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Another reason why NaNoWriMo can work - The Motive Center
November 12th, 2005
12:04 am


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Another reason why NaNoWriMo can work
Contrary to what you might think, I've not failed to post because of participating in NaNoWriMo--I'm still chugging along with the linear novel, with breaks for travel, of which there has been quite a lot. I've emailed myself the novel a couple of times before trips, and interestingly I never work on it while on the road. Maybe because I now associate it so strongly with "every night while I am at home." Or maybe I'm just tired! I've generally been out with colleagues or clients in my evenings away anyhow.

But I digress. I observed that it was harder getting back up to my average word count this time; I had reached a stopping point that required a tough plot decision, and I wasn't ready for it. So what I did was reread from the beginning, both to reset the story in my mind and also because I knew I would find things to expand upon or tweak. Today, in fact, I changed an important plot point, which now adds a level of tension to the story it needed. It took the whole week, pretty much, but today I went beyond where I was, and can see opportunities going forward.

There's a reason for this. As I think I have mentioned, memory works in an associational way--you remember things that are related to each other conceptually, as in the chain of connections I listed in the LJ Cut title. So re-reading the 45,000 words I have written so far helps me remember not just the plot, but also the associations I made with different characters and scenes. Since I read it much faster than I write it, it means I can take associations from the beginning and apply them more consistently near the end, such as language use by characters and suchlike.

Since NaNoWriMo is essentially immersion writing, it means that you are keeping all the associations fresh and active, and that helps your creativity. One post I saw on my Friends list mentioned someone overloaded by ideas in the shower. Very common phenomenon (the three Bs of creativity: Bed, Bath, Bus). Ideas form by associations between things that were not previously associated, right? That's creativity. So if you are keeping a very active mental network alive, you are able to make more connections. If you wait too long between writing sessions, it may go "stale" for you. The good news is that you can re-read. One novel I worked on over years required me to do this repeatedly, but what I found was that I came back with a fresh perspective and new ideas.

So the good news is that writing intensively can help propel your creativity. The other good news is that it is not obligatory--there are advantages to coming back to something you have forgotten and bringing a reader's perspective as well. Whaddya know--it's all good!

Current Music: An Innocent Man

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC)
Since my novel of September, I've already started a rewrite and have redesigned two of the five main characters. I really did find that having that goal every day kept me thinking about the novel in my spare time. Re-reading, as you said, really jogs things back into place, points out holes, issues and what have you. It's like holding a sketch to the mirror; all the errors are so much more apparent. And man, the bus! I totally miss travel time on the T for such thinking-reading time!
[User Picture]
Date:November 13th, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)


Well done! Glad you're not having a problem rewriting--I often find that fun, since the heavy lifting is done and now I can tinker and refine and add smart remarks. I like the comparison to holding a sketch to the mirror--it backs you away from the trees and helps you see the forest!

The T is great for thinking/reading time, it surely is...I use airplane time a lot now.
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