Getting Down with Your Bad Self

Are you a perfectionist? So many writers are. (Even our heroine, dear Reader.) We want to get that chapter just right before we move on to the next. What happens? We get frustrated and more importantly: we lose our momentum.

Momentum in writing a rough draft is crucial. It is the tool which allows a writer to get down the bones of the story, explore beyond the margins of any outline handy and discover plotholes. Oops! Fill them in while you go if you can, mark them for later contemplation if you can’t. Momentum! Thy name is first draft!

NaNoWriMo is an excellent tool for teaching this technique. It’s how I got past my perfectionism, in fact. Seriously, if you have trouble with building and maintaining momentum, you can dig into NaNo come November. Take all the time you want to prep for it, but once November 1st comes, it’s all about the momentum. Don’t worry about word count. (Yes, I know. NaNo is supposed to be about word count. Be a maverick! Set your own goals.) Just get that story’s skeleton down. Anything else is gravy. Get that draft down with your bad self!

Don’t want to do NaNo? No problem. Set your own high standards and goals. I like to set a time limit for getting the first rough draft of my novel completed. (No, I’m not telling. Everyone’s is different.) I plow into it, discovering new aspects to characters and story as I go. That, to me, is the most exciting part of staying dialed into momentum.

What’s yours? Please leave me a note to let me know what you think. I’m always interested in new techniques.

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13 thoughts on “Getting Down with Your Bad Self

  1. johannaharness August 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm Reply

    I love this. Be a maverick! Yes!

    For me it’s a dance. Sometimes I have to have the deadline. Other times I need to allow myself the mulling time. I keep a notebook beside my desk, keeping track of how I’ve engaged with my writing every day. The days when I’m avoiding work are startlingly different than my mulling days.

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    • JC Rosen August 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm Reply

      The notebook is a great idea, Johanna. Perhaps one of the reasons NaNo clicked for me was the spreadsheet I was given. Keeping track of every little bit of progress, regardless of what sort, sounds like a good kick in the pants. I’ll have to add that to my routine. Thanks for the comment and the idea.

      Take care,
      JC

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  2. john Ross barnes August 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm Reply

    You and most of the folks I follow are a long…distance(we’ll call it distance for now) beyond where I’m at in my journey & experience writing. I’m still trying to imagine myself as having enough to say to fill a book.

    That said, I can vaguely feel the shape and the taste of what you’re saying. I can see the importance of in getting a piece down in whatever fashion to get it going live.

    Thanks Jess

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    • JC Rosen August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm Reply

      You nailed it, John: “in whatever fashion to get it going live.” Getting it down is just as important in short flash fiction or poetry as it is in a novel. Going through what’s created to shape it better yields the final piece.

      I know there’s a what I’ll call a “business learning curve,” heaven knows. When it comes to the writing journey, I only see those individual to each writer. We each develop our own style, not only of the writing itself, but of the process we use to create it. I’m blessed to share ideas on how to do that with you and others via several outlets. When it comes down to it, though, only one butt fits in the chair.

      Take care,
      JC

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  3. cookme25 August 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm Reply

    I TOTALLY agree with this .I feel like once I get past my perfectionism I’ll be okay. I write during the school day and I get so far and then I start to worry about a spelling or cliches or a simple detail like Names. Then I need someone to look over it and that’s hard to find and I lose my momentum and time.

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    • JC Rosen August 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm Reply

      Learning to let go of the perfectionism is hard. I still get caught up in it. When I face that’s what’s happened, I try to shrug it off with a few choice words and either take a break or, better, get back to work. (Or some might bake cupcakes?) You’re more than okay already. If you’re struggling with perfectionism, practice can help you get past it. Thanks, cookie.

      Take care,
      JC

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  4. forbiddenhero September 1, 2011 at 10:47 am Reply

    I’ve recently lost my momentum on a book that I really love writing in. It feels like I have no drive to work on it anymore. I really think this has to do with how my heart it, and I wish I could say more, but I really can’t. TT^TT

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    • JC Rosen September 9, 2011 at 8:27 am Reply

      I’m having similar trouble with one. Johanna Harness suggested I read over one I enjoyed writing, both because it is up for revisions and to be inspired. It’s working. Maybe it’s time to switch projects for a bit? It’s good to see you – please keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

      Take care,
      JC

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      • forbiddenhero September 10, 2011 at 11:46 pm

        I just might do that, and I’d never intentionally lose contact with you. I’m going to do a critique group hosted by Kristen Lamb.

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      • JC Rosen September 13, 2011 at 8:15 am

        That sounds great. I’m glad we’re in contact again. Are you looking forward to NaNo? I’m getting my thoughts in order for plotting out the new novel. Sci fi this year!

        Take care,
        JC

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  5. Versie September 9, 2011 at 7:30 am Reply

    I remember spending waaay too much time writing articles as well. I’d write them up fairly quickly, express what I needed to say, and then keep the articles in drafts for a while, each new day, re-reading them and modifying them until I felt they were perfect. I still don’t know if they were, but I know for sure that because of my obsession with writing perfect, I lost readers and didn’t have enough weekly material to post on my blog either. Perfectionism just creates a prison around you!

    Allow me to link you to this: http://www.thinkbasis.com/blog/2011/business/does-being-a-perfectionist-hurt-you-and-ultimately-your-business.html?isalt=1
    And awesome blog post about perfectionism and it’s impacts on businesses. I hope you like it.

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    • JC Rosen September 9, 2011 at 8:30 am Reply

      I like what you wrote: “Perfectionism just creates a prison around you.” Well put. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Versie.

      Take care,
      JC

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  6. forbiddenhero September 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm Reply

    I’m actually not doing NaNo this year. I’m working on my current WIP. I need beta readers for it, but I’m making it slowly. I’m up to 15600 words on it, which is great. ^_^

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