The plight of the novice writer.

(Yeah, a bit of a whiny post…)

I should be catching up on sleep, or at least eating breakfast.  I have less than 45 minutes left alone before I have to get the girls from school.

But, I have a headache caused from staying up till 11 pm to get some more word-count in for the title-less novel for the NaNoWriMo.   Normally I usually don’t have trouble with that hour – usually I don’t get like this until I’m up til 1 am or so, but I was feeling it last night and again this morning.

I have a smidge over 8,000 words written, and even though I’m not supposed to go back and edit, I feel like I need to add more details to what I’ve got so far.  But, I am a little ahead of the game, and more importantly, I really need to start planning ahead to keep track of names and places and dates.

I downloaded a copy of yWriter5 so that I could organize the details. I realized that as I was writing the story, I forgot to write down the details of the names of places and the dates these times were occurring. So…I’d have to go back through 15 pages of text in order to fish them out again. It’s time that I start keeping track of these details to make it one less thing I need to do.

Also, never having really written a book before, I probably should do some research as to what constitutes a chapter. I’m such a novice, I just keep writing and writing and hoping this will become evident to me, but it’s not.

And because the time span is covering essentially 5 years, I have to take some literary license and condense it into a pace that won’t end up dragging things out.

Argggghhhh….

The whole idea is not to read what you write and avoid editing until December. The whole purpose is to just write, because if you re-read what you write, you just might feel like it’s total junk and having it totally undermine your confidence, and totally scrap the work, sealing your fate as a failure.

And then I make the mistake of reading excerpts from other people’s writings, and I think, “wow, their word choice is so amazing – so stylistic, so…much BETTER than mine.”

I have gotten a bit of appreciation for my style of writing over the years, not too much pretentious use of difficult vocabulary words because I can, but comparing their work to mine…well, let’s just say I’m flabbergasted at my own ineptitude to a scribe a composition with eloquent prose. In other words, I don’t write so pretty.

Ah, what is one to do? I dunno. I’m thinking it’s time to make use of Thesaurus.com

On another related note, I’m going to attend the regional NaNoWriMo event at a local bookstore and meet the other crazies who are attempting to win this year. I’m so excited maybe I’ll meet some interesting people. But I really hope they aren’t all 20-something “kids” who are going to think I’m ancient at 39.

Well see about that.

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4 Responses to The plight of the novice writer.

  1. Leah says:

    If you’re writing in Microsoft Word, there is a built-in thesaurus (probably not as comprehensive as something like thesaurus.com, but more convenient when in the middle of things). To look up synonyms for a word you’ve typed, highlight the word and either press Shift+F7, or right-click on the word and select ‘Synonyms’ in the context menu.

    PS: You might be curious to know how much you wrote just in blogging during October.
    raisingsmartgirls.wordpress.com posts: 15,875 words
    growinginpeace.wordpress.com posts: 726 words
    theexplorationstation.wordpress.com posts: 357 words
    total = 16,958 words

    A bit of this is from text quoted within your posts, of course. But I only counted posts, not your comments, some of which could be posts all by themselves. 🙂 And of course you also wrote comments on other people’s blogs, posts on forums, emails, etc. If all of that were counted, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were at least halfway, if not closer, to 50,000 words of writing just last month even without a concerted effort like NaNoWriMo. (Wow!)

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Oh, darn Leah – my secret is out. I’m a prolific/obsessive writer. Some people obsessively clean, I obsessively write.

    (btw, I know I owe you an email. I had a bad headache yesterday so I couldn’t function very well and wanting to take time to reply thoughtfully).

    I’d just been thinking about how much I’ve written over the years. Letters, emails, and only a few journal entries – mostly out of fear they would get stolen by my sister or mother, I sent out letters to my friends.

    I process just about everything through writing. It really helps me a lot. And it’s fun to go back and look at what I’d been through.

  3. doctorjohnsmith says:

    I’ve familiarized myself with the NaNoWriMo concept. Not a bad idea, but not one I’d be comfortable with, personally 🙂 .

    If you want to avoid having to go back and hunt down little details, I would suggest you put together a Writer’s Bible. It’s what television shows have so that, when they bring new writers on board, they can give them this document, and the writer is brought up to speed on character histories, locales, interactions, story arcs, etc. Essentially, you take a binder and you create character charts, with basic information on each character (physical details, biographical details, etc.), you can add all the research you’ve done, pictures of the locations you’ve chosen if any, timelines, etc. etc. It’s a great reference document and it helps you keep details straight.

    As for what constitutes a chapter, here’s my take on chapters: you don’t necessarily need them. Too many writers eschew thinking about structure; they just rely on the good ole “Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3” structure. Personally, I feel that each story requires a structure that enhances it, and sometimes it’s not “C1, C2, C3”. Maybe that’s something you can think about in December when you’re editing. Your novel might be better served by using a different structure, such as having 4 or 5 named sections and, within those, using titles instead of chapter numbers. Alex Garland did it for THE BEACH and it worked well for him; plus, it’s akin to a blog.

    Just a thought….

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks for the tips, Dr. John. I really appreciate that. Participating in the NaNo was completely on a whim, to see if I could discipline myself enough to start and finish something I’ve thought about for years.

    Some days I’m having fun with it, and some days I’m regretting it as my high achieving but perfectionist nature causes me headaches.

    Because my largely autobiographical novel is about my life, and there are some things I need to keep hidden in the event I actually do decide to publish it, I’ve been hung up on the names, forgetting what I substituted for what. My dh suggested I use the originals at first, then go back and use a find and replace.

    But definitely, I’m going to plan better, the next book I attempt. I have to chuckle about the binder system. Having been in the clinical lab, I am very familiar with the big honkin’ binders that spell everything out. You should see the binders I do have now at home – one for each of my daughters, one for “housekeeping” and one (eventually) will be to help me map out a future plan.

    I may or may not actually do that this time, as I’m on a time crunch.

    I do stop to chart out an overview of where I want to go next and start thinking about the next characters to introduce. Nothing more exciting than flying by the seat of your pants (insert sarcasm here).

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