Thursday, December 08, 2005

Damn, This is Tough

Down about 15 pages from the page count goal I had for today, but hey, writing 34 pages in 7 days still isn't bad.

Stuck on some plot points, and doing some more reading elsewhere to get myself out of the bind. Should pick up again tomorrow.

Day job still sucks.

Also, it's snowing like crazy here and I have no winter boots.

What's up with that?

8 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Patrick said...


On one hand, I know you write best when you're under pressure, pushing yourself hard.

On the other hand, you don't wanna be one of the NaNoWriMo folks who successfully writes 50,000 words of utterly unprintable garbage and then congratulates herself for hitting her deadline.

It's a fine line, and only you know where you are with respect to it. What with the sick and the work and the significant other, I don't think a schedule adjustment is out of the question. Especially work -- when work is stressful and time-filling, it hits everything, exercise and love life and hobbies and all of it.

As long as your deadlines are keeping you motivated enough to keep writing even on days when you don't feel like it, they're doing their job. When they start making you write fill-in stuff or write stuff you're not ready to tackle plotwise -- or write garbage because it's late and you're tired -- it gets less helpful.

(I say this not as a Clarion buddy but as somebody who set a 2000-words-per-day quota for himself and then met it, only to realize that about half the time, it produced crap that not only had to be rewritten but messed up major plot aspects in the process. I am so not holier-than-thou.)

You didn't not-write 50 pages. You successfully wrote 34. Hang in there. I can't wait to read this one. :) 

Posted by Patrick

Unsane said...

I've never written to a wordcount myself. Seems a little too focussed on the quantitative aspect, not the qualitative ... 

Posted by Jennifer

Kameron Hurley said...

Patrick, yea, what stopped me was doing line edits. I realized I'd dropped some plot threads early on, so went back and did my line edits and fixed some things that needed fixing.

I'm inputting the edits today, and I think that's going to help with my focus for the rest of the book. I do work a lot better with deadlines: I tend to be really lazy if I don't track my progress, and having goals - even if I don't hit them - really increases my output.

And yea, I don't want it to turn out crap, obviously, but the first draft of the fantasy saga took two years to write, and made a lot less sense than this book does thus far, so, I don't know that it's a matter of how fast you write, but how clear your road is on the way there.

I definately stop when I realize I'm just writing "filler." I've gone back and cut some rather didactic conversations some characters were having because I didn't know how to end the chapter. The point at which I realized I needed to stop and go back and do line edits before proceeding was when I caught a character doing something he never would have done. I realized I'd unraveled that chapter, and needed to go back and find my focus.  

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Patrick said...

Excellento, Kam. Didn't mean to preach. I just know how hard you're pushing yourself to get this bad-boy done. :) 

Posted by Patrick

PerpetualBeginner said...

Interesting comment, Patrick. I do NaNo myself (2x so far) and I'm pretty clear that I would not have a novel, let alone two, by now if I had not done it. My internal editor is too robust for me to get any significant amount of original writing down unless I simply tell it to take a hike for a month.

This is not to say that quality isn't important, or that much of what is written in most NaNo's isn't crap, but simply chugging out your plot certainly can have a place in the repertoire of usuable writerly behaviors.

That said - good luck with finishing Kameron, and I hope you're happy with what you've got when you get there. 

Posted by Tapetum

Patrick said...

Sorry, Tapetum. I've had notable unpleasant experiences with NaNoWriMo folks. They may be smearing the bad names of the general majority -- it's unfair, but my vision of a NaNoWriMo person is somebody who posts several blog entries per day about how hard writing is and how they're so crazy for doing it, and then they don't actually do it, or they do and then end up with a novel that's never going to sell because the plot doesn't work. The whole thing strikes me as a bunch of people who want to be writers because they think the lifestyle is somehow cool or enjoyable, or because they like the idea of describing themselves as writers.

I say this as someone who produced approximately 50k-words of fiction last month WITHOUT doing NaNoWriMo and WITH a full-time job and a teething one-year-old son with sleep issues. If someone needs cheers from the crowd to motivate them to put pen to paper, then maybe writing isn't actually the best thing for them right now.

Again, that sounds harsh as I read it, but that's been my experience with the vast majority of the NaNoWriMo people I've checked out -- though I will emphasize that I haven't looked at many, after getting annoyed with the few I did check out.

I'd rather encourage my friends to plot well, and get a good rough draft that has the framework their story needs into polishable condition, than encourage them to write like mad for thirty days to reach an arbitrary number... which isn't actually a full novel length for most genres these days. 

Posted by Patrick

PerpetualBeginner said...

I can't really speak to your general experience of NaNo people as I generally don't hang out in the NaNo community very much. I wouldn't doubt that a lot of the NaNo people are much as you describe, though there are definitely other kinds. There are at least a few published writers (published before NaNo), who hang out there though, including Janet Kagan, who is one of my favorite authors.

For me NaNo was a chance to try out writing as a way of life - not as a lark, but to see if this was really what I wanted to do. Working to a mass deadline that other people are holding me to does seem to motivate me in a way that simply writing to my own schedule does not, so I find NaNo valuable. That said, as I get more involved in writing and with other writers, I find other ways to create those deadlines, and other people to hold my feet to the fire. I may do one, or possibly two, more NaNo's, but I doubt I will bother beyond that.

Perhaps this is because of my exceedingly robust internal editor. If something isn't pushing me to keep moving forward, I'll keep perfecting my first ten pages over and over again, and never get beyond them. But that's me. If I'm learning anything as I work at becoming a good writer it's that how people write, their habits and planning, are as individual as anything else human beings do.

I am very grateful to NaNo for getting me started, even if it won't get me where I want to go all by itself. 

Posted by Tapetum

Patrick said...

Sounds like it's doing something helpful for you, then. Glad to hear it, and good luck knocking off your internal editor until the first draft is done! :)


Posted by Patrick