According to my NaNoWriMo stats, I am behind. I have written 5,017 words, and it is the 6th of November. My average words per day are, again according to my stats, 836. According to this, I need to pick up my pace or I will finish my novel on December 29. Which… doesn’t sound too appealing.
But what my NaNoWriMo stats don’t know is that I didn’t even find out about this thing until November 2, at like… 9pm. When I was about ready for bed. So I started on the 3rd. Signed up, thought up an idea, didn’t write anything. On the 4th, I wrote 1,400 words. And yesterday, just to see how much I could get done, I started at 6am and didn’t stop for two hours, and wrote another 3,000ish words. Then another 600 or so throughout the rest of the day. So leave me alone, NaNoWriMo stats!
According to my stats, I have to write 1,800 words a day to finish on time. Since I can fairly easily write 3,500 per day, I’m going to make that my goal for now. Because I know how I am. At some point this month, I’m going to freak the hell out over something. Teaching, playing in an orchestra, the fact that I spent three hours working on my 575-page behemoth instead of my NaNoWriMo story. That behemoth is, by the way, 387,162 words. Which surprised the heck out of me, because I’m not used to thinking in words. I think in pages. And so, if at any point in this post I say that I wrote 1,400 pages on a given day, forgive me. I mean words. It’s just my brain telling me what I’m used to thinking.
Now I look at my NaNoWriMo submission, and it’s about 7 pages, and that just seems so incredibly lame. Like a 7-page thing is going to turn into a novel in another 3 weeks. Sure. Sure it is.
I don’t know how most other people write. I know how Raine writes, because I’ve seen her write. She gets thoughts down fast, getting the idea onto screen before it runs and hides in the back of her brain, as thoughts that we really want to remember tend to do. I make fun of her a lot because she has a ton of typos. I know, I know… that’s really damn annoying. I can’t help it! I just can’t. Because that isn’t the way I write. People always say don’t edit as you go, but I can’t help it. If I type a word, and that word sounds wrong, I won’t go on until I find the right word. It’s harder for me to replace a word later than to think of a good one in the first place.
And before you say, that’s the kind of stuff that leads to procrastination and writer’s block… it doesn’t. For me, that works. I can always find the word or wording I want fairly quickly, and then I can move on. And that means when I do go back to edit something, I have less to edit than if I’d just written through. And it honestly doesn’t take me any more time.
Does anyone else write like that? Some of you must. I’d appreciate it if someone said they do, so I don’t keep feeling like I’m doing this all wrong. Because all I ever read everywhere is, don’t edit while you write, don’t edit while you write, don’t edit while you write… I can’t help it, leave me alone!
I’m not saying I never get stuck. I do get stuck. But it isn’t because I’m trying to edit. It’s because I reach a point where I haven’t planned out what’s going to happen next. If I have a vague idea, I can just write and see where it goes, and it always ends up working out eventually. But if I hit a spot in a story where I’m like…. okay, I have no clue what I want now, that’s when I get stuck. And I have to think. Sometimes I do try to struggle through, keep writing, even if it sucks. Sometimes I stop and think about it, write down notes in my little notebook, listen to music, zone out, think. Usually, everything works out fairly soon.
But again, I know how I am. And I know that, occasionally, when I get stuck, it doesn’t work out quickly. I haven’t been able to write a word on a story for two weeks straight in the past, either because I was lost, because I knew I had to write something that I didn’t want to, or simply because I was worn out from work and didn’t have the brain space to write.
A couple of months ago, I got stuck on my then 400-something-page behemoth. I had to kill a character that I liked. HAD to, because his death was essential to the plot. That’s the only way I can kill characters I like. If they don’t die, the plot has to be changed. Because I’m a wuss, and if they don’t have to die, I will back out of it. And it was really hard to write it. And I was stuck for at least a week. I spent a few days just writing, holding off the death, dragging it out. Then I stopped altogether. It was pretty bad.
I can’t do that on my NaNoWriMo submission, but I’m sure that, at some point this month, I will. Because that’s just what I do. I keep trying to comfort myself by saying a few things over and over.
First: I don’t care about this story as much as I care about my behemoth. Sounds bad, but… I don’t. I’ve been working on that behemoth and absolutely nothing else for nearly a year now, and it is the longest thing I’ve ever written by about 450 pages. It’s the first story I’ve had that I thought I could actually finish. I have the ending planned. I can do it. I have this NaNoWriMo thing fully planned, too. Which is good. Good for me. And the fact that I don’t care as much means that maybe I won’t obsess so much over everything I write. Maybe, for once, I can write without severely editing as I go.
Second: Even if I do get stuck on this story, I can always work on my behemoth. Keep my fingers moving, keep the writing thoughts flowing. That probably isn’t a smart idea, given that I would rather work on the behemoth anyway. Because then I’ll just become more obsessed with it than I already am, and before I know it, a week will have gone by where I haven’t touched the NaNoWriMo thing.
Third: If the above happens, and I blow off NaNoWriMo all next week for Mr. Long Document, well… I have Thanksgiving week off from teaching. Not a single student for six days. No orchestras, either. No grand plans with my family for the holiday. No distractions. I can just sit down in the morning and write until my brain feels like it has been wrung out like a sponge. Then I can drink more coffee, take some pain killers, and write more.
So I’ll be okay. Just as long as I remember to open the NaNoWriMo document instead of the behemoth. That will be the hard part.
And, just by the way, I’ve put a photo of Antarctica on this post because my NaNoWriMo submission is about a dark and frozen sea. Feel free to roll your eyes, since it’s oh, so serious.