I’ve often noticed that my writing process resembles nothing so much as a dot-matrix printer. Do you remember those? The printer head crossed the paper from left to right producing half a line of text, and then on its return from right to left it would
In the past, that’s essentially how I approached my fiction writing. I would carry the story forward until, realising something needed to be added or deleted, I would return to that earlier point, make the correction, and then move forward. That sounds fairly straightforward, but it often meant deleting many thousands of words of text in order to forge a stronger structure. I’ve found it time-consuming, frustrating at times, but very
effective. Not something I’d recommend to others, but it worked for me.
Since I started writing To Capture the Light as a NaNoWriMo project I have found that this process no longer works. True I can go back and add passages to I completed chapters; revise things like characters’ names, but I really can’t delete – at least not huge chunks – if I’m to keep my word count up. That’s not a bad thing. It forces me to plan my structure ahead rather than flying by the seat of my Penney’s best pants. It also keeps me from fiddling obsessively with the text.
What impact this new process will have on the final work remains to be seen. Going in, I had a clear beginning and ending already in mind and so far I’m still on track. Today I pass the 10,000 words mark; I was up till 2am getting a lot of today’s quota done. I’ll go back to it after I finish my blog entry. Which brings me to the best thing about NaNoWriMo: it keeps me focused on the task at hand and allows me to work creative muscles I might
otherwise have let atrophy while i was, essentially, doing the same calisthenics routine each day. Time to stop being a dot-matrix printer and become an athlete.
I’m looking forward to the next 10,000 words…