When I started preparing for NaNoWriMo the first time I conceived this novel project, I mapped out my expected plot on (virtual) 3×5 cards.
Just checked back in the old folder: 153 of those cards. Thank God I didn’t try to do that with real cards. I would have gone crazy before I ever started.
When planning, I padded the story with (optional) stories-within-story, making several characters storytellers with a habit of explaining things through application of traditional tales.
Very soon into the process (not long after I wanted desperately to quit, actually) I realized those stories, while potentially interesting, were less than unnecessary to reach word-count.
As I was writing, working hard to “make time” and complete word-count by deadline, I did not write chronologically.
Any time I got bored with what I was writing I jumped to another scene that was more exciting. When Jay read the whole thing at the end of the month he commented on the breakneck pace of it all, and how much he wished for white-space and breathing room.
Then when I went back to finish I found I had to fill in all sorts of holes. When I started doing that I realized I wasn’t clear enough about my goals and where I was going, so everything I added felt like mere fluff. Filler. Pointless word-count when what I wanted was a coherent story.
My word-count would creep up and I’d instantly mistrust it. It’s sprawling; growing too fast! and I restructured and re-visioned it, choosing to make these big changes mainly on the insecurity I felt in the story.
And now, with more words than I’d imagined spending on one story, I finally know exactly where everything is supposed to be and how it should turn out. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of confidence. I’m getting to the place where actual length means less to me then the quality of the story.
That is, when I’m writing I have no measure of anything other than word output. Now I’m in wow.
Current scene-count is 42. Nuts I know. After the current pass through I’ll go back with the red pen and see what we might do without. But maybe it’ll all belong. I’m trying not to think about that now.
One of the things I’ve been working at through this noveling process is maintaining a larger view of reality (whole novel, needs and writing process) while focusing enough on the small bits that I don’t get overwhelmed.
And I got to apply it to living today: did stuff with my sick kids and absolutely *nothing* on the house. And it all felt okay. Especially when after they were all in bed I got to watch Chuck with Jay and still clean up two more scenes.
Oh, and I hate DST. In case anyone is wondering.