Research for Nanowrimo

It’s a grey, overcast day out there. I like it. I’m not quite in focus as to what I want to be doing today, but it is early. Hopefully today I will start to dig into the new book I’m reading. It’s a book about Zen Buddhism. I bought two yesterday. One of them is introductory and written by an American, the other is a collection of two classic Zen texts translated by a Japanese man. I figured I would try this approach because a “Western” author might help make the concepts more initially relatable while an Asian author will be able to translate according to a more in-tuned perspective. That’s the hope, anyway.

I don’t plan on becoming a Buddhist, for the record. I am interested in Zen as a philosophy, as an outlook and primarily as an element in the story that I am planning for Nanowrimo. I am setting those gears in motion, with the hope that they don’t come to screeching halt before November even gets here. It may seem early to start, but I want room to maneuver. I want the chance to explore a couple of topics that will flesh out the theme of the story.

Incidentally, if anyone reading has a recommendation for good texts related to metaphysics, I’d love to hear it. I figure Kant is one person to investigate, but I don’t know if I’m smart enough to digest his material. I’ve only ever taken two courses on philosophy: Philosophy of Religion (I did quite well) and Philosophy of Mind (I struggled with this one).

I like to look at things from many different angles, so all the thoughts in my head take their time becoming something I can put to paper with any satisfaction. I think that’s a concentration/attention issue as well. I also like to start simple with a story and then add complexities bit by bit. Last year when I did Nanowrimo I used a similar approach, but found that I hadn’t planned enough of the intricacies ahead of time. When my word flow started to freeze up from the pressure I didn’t have enough material to work with. I fizzled out very quickly after that.

I am quite obviously a planner and not pantser, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a pantser. The more power to you! I’ve heard that some pantsers are “discovery writing” when they do Nano, which is a way of figuring out the plot as you go. With that style of writing, one might write whole passages that don’t make sense down the line, because of a change in direction. The results can be a really long, intricate plan for a story more than a first draft… sort of a pre-draft draft. Still, that means they have material to continue molding, and they’ve gotten over the first hurdle towards a finished product. Whatever the style, planning, pantsing, discovery writing… the editing process is going to be important.

This is especially true of works done during Nano, as they emphasize quantity over quality. It’s not a bad concept, though I find it hard to adhere to. I suppose it’s like sculpting, in a sense. The first draft is the raw materials, roughly made into a shape. Editing is where the chisel really comes into play.