Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - Day 3

"Sit in sun. Sun goes behind cloud. Look at watch. Notice that second-hand does not always point directly at little marks on dial. Sometimes it does, though. Then sometimes it doesn't. Why? Feel panic at how quickly life slips by. Get to work."
-Nicholson Baker
My friend brought me one.
It was spicy.
No, that's not a euphemism.
Shut up.
Goal for today: Regain momentum.

Did I meet it?

Not yet...though I probably will.

Right now, I'm sitting at around 1500 words for the day. That's really close to the recommended daily dosage, but it's still 1,000 words behind my personal daily goal. (Remember, I'm taking Fridays off, I don't expect to get anything done over Thanksgiving break, and I'm trying to do this "one chapter a day" thing. That's why I'm being so strict with myself.)

I'm on track, according to the official site. In fact, I'm ahead of schedule. But I'm not far enough ahead, and my production is clearly beginning to lag.

(For those of you who are still struggling to get started, yes, I realize that this is a luxurious complaint to have, but there it is anyways.)

Let's look at the numbers:

Day 1 wordcount: 3,151
Day 2 wordcount: 1,667
Day 3 wordcount: 1,491 (so far)

That's a trend, folks. And it's one that I don't like.

Earlier today, I was talking to a friend and fellow NaNo writer about our various mental blockages -- y'know, the things that keep us from writing. I talked about my issue with "the first two pages" or "the first twenty minutes." This ties back into "starting is hard," so let me explain.

I've noticed lately that I have difficulty getting my writing done because I don't persevere past the first two pages of text. For those of you who want a different perspective, this is about 500 words. I'll spend 20, 30 minutes -- sometimes even an hour -- "working" on these first two pages. Yes, a lot of it is actual work -- searching for the right phrases, or exploring the setting, or trying to find the conflict that will create the scene, etc. But a lot of it is also various forms of procrastination and resistance.

(I'll gripe about my procrastination tendencies later. This isn't the time or place right now.)

The point I eventually made to this friend is that, once I get past those first two pages, I've usually found what I need to race through the remaining 5-10 pages in an hour or so. I fly through 1500-2,000 words without hardly noticing the difficulties -- especially if it's all within one scene.

But that's when I truly dedicate a comfortable two hours to writing, and writing alone. I was able to do that on Day 1, but the past couple days haven't been as effective, mostly because I haven't made it a priority to find either that time or that comfort.

(The other issue, of course, is now I'm having to consider the broader implications of the characters upon the world and the world upon the characters and the characters upon each other and etc. I can't just "find the conflict" in the scene and run with it because my subconscious knows that this is going to matter later. So I have to take time and energy to consider that.)

I don't really know if this makes my theory about my "first two pages" writing habit invalid, or if it simply means that there are other factors I haven't considered yet. Either way, it's frustrating, and it's something I'm going to have to fix if I hope to get this NaNo done this year.

How about you? Has anybody else identified particular quirks, challenges, or issues with their writing habits during this process so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time...
-josh k.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Progress:
Today: 1,491/1,666 words
So far: 6,309/5,000 words
Total: 6,309/50,000 words

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