I’m taking a moment this morning, on Day 8 of NaNoWriMo and 13000 words into my novel, to stop and go through what I have written, not to correct or revise it, but in an attempt to capture every character and fact that I have carelessly thrown into the great stew that is my manuscript.
It’s tempting to just push on to meet today’s wordcount goal 1, but I think that I will save myself a ton of time this way. I’ve written so much and introduced so many characters (the locations are taking on characteristics that I’ll need to keep track of too) that I need this. Rather than spending time scrolling back up the document to find out the names I hastily gave one of my main characters’ co-workers, I’m capturing that now and putting it all down on paper. The aim is to put it into a Scrivener document too, but I’m working with paper just now.
How I’m Working
I really do like Scrivener with all its clever tools for managing scenes and chapters and all that, but I think it’s really going to be most useful to me later, when I’m trying to wrangle this thing into some kind of proper shape.
For now, I’m trying to minimize the decision-making.
If I have the opportunity to decide whether to start a new ‘chapter’ file, or make a note of this character’s backstory, or play with a corkboard of scenes WHILE I’m trying to write the first draft, I’ll just end up doing all that stuff. I’m not disciplined enough to stop myself clicking on enticing little menu buttons every time I reach a knotty point in the narrative.
So I’m using IAWriter which is intentionally annoyingly bare as you work. It doesn’t have a search function, or much of anything really apart from a nice font, a ‘focus’ mode and the ability to see your word count (and how long it’d take to read what you have so far2. I just have one long, scrolling document. If things get out of order or if I don’t know how to get from one scene to the next I just plough on3.
But that does mean that things are getting quite unwieldy. In order to cause myself the east distraction possible I’m doing this kind of thing for each character.
The notes at the top are about the character and the column down the side is full of names of the people in his orbit. Very basic stuff but it feels like the way to blast through this first draft. I feel speed is of the essence. Having recently gone back through my abandoned 2010 NaNoWriMo effort and realised it actually has some potential, I have decided that there is definitely something to this ‘writing with abandon’ model.
- 2000 words a day, instead of 1667, in order to get ahead of the fact that I’ll have at least five days in the middle where it will be very hard to add any word count at all due to certain visits from certain siblings — woo-hoo! ↩
- 71 minutes! ↩
- Last night, for example, after spending hte whole day ignorning the book because I didn’t know how to get from this scene to the next thing tha needed to happen, I just skipped over it entirely and started writing a scene that wanted to happen, even though I wasn’t sure it was in the right place. And 3000 words later I went to bed. ↩