Wednesday, December 3, 2014

IWSG: Lessons Learned


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I've participated in and won National Novel Writing Month for about 10 years, and this is the first year in a long time - if ever! - where I was actually...happy...with the result. There are a few reasons for this: 

1 - I went in with one idea - a collection of linked stories - but that quickly went by the wayside when one story took on a life of its own. In the past, I would've forced myself to get back on the original track. This time, I just went with it. And you know what? I had a blast!

2 - I call myself a slow, meandering kind of writer. I'll write a few lines, analyze them to death, make some changes, write another few lines...zzzzzz. This time, I set deadlines - 30 minutes, 45 minute, 1 hour - and I. Just. Wrote. No dilly-dallying over word choice. No agonizing over possible plot directions. Sometimes I wrote three lines of description - I'll pick the best one during revisions. Sometimes I wrote the same scene in multiple ways - I'll pick the most interesting at a later date. 

3 - I usually read over a chunk of the previous pages before starting a new writing session. This time, I only read the page before. Just the one. It was enough to get me back in the scene but not to the point where I ended up stalling, flailing around making changes but not moving the story forward. 

Ah, sometimes it's nice to get a break - however small - from those pesky insecurities. I hope you all had a wonderful NaNo experience and/or a productive November!

68 comments:

  1. Woot! Congrats on Winning! It's great that you found a process that let's you love the result. :) (If this posts twice, feel free to delete this one.)

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    1. Thanks, Loni! It's been a long time since I was actually happy with the result. :)

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  2. Good for you. I need to take the plunge back into writing-without-worrying myself.

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  3. Woot! Good for you! :D

    IWSG #151 until Alex culls the list again.

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  4. This is a great way to keep writing--not looking back so you can keep going forward. Congratulations!

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    1. Love this line - "...not looking back so you can keep going forward."

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  5. Wow, Madeline. Congrats on winning NaNo. I like your suggestions, I will do the same. Set a time deadline and just write during that time, no worries about anything. Thanks a lot. Hugs.

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    1. I hope they work for you, Rachna. If not, feel free to modify them so they do work for you. Good luck!

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  6. Awesome! Way to go!!! I forgot my timer strategy in IWSG and didn't make it, but then I decided I was ok with that. I still managed 30,000 words for the month and it felt good to get that much writing done.

    I'm so glad you finished strong! :)

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  7. Good for you! Sounds like you had fun, and that's what matters most!

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  8. Yay! So glad to hear November was a productive month! Sounds like you rocked NaNo! Congrats.

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    1. Thanks, Kristin! I don't know if I'd say I "rocked" it but I was definitely happy with the results. :)

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  9. I'm sending the link to your blog to a few of my friends. Great post! It's hard to discipline yourself into not picking over each little word as you go, but I think what you did is the best way to write. The most productive way, for sure.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much, Deb! Changing the way I did things was a struggle but a worthwhile one.

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  10. Congratulations on winning and enjoying the ride! I tend to pause and look for just the right word or phrase. As if I wasn't already a slow enough writer...

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    1. I'm still a slow writer but now I move more like Larry when he senses a banana nearby - faster but still not all that fast. :)

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  11. I'm glad that NaNo was a rewarding experience. One thing I remember from my NaNo experience two years ago was that I had to refrain from going back to edit.

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    1. When I used to go back and read five or ten pages at the start of each writing sessions, I'd end up spending so much time re-working those that I barely managed to move forward.

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  12. Congratulations on winning Nanowrimo! It sounds like you really found the best way for you to use the month to your benefit. Good luck with the edits.
    Elizabeth Hein - Scribbling in the Storage Room

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  13. High fives Madeline!! You're writing like me now. I start with an outline and a sort of half-baked synopsis and then I start writing. I call it the forward progress rule. I keep a notebook and make notes of things that I will need to go back and change to make the new ideas fit. Going back and trying to be perfect first round blocked me up. I gave myself to suck in the first draft and clean it up later. That's what rewrites are for, right?

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    1. I wish I'd been organized enough to keep a notebook for those notes - I ended up just scribbling them down on scrap paper. At least I have all those pieces of paper together...I think. :o

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  14. Way to go! Wish I could say I hit the goal this year, but I'll do better next year. Congrats to you!!!

