Date: November 9, 2010
Goal Word Count: 15,003
Current Word Count: 13,556
Folks, this is the point in the month where I start kicking myself for doing so little planning. Sitting down to write is mostly painful: the pulling words to pulling teeth analogy is feeling apt. If I had any idea what I was going to write when I sat down, I think the Opening a Word Document Anxiety would be alleviated.
But looking on the brighter side, I’ve met almost all of my daily goals since my last check up. I fell behind on Saturday – I forgot how the weekends can be rough for me. See: all of my homework that I never get done on my days off. This is a bad habit. I would really like to use this extra time to get ahead, because I will be spending the 24th and the 28th in the car, and the days in between shuttling around between friends and family, and then only two days to recover and finish.
Plus, oh, final projects and school.
I also decided to switch points of view last week, from first person to third. But maybe I’ll switch back. Because I can.
This week I’ve been thinking about two things.
The Zero Draft
My YA novels usually begin in my frustration with a situation that many teens find themselves in, something that makes me upset. (WINTERGIRLS = Eating Disorders, f.ex.) But I think that if I focused on plot first, the stories would never go beyond “problem novel” fare. To me, the most interesting element is character. So I ponder a situation, do a lot of character freewriting, and wait for a new voice to pop into my head and start whispering. I do not worry about straightening out the plot bones until after I have written a mess of a first draft.”
This is comforting for me, who is staring at a word document with multiple POVs, crazy plot lines and character relationships that seem to have nothing to do with each other, and no idea about what will happen next. But I’ve also been reading up on dramatic structure, and the takeaway from that research is that without structure, nobody will want to read your book.
But maybe, like Laurie does, I can take an entire draft – a Zero Draft, if you will – to figure out my characters, and in the next draft let them tell me what they really want to do.
A Glass Case of Emotion
This week was a big, fat reminder of how completely incapable I am at controlling my emotions, and how easily I let them sway my behaviors.
Last week, I was on a roll. I had this new scheduling system that was working out really well (shut up!), I was prepared for my classes and starting assignments early. I was nailing my wordcounts.
Then, on Friday, I got a poor grade on an assignment I worked really hard on. My professor’s comments were not terribly specific, and amounted mostly to “You need to change the focus of your research project.” This normally wouldn’t bug me – I’m not as big of a GPA fiend as you might think I am. However, 1) I worked extra-hard on this project, deliberately, and was not rewarded for my efforts, 2) The grade I received made it impossible for me to get even an A-minus in the class, and what was worse, 3) The project is ongoing, which means I still have another part of the assignment due, which apparently needs major revision and reformulation. And this part is due on Friday. Also, 4) hormones.
So yes, I was upset for all of those reasons, and suddenly, the insecurity I was feeling about my coursework seemed to trickle over to my NaNo Word doc, too. Anything that put me in front of a computer, really. And with the project deadline looming, and no clear work to be done to get a good grade, everything in my life feels kind of… crappy. I can’t really focus on anything.
This is obviously a problem, and it doesn’t just affect my writing. Even the magic schedule that was last week’s salvation is unappealing. I don’t know what to do about it, currently, except slog, slog, slog and try not to wish too sincerely for someone to put me out of my misery.
Moody Author Photo: