Monday, November 05, 2007

NaNo vs Research

I decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo, even though I know I won't get anywhere near the 50,000 words. It's an incentive, mainly because two writer friends have also signed up and we are going to compare words. Mind you, one of them has had a head start by going off for a four-day writers' retreat and she'll probably come back with 20,000 words under her belt. But that's not what it's really about for me. It's more that I want to get back into the writing habit. This time of year is the hardest in terms of finding both headspace and motivation for writing. I'm just spending too much of my time reading and commenting on other people' s stuff.

But I have managed around 6,000 words so far (not all of them in NaNo time - I started early), and have come up against a small wall - the one called research. I'm at a point in the novel where I am about to make some things happen to the main character, but I'm not sure of the details of the situation, and I need to know them accurately, so the outcome works (otherwise what follows on will be "wrong"). It's a bit like in a crime novel, where you want someone's arm to be crushed in a certain machine, but if that machine doesn't operate in such a way for that crushing to happen, you can't write the scene. Sorry if I'm being confusing. I'm one of those paranoid writers who can't bear to talk about exactly what they're writing about.

So do I stop and go away and do research? A bit hard right now as it will probably mean interviewing an expert, and I don't have time. I could resort to books - I've already tried the internet and it doesn't have what I need (amazing but true!). I might just have to fudge it and hope that what I guess to be the correct situation is pretty close to accurate. And race off to the library as soon as I can.

My other option is to stop working on this novel and go back to the YA novel I was working on last month. Except I have no idea what happens next in that one either. This really is the biggest problem, I think, for many writers who can't do it full-time. The physical writing is not the issue - I type fast enough to do 1000 words an hour. It's the place inside my head where I plot and experiment and go what if? It's too full of other mush. Patience, I think, patience. NaNo is not a stick, it's a carrot!

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