Michaeline: Are NaNo writers naturally insane?

Impressionist drawing of a gay young woman in a green dress, leered at by men in costumes.

Oh, the dizzy marvelousness of NaNo’s first week! Nothing is clear, but all is gay and bright! (Via Wikimedia Commons. Jules Cheret)

Are all writers naturally insane?

Or is it more that writing causes insanity? I have a feeling it’s mutually enabling.

At any rate, if you want sane and standard advice about National Novel Writing Month, I recommend my blog post from the first week of November, 2014.

If you want commiseration or a good cynical laugh, read on.

The thing I learned in the first week of NaNo, 2015 is that unless you are insane, don’t expect to write a historical novel from scratch and meet your word count. Writing historicals needs research, and research benefits from direction, and writing provides direction. Go back to the start, and repeat until you are floating in a maelstrom of ideas, and have random notes clogging your files, and random scenes written in the document. Ignore the messiness and hope it can be all sorted out in December.

*This* is what a domino is! A kind of cloak, and it can be belted, and worn by men or women. After reading Georgette Heyer, I came away with the impression that it was a sort of sandwich board for some reason. Oh, the things we learn during NaNo! Via Wikimedia Commons. (In the style of Aubrey Beardsley.)

*This* is what a domino is! A kind of cloak, and it can be belted, and worn by men or women. After reading Georgette Heyer, I came away with the impression that it was a sort of sandwich board for some reason. Oh, the things we learn during NaNo! Via Wikimedia Commons. (In the style of Aubrey Beardsley.)

I averaged about 1000 words a day this week, which makes me very happy, since I was averaging 0 words a day last week. I also managed to produce about 100 more pages of pictures and notes and links last week, which is a 50 percent increase over the entire month of October. Since I was writing, I knew what I was looking for.

But, oh, what a roller coaster. I got caught in a 1906 book about masquerades, tableaux and drills for three hours. I felt came out thinking, my god, I haven’t written anything this afternoon. Then that evening, a writer buddy contacted me on the NaNo site and gave me a fabulous link that confirmed that yes, the ball I was creating really might have had a masquerade, tableaux, and those mysterious garments called “dominos.” Suddenly, my inner movie of the ball got a lot more details.

So, I’m not sure what my point is here. Do not despair? No, I think it’s more that if you are producing more than you were last month, NaNo is working for you. Forget the rules, forget the word counts, and just concentrate on the story.

Despite all my uneasiness of “not doing it right”, I had a lot of fun this week, and was productive. How about you? NaNo or not, were you happy with your writing this week? What did you do right?

10 thoughts on “Michaeline: Are NaNo writers naturally insane?

  1. I’ve been revising an old novel before republishing it in e and print format, and I cut another 3K words this week! About 12% of the total overall length so far. Feeling happy. Also thinking that by the time I’m done with this sucker, it might be a novella. Well, that happens.

    Congratulations on your progress! Researching, writing, thinking, revising—it’s all part of the process.

    • LOL, this is a marvelous view of the other end! Write like the wind, edit like . . . something unwindlike and very cool and efficient! It’s really fun to dig out the real idea in a mess of words (that’s what I’ve got on a lot of my pages right now — a mess of words), and then see what they look like. What a good week for you!

  2. Congratulations on a productive week, Michaeline – and same goes for last week, 100 pages of pictures and notes sounds like good going! And thank you so much for the picture of a domino – I’m indulging in a Heyer-fest at the moment so that’s much appreciated. I knew it was a kind of cloak (most often seen at masked balls and the like, love the one in Cotillion), but that was the extent of my mental picture.

    I’ve done about 1k per day this week. I’m trying to sort out my third act, which is much slower going than I expected. I’m following through on all the changes and corrections I made in the rest of the story, and it’s making my head hurt. Answering questions in a satisfying manner is much harder than asking them 🙂 .

    • It’ll feel so good when it’s all straightened out and coordinated, though. And 1k a day? Fabulous! These aren’t just “discovery words” with the disconnected thoughts and swearing left in, these are the near-finished words or really-finished words, and that really is a good job!

    • Welcome, Rhonda! I have a few health issues myself, but I find some consolation in the story of Laura Hillenbrand who suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome while writing Sea Biscuit. It really is tough, but it can be done. Hope you are feeling better soon!

  3. Congrats to all on being so productive! I am a NaNo rebel (kind of my natural state of being, I think) so am counting words I’m racking up to ‘fix’ Act IV, which has involved scrapping most scenes and writing new ones, as well as words for an historical romance novella. Things have been a bit derailed by a very sick fur-baby, but hoping to get back on track this weekend.

    As to whether writers are naturally insane or writing causes insanity, it’s really the chicken or the egg question of the literary world, isn’t it? 😉

    • (-: I didn’t even try to answer it. The writing can feed the insanity, and then the insanity feeds the writing. And if all the stars are right (so to speak), something great happens. If not . . . well, bad stuff.

      You have been rocking — I’m watching your word count over on NaNo! Great job!

  4. I decided not to NaNo this year, because I’m trying to finish the DB (Damn Book) for the Golden Heart, so I’m not measuring words written; rather, I’m measuring “scenes completed,” and I have one more to polish at the beginning of my book to consider the first 50 pages (plus) DONE (which is what I need for the GH). Then it’s slogging through the rest, but mostly editing…only a bit of new writing needed here and there. The good part is — and this goes along with your research thing, Michaeline — is that I’ve figured out what the “smoking gun” is as far as the evidence Nate seeks (and it’s literally a gun!), so now I just need to fit that in where the old piece of evidence was written. I think because that little (big!) piece had been eluding me, I was hesitant (subconsciously) to finish the book, but now that I’m satisfied with what Nate will find and prove to be the Uncle’s downfall, I’m excited to get this puppy finished!

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