Writing Quote

"Don't write merely to be understood.
Write so that you can't possibly be misunderstood."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Slave Knight and The End of NaNoWriMo

Wordle: The Slave Knight

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Alright, I know I should have blogged yesterday, but life demanded that I do a little catching up with it first. But I'm here today to tell you how great November was.

I dug through 101,316 words to find The End of my story. And to think I started out the month worried about hitting my required 1667 words a day.

I'm not really sure what made the difference for me this year. I think the most I've done for November before now was 61K or something like that. But I did find that my most productive days were always the ones when I left the house to write. Sometimes I'd take my laptop and go somewhere and sometimes I took my flash drive to the school library. But I always came home with thousands of extra words. And I always felt really good about whatever I wrote that day.

I also didn't write anything by hand, except for a little free writing to help generate some ideas. Contrast that with last year, when I did my entire novel by hand. It's a very different experience. What I learned from it is that while using my actual pen gets my creative juices flowing, I really need the linear thinking that comes to me through typing to do things right. Don't get me wrong. I'm going to have a lot of editing to do still. But I think my over all story is much better for having been created through a better combination of handwriting and typing.

Some other things I learned:

We put a big emphasis on word count. The word count is just a carrot; a goal to keep you tapping away at your story when you get bored or tired or distracted. Of course, I always knew this. But it's easy to get so caught up in chasing the carrot that you end up wandering aimlessly. This year, I chased the carrot while still plodding away towards my destination. There was a lot less aimless wandering that I'll have to go back and delete, and a lot more actual substance that just needs a little spit and polish.

I am not a creative genius. I'm just not, and I never will be. But I don't have to be to write a great story, or to create interesting characters. I'm not a right brained person or a left brained person. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle, which is actually a really good thing. My right brain gets to come up with all the crazy ideas it wants and my left brain knows how to make them work so that other people appreciate them, too.

A little preparation goes a long way. I didn't get around to doing the big, fancy, over-the-top outline that I wanted to in October. I don't think that's really my style anyway. But I did sit down and throw out some ideas. I took a moment to look at them and see which ones would fit together. And poof! I had the very rough workings of a story. I had some direction. I did this several more times throughout the month to fix problem areas, and it worked great. Every time I felt stuck and took a step back to just throw around some ideas, I came back to my work with a sense of purpose and direction. I could push through a big chunk of my story with speed and ease.

It actually is worth writing down the odd characters or scenarios that come to mind at random moments. My main character is one that came knocking at my consciousness months ago. I was at a computer somewhere not at home, so I just sent myself an email. It was maybe 200 words or less about my character and the story he wanted me to tell. I could have written about anything this month, but I chose to tell Jhampo's story. It surprised me frequently and I had no idea when I jotted down a few notes about him that he would turn out to be someone I could spend so much time with. And it's a good thing I like him. We're going to be spending a lot more time together in the coming months.

I'm sure I could go on, but I won't. I'll just end by saying that this year's NaNoWriMo was the best one ever. And my fat word count was only the smallest part. Now the challenge is to get myself on the editing track. I used to be so good at editing. I don't know what happened. Oh, right. I hate doing it, so I stopped doing it. You'd think that if a person is good at something, they'd enjoy doing it. This is not always so. I hate editing. But I also hate having every last one of my stories looking like the pile of goo my cat coughed up on the bathroom floor. Okay then, Robin, let's go prove to everyone that your stories are not just a pile of goo; they're pretty and do not require the use of rubber gloves to read.


  1. Congrats! You did so great this year! I've loved talking to you about this in person too but had no idea how cool it was until I read it here. I also appreciated your texts to encourage me this year and they helped me at least write something. Also, I need to remember about the carrot, I like what you said and I think that will help me for next year.
    You did amazing!

  2. I am so proud of you. My daughter is living my dreams about writing. I never knew how to get myself to where you are now. I wish I had had NaNoWriMo when I was younger. Perhaps one day I will join and become another "Grandma Moses."