Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How To Be A Writer

I'm going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, so don't expect a whole lot of posting from me in the next 30 days. I'm going to try to post something here, but I've never done this before so I don't know how much time and thought I will have available for other things like this blog. I do have Goth of the Week posts queued up for the next few weeks, so at least those will show up. Maybe I'll make posts about how many words I've written, but I can't guarantee that.

I've got a lot of resources available to me, from books about the specific contest (one written by the founder of NaNoWriMo, actually, which is basically a motivational seminar in book form - very helpful, actually, as far as I can see) to books on plot - and gaming tools like S. John Ross's Big List of RPG Plots and Mythic Game Master Emulator. Writing a novel in this way is actually rather like the improvisation involved in gaming, where I won't know at the start how everything is going to go, except perhaps in vague outline.

One of the important "rules" of NaNoWriMo (there's really only one rule: WRITE!) is to let yourself suck. Shut off the inner editor and just get words on paper. I've joked that I plan to spend the whole month writing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." over and over, but I don't have the ability to live in an empty hotel for the month.

I also plan to keep up a schedule of watching TV and movies on occasion (hooray for Netflix), in order to keep my creative juices flowing through inspiration from other sources. My goal in this is to work on stylistic issues, so hackneyed plotting, cardboard characters, and hokey situations are perfectly acceptable.

Anyway, the idea of letting yourself suck may also be a useful idea for gaming. It's all too easy to work on setting and adventure until the end of time. For it to be played, which is pretty much the point of a gaming setting or adventure, it has to be let go. Everything can be prettied up at the table, after all, just as the novel gets prettied up in the rewriting phase. (How's that for a cheap attempt to shoehorn gaming content into this post?) The point is that the way to be a writer is to write, just as the way to be a gamer is to play games.

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