Tag Archives: anne lamott

Shitty First Drafts & NaNoWriMo

“Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts” ~Anne Lamott

If you haven’t read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I highly recommend it. It is a book that discusses craft and other writing related things. But what I took out of it the most is that it is ok to write messy, shitty, plot hole ridden first drafts. I spent a long time paralyzed by the idea that I had to write a perfect first draft. It also helped me realize that it is ok to be a kind of crazy writer and that I am not alone. Sometimes writing is such a hermit activity it is easy to think that I am the only one who feels this way.

In any case, I cannot tell you the amount of tyranny that my inner critic ruled my writing life with…that voice, which is helpful during edits and rewrites, is downright stifling when I am just trying to get the story on the page. Part of the initial resistance this NaNoWriMo has been my need to stuff the inner-critic back in its box. He had his mustache-twirling tyrannical joy fest when we edited my pre-NaNo novel. And now it is time for some quiet time in the box. Really. And I don’t feel bad about being mean to him; he is a tyrant after all. (And he was mean to me first.)

Shitty first drafts coupled with NaNoWriMo have allowed me to complete several first drafts now. This November I am rediscovering the joy and the pains of writing a first draft from scratch. Last NaNo, I ventured to write a sequel so I didn’t have to root around as much in my world-building. I am building this new world from scratch. It is terrifying and so much fun at the same time.

I am also learning new things about my craft and my style. I have read Rachel Aaron’s awesome blog post about going from 2k to 10k a day. I haven’t hit 10k in a day yet, but I have hit 5k two days in a row. Just by jotting down the basic events of what I wanted to write for that day. I really enjoyed how she explained her triangle of enthusiasm, knowledge, and time. Check out her post for more information.

In the great pantser vs. plotter debate, I always thought of myself as more of a panster. But I think that is somewhat of a lie; I always hit writer’s block when I don’t know where I am going with the story. I think that I am more of a mental planner. Like I have an idea of where the story is going in my head. A rough outline I guess. So now here I am jotting down brief pre-writing session lists. I am not quite to a full outline stage of planning. Perhaps I am a pantser with plotter tendencies? I don’t know entirely. Although even the greatest planners do get sidetracked from their outlines and plans sometimes – so I don’t think anyone is purely one or the other.

So what do you think? Are you meticulous in your first draft? Do you write shitty first drafts? Are you a plotter or a punster? Or both?

P.S. I am super happy the election is over!

P.P.S. Sorry it has been a while since I blogged, I caught a stupid cold.

©K. Klein 2012

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under inner critic, nanowrimo, writing

Planning for NaNoWriMo 2012

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is check out their website here. The basic premise is to write a 50,000 words novel in the thirty days of November. I have participated in this challenge since 2010 and really enjoy pushing myself to write.

What 2010 taught me about my first draft process is this: write-through the fear. Often times, when writing I get to a point where I don’t know what I am going to do or where the story is going. This might seem odd since I don’t tend to outline, but I usually have a vague idea of where the story is taking me; usually two to five steps ahead of where I am chapter wise.

When I reach the end of that I often hit a block. My first NaNoWriMo taught me to write-through the fear and the unknown. It goes back to Anne Lamott’s idea of the shitty first draft. The whole point of a first draft is to get the story on the page in all of its messy glory. It doesn’t matter if it is pretty or not. I also tend to think of this stage of drafting as the “don’t kill the baby stage.” I learned that it is important to not jump into judging it too fast because you don’t know how it is going to turn out in the rewrite and revision stage.

The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that I learned something completely different in 2011. Last year I finished the first complete draft of novel-1. It isn’t technically the first novel I’ve completed, but it is the first one to make it to the rewrite and revision stage of the process. Well, I finished novel-1 on October 31, 2011 and then proceeded to start writing its sequel on November 1. And I had to drag every last word out during last year’s NaNoWriMo; yay for burnout. I am sure this had nothing to do with being in grad school at the time. I swear.

I am out of grad school now. Yay. And so I plan to learn a new lesson in 2012; novel-1’s revision deadline is set for October 31, 2012. However, I am going to write something not related to novel-1 or its sequel. I have several shiny new ideas dancing around in my head. I think I am going to pick one; hopefully before November 1 (although who knows) and go with it. I need a break from Novel-1’s world much as I love it and the characters I’ve created.

If you’re a writer, do you plan on taking part in NaNoWriMo?

©K. Klein 2012

2 Comments

Filed under nanowrimo, writing