NaNoWriMo meets Shut Up & Write!

On Monday evenings I like to go to Durham for Shut Up & Write!  I began going around February or March of this year.  It’s a way to get together and hang out with other writers for the purpose of writing.  We meet at 6 pm.  There is usually fifteen minutes for people to socialize.  Then there are quick group-wide introductions where we share our names and what we are working on.  A timer is set for one hour.  And then we work.

After the first hour, there is a break.  And then we do a second hour. During the sessions, no one talks.  Everyone writes.  There is something about sitting down with other writers and committing to an hour of work, together.  Maybe peer pressure plays a part.  But I find that during those two hours each week I can often get a surprising amount accomplished.

Last week I began narrating the NaNoWriMo novel in a certain voice.  I was able to maintain that voice for several days.  But by late last week I had to switch out of that voice, and start describing the book to myself.  I am not a pure pants-ter.  As ideas for structure come to me, I build that structure out.  I write with Scrivener, so building structure into the story is easy.  For me, this is necessary.  I can’t just write, page after page, from beginning to end.  I have to sketch out key scenes that define the story first.

Last night, I spent two solid hours sketching the full story.  Trying to identify all of the characters I will need to get to the end of the book.   Then I began trying to imagine their little world.  Their concerns.  Their issues.  Their hangups.  It was a very productive session.  But there is so much more still to do.

NaNoWriMo puts a focus on word counts.  But when describing a story to myself, I try to only make brief statements identifying the core developments of the story within that scene.  I try not to be wordy when describing the book to myself.  I don’t want to inflate my sense of accomplishment.

That said, last night I set a goal of reaching 5K total words.  I couldn’t make that happen during the Shut Up & Write session.  I got close.  I left for home needing 255 more words.  Once home again, I was able finally able to slip back into voice and begin write.  I called it a day when I got to 5010 words.

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