Writing Tips

[Nanowrimo 2019] Week 2

Remember how I said last week that the new Nanowrimo website is great for catching up? Yup, as you can see from the gif above, I’ve almost hit the daily word count goal so far over the last 10 days or so.

That isn’t to say that the writing process itself has been great. Rather, there’s been quite a fair amount of slog. I estimate that I can possibly use perhaps only 25% of what I’ve written so far. Writing time has been extremely finicky – there’s been a lot of experimenting with what I can or cannot do thanks to the surgery, and there was also that day when just hitting the bare minimum was harsh.

After reaching a point in which writing about the story my character was reading was more interesting than the actual writing itself, I decided to just restart the entire thing. And this turned out to be much more interesting and easier to write. Things I learnt:

  1. My character has a very specific personality
    I know the kind of things I want my MC to go through, and I already have a glimpse of the people she keeps around her. The surprising part of it is that she has just told me her father is still alive, and we are still debating on whether he’s really the nice guy she remembered or if the time spent away from family has dehumanised him. There’s a lot to explore, and this isn’t even covering the reason why she ran away in the first place.
  2. The place where we began has a personality
    Turns out old buildings that have been bewitched and bespelled have a sort of sentient personality. Writing the openings and the way she interacted with the building was fun, and I look forward to her going back there again, though because I am a consequential style of writer, this may take some time.
  3. Establishing things based on previous knowledge
    Despite the fact that I kinda hated the way the previous story went about, I’m actually very happy with the trivia and nuggets we dropped earlier. As they say, you can’t revise a blank page, and even though I will be throwing away a lot of words, the knowledge I gained writing those is very useful.
  4. What is routine?
    I thought I had already settled on a routine but that turned out to be false. Instead I try to write whenever I can, using sprints to get started. Yesterday’s long word count was due to me sitting down and just writing out a scene that played out in slow motion before my afternoon nap – I didn’t expect to write that quickly to the point that after I’d hit word count, it was only 3pm in the afternoon. I had fully intended on leaving it as is, but it turned out I had a bit of fuel left after dinner, so I kicked out another 1k words to almost make that day’s actual wordcount.
  5. Music makes a whole lot of difference
    At the office I use to listen to those “chill lofi beats” as they’re great for just zoning out and relaxing. However when it comes to creative writing I’ve since learnt that they’re good for getting me relaxed, but not that great when it comes to writing. So far I’ve been jumping between Assassin’s Creed’s and since they announced, the entire Aquarion OST. There’s something really different about writing to an anime soundtrack instead of a generic cafe style.

And then I took a much needed break yesterday while writing this and broke my streak whoops. Turned out to be a good thing – while I’m still not happy with parts of today’s writing, I’m pretty happy with where the novel is going.


[Nanowrimo 2019] Week 1 progress check

It’s 8 November where I am now, and that means Nanowrimo Week 1 is officially over. I make it a point to try to participate yearly, if for nothing else than it gives me an excuse to write silly things, and this year’s no different.

The circumstances are a little different for me this year though. For one, I’m recovering from myomectomy, a fibroid removal surgery. For another, I am writing this not from my home/work place, but from my mother-in-law’s, so the atmosphere is noticeably different. I also started pretty late this year – usually I try to get some words in on November 1 itself, but I haven’t been able to muster the energy and strength to actually start writing until the 4th.

Which actually turned out to be a good thing. Some things I’ve learnt this week:

  1. Learning to let go
    Despite being a pantser, I tend to have a very specific idea of how words should appear on a page. At an unconscious level, this was me judging myself. I like to be able to turn in clean first drafts, with the idea being that my writing would only need tweaks or that the idea has already been made apparent, with just minimal editing required. There was also the idea that what I wrote is a reflection of who I am as a human being (I know, please laugh with me).

    This year’s Nano has taught me otherwise. In its 4,500+ words I’ve written so far, I’ve come to acknowledge my silly biases and honesty to myself. What is coherence? What is linear thought? While I am still a in-sequence writer, I’ve learnt to not question the time skips and jumps and the stereotypical-ness of my writing.

    Plus I didn’t expect the idea of whiteness to appear so strongly, so that was a nice surprise.

  2. A little bit at a time
    Thanks to the surgery, it isn’t recommended that I sit for too long periods of time unsupported. The chair where I write has no back, and my stitches do hurt from time to time, so I make it a point to stop and take a break. I also seem to have superficial thrombophlebitis, so the back of my right hand is swollen and hurts when I flex my hands a bit too much.

    These enforced breaks, combined with regular eating times, means that when I am at the laptop writing, it is focused writing.

    A sprint helps me get started or end the day’s writing session, while the rest of the time is spent percolating over what comes next in the story. It’s already moving at a clip I didn’t expect.

  3. The new Nanowrimo website is extremely great at catching up
    It actually shows the word count you need to achieve that day in order to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month, so I no longer need to do the rough maths myself – I can just write according to the amount of words required. Plus I admit, it’s nice to see the chart climb.

  4. Word counts don’t matter
    Ironically, while I am writing to a word count, this year’s more relaxed goals for myself means it’s a nice signpost, but it’s not a must to hit 50,000 words for me. I will admit I’d like to achieve it, but being behind this year and feeling like I missed the boat makes me feel more free compared to before and allows me to do things with my story like inserting descriptions where I want to, and not because I thought it would plump the word count.

  5. Fingernails
    I need to cut them and soon, they’re way too long for typing lol.

How’s your writing journey going?