Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNo Diary: Barb Dyess

The First Four Days Ever of NaNoWriMo
By Barb Dyess

This is my first time doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where one attempts to produce 50,000 words in thirty days time and survive the experience. After a harrowing first half of 2010, I stopped revising the romantic-suspense novel I’d been in love with and started creating my own peculiar brand of art. Good therapy—it’s been fun. But writing? Nope. And I’ve missed it.

To prepare for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I first decided on the project: a semi-autobiographical family-saga mainstream novel. I made a spanking new NaNo folder on the computer, opened a new document, and started writing. I also copied the Research/Notes folder to my NaNo folder for easy access to notes if I must have them. If I want to look, that is – which I am resisting, unless the lack of information truly is stalling my flow.

Some writers sign a “contract” committing to the goal of 50,000 words, but not me. No NaNo contract. I don't do contracts because going legal on myself makes me feel queasy – who wants to commit that much? I have, however, made some commitments:

• I write with a computer. Only. Pens & pencils are for drawing, for doodling or grocery lists.
• Printing things out? Highlighting? Ha! No point in wasting time or paper. It's all electronic.
• I’m shooting for 1700 words daily.
• Daily, I plug in my trusty external backup drive and back up all of my new/changed laptop files. This will hopefully (knock on wood!) avoid a nervous breakdown should my laptop go kaput after spewing 50,000 words of fiction.

Every day for the first four days, I started by opening up the manuscript document at the spot where I left off the day before. As a “warm-up,” I read a few paragraphs but resist the urge to correct anything I previously wrote (which ain't easy). Fingers on keyboard, I struggle a bit with what to say...then I start typing. In fits and starts, I am writing again after a hiatus. First day: 1564 words. This is amazing!

On the second day of NaNoWriMo, I waited until the evening Pikes Peak Writers Write-In session at Borders before writing anything...and was too tired to peck out more than a few hundred words. Mornings are my energy time, so lesson re-learned. Total word count: 2400. Next time, I'll come to the Write-In with only a couple hundred words to finish and make my goal.

Day three: I was fighting a draggy-cold feeling and crashed most of the day. Total word count: about 2800. Arrrgh.

On the fourth day, I gave myself an ultimatum: no shower and no decent food until the 2000 word mark is reached for the day. (Take that, lassitudinous self!) At 4:00 p.m. and after some (crucial) interruptions, I finished a scene and hit the Word Count button. After whooping it up and startling the dogs, I took a shower and skipped downstairs to declare a celebratory Portobello-Swiss Burger (hold the mayo) was in order for dinner.

NaNoWriMo thus far is doing a strange but wonderful thing: it has me writing again. Learning to want to write again. Getting ideas instead of being stagnant. A spark of belief in myself as a writer is glowing to life, the cold ashes of the soul cleaned from the hearth. Does it matter if what I’m producing is polished? Great? No. But it feels great to do this.

Oh yeah – day four's word count? 7,076.

Yeah, baby, yeah. It may be cliché, but write on.

BIO: Barbara Dyess writes with the mountains in view and dogs at her feet, a cuppa hot tea at hand. With a few dozen articles, essays and recipes published online or for non-profits, she’s studying how to craft an excellent novel with compelling characters and amazing plots. She writes fantasy, contemporary romance/suspense, historical, inspirational, mainstream, and some poetry when the mood hits.

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