Deborah Jackson

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Reluctant Muse and NaNoWriMo

Everyone’s so excited about NaNoWriMo. Are you ready? Gear up and start writing.

Uh huh. Right.

Why am I not excited? Because I know that I will not write a book in a month. I didn’t say I couldn’t. I could. And it would be exciting, full of the energy of slap-dash writing, bursting at the seams with stream-of-consciousness chatter. In other words, it would be atrocious and I’d have to completely re-write it.

I know there’s all kinds of help out there. I read on an agent’s blog about plot formulas and (of course) a great e-book you can buy that will guide you through the process. How wonderful. And your plot will be . . . formulaic.

Almost anyone can write a book in a month. Almost no one can write a “good” book in a month. Ask how many “years” the prize winners took. Plain Kate, one of my all time favourites, took about six years to inject all the nuances of character, to place the perfect word on the page, to refine plot, etc. What about all the preliminary research? What about character development? And pacing?

Do your original words sing off the page, or do they cough and sputter? Do they need a tune-up after writing?

I imagine you might be able to do it, and it might be a brilliant book. I’d have to bow at your feet, because you’re a genius.

I know, I know. Sometimes it’s just a method of forcing that reluctant muse to work. Banishing the procrastinator.

But my muse can’t be forced. It has to be coaxed. My ideas only develop over time and a few sleepless nights, and I know I’m not alone. If I force myself to write on a topic I have no passion for, even for a blog, it needs to be tossed or rewritten. That’s why I’m writing this blog. Because I passionately feel that NaNoWriMo is a waste of time.

Say you have this seed of an idea. Let it grow, nourish it over time with research that will send up more shoots, process it through your creative soul, develop memorable characters who will make that idea flourish, then write and focus on scenes, chapters, expansion. After the approximate time for a full length novel first draft, three or four months minimum, let it sit and stew for another three months. Then look it over, rework, revise, flesh it out or strip it down. Do this again and again until it shines from the inside out.

Or flush it out of your system in a month. You can do it. But you might just want to keep on flushing.

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