Well, here we are again, ladies and gentlemen and all things in between! November looms ahead, and with it, the trial by fire we all as writers go through at some point or another: National Novel Writing Month.
I have had several failed attempts at NaNoWriMo. Well, failed if you take it straight at its face value, that you either arrive in December with a rough draft of a manuscript or die trying. I like to consider them successes. The year I only wrote around ten thousand words? That was the month I wrote ten thousand more than the month before, so I counted it as a small success. The year I first attended a Write In event, and pushed that ten thousand to twenty five? Yeah, technically, I still failed, but I considered it a huge success in figuring out what helps me produce more words.
This year, I’m taking a different approach to the usual routine. I’m going to try looking at NaNoWriMo as a chance to create not necessarily a rough draft of a manuscript, but a set of good habits. I’m starting to see that, at least for me, NaNo is less about what you’re writing, and more about the fact that you’re writing. It’s about the communal pressure – and support! – to write every single day. It might not always be on a fresh manuscript idea. It might not always be on the same concept. But as long as I’m writing every day, I’ll consider it a success towards building good writing habits.
I’ll be looking at building the following rules into my daily routine:
Write. Might be 50 words, might be 5000. But every day, put something down in writing.
It’s okay to switch focus. I’m one of those people with a ton of half-cocked projects at any given time. And a lot of my motivation comes from idle daydreaming and brainstorming I do while doing non-writey tasks like housework and my Day Job™. So I need to grant myself the freedom to write what I’m feeling that particular day. Otherwise, I won’t write anything at all.
It’s okay to produce bad writing. I’m the sort of person whose procrastination somewhat stems from perfectionism. It can’t be done until it can be done perfectly. And as anyone who’s written anything knows, your first draft, without fail, is garbage. So I’ve been trying to learn that it’s okay to screw up. It’s okay to do a bad first job. It’s okay, because it’s gonna get revisited.
So, like all my other NaNo attempts, I probably won’t emerge with a finished rough draft. But hopefully I will come out with some solid writing habits that will produce many rough drafts, and revisions, and blog posts, and on and on and on…
We’ve all heard this piece of advice. It gets bandied about like that fruitcake your family has been regifting every Christmas since Reagan held office. But recently, I heard something a little different:
I have a thought about ‘kill your darlings.’ There seems to be a general notion out there in the ether that the phrase means, ‘Hunt down every sentence or image you really love and cut it down like a pernicious weed.’ That, my dears, is bullshit.
In my opinion, what it really means is, ‘If you’re rewriting a whole scene just so that a paragraph or conversation you’re in love with will work, and it still kind of doesn’t, maybe it doesn’t really belong in this story and you should print it out and put it in a lovely, decorative folder labelled DARLINGS to read on those days when you hate every sentence you’re writing.’
I love this idea of celebrating and showcasing work you’re proud of even if it doesn’t make your final draft. I also think that we as a writing community are excellent at cheering each other on during the writing part of the process, but that there needs to be more mutual support in the editing stages, too. The less editing sucks, the fewer first drafts are gonna be floating around masquerading as finished manuscripts.
So, it is with this sentiment that I propose the following: Undead Darlings. This is a Twitter event, similar to the daily writing sharing tags, like #2bittues and #1lineWed, but with a bit of a twist.
How it works:
Every Tuesday, share a ‘darling’ you killed in the editing process. You can share up to a five line paragraph.
Only one contribution per person, please! I am only one person(and not a very good one at that) and also I don’t want to drown out the #2bittues people.
Include the hashtag #UndeadDarlings, so I can find you!
Now for the real twist–by that Friday, I’ll contact one participant for an interview! We’ll talk about your darling, how it met its untimely demise, your editing process, and obviously, anything you wanna promote.
Your interview will go up the following Tuesday right here! (Yeah, it’s a bit of a turnaround period, but again, I am one person, and I don’t want to rush your post or get overwhelmed and have to shut this down)
So, hopefully, that covers everything, but I’m sure this page will get updated as I figure out why my current plan is a terrible idea. But that’s okay. This blog isn’t called Hearning Curve for nothing, amirite?
I know, and I’m sorry.
Have questions, comments, concerns, calls for my execution?
Thoughts on the ‘Kill Your Darlings’ mentality?
Amazing gifs of Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan?
Put them in the comments below!