Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We'll Fix it in the Edit

This month I've made the dual commitments to blog everyday and to write a full novel from start to finish in thirty days. So far so good as I'm on track to succeed with ten days to go. I had started on another novel last year which began with a quick flourish and then had stalled. After about eleven months of thinking and writing I was stuck at about fifty pages of a novel that was in danger of never being completed.

I was happy with the quality of the writing within that first novel but that's the problem. I only allowed myself to write what I considered to be quality writing. During this month's NaNoWriMo the approach was to write whatever comes to mind, never look back and never second guess. The result is that I have now written over a hundred pages of a novel that may turn out in the end to be even better than the first one. I've found that you need to jump in, let yourself go and allow yourself to make mistakes.

Before this month it was like I was trying to make an epic movie by planning every shot and directing every scene in advance. The approach to writing a novel this month has been more like the process of documentary film making in that you point your camera at something interesting, let the events unfold and then worry about tying it all together in the editing. A good documentary film will in the end take on the drama of a good epic film anyway, without the need for all of that obsessive planning in advance.

As it happens I've also started work on a feature length documentary film tentatively called Dunk: The Art and Science of the Jam. I'm collaborating on this with a friend who is a Juno award winning documentary film maker. I've also started planning a documentary film festival with another friend who teaches at OCAD. When it rains, it pours. But that's OK because I've discovered that I can swim.


unslaked said...


I've been applying a more spontaneous "throw-it-against-the-wall-see-if-it-sticks" approach to my life in general these days - and I find I'm infinitely the better for it. Ever read "The Strategy Paradox" by Michael E. Raynor? Even corporations are best off dropping the whole planning thing. I can't help but notice how the most wonderful events in our lives are completely unforseen. We can never anticipate the wonderful.

I'm really enjoying this prolific blogging spree of yours, BTW. Keep it comin'!

JakeJakob said...

It's coincidental that you mention that. I just walked past that book on my desk. I met Michael Raynor this summer. He presented at a conference I helped produce. We gave out a copy of "The Strategy Paradox" to all participants but I admit I didn't get around to reading it yet.

Create a platform and keep yourself open so that wonderful things can continue to happen to you.

I'm really loving/living this month.