author life,  NaNoWriMo2017

Day 8 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 13,333
Actual words: 7,690
Overall words: 20,571

Booyah! Take that, measly word count! Just kidding, of course I love every single word I can add to my daily tally. And I really don’t want to jinx it. But this is the kind of day I live for. Where, from getting up in the morning to falling asleep at night, I’m in the “zone,” and words just tumble onto the page to form one beautiful, cohesive creative mess. Whenever I sit down to write, I aim for 3,000 words. 5k is where I’m happy. Almost 7.7k, now that’s a really good day!

Writing was easy yesterday, also because of what I was writing. Some scenes are just easier than others. Conflict, action, that usually flows well. Maybe I should explain exactly how I write for that to make a little more sense.

You’ve probably heard me mention that before. The story that you get to read is the transcript of the movie that’s playing in my head. Whenever I have some downtime (commuting, sitting on the toilet, cutting veggies for dinner, but best when I’m walking with loud music blaring in my ears to drown everything else out and let me focus even more on the story and characters) I’m locked inside my head, working on one story or another. Sometimes it’s a completely new part that unfolds as if you’d spill water down a mountain, raw and uncontrolled. Sometimes it’s going over the same scene over and over and over again to fine-tune dialog, work out details, maybe add a bit here or subtract it there to round it out or create extra context that wasn’t there before. I don’t do that to absolutely everything I write–each book still has passages that I do improv-style, where there was only a vague sense before that this or that has to happen to connect the fleshed-out parts. It’s usually the connections between important shit, and where random new ideas just spring up and throw my entire concept under the bus! Love when that happens! It certainly keeps things interesting, and me as the storyteller on my toes. But over 90% of what I write is pre-plotted and chewed-apart many times over before I sit down and write it.

I don’t write in one six-hour long session. Well, sometimes I do, but that has to be a part that’s perfectly plotted, no variation possible, and usually the end of a book when I just need to check boxes and tie it all together. That’s hell on my hands and back. Usually, I try to get some movement in at least every two hours. That’s why working from a coffee shop is great, two hours is about as long as I can sit, sip a coffee, and write before I need to get up and find the restroom. Might as well pack up and walk to the next location, preferably at least five songs and 30 mins away. Sometimes I end up walking for over an hour as well. When I’m at home or in my office, I tend to walk up and down, which ends with kicked cats at night and snagged headphone cables on kitchen counters. Oh, the sacrifices I have to make for my work!

There’s just one thing I can’t, and that is plot while I exercise. One might think that swimming lanes for over an hour would be perfect to get lost in one’s mind, but alas, no. It works for blog posts (and other rants inside my head that never make it out of there) but not for fiction. That’s why I got myself a waterproof MP3 player and now listen to podcasts, because ranting for an hour while I should physically focus on either ramping up speed and making all those muscles work, or relax and stretch them out as I go through the motions, not soooo healthy for the mind.

Writing almost 7.7k words in a day means I’m working the entire day, with breaks, of course. I love doing that, but of course, that’s not always possible. No appointments, no distractions, often not even phone calls or answering emails. Those are pretty much my urban hermit days that I happily spend inside my head, letting some of those images translate into words. It feels amazing to be so productive and creative. Like, this is what I’m meant to do, 24/7. This is what my perfect life would look like if I could sustain it for more than a few days at a time, if even that. And just consider how many books I could publish if I’d only need 15 or so back-to-back to finish a book! Add a perfect quick week of editing and post-production each, and I’d be a happy camper.

Because of the way my mind works, I’ve considered dictation in the past. It’s all the rage now, and some old pro writers have been doing it for decades. Might try it again, but saying “comma,” and “full stop. New paragraph. Open quite. Fuck yourself. Exclamation mark. Close quote,” does throw a wrench into that flow of creativity that I need to be in when I write like that. Maybe I should just try it without punctuation, and add that after the app transcribes my slew of consciousness. But I’ve been writing the same way for years, fine-tuning the process to the point where now I have no idea what a normal human being does with all the downtime in their mind. Because I always write one story or another up there, and I’d go insane if I tried to stop. Which will never happen.

Fun fact: I sometimes talk to my characters in my head, or let them talk with each other. Let me tell you, Nate commenting on romance novels I read makes it a very different experience than the author likely had in mind for the readers. Might also be the reason why I still read romance sometimes. I love me some good satire.

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