Writing Can Be Painful

This is the third year I’ve participated in the writing madness that is NaNoWriMo, producing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

The first year, 2007, was easy, and I was relatively proud of my story, Strange Things. I wrapped it up at around 60,000 words at the end of the month.

The second year, I challenged myself, shooting for a longer book, and wrote my unfinished 86,000 word volcano novel during November. I wrote myself into a plot structure I disliked, and couldn’t finish it, but far surpassed the minimum required word count so it counted as a ‘win’ for NaNoWriMo purposes.

I am embarrassed to admit that I did not go back and rework either novel. The first is very salvageable, and the second is a good core idea but needs lots of work.

This year, I hesitated to commit to NaNoWriMo. Since losing Bryan I’ve been plagued with a nasty case of ADD, an inability to focus for any length of time or at any depth. Still, I miss writing, and miss expending creative energy, so I chose to take the plunge.

It has been a painful exercise. Writing has been like pulling teeth, the book just hasn’t caught fire for me. Combined with that, it’s been an incredibly busy month with business travel and weekend commitments, and I’ve been exhausted enough I’ve skipped a few days and just gone to bed early.

I’m still here, still writing away. I’m about 5,000 words behind my target word count but catching up slowly; Thanksgiving weekend should be a really productive time. I’m battling my internal perfectionist, hard, as well as a continued lack of real engagement with my characters and my story.

I’ve had incredible encouragement and great support from friends – you know who you are. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. And I’ve gotten great advice about relaxing and making the writing process fun.

So, I’m killing characters. Writing sex scenes. Inserting random flashbacks. Adding gratuitous action. The story’s getting a bit fragmented, but the writing process is becoming more fun.

This year, so far, has been a real learning process about overcommitment and the creative process. I think, at the end of the month, the hard-won victory will be that much more meaningful.

5 Responses to “Writing Can Be Painful”

  1. Eric Says:

    If it’s fun, that’s what matters!

  2. Becca Says:

    I second Eric. If you enjoy it write. Work through the process. When it gets frustrating, take a breath, take a break, change the flow of your writing and see where it takes you.

  3. MWT Says:

    Rah rah shish boom bah! :D

  4. Tom Says:

    Remember, there are those of us (cough *me* cough) who don’t even make the commitment. That you did, and are following through, is a very good thing! 50K words a month is a laudable goal for a professional writer, and you’re doing it in addition to your regular job. I commend you. (Who the hell am I to commend you? Nobody! But I do anyway)

    Killing characters, sex scenes? Cool! Somehow, that aspect of writing didn’t occur to me. Sounds like it might be fun.

    Friendly encouragement. A bit of envy. Go for it, Jeri! :)

  5. Holy Says:

    Three times nanolucky, Jeri. :)

    5,000 words behind is not very daunting, as you well know. What’s daunting, from the sounds of it, is that that inner critic found a way back in the house this month. I thought editing was a nanonono. ;)

    Speaking of editing, don’t be embarrassed about not going back to edit your previous works. Who knows if and when that is meant to happen? Birthing these babies is achievement enough.

    I love reading of how, when and where writers latch onto their so-called “real” stories, whilst immersed in the writing of another tale. And so perhaps it’s of your minor characters who will become the protagonist in the next great American novel. Who knows.

    All I know is that while that critic is trying to set up perch on your shoulder to talk in your ear, Bryan is busy shooing it away and whispering words of encouragement in your ear from afar.

    Enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving with the boys and your furry friends.