Saturday, March 2, 2013

Telling yourself

I’m still working on a story I began in November. Most people called it quits on November 30, but for me I’m still on NaNoWriMo, about day 120.

Writing in NaNo style is kind of fun. The goal is to slap down a story rough draft in thirty days. You just write. You send the internal editor out of the room and just write. I’ve had a problem shutting that guy up so ignoring him was a joy of NaNo.

My normal style is to obsess over every little sentence. I can’t move on to chapter two until chapter one is perfect. It was so freeing in November to let the story just flow, with a note here or there on how to fix it during the next draft. My problem was I didn’t have it roughed out in my head so at times I wrote aimlessly, going around in circles. But when I had direction, it was liberating to lay the story down in a quick fashion.

Now I am trying to finish that first draft, the first 50,00 words for NaNo and again, I fall back into old habits of obsession over perfection. My critique group pointed out the problem and said to return to NaNo style. I’ve done that, but internal editor man still manages to pop up, even though I’ve told him to leave me alone.

A couple inspirational posts have appeared on this blog. Julie Daines commented that the first chapter can never be perfected until the entire story is complete. That makes a lot of sense. You need a beginning and it can have direction. But there’s no need to fixate on it when it’s going to change anyway to accommodate the path it takes.

Scott Rhoades had a great post last week with his truth about first drafts. “Books don't escape the mind fully fledged and ready to fly,” he said. That brilliant idea in your head can look so flawed in the first draft. No matter how ugly that first attempt is, the writer must persevere and tell the story, then come back and make the repairs.

Scott offered a quote from Terry Pratchett that echoed what my critique group said. "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." I like that little line and it has carried me all week long. You may have a general idea of the plot and the characters who live it, but you really don’t know the story for sure until you tell it to yourself.

So I’m telling myself a story. Maybe one of these days I’ll finish my NaNo project.

1 comment:

Julie Daines said...

I was in a workshop with author Martine Leavitt (and I haven't shut up about it since) but anyway, I learned A LOT!

She said something like this: first you have your get it out draft, then you have your pre-first draft, THEN you have your first draft.

I agree.