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NaNoWriMo--not! - The Motive Center
March 12th, 2005
11:06 am


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Now that I've put in a few words for NaNoWriMo, there may be people going "Aaah! I can't do 500 words, let alone 50,000!!" No problemo! Not everyone writes in big bursts; many don't write steadily, or at great speed.

Anthony Trollope said: "Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write." But Anne Bernays thought it was "shameful" that on her best days she wrote only about three or four hours. Samuel R. Delany, who is pretty severely dyslexic, once proclaimed himself very pleased for writing a "perfectly wonderful sentence in only twenty minutes!" For some people, slow and steady wins their race.

I met a woman once who was terrified of writing. I mean in the sense of provoking anxiety attacks. But she had a doctoral dissertation to write--a long one--and trust me folks, it takes a lot of writing!

So she set herself a goal of one sentence a day. She didn't have to stop there, and often she wrote more, but that was as much as she could face. I think of this as the terror of the blank page--going from nothing to something is harder than something to something more, for some people.

I've said elsewhere that people set too high a standard for being creative; I think this applies here. Just starting makes some people second-guess themselves, because suddenly they must be creators. This is, I think, one reason why a lot of people like fan fiction--they don't have to create the world from scratch. It's a smaller scale of creation, and thus less intimidating, though still satisfying.

I think I've said this on the LJ before, but it's worth repeating. If you wrote only 200 words a day (2-3 good-sized paragraphs), you would have a novel's worth of words in a year--over 72,000 words!

The trick is setting the goal that energizes you--or reassures you that you can probably do it. 200 is way too low for some people; writing every day may be too stringent a standard; 200 may be too high for you. Whatever works!

Current Music: Let Me Roll It

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:March 12th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
This really does help me feel better. :D
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC)
More parallels with visual arts. Some artists draw all the time, paint all the time, produce heaps of stuff (Picasso, Van Gogh). Some do a little here and there. It's the results that count, the final ones. It's often hard to keep telling one's self that one particular method isn't THE answer for everyone. Often I feel like a slacker because I didn't work 8 hours on a day off on art. This makes no real sense as eventually, I get the work done, and don't make it drudgery just to get something done.

On the other hand, over justification of slacking is also not a "method." :)

Thanks, Steve!
[User Picture]
Date:March 14th, 2005 02:34 pm (UTC)


Yep. Quantity ain't quality. Even Picasso had his bad days. So did Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida! Ick!). And as you clearly understand, making it drudgery then takes the joy--and the motivation--out of it. As long as you keep producing, who cares how much when? the more you do it, the easier it gets--or the higher quality you can create.

Harper Lee wrote one book: To Kill a Mockingbird. I wish I could write one book that good!
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