Sunday, November 11, 2018

Some NANOWRIMO Thoughts

It’s probably obvious I haven’t been here for a while. My writing output has suffered with my new hobby of producing writing tools—turning pens. I’ve long collected pens and now making them by hand with a lathe has become a wonderful diversion. Even with that, though, my writing bug has not gone away.

There are as many writing processes as there are writers in the world. November being national novel writing months (NANOWRIMO), I thought I would jot down the way things work for me.

All my first drafts of everything I write exceeding a paragraph in length are handwritten—pen and paper. I envy those that can compose in front of a keyboard, but that is not me. My preferred tools are a fountain pen and pad or notebook. I love the feel of ink flowing onto the page the way it does from a well tuned nib. When the ideas are flowing fast and free, my hand can barely keep up with what my brain is producing. When the muse isn’t working, words on the page—any words—are better than nothing.

The second draft starts (it’s still really the first draft) when I type the handwritten content into a word document. Obvious mistakes are corrected, and word changes, easy edits, and similar content revisions happen here. These are not major; more of a clean-up.

Then the real work starts. A printer is my best friend. I edit and revise best on paper. Scribbles, scratches, revisions all get made by pen on the printed copy. For books, this doesn’t happen until the entire “first” draft is done, typed into the manuscript. The changes then get typed into the document and the process starts over again; print, edit and revise, type. On a book, I may do this five or six times before I consider it “done.”

Another part of the conceptual process is commonly divided into two schools; plotters or pantsers. Plotters have an outline which can range from simple to incredibly complex before they begin writing. Seat of the pants writers just let things flow.

For fiction, I fall into the latter camp. The story and characters tell me where they want to go, sometimes surprising me. For non-fiction, though, the outline rules. If this seems inconsistent, I plead guilty. All I know is it works for me. 

Writers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about process and comparing theirs to others; not in a negative way but always hoping for ideas on how to get better. This is mine—for now at least—and it works for me. 

And now it's even more fun doing it with a pen I made myself.