Monday, October 25, 2010

To NaNo, or Not To NaNo...

FIRST: Have you entered the HALLOWEEN CONTEST EXTRAVAGANZA yet?  If not, do it here.

And now: To NaNo, or not to NaNo?

It's the question on everyone's mind this time of year, isn't it? It sure is the question on mine, and I still haven't made a decision. Here's why.

When I take the "vomit on paper" approach, what I write is crap. I mean, steaming poo, scrape it off your shoe and throw it away crap. It's awful. But as bad as it is, there are usually kernels in there that I can use, that serve as the foundation of the scene that I wanted to write but didn't because I was rushing to get the words out.

On the other hand, when I take the "write, delete, write, think, go back over the last scene, think, delete, write, write, cut-and-paste from somewhere else in the scene, write, think, write, delete, write" approach - otherwise known as the painstaking, my-fingers-are-bleeding, "edit-as-you-go" approach, what I come up with isn't too bad. It's still not great - there are always things that need to be done to make it better - but it's not something I'd be embarrassed to show to my crit group. But it also takes a lot longer. I'd never make the NaNo target of 50,000 words doing it this way, especially not in November, which is when Thanksgiving and visitors from overseas and housework threaten to take over my life.

So, which is better? Just getting something down quickly, even if it's crap, knowing that I can rearrange and edit and delete and rewrite it into something critiquable? Or saying, screw daily word goals, I'm going to write for four hours a day and no matter how long it takes me to finish the book at least it's going to be of an okay quality when I get there?

What do you think? Is NaNo a go, or a no-no? What writing style works best for you?


  1. I like the word vomit approach because it gives me something to work with. And it makes me feel like I've accomplished something, even if I know I'll be changing most of what I wrote LOL

    Getting the new material down is always the hardest part for me. I do pretty well with edits - so yep, word vomit it is :)

  2. I just tried the word-vomit-with-prepared-outline approach last night, and it wasn't half-bad. I'm leaning towards NaNo.

    I know what you mean about feeling like you've accomplished something, and feeling like now that there are actual words there, you have something to work with.

  3. I think there's something to be said for word-vomiting once a year. I tend to write the slow way too--editing and bleeding as I go--but the NaNo approach gives me an excuse to just GO without the inner-editor lecturing loudly the whole time. If for nothing else, I NaNo for the differentness it provides. It gets me out of my usual routine and forces me to simply write. I think it is a good exercise, even if all it produces is dog-crap. (Which it does for me, too.)

    But I see your dilemma! It's hard to spend a month on something you know you probably won't ever use.

  4. I just write through then go back when it's done-the word vomit approach. I tried to edit as I go and got nowhere fast. I really admire anyone who can do that though, it sure isn't easy!

  5. I'm not officially doing NaNo but I do like to get the first draft out continually and in a timely manner. I like to inhabit the story. The timing for NaNo isn't great for me but I do have NaNo like writing experiences for my 1st drafts more often than not.

  6. I think my project from last year's NaNo is viable--still needs reworking though, even a year later! So, it's either get the draft down in four weeks and spend a year revising, or take a year to write a novel. Flip a coin. ;)

    If you couldn't tell, I've decided to stay away from NaNo this year. I'll be revising instead. :D

  7. I'm a believer that no writing is wasted writing. HOWEVER, the spew approach means a longer time in the editing stage (and I'm not a fan of editing) BUT the edit-a-I-go approach takes forever and when I'm done I too often need to make major changes so I need to throw out all that hard work. I think the key is finding the happy medium. When you find it, let me know ok? ;)

    Actually my happy medium is writing up an outline BEFORE NaNo so I can spew out words based on a preplanned story.

  8. Word vomit is the best approach for me. If I try the edit-as-I-go way, I get bogged down and I get nothing accomplished. Needless to say, NaNo is my savior.

  9. I can't do it and realistically accomplish much with working full time. I'm going to try the organized approach next time I start a manuscript and see if it saves editing time.

    But for lots of people, it works. So if you think NaNo will for you, you should try it.

  10. I used to do the second style, and now I just write crap and go back and edit it later. I write a lot more now, and I actually think I write better. My crit groups only get to see a 3rd or 4th draft of that though. The first is even to awful to read to my husband!

  11. Hi,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday. I'm your follower now and hope you'll follow back.
    I had been wondering whther or not to do nano this year, and finally opted for YES.
    It isn't only the feeling of accomplishment, and the exercise in shutting don your inner critic, but also the fact that there's a HUGE communal energy because thousands of people are 'suffering' with you at the same time. :-)

  12. Very informative blog.

  13. I've been waffling on this for a week. Glad to know I'm not the only one out there.

  14. I think Nano is a good challenge for writers to get their butts in chair.
    But no nano for me. No time, but I will be working on my writing on my own schedule!

  15. I'm a word vomiter (love that, by the way!). That being said, I do like to plan, so I usually vomit plans and then commence with the words :)

    NaNo IS a lot of work, and a lot to take in. However, I've done NaNo in the past as a chance to rewrite a current work. I say use it as an excuse to get soem work done. Set your own goals and work toward completing them by the end of November.

    Hope to see you in NaNo land!

  16. Although I am not so keen on being a "joiner" in these large organized things, I love the amount of kids who are taking it up. And I like to hear about it, but it's not for me.
    I write a mixture of both ways, making sure I write each day and produce at least something, but I have to edit as I go along. It's when I take a step back and look at the big picture and what I've got that I start to panic!

  17. I'm not really either; sometimes I'll write a lot, and sometimes I'll edit it afterwards, although not very often. I prefer to let things stew for a bit before editing/revising.

  18. I'm always hesitant to do Nano. I like to take my time, even with a draft.

    I haven't participated yet, but I'd like to one day.

  19. It looks like there's a general pro-NaNo feeling going on here - I like that!

    So here's my commitment: I am currently outlining my first YA novel. I have a few (like, four) scenes writen, so it's pretty new. If I have enough of an outline done by Friday (so that I have enough time to register, get my page in order, buddy people, etc.), I will do NaNo.