery”.
Now, if I’m to stick to my existing writing schedule for NaNo, I’ll need to write (at least) 8 hours / day for 30 days to get to the 50K mark. This is not really practical, I mean, unless I’m to take a month’s off my work. (I work 4-days a week.) I need to find a way to up my word count.
This is where “training” comes in my mind. Well, obviously, I dramatize it! :) It is more about me finding ways to write up to 1900 words a day, how many hours (in real time) I need and if I can cope, especially during my work day.
From 01/09, I included a +10% rule to my daily word count. That is to use the previous day’s word count as a base, I require myself to up 10% from it for each day’s output. According to my plan, I’m to reach 1700 mark on 23/09, but I hit 1901 on 17/09! It took me about 4+ hours (during work day) to get to 1901.
A few things I learn about getting 1901 words in a day:
1) Allow yourself to write crap
Every time I hesitated or felt that the Internal Editor was about to appear, I said to myself: “You’re allowed to write crap! You’re to write crap! You’re writing crap!” I know this might sound a bit extremes, but the point was I somehow (re)gained a sense of absolute freedom for creating.
When I’m writing up a scene, event or even dialogue in the story, my aim is to exhaust that scene, event or dialogue. I only finish the scene when I have nothing else to say about it. Then I move onto the next part of the story. A tell tale sign for me to gauge this is when I begin to repeat the same description, details etc.
3) Mind Games
Because I got so used to 200 words a day, I realize my mind is using the 200 as a unit count. So when I feel resistance coming up, I just tell myself: “Just another 200 words!”
And when I find 1900 words an overwhelming number, I tell myself: “Just 9 sets of 200.” From this re-wording, my mind find the entire writing process easier to handle.
4+ hours of writing time:
Unless I decide to become a plotter, if I stick to my “discovery” way of writing, I just have to (pardon my language) suck it up!
The trick here is to split the 4 hours into sustainable sessions. My maximum concentration span is about 2 to 2.5 hours, so I splits the sessions from min. 1 hour per session to 2.5 hours per session.
On the one hand I’m tired, tense and stress most of the time. But on the other hand, I had a strong sense of achievement and satisfaction which I had missed from my writing for a long time.
With such extensive overwriting, I know I’ll pay a huge price when come time for rewriting. But that’s part of the deal. I’m also trying to remember it’s always easier to trim and cut than to grow something.
Now, I won’t lie to you, so far I’ve only done this once (i.e. 1900 words in 1 day). Can I repeat it for 30 days? I don’t know. But I believe that it’s not a good idea to drill myself like that through out Oct. I need to conserve both creative and physical energy for the grand final.
For now, I’ll turn my attention to develop story idea for NaNo. However to keep the writing muscle supple for NaNo, I’m thinking to use STOS #5 to do an “advance training” (i.e. 1900 words per day for 6 consecutive days) around mid Oct. What do you think?
P.S. - STOS #4 (draft) was finished at 10,162 words in 12 days and ahead of original schedule all because of overwriting. (Since the writing of STOS from Jan, average word count of each STOS draft is about 5,000 words and takes about 1 month to finish.)