Monday, November 14, 2011

The Double Clawed Writer- A NaNoWriMo Update

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  
Filed under "The Mental Game"

The last three days have been rough, and my body is following my mind in revolting against the challenge. It’s been a real test of my willpower to turn on the computer today.

First, my enthusiasm began to wane. Not my enthusiasm for my novel or the story - quite the opposite - but my enthusiasm for the NaNoWriMo challenge itself. I’m starting to get a feel for the story and the plot; ideas come to me faster than I can type, but I’m experiencing an inner rebellion about the time and word count constraints of NaNo. In short, I’m not feeling it. I don’t want to push through to the prescribed word count, paying no heed to the quality of the words, for the express purpose of arriving at the designated word count goal. I don’t want to prevent myself from going back to the first chapter and rewriting it because chapter four changed everything, simply because editing and rewriting are Na-NO's.

Then, there are my hands. Despite my finding and using these very helpful stretches for my arms and wrists - I’ve been in a considerable amount of pain the last few days.  Saturday I woke up and knew I couldn’t put hand to keyboard. I took some NSAID tablets, gave my forearms a massage and stayed off the computer all day long. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I couldn’t sleep Saturday night because my forearms and wrists ached so much that they kept me awake, tossing and turning.

Sunday I got out the wrist braces and took another day off from the keyboard. I took the computer-free time to do some mind-mapping, brainstorming and note-taking on my story…all with pen and my new notebook dedicated to this novel. I worked on editing my printed WiP1 manuscript. Writing with a pen didn’t feel bad at all…making me ponder the madness of writing out longhand some of my story.

Today, I’m braving the keyboard again. I’ve set a timer to go off every half hour for a stretching and walking break. These braces make typing difficult, but they do alleviate the strain and even the discomfort. Out went the horrible iMac mouse and in I plugged the bamboo tablet. The pen feels more natural in my hand, no pain.

I don’t know how this NaNoWriMo challenge will end this November. I don’t doubt that I’ll finish my draft, but I’m not sure of the time frame of 30 days. I’ll keep forging (I typed "foraging" at first, but that seems to fit, too) ahead. On the upside, some great ideas are coming to me, and the plot is developing. I’m getting the hang of fleshing out the scenes and connecting them to form my story. It isn’t something I can easily describe, other than to say that things are starting to click. I have hope for my WiP1, and I think WiP2 will turn out to be a pretty good first draft, at least, better than WiP1's first draft. Plot holes be damned, full speed ahead! Or, full turtle speed ahead.

How goes it for everyone else? Anyone doing the AW Novel Challenge along with NaNo? Anyone else feeling the heat rising off of their inflamed wrists and tendons?


  1. I wrote almost nothing since Friday's blog post (and if you saw that, you'll know most of the typing was 'brick wall' in the Search Images field, lol), so I'm so far behind in NaNo that I may never catch up. But that's okay. The big drawback to NaNo is the pressure we put on ourselves to finish. The simple truth is, you may have evolved past needing NaNo to write.

    Hope your wrists and hands feel better.

  2. Jeff - Saw your brick wall. *sigh* Brick walls and claws...I think there's a bad country song for writers in that. I'm having some wine right now - not writing. Tomorrow's another day, right?

  3. Jeff - thanks for the well-wishes on my hands - hope your brick wall falls down!

  4. "Writing with a pen didn’t feel bad at all…making me ponder the madness of writing out longhand some of my story." I switch off, back and forth, between keyboard and pen; but I usually have a couple stories in the works at one time. For my novel-length projects, I always write them out and then type/edit them later.

  5. @MJF - You know, someone else was writing about longhand on their blog - I didn't think that many people wrote longhand, anymore. I'm going to have to give it a go - my wrists are actually swollen.

    I'm curious as to how it will change the process, anyway. Could be an interesting experiment.

  6. I don't think it is totally against any rules to do rewrites - just keep what you had previously and highlight it and make it strike out or a different color or something. That way it will keep your word count moving forward.
    If you find a place that you want to come back and work on later - add a note. I keep my notes in blue so that I can easily come back and flesh it out later. The reason for not editing and rewrites is to keep you from getting stuck in one place. If your characters decide they want to go a direction than you had originally planned - go with it. Just don't throw what you have away until after nanowrimo. That way you have all these wonderful notes to work from and a big fat word count to go with it.
    Sympathy for the hands and arms. I can definitely relate to the claw syndrome. I am waiting to wake in the night furiously typing in the air...
    Good luck!

  7. @Dee - I had a visual of myself, waking up in bed and realizing that I'm typing in the air - thanks for that image. It made me laugh on a dreary day!