Week three: Blowing it all up and starting from scratch
By Patrick Vaillancourt, Senior Columnist
Patrick Vaillancourt is a political essayist and seasoned in the arts of non-fiction writing. His first book, a memoir, is scheduled for publication later this year. He is participating in National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, for the first time.
I admit that if there is one flaw that will cost me success in NaNoWriMo, it’s that I am thinking too much about designing the perfect plot and getting to the end of the book. It has cost me valuable time that could have been otherwise spent on writing.
So this week, I did the unthinkable: I threw away the concept I had previously envisioned and began writing a new novel, one that, with any luck, will see me to the end of this contest.
I am still struggling with perfectionism, something that has led me to procrastinate more than once this week. It was only when I came to a realization that perfection isn’t required for a first draft that I started making considerable progress, though much later in the week. Perhaps not a good sign for me given that I am already playing catch-up with my word count as it is.
Though it will definitely sound like an excuse, the weather also became a factor last week. Though sunny, it was a little too cold for me to sit outside at Starbucks (I can’t sit inside and write for some quirky reason) or for me to sit at Kitsilano Beach and type ideas and dialogue into my phone. The mere fact that it was nice actually had me doing other things, like doing some window shopping downtown to gather Christmas gift ideas. That being said, I am sure some other excuse would be made if the weather had been different this week. It’s not that I dislike writing or that I am trying to avoid it—it’s that novel writing is simply not my forte.
This week, I am committing myself to 16 hours of writing—two hours per weekday and six hours on the weekend. It might sound like a lot, but it really isn’t. The first draft of my memoir was written in about 120 hours of dedicated writing, but I was writing about a story that had already been played out. My novel could generously be described as an “unfinished idea” at best; it is essentially a mélange of personal anecdotes from my own life, with some fictional events filling in the gaps to the story. It’s much more complex than one may realize.
I am hopeful that this coming week will get me over the halfway point, especially considering that I am running short on time. I signed up for NaNoWriMo to put a manuscript together by the end of the month, and I am still committed to meeting that objective.