Nov 20 2009

NaNoWriMeet: back on the horse

Published by at 10:10 am under blwio,momentum,NaNoWriMeet,Writing

The fits and starts as a new endeavour gets underway are at times almost more discouraging to one’s motivation than no progress would be, whether you’re talking about learning a new skill, working through personal growth issues, or yes, writing a novel.  I don’t know about you, but my streak of perfectionism, when it arises, often manifests as a frustration at not doing something right the first time it’s tried.  Now in my case, it’s not as bad a reaction as if I’d received crappy programming on the issue when I was a kid.  I was always my own motivator and cattle prod much more than my parents ever were, especially in academic situations.  I think my personal irritation on the issue comes from being used to doing most things I try fairly well, often on the first tries. The thing my parents did so very right for me was making sure even with that advantage, that I encountered things that were too hard for my learning levels throughout my childhood, so that I had to learn how to screw up, fall down, get up, try again, repeat until “successful” (at whatever you were trying).  An invaluable lesson in the adult world, and one I sadly see too many parents avoiding, possibly even out of a poorly-thought-out desire to help their kids.

Whether your folks did right by you back then or not, as an adult it’s now your job to take up the slack and fill in their gaps in your own development.  (Sure, it’s unfair; but it’s worse to pass the problem on to the next generation or perpetuate it in your own.)  So it’s time to find at least some working answers (which can always be changed to accommodate new information later) to the question, “When you fall off the horse when learning to ride, how do you make yourself get back on?”

The Nike adage is useful for a lot of people here, almost a short-circuit on the higher-order thought meandering.  It doesn’t matter how, you just do.  Getting back on is just what you do.  Truthfully, that attitude works for me in some situations and moods, and not so well at other times.  Sometimes I gotta cerebralize it to get through.

In those instances, I’m not at all fond of stick-level motivation, usually, though I recognize it works for some.  I don’t personally see it as anything other than an energy expense and a drain to punish myself for not making any words the last two days, or not making all of them this past day.  The castigating attitude isn’t going to engender a response of “my gods how could I have been so wrong!  I will rush out right now and write 5000 words in atonement!”  At least for me, it’s much more likely to get a response of “You’re not going to see or acknowledge the good work I DID do? Ha, see if you get any more work out of ME, then.”  And no, I’m not the sort of parent that asks the kid bringing home a 95 “what happened” to the other 5 points, either.  We’re much more likely to have an impromptu parade and dance through the living room over the 95 points part!

So this past day, after two days of break, I knew it was very important to get at least some writing done.  While the first two days of break had legitimate explanations for no words (computer troubles, family upset, more computer difficulties), the only excuse this day had to offer was inertia.

“But I’ve already missed two days and only written one!”

“Yeah, and if you write today you’ll have doubled your success rate for writing words, 25% to 50%.  Try again!”

“I hurt and have stress.”

“You hurt and have stress every day.  Doesn’t count as a legitimate no-writing pass.”

“This scene isn’t going as well on the page as it did when I talked it out in the car.  The characters continue to be unclever.”

“And once you’ve finished it, you can fix it.”

“I’m restless.”

“Fine we’ll take the computer and write while we do laundry, thus getting TWO useful things done.”

“Oh, all right.”

It worked decently well–6 pages’ worth.  Being elsewhere has its own distractions, but knowing why I’m there helps me refocus as needed when the distractions happen.  I usually like to write at home, but I like to try writing around others in social situations frequently enough so I don’t lose the knack of being able to.

Previous novel wordcount:  21,169
Today’s words: 1277
This blog post: 834
Total daily words: 2111

New novel wordcount:  22,446
Favorite tidbit:  Thinking about the differences in the attributes we assess when meeting someone in person when we’ve already seen a picture or video of them.

Funnest flub: My old friend word repetition repeats itself here again. “Instantly” three times in a paragraph, twice in one sentence.  Some things are quick and necessary to fix when noticed even in an initial draft, and self-amusing when found in revisions. Plus, that’s one of those words to be careful about using; how often do things really happen “instantly”?

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