Wednesday, 5 December 2012

#IWSG: 2012 round up.

Since this is the last #IWSG post for 2012, I thought I'd do an end-of-year round up. Filled with anguish, of course.

This year, I've written four novels (first drafts, I hasten to add!), each varying in length. If I add last year's NaNo novel, I now have five first drafts under my belt, and I love each of them dearly.

So, why didn't I just write one novel at a time, from first to final draft, like a normal writer?

Looking back, I was too insecure to take these first drafts further, so moved on to another project and put everything else on my "To Be Written Properly" shelf.

I guess 2012 was my year of learning how to write, voraciously and inexhaustibly.

Aside from the WIPs, I've filled several notepads with notes, ideas and observations. I keep a journal on my laptop (started on 1st Jan 2012), which is now on its 296th page (with size 8 font to keep prying eyes away!). I write two pages as soon as I get out of bed, before I get ready for work (it's disgustingly difficult, but always worth it). If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. If I'm blogging less on here... it's because I'm writing instead of talking about writing.

It's fair to say I'm obsessed committed.

2013 will be my year of learning how to write well.

The end of NaNo left a big gap in my writerly life. I'm filling this month with writing craft exercises and extreme notepad entries, but I feel like I'm weaning myself off the high-volume output, ready to get set for... *drum roll* editing.

I'm happy with my structure, action and dialogue. I'd just prefer to articulate the words in a more... beautiful manner. I take great pleasure from reading a well-written book (such as The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine, or The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford) and I hope to create that same enjoyment in anyone who reads my books.

I'm terrified I won't live up to my high expectations. But we'll see.

So... here's to a year of writing well.

What are your goals for 2013? How has your 2012 been? I'd love to know!

Please visit all the other lovely people on the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We all thrive on encouragement, we really do.

Take care,
Catherine x ◦

Sunday, 2 December 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 - A post match analysis

A few months ago, I came across this blog post on how to write 10k a day, by the author Rachel Aaron. In the post, she wrote about documenting each of her writing sessions in a progress table, and I loved that.

Ever the spreadsheet geek, I took on this process myself, back when I was writing my last WIP "Brothers", and I'm sure I'll use it for all my future projects. Here's how my NaNoWriMo progress table looked, in its entirety:

I should probably point out that the majority of these details were worked out AFTER I finished NaNo. Whilst writing, I focused only on when I wrote, where I wrote, how long I spent writing and how many words I managed. The rest I worked out later. I'd have run screaming from it otherwise!

There was also an extra column titled "comments". I would briefly summarise my thoughts at the end of each writing session, but I shan't bore you with those obscenities!

When I look at it, all laid out like this, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. 

Part of me is like "Amazing... look how easily I breezed through NaNo this year. I even skipped a few days. What's more, I didn't even spend more than three hours writing on any given day. Plus, I got most of it out of the way in the mornings before work and on my lunch hours. I must be much more experienced as a writer compared to last year."

The other part of me is saying: "Look at the state of that. Four minutes you wrote one day, and on a Saturday, no less! That's premium writing time! I don't care how bad your headaches were. Do you know what this whole exercise tells me? You can do better. You must do better. You could have pushed yourself a lot harder."

It's hard to compare it to last year's NaNo without a similar progress table, because I know for a fact if I hadn't documented my progress this year, do you know what I'd have thought?

I'd have thought I was constantly working on the novel. That I'd spent so much time and effort agonising over it. That I must have worked so hard if I finished the NaNo early. I mean, the early finish speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I have learned a lot about my writing with the progress tables. I've learned that I get distracted easily by phone calls and "lose my mojo" at the slightest disturbance. I've learned that my morning pages and lunch-hour writing sessions are invaluable to me. I've learned that I let myself off "writing duty" far too easily, but that I feel guilty and make up for it with great enthusiasm at the next writing session. 

I have learned that I much prefer the word "learned" to "learnt". There's something not right about that word. Anyway...

Most importantly, I've spotted many areas for improvement. If I add an evening writing session to my morning and lunch hour sessions, I'd be pretty happy with that. I can still make time for reading at night and... housework *shudder*. 

There's loads of writers out there with full time jobs and twelve kids to look after and they still churn out eight books a year (warning: slight exaggeration). So it won't kill me to keep stepping up my efforts.

Again, I'm so grateful I took part in NaNoWriMo and think that anyone who criticises it is a numbskull. I'll take part in it every year, even when I'm outselling Danielle Steele and swimming in literary awards... *ahem*.

Where do I go from here? Well, I'm saving that for the next #IWSG post on the 5th, as it's sure to be angst ridden and fraught with dilemma.

In the meantime, I'm just going to get on with my writing journey, and wish all you writers every success in yours.

Catherine x