Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, November 07, 2012 12 comments
When NaNo time comes around every year, I honestly get a bit blue. It seems like everyone and his brother can churn out thousands of words a day, and I just can't. I never could. Not even when I was furiously scribbling away in high school (and my teachers through I was such a great note-taker! Ha!).


Photo credit: ajaxserix from morguefile.com
But you know what? There are plenty of NYT bestsellers, plenty of Pulitzer prize winners, plenty of all kinds of good, successful writers who have never written 50K words in a month. NaNo can be a motivational tool BUT it should never, ever be a de-motivational tool--something that makes you feel like a hopeless loser for not diving into.

Sometimes great ideas come in a flash of white-hot inspiration. But more often, the big ideas, the life-changers, take time to develop fully. Serious time. Decades of time.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share my story of the idea that arrived before I was mature enough to write it, and how letting ideas simmer can yield good results. Stop on by Shannon O'Donnell's blog Book Dreaming and be encouraged.

Shannon is also hosting a giveaway of an e-book of NEVER GONE and a SIGNED paperback. If you've been hankering to win a copy but don't have an e-reader, this contest is for you!

Do you keep an idea file of stories that come when you aren't ready to write them? What's the longest you've ever worked on a project?

12 comments:

  1. I've always been jealous of writers who could whip out a first draft in a month or two. (How's that even possible?) But I have to stop judging myself by others and be thankful for what I can do. I am trying to use the NaNo fever as inspiration though--I have written 8000 words over the last two weeks. Though now I'm a bit drained and the daily new word counts are dropping.

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    1. I think NaNo can be good for mixing up the writing routine, but comparing ourselves to others is generally never a great idea. Be the best you that you can be!

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  2. I do agree that many ideas are just flashes of inspiration. But then if you allow them to simmer in the subconscious they seem to cook so they come to the table with stacks of good aromas and taste fabulous. I'm all for the slow simmer...

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    1. Idea files are a really powerful too, I think. The stories with real sticking power benefit from a slow approach and when you come back to them, they're all the more tasty for having marinated.

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  3. NaNo doesn't work with my writing style either. For a long time I beat myself up about not being able to churn out words the way others do. My lesson this year has been to embrace my pace. I am calmer, happier, and, I believe, a better writer for it. Off to click on your link : )

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    1. "Embrace the pace"--love it! We need T-shirts!

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  4. Thanks for this. I always feel discouraged whenever NaNo comes around because I just can't write that quickly. I give credit to those who can but I always feel like I am just writing words to write them so that I can make my goal and I end up with paragraphs that don't make sense.

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    1. You're definitely not alone. As Melissa said above, we each have to learn to embrace the pace that works best for how we build stories.

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  5. I have definitely put ideas on hold because I don't have the skills yet. When Neil Gaiman said he'd had the idea for The Graveyard book but put it off for years until he could do it properly, it made me feel better!

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    1. I've heard several well-know authors say that in this book of literary anecdotes I have. Just because you can't write a story NOW doesn't mean it's a bad idea. It may be your best idea, if you give yourself time to be ready to tackle it.

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  6. Longest? Thirty years? I wrote the first version of CassaStar when I was a teen, and then rewrote the whole thing five years ago. Not sure if that counts though.
    The pressure of NaNo motivates me because I'm a lazy writer.

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    1. Good for you, picking up a long-shelved manuscript. Sure that counts. I didn't spend the whole 20 years working on my book, but like you set aside a partial draft and picked it up much later.

      You're probably one of those best under pressure writers like my husband. I'm the opposite--I tend to fall apart. I deal with work deadlines by steadily pushing myself to complete issues of the magazine days to weeks early in case I hit snags.

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