Already behind but still not worried

Yes, it’s only the fifth day of Camp NaNo August, and I’m already behind where I’m supposed to be. According to the NaNo calendars I’m using as my background, I should be at 8,065 words today. Since I’m aiming for 60k this month instead of 50k, I should really be at 9,670. I’m actually at 6,511. I’ve written the prologue and chapter 1, and I’m at least halfway through chapter 2, probably a little more. According to the Camp site, I have to write 1,611 a day to finish on time. I can do that easily if I actually focus.

I generally get like this when NaNo starts. For the week or so beforehand, I’m excited to start working on this new project. Then the day before and the day it starts, I panic and realize that I haven’t planned enough and that nothing I write is good enough, and I drag out the writing process. I sit at my desk with my coffee, but instead of writing, I watch TV. I watch movies. I play games. I read blogs. I start making notes on other novels I want to write in the future. I pretty much do everything but write.

Most of the writing that I do have so far is based on the chapters I already had from previous attempts to write this novel. The first time I tried to write this novel was NaNo 2008. I wanted to try pantsing a novel, so I wanted to start with a character and just see what happened after that. I ended up with four characters (which eventually evolved into three), and I had an overall outline in my head before NaNo even started. I got about 10k in and then quit. I tried writing this again back in August 2010. In order to prepare for NaNo, I was going to try to write a novel over the span of August and September. I got about four chapters in before I gave up.

Now I’m more prepared. I understand most of the characters. I have a clear view for the first several chapters at least. Now I just have to deal with the fact that it’s never going to be as great in my head as it is on paper. The rational part of me knows that that doesn’t matter, that it’ll get better when I edit it and that my second draft is always better than my first, but the other part of me is still afraid to keep going. I think part of my problem is that I’ve now done a bit more editing with Tilt, and I don’t want to make it harder for myself later. Both Tilt and Learning to Lie had to be completely rewritten, and I’m afraid that most of Degeneration will be, as well. I already know that The Story of Em will probably need to be tossed, or at least reworked, if I want to make it a completed draft. Part of me just wants to slow down a bit with this one and see if perhaps I can actually keep the first completed draft of this one. Obviously it will still need editing and reworking, but I shouldn’t have to redo the entire thing.

I think that’s throwing me off, though. I should just write. If it ends up needing tons of editing later, that’s fine. Editing Tilt is actually proving to be rather enjoyable. I have tomorrow and Wednesday off work, and possible Tuesday, as well. I forget how slow the first few weeks are. My plan tomrrow is to get caught back up with where I’m supposed to be. That means a little over 5k and 4 chapters (since I wanted to write at least 1 chapter a day). I’d rather keep up with the chapters than the word count, but I’d be happy either way.

And tomorrow, the TV stays off.

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Posted on August 6, 2012, in CampNaNo, Editing, Keep Going, NaNoWriMo, Tilt Your Head and Smile, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. You cannot be as far behind as me. I didn’t start writing until today. πŸ™‚

    As for the rest, give yourself permission for the first draft to be imperfect, to just be a start. What you need to do is get it down on the… er… screen? Doesn’t sound as good as getting it down on paper, but I digress. Just write, don’t look back unless you absolutely have to, and try not to even then. Let it just be whatever it will be and let the second draft be distant, an acknowledged future and nothing more.

    Having thrown out an entire novel and redrafted it from the ground up, I can tell you it’s part of the learning process. I didn’t use a single word from the first draft of Bound when I wrote the second draft (1st Draft 2.0 as I call it), except for names. Why? Because I’d made a fundamental mistake in how I’d built the story and the world, and another in how I told the tale. What those were doesn’t matter, they’re not the point. This is. I learned from rewriting it, because I stopped, assessed what was wrong, then took the things I realized and put the lessons learned into practice for the next draft. A quantum leap forward was made. And I haven’t made most of those mistakes again so far. Moral of the story? As long as you recognize what didn’t work and learn from it, it’s all right.

    Don’t beat yourself up. Learn and move forward, always forward to the next word, next paragraph, next chapter. You’ll get there. I know you will.

    • I’m working on it. And I know that you can still learn a lot from the drafts that you completely discard. I just hate that I seem to be doing that with *every* novel I write. But I’ll get over it. If that’s what it takes for me to like what I’ve written, that’s what I’ll continue to do. πŸ™‚

      • The key is examining at a meta-level what didn’t work, so you can learn not to do those things. For example, in the first draft of Bound, most of the decisions were being made by characters other than my two mc’s, who were almost along for the ride. Put that baldly, it’s obvious what I did wrong, but I didn’t see that when I was down in the sentences and paragraphs. When I realized that big-picture problem, I learned not to do that, to make the story about the choices of the main characters and to ask myself at every choosing why they were making the choices they were. The improvement in my writing since has been such that I don’t need to keep throwing out drafts as I did with that one.

        I’m hoping you’ll get to that point too. But then, if this is the process that works for you, then continue. And maybe my method won’t work for you. I don’t know.

      • That’s a good idea. I really should look at the bigger picture problems. I’m fairly good at looking over a draft and figuring out where I went wrong, but I’m not as good at looking at my writing as a whole and discovering my weak spots. I really should do that. I would probably learn a lot. Thanks! That example helped put things into perspective. πŸ™‚

  2. You can do it. Like Julie says, don’t beat yourself up. Sit down and write and don’t worry about ‘good’ or even ‘perfect’. Just move forward and you might even be surprising yourself in the end. Good luck!

    • Thanks! It’s funny, because that’s the same advice I always give people. For some reason, I have a hard time actually following it myself. Haha. But thanks for the encouragement! πŸ™‚

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