JuNoWriMo Lessons: Don't Let the Goal Get in the Way of the Writing

Jun 18, 2011

This week, I hit the halfway point. Yay! But I always have a lot fewer of my scenes actually mulling around in my head for the second half of the book, which makes it harder. Yesterday, I got to a scene that I had no idea what to do with. I forced out some words, intent on reaching my wordcount goals.

It was a disaster.

The scene came to a standstill. It just wasn't working, and I could feel that. I knew what it really needed-- time for me to think about it. But I didn't have time! I only get so much writing time a day, and I had to get those words out, darnit!

I got incredibly frustrated and knew I wouldn't be able to write anymore until I thought through the scene. And I remembered something important.

This isn't about the wordcount.

Yes, my goal is 2,000 words a day, but the goal is just a means to an end. My PURPOSE in making this goal is to challenge myself to write more so I can get a better, faster first draft turned out. And by forcing myself to pound out words that weren't working, I wasn't reaching the purpose of my goal. I was letting the goal dictate, and it got in the way of the story.

I'm glad I realized it in time, because after some thought, I came up with a better way to write this scene that actually requires some minor changes BEFORE this point. It will enhance the conflict, and make the story better. And that's the point.

So, my friends, how are your goals going? What frustrates you when you write? How do you solve those frustrations?


Baladas Mp3 said...
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Rachel Searles said...

I get frustrated by how huge a novel feels, and how overwhelming it is to try to parse out all the important information in small doses while remembering to keep umpteen different themes going. Then I start making pages of notes until things start to make sense again. I guess this is what multiple drafts are for :)

Goals are going well! I'm still not caught up on my calendar, but I'm about to get past a sticky point that had stopped me once before so my motivation is high. Like you said, it's about making progress, not hitting numbers.

MKHutchins said...

When I'm on a word count per day goal (right now I'm working on outlining a new book...so not so much wordcount), I like to be a day or two ahead so if I need to stop and think for a day, I don't panic about being behind.

Unknown said...

My goals are not going well at all. I had no idea what this June would turn out to be like for my family. I just came back from a quick, less than 48 hour trip to Alabama, during which no writing occurred.

I've gotten better at stepping away when I'm truly frustrated. The only times that I haven't done this is during NaNoWriMo, when I scream and yell and continue writing anyways. But for me, I have to step away and come back later to re-read what's been going on. Sometimes I just have to erase what I've just written and start the scene all over again!

Ruth Josse said...

This happened to me the other night! It was late and I wanted to get a few hundred words down and so I just wrote. A lot of nonsense. A lot of lame. And I erased most of it the next day. Thinking is part of writing. I need to remember that more often.

Christine Murray said...

It's a balancing act. The goal helps you push through and write when you think you can't. But sometimes, when it isn't working you just need to take a break. Great post!

Demitria said...

I had the same problem when I was editing (thougt I should edit X amount of pages a day in order to get to Y by Z amount of time.) I had to come to the same realization as you, you can't rush it to reach a goal. Once I came to terms with that, I was a lot more productive!


Anonymous said...

Congrats on hitting the half way point! I may be writing a ton of words, but you're thinking about your story, and I'm so jealous! It's good you've realized that the goal shouldn't get in the way. Good luck with the last week! :D

KM Nalle said...

This is a really great point Shallee - sometimes the journey matters more than the end point and sometimes you just need to lay down the miles. The tricky part is figuring out how to balance them both. Sounds like you've got a handle on it though.

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