Day 20

Word count yesterday: 0.

That’s not quite, true, though. I actually opened up a fanfic that I’d started a while ago and wrote a couple hundred words on it. Then I reformatted A Lonely Magic with its lovely new cover and I wound up spending the day on that project, including editing the first chapter. I would swear that I edited and re-edited and edited some more that first chapter, but I couldn’t resist making more tweaks when I had the chance. Part of me thinks that’s terrible — move on, write the next thing, don’t get trapped into endless revisions — but the editor part of me was a lot stronger yesterday. No regrets.

Today I’m miserably allergic and having guests over for dinner, so it’s not likely to be the most productive day. Not to mention that most of my brain seems to be endlessly trapped in a loop of what to do about my kitchen. What to do, what to do… ugh. I’m sick of it and it hasn’t even gotten ripped apart yet. But maybe it’ll be like the floors and I’ll really love it when it’s finished.

Goal for today: to do something productive. To write some words. To get back into Cam’s story. It’s a fun story, and if I weren’t feeling so miserable, I’d be a lot happier about being able to play in it, but the tissues are piling up and I’m starting to think chicken soup might be the menu for the evening.

Last night I had a revelation, though — sitting in front of a fire in a friend’s backyard and watching the flames, which is really the best possible way to have a revelation — that perfect is boring. Not only is my perfectionism getting in my way and slowing me down, it also doesn’t make for better writing. I’m not talking about avoiding typos, of course, but about being too obsessed with things like repetitions, grammatical accuracy, and following rules.

For example, one of those “rules” for good writing is to find the verb that avoids the preposition, so instead of “put up with” you should use “tolerate” and instead of “figure out” you should use “deduce.” Straightforward, right? And actually excellent advice for people writing non-fiction. But in fiction, the prepositional phrases feel natural. They flow. Searching for the “better” verbs slows me down, but also doesn’t always improve the language. It can turn the text into thesaurus-verbiage instead of a smooth, unnoticeable voice. Even more important, it doesn’t make the story better. The plot, the characters, the setting — none of them become more alive because I’ve avoided using a preposition.

I won’t jettison that rule entirely. Good verbs–ones like jettison–are great when you can find them. But I’m going to try to relax when it comes to rewording prepositional phrases and try to give myself permission to be less perfect — not with the idea that I’ll fix it later, but with the realization that perfect isn’t the most important quality of a story.

500 words written this morning and not one of them on my book. Oh, I am bad, bad, bad at NaNoWriMo!

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2 thoughts on “Day 20

  1. I am also bad at NANOWRIMO but I don’t care. I’m writing a little which is better than before. Of course, the writing is interspersed with questioning – why do I want to write – why don’t I just read?

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