It was a short writing day, ending up just under 1.5 hours as I had to order that fridge. Yes, the fridge is an important part of this week! Should get here next week so I can now keep my milk almost right next to my desk. #priorities. It will also help with keeping lunch food fresh, which is the real reason I’m getting it, but the “it’s all about the coffee!” excuse fits better to us writerly caffeine addicts.
Day was short because we spent the afternoon and evening at the spa / thermal bath. We had a coupon. You wouldn’t believe how much of my travel and vacation time is justified with “we had a coupon.” For a time, it was the only way to afford things, now it’s become a part of justifying taking time off. Like, “look, it’s so cheap, it would be a crime not to buy the coupon at 50% off!”, and then of course we have to use it, because we can’t let it go to waste. Booking online counts as coupons, right?!
Anyway, I digress. I printed out the last six chapters I’d written but because I snored my way through part of the time I didn’t sweat in the sauna or soak in the hot pool, I only got around five pages proofread. Which is more than I’ve managed in the past. And technically, it wasn’t supposed to be a productive work afternoon. We had planned to go there two weeks ago but with my mind still curled up in itself we postponed the trip, as in the past I’ve seen that if I’m not well, being forced to “relax” for 7-10 hours just makes it even worse, while it’s a prime recharging opportunity when I’m doing okay. I was a bit miffed that I couldn’t finish writing the scene I was smack in the middle off when we had to leave at noon, but I’ll get to that today. No biggie. And I did beat the daily NaNo required words, just wish I could have continued my 5+k streak.
Brief “discussion” topic: How to write a novel – pantser vs. plotter
If you haven’t heard those terms yet, there are two main camps most writers flock into–those that write intricate outlines, sometimes up to 100 pages for a 300 page novel, and those that do no outlining whatsoever and write “by the seat of their pants.”
I’ve for a long time considered myself not a plotter as I don’t write my outlines down. But I’m definitely not a pantser. I need to know where my story is going, and once I know, I fill out as many details as possible in my head before I sit down and write it. So, yeah, I’m a plotter, 99%. But really, it doesn’t matter how you write, only that you write and finish a novel that, to the reader, is a good, cohesive story. I flounder the moment I lose my outline. Most often when I’m blocked and it’s not because my mind is running haywire, it’s because something with the outline is amiss. Often, what looked good in my head, when translated, makes no sense–contradiction, timeline issues, or just plain “Character X would never do that!” moments. While I do outline, I often have fuzzy parts in between the crystal clear scenes, and that’s where it’s easy to get lost.
Or, as happened this very week, as I write, out of nowhere, something happens that wasn’t planned. A three-sentence conversation turns into a chapter-long verbal battle, big reveals jump onto the stage out of nowhere, fixed details become fluid and realign–and it all makes way more sense in the end than I had planned before. Not all, but some of the “oh, this why Y and Z happened” moments in my books were written this way. I didn’t plan them, but of course I know a lot more background information about the world, and what happened off-plot, than I can write. Plus, my subconscious knows 1000x as much. And, sometimes, when I know that at the 80% point of the story this and that will come to the light and I need to foreshadow things now, my subconscious pulls the trigger and either drags up the supposed main plot out into the open, or comes up with something even better. Feel free to guess what turning points in the story surprised me in the past books, and which were planned years in advance.
I love when things like that happen, because usually, they are very important, good scenes that add a lot to the background of the characters and keep the story fresh, but they do tend to drive me insane, because then I need to reshape the path that was almost set in stone already. Writing, however you do it, is always pure creativity. But I’m not someone who relies on spurts of creativity, and sometimes, they really mess with me and the story. Then again, my first draft doesn’t really need editing (as in, add scenes or entire plot lines, cut half of the chapters) but mostly proofreading to make sure details are okay, and those damn typos and misused words are corrected. I know several writers who say their first draft is barely the skeleton of the book, entirely unfit for public consumption, and the real creative work lies in their second and third pass as they add the details and put it all in the right order. I think because I basically transcribe the movie I’ve put together before I write, my process is always linear, and comes with few variations. But that’s only one way to write a novel, and there are thousand other way to do so. Just so you know why I despair when someone tells me that it should all be spontaneous and creative. Nope, not my MO. This is how almost main characters get killed.