This is what November taught me

This is it. I am so pumped. After resting three days from my crazy NaNoWriMo + Malaysian novel + blogging scheme of November, I am finally going to do it.

I am going to finish the first draft of A Malaysian Dark by Christmas – after starting it as a creative writing sample for a university application in early 2009.

Finishing this has also become something personal, because someone once essentially told me this novel of ghosts and supernatural forces should not be written. That the themes are “dangerous” to touch on, culturally and mystically.

Perhaps it is. It doesn’t mean I am not going to dare the landmine. 

Up in the Clouds

Thanks to Limebirdbeth, I came across this lovely website called Wordle that creates a cloud of the most common words you use with a piece of text. You can even change the colours and layouts! Here is the wordle of my Malaysian novel first draft. Nifty, isn’t it? 😀

For me, the most important lesson I took from November is this – that under the pressure and struggle of daily life, it is possible for my procrastinaty self to write an obscene amount of words. November’s word count tally:

  1. NaNoWriMo – 50, 489
  2. Blogging for 28 days – 15,951
  3. Malaysian novel – 6,811

Now everyone has different ways and pace of writing, and this in NO WAY reflects on you.

But for me, this is a personal achievement because I felt my productivity could have been better the past year. True, my life the past few months has been wrought with house moves, job hunting, dramas and what not, but I felt like I was lacking the discipline and focus of the writing habit. I envy the authors who seem to so easily churn out the novels like matchsticks. How did they do it, I wondered? Apparently it gets easier with practice, which for myself who is easily distracted, means to never stop writing.

Here is what November also taught me:

  • That you can always slip in an hour or 20 minutes of writing before rushing off to do something else. During a lunch hour, for instance, or after you crawl home from work.
  • That during a crazy writing bout, you must take care of your body – eat fruits, vegetables and supplements to boost your immunity. Wine probably works for those who like alcohol. I’m more a cider or ginger beer gal 😉
  • That it is useful to appoint something that will put you in the Writing Mood. Like putting on a special hat, or playing a certain kind of music, or unplugging the internet (“Noooooooo!”)
  • That when you are on the edge of exhaustion, and your body cries out for sleep, you can keep writing with this magical phrase: “Just 100 more words”.
  • That the quality of your writing improves substantially with sleep or a power nap (Duh).
  • That you can start a novel with no characters, no plot and no direction. You will naturally spin up a wonderful story in no time, if you trust yourself.
  • That it is perfectly acceptable to take a break from your writing now and then. An overworked writer is a broken writer capable of banana homicide.
  • That if you tell enough people that you are going to finish a 50,000 word novel in one month, then by golly you better get off your duff and do it unless you have bigger stones than mine 😉
  • That a NaNoWriMo novel is substantially different from a novel you want to take time and care to craft (Malaysian Dark). A NaNo novel emphasises on quantity, not quality. But when it comes to quality, it is perfectly okay, even advisable, to go slower. It takes time to craft something with skill!

I probably can think up more, but I must rush to work now! 🙂

PS: There’s the first thin layer of snow outside my house!

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8 Comments

Filed under Books, Fantasy, Malaysia, Novel, State of Mind, Writing

8 responses to “This is what November taught me

  1. Interested to see “bomoh” is in your word cloud. I for one would love to read a book about the mystical culture of Malaysian superstitions. 🙂

  2. I wish you would stop leaving me speechless! The best set of writing tips I have ever seen and all the more stronger because I know you have actually gone through the experience! Woohoo!

  3. It is so awesome that you did all this! Pat on the back!

  4. Personally, I think it’s amazing you wrote something so sweeping and epic in just one month. It’s an astounding achievement, and you should pat yourself on the back for it. =)

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