Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Pragmatist: Fighting Nature

My kids were on spring break this past week. Like many of our friends, we did the staycation thing: mini-adventures around town, a day trip to Washington D.C., a free ride on the city bus and some time exploring the secret gardens on the UVa grounds, lunch with friends. And we went to see Zootopia.

In case you haven't seen the movie--well, I won't attempt to summarize the whole story, and I don't want to give anything away--but what you need to know for the purposes of this post is that the movie spends some time exploring the natures of predators and prey. The creatures who live in the city of Zootopia believe they have evolved past their animal instincts; in fact, many of them aren't even aware that they once had such instincts. And then something happens and predatory animals begin to revert back to their natural state.

There's a lot to think about as you watch the movie: diversity, tolerance, social justice. But as I sat there in the semi-dark, I wasn't thinking about those things. I was thinking about writing.

This month I've been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, the April version of the annual writing frenzy that takes place in November. I set a goal based on a daily word count and I joined a virtual cabin and I filled out my profile, and on April 1st I started adding words to my work-in-progress. Here's the thing: writing a certain number of words every day is one hundred percent against my nature as a writer. Every other time I've set a daily word count, I have quickly fallen behind or found myself writing total nonsense just to get to the number that would allow me stop. I start to resent the project, the characters, myself. I convince myself that this is not how I'm meant to work.

Has this time been different? Well, sort of.

There have been days that I haven't hit my goal. There have been scenes I've written that sounds terrible even as I'm putting the words on paper. There have been dark moments where I've looked at the daily word counts of my cabinmates and gone into a spiral of total despair.

But...I'm adding words. My WIP is growing. I'm discovering things I didn't know about my characters and their plotlines. I'm getting better at blocking out the overly logical inner voice that tells me I'm not being careful enough, that I'll have to cut a lot of this new material, that I'm following too many rabbit trails. This isn't my usual method. This isn't my nature.

Maybe I'm evolving. Maybe it won't last. But it's working for now.

What's your writing nature?

1 comment:

  1. My method definitely evolves all the time, and it seems like it's different for every project. Some just write themselves, some I really do have to force that time in front of the keyboard to get anything done—but once I get something down, it's easier from there to do revisions. I think we are always evolving :)