Pages

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writer's update: the importance of writing badly

I thought of the idea for this post earlier this week when a friend of mine who is participating in NaNoWriMo read a scene from mine and told me he didn't like any of the stuff he'd written. This November, I'm actually finding it quite hard myself to like what I've written so far, but a few minutes ago I hit the 25K mark on my word count and I feel like my story is finally starting to take shape. 

The thing with writing is that, unless you're freakishly amazing all the time, you're not always going to be able to write well. Not every word you put on the page is going to be something you'll be proud of. Actually, a LOT of what you write is going to be really, really, really shit. Right now, that's how I feel about 15-20 thousand words of what I've written in the past thirteen days. So why do I keep going? Because if I don't accept the fact that sometimes I will write badly, then I will never have the chance to write well. 

I have several friends who aren't participating in NaNoWriMo because they think the rules are stupid (Holmes, I'm looking at you). And that's okay too, because everyone writes their stories differently. Everyone has their own creative process. For some people, that means word-vomiting into Google Docs as fast as you can, including for NaNoWriMo, and for other people, that means staring at the computer screen for hours on end and only getting out a few carefully thought out and worded paragraphs at a time. Regardless of which approach you take, there are going to be days where you write shit, an days when you realise you're shitting gold. Sometimes it comes out somewhere in between and you know what you've got in front of you has potential. Even some of the worst stuff you write could have potential and that's the thing--being a good writer isn't about always writing flawlessly amazing words every single time and becoming a bestseller overnight. Being a good writer is about being able to identify what parts of your work are good, what parts are bad, and what parts are okay. It's about being able to identify where potential lies and bring that potential to the surface. It's not just about the first draft. It's about the editing process too. It's about redrafting. And sometimes it's about making a hard call and moving on to something else even though you've already put a lot of work into what you've already written. 

Sometimes, it isn't about which approach you take (QUITE-WRITE-A-FIRST-DRAFT-HURRY vs staring-at-the-screen-and-being-pedantic-about-every-word-I-write). Sometimes it's about which approach your story wants to take. At the moment, my NaNoWriMo is my first attempt at novel-length literary fiction. Yes, yes, crucify me and tell me what a snotty bastard I am for temporarily turning my back on genre fiction. The thing is, my attempts at literary fiction in the past have used the process that does not work well with NaNoWriMo and at times I've stopped and wondered if trying to write this particular novel for NaNoWriMo was a bad idea. And maybe it was. Maybe this would have been way easier to sit down and nut out slowly. But I started something and now I'm going to finish it. And even though it's probably going to be one of the worse novel-length pieces I've ever written--what with it's inconsistent voice and inability to STAY literary and not slip into one genre or another--the fact of the matter is that at the end of the this project, I'll have the first draft of another novel, which I already think has potential, even if it's only in the story and not so much the way it's been written. At some point, maybe later in 2015 or 2016 when it's been put aside for a little while and I've worked on something else and I can return to it with fresh eyes, I'll return to this novel and see if the writing can be salvaged or if I need to write it all over again. And I'm okay with writing it all over again. I am a writer. It's okay to press delete. And it's okay to hit the backspace key. And it's okay to abandon a project completely and move on to something else. As long as I maintain that I am a writer and I don't give up on writing. 

Writing badly is also important so that you can get it out of your system. It's more ideal to do this when you're NOT working on a big project that you're trying to take seriously, but beggars can't be choosers. Once the bad writing is out and on the page, what else is to follow but the okay writing and the good writing? And that's why it's important that we allow ourselves to write badly sometimes. And I don't mean to encourage anyone to be lazy in the way they write and then use this as a justification. I'm just saying: it's okay. 

So even though I hate most of what I've written so far and I'm now halfway to the NaNoWriMo word goal, I'm going to keep going, because I think I've gotten the worst of it out of my system and things are starting to perk up a little now. And whatever I wrote awfully at the start is something I can return to later and write all over again. Because that's what I do. I am a writer. 

How badly can you write?
Bonnee. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Writer's update: long time, no see

That moment when it's November and you realise you haven't blogged since August ... woops. I'm still alive, I swear! Well then, what the heck have I been doing? Yes, I've been asking myself this question quite a bit as well. And turns out, I've actually been up to a lot more than I realised.

Well first of all, I got a second job. Still at the university library, but a bit different to my job as a Student Rover. Throughout September, I was working 9-5 usually 2 or 3 days a week doing some writing and communications stuff for the head librarian. So that was pretty cool. I now have an access card to the staff only area and for a little while there I had a desk pretty close to all the offices of important library people. Then the head librarian was running out of time to give me stuff to do, so she got the service desk people to train me so that I can do all of that stuff too, so I've had a couple of shifts doing that in October. Now I'm finished with my second year of uni, so work at the library is a little slow. The Student Rover program won't run again until March next year, but in the meantime I'll still get the odd shift on the service desk during the summer teaching period.

But in between all that work in September and early October I was also still going to uni for eight hours on Mondays, meeting with the WORDLY production team on Wednesdays, and working on assignments. Well, actually, I kind of left all my assignments until the week before they were due, so in the space of one week I cranked out 3 essays ... and two of them were philosophy essays, so that made my thinker-box hurt quite a bit and I was filled with regret.

But before my assignments were all due, I was working both in the library and on the final edition of WORDLY for 2014 and I've got to say I am quite proud of what we produced for the Writers Club. We launched the final edition at the end of September and accompanied the launch with an open-mic spoken word event, and the Deakin Writers Club annual general meeting, where the new executive committee for the club and the magazine was elected. So, I am now production manager of WORDLY magazine and president of the Deakin Writers Club for 2015 and pretty excited about it. I have great faith in the rest of the executive team and I think we're going to work really well together to make 2015 an awesome year for all things writerly at Deakin.

So yeah, after all that and writing my assignments, I bummed around res for a couple of weeks while all my housemates suffered through exams (mwahahahahahaha suckers) and watched a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra with various people because it's amazing. I went on a bit of a holiday with two of my best writerly friends, Watson and Holmes, and we did nerdy writerly things for a weekend and a bit. Then I got all of my marks back and I was pretty happy with them. It was a good trimester at uni, overall. Then I went back to my hometown for a little and managed to get my probationary drivers licence, drove back up to uni, and moved all my stuff off res because it was that time of year again. It was very sad saying goodbye to all of my housemates and other ressie friends, especially the ones I've known since my first year on res. It was sad saying goodbye to res in general, because it's been my home for two years now and such an amazing place. I'll miss it dearly, but the lease was over and it was time to move to another dwelling. I haven't moved far from the university, so I'll still be able to get in to go to work pretty easily.

And last of all, it's November! Which mean I've started NaNoWriMo again. This year, I'm taking the idea I used for my fiction piece in trimester 1 and turning it into a full-length novel. I don't think I'm doing a particularly fantastic job of it thus far, but hey, what are first drafts for if not for making an absolute mess of a great idea? But what happened to my project from last year, the one I blue-tacked all to my bedroom wall on res? Well, I had to take it down when I moved out, but I did finish the first round of edits a little while ago now. Last month, I finally started transferring those edits to the document on my computer. After NaNoWriMo this year, I'll be spending most of the summer editing that, along with the work of another friend which he gave to me back in September. I've been intending to write a story sins blog post about WALLS, but I guess that'll have to wait for a little while longer. For now, lets see if being on summer holidays can get me back into the swing of blogging.

Where have your writerly ventures taken you these past few months?
Bonnee.

Google+ Followers

Follow by Email