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    1. Thanks, Jay! And even though you didn't hit the goal, what you did accomplish is nothing to sneeze at. :)

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  15. Excellent techniques to make the process work for you. I'll keep these in mind next year!

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  16. Someone once told me to lower my standards, lol, and it really worked for me. I used to not get anything done because of the agonizing over word choice, etc. Congrats on winning NaNo!

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    1. "Lower my standards" - I like that! At least for the first draft. :)

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  17. Congrats on winning! Sounds like your methods really worked. Sometimes it helps to just go with the flow. If things turn out different than what you planned, it can still be great (usually better!).

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    1. Going with the flow is not usually easy for me but I'm getting better at it. :)

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  18. Oh my goodness, that's awesome! I need to try what you did because I do those same exact things. Congratulations on winning and having a blast at it!

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    1. It really worked for me. Hopefully, I can continue working that way, post-NaNo. :)

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  19. Yay for a successful and fun NaNo! Congrats on winning! I definitely need to get my butt in my chair more often for a set amount of time. I think that'll help me.

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  20. That's so awesome!!! Congrats on NaNo! And I'm glad your new approach worked out so well. Go Madeline!!!! :D

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  21. Congrats on winning and having a blast (that's the most important part, right?)

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  22. Sounds like you got a lot out of Nanowrimo. Good job finding your path and coming out with a novel you can work on perfecting. Nano is so awesome that way. This really was a good year. Congrats!

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    1. Considering this is about my tenth time or so doing NaNo, it's about time I found my way. :)

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  23. Congratulations on finishing NaNo! And how wonderful that you're happy with what you've done. That's half the battle!

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    1. Since I'm happy with what I did overall, I'm actually looking forward to working on it more and making it better. :)

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  24. Awesome! Moving forward and not looking back is key for getting that first draft out. I really, really like your idea about writing something a few different ways to decide on the best later.

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    1. Writing a scene a few different ways - even if it was just making a note of how to write it another way - kept me from freezing in place, from trying to force a decision in the moment, one that didn't have to be made right then anyway. I didn't do it with every scene or description, but even just knowing that I could helped keep me on track.

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  25. Interesting - I try to work like that, and targets work well for me, but I'm useless at leaving rough notes and multiple possibilities etc. knowing I can come back to them. I do tend to get stuck tidying them up before I move on...

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    1. Having a time limit forced me to make a decision, even if that decision ended up being that I couldn't decide and ended up writing the scene three ways. I know that doesn't sound like moving forward but it was for me because it kept me writing. In the past, I'd just sit there and dilly-dally over which way to write it then end up not writing anything! :)

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  26. Just going with it sounds brilliant - well done! I admit to occasionally spending 10 minutes or more trying to find the perfect word, so I know what a hard habit it is to break.

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    1. It definitely worked for me for this first draft. I'll still agonize over word choices when revising it, and always with flash fiction. :)

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  27. That's great! Going with the flow can be so liberating sometimes. :)

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  28. YAY! That's excellent it went so well! I struggled more this year, I think because I included more PoVs than normal so I kept having to go back and figure out where I'd left that person off. It will be a massive rewrite at some point...

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    1. I'm sorry you struggled more this year. It sounds like you did a huge amount of work though. Now, let's go conquer those massive rewrites! :)

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  29. Congrats on making it through and finding something that worked for you! Gotta think about this. Just red that the author of Plainsong write with a stocking cap pulled down over his eyes and typed blind to immerse himself in what he was writing.

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    1. Hmm, I'm glad that writing blind worked for him. With my luck, I'd end up typing gibberish. :)

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  30. aren't you glad it's over though? and by the way...you sound too much like me!!

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    1. I'm glad but I miss it though. I've got those post-NaNo blues.

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  31. I think it hurts some people that the rules are you have to write all of the words on a new book. (At least those used to be the rules? It's been a while!) We all write differently. If you're 20,000 words in and want to start a new book, why not? You have to go where your muse takes you.

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    1. There are rules...and then there are NaNo Rebels. :)

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  32. It's great that you found a way to make NaNo work for you!

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  33. Yaaay! So glad to see that NaNoWriMo worked well for you. I used similar strategies, especially the writing multiple versions and just pushing forward of #2. Best of luck with further writing and revisions!

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