Writing On

What's not to lichen? This one was found growing on a pine tree in Yellowstone National Park.

With the end of November and the official end of NaNoWriMo 2011, most of us writers stopped. I had my reasons for stopping, none of which involved my novel. I’d been putting off working on a a term paper for most of the month, tripping over 700+ page biographies of William Morris that were strewn about my office floor on my way to my laptop. On the first of December, I could not ignore Mr. Morris any longer.

But NaNo had an immediate effect on my term paper. Usually I sit down and start squirming, thinking about how much work I have to do. Then, inevitably, I start thinking that I can’t get it done because I don’t know enough about the subject, no matter how much I’ve been reading about it in the past two months. Eventually I write a few sentences and it slowly moves forward. Reaching the word count is genuinely hard work.

This time was different. Yes, it was still a lot of work. But I sat in that chair for most of the day, working on writing the paper and not focusing on how hard it was. I actually got into the writing process itself. What’s 4,000 to 5,000 words after you’ve written 73,000, anyway? I’m hoping this change is permanent. It’s even affected my blogging, since the last few posts I wrote have been much longer than my previous ones, which weighed in around 300 or so words. I promise not to add words just to blabber on, but I do feel like NaNo has shaken something loose. Like my creative rust, which apparently had been accumulating for years.

I still haven’t plunged back into my novel, but talking to other writers, this is generally what happens to most WriMos. I did some work on it last week, but only about 1,400 words, so I’ve only incrementally added to my word count. I’m stuck in some in-between area where I need to figure out some of the plot, but I think that just getting back to writing something will jar the creativity loose again. It may not be great literature, but they keep telling me that’s what the editing process is for.

I’m off to work on a quick map for Seacombe Island, where much of my novel’s action takes place. The island is a pretty complicated place, and I’m loosing track of what I’m writing already. I also need to do some character descriptions, because I can’t actually see what they look like in my mind’s eye. I have a vague idea of them, but I don’t think that it’s quite enough for me. I was going to do some writing exercises to help with this, but when I leafed through my writing books I realized the exercises would just get me bogged down with the details instead of moving my story forward. So I guess it’s time for some quick sketches, and then back to the keyboard.