Friday, November 03, 2017

Writing Different


As I mentioned, this year I'm taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I'm not sure if I'm going to reach the 50,000 words, but I am now looking for time when I can write each day. I do write every day, but — because I'm trying to finish a nonfiction book — I haven't carved out a time each day to work on my historical thriller. Instead, I've been doing research.


I've done research on the mood of America in the 1930s. Research on fashion and houses and Gone with the Wind. Research on the 1939 New York World's Fair, J. Edgar Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the cost of living. I've done research on train schedules and the details of the tasks performed by sleeping car porters. I've watched films released in 1939 and listened to popular music. I've watched video tours of Washington, D.C., New York, and Atlanta. I've also watched a video showing how to drive a 1936 Ford. I know a lot about some things and a little about others.

The question — the real test — is whether during this month of focused writing I know enough to make it through the first draft without stopping to do research. Can I insert a question in brackets to remind myself to fact-check later and keep moving? That is not the way I normally write. I don't like to fill in information later. But this is my month of challenging myself to write different.

Writing different means that instead of working on my novel on weekends, I will get up a couple of hours earlier and start writing. I will write the entire two hours, not go back to read what I wrote the day before and edit. I will keep moving forward, working toward a first draft that is sure to be horrible.

But writing a horrible first draft may be what I need to do with a thriller. I need to feel the forward motion.

Right now, I'm going to bed. Getting up at 7 am is a shock to my system. I will keep you informed about how my attempt to write a novel in a month goes. If nothing else, I think it will force me to stop researching everything that crosses my mind, and instead focus on what I need to know.

Is anyone else doing NaNoMoWri? How did you prepare for the month of writing?

3 comments:

Rick Blechta said...

Frankie, certainly working on two books complicates things for you!

I believe you have the right approach (just pressing forward with the book rather than going back). It's like conceiving the story in your head (which is always a messy thing) but then sorting it all out as you actually commit it to “paper” (real or electronic).

I did this exact thing when I wrote a novel in eleven weeks start to final draft. The actual novel was completed in five of those weeks and it was indeed a horrible thing in that first draft. I laugh about it now, but it took me a week longer to get the ms edited into a presentable form than it did to write it!

But at least I had a finished product in the time-frame I’d been given.

Good luck!

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Rick, thanks for the words of encouragement. This is so out of my comfort zone. But I think it's the only way to approach this book that I've been afraid to try to write.

Mario Acevedo said...

Great post and good job tackling this. Writing a book is one task that never gets easier with practice.