Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Midweek NaNo Post
If you haven't begun writing your NaNoWriMo novel yet, don't beat yourself up over it. I mean it. You've still got twenty-eight days left, and while I don't recommend waiting until the twenty-seventh to start your novel, coming out of the gate a little late may be your subconscious's way of giving you a little more time to get your head in the right place.
Most writers do something to align our creative selves and prep for the story journey. We have rituals and warm-ups and self-motivational habits that we refine and hone to get the maximum benefits. Writing a novel can be like running a mental marathon, so it makes sense to warm-up right before the race (and be sure to double-knot our lucky sneakers.)
Mental writing preparation doesn't have to be all about the work. Putting together my novel notebook and writing a synopsis are two of my pre-novel rituals, but they're no more important than my daily thirty-minute morning meditations or picking out the right socks to wear each morning (green, blue or black with no obvious patterns.) Your choice of prep do doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you; the important thing is that it works.
If you feel like you're stuck in a writing rut, you might consider mixing things up a bit. If possible, trying changing things like where you write, the time of day or night you write, or alter the length of your writing sessions. If your empty word counter is bugging the hell out of you, get rid of it. The internet can be a huge distraction as well as a source of endless temptations that can and will derail your writing, so try unplugging for a day or two. Don't worry, Twitter will still be there when you get back.
Reading while you're writing a novel can also be a tricky business. I am not an advocate of reading your favorite author(s) books when you're writing because of the tendency to compare your writing with theirs as well as the temptation to (consciously or unconsciously) lift things from their work. Aside from what research I need to reference, I tend to stick to nonfiction books that are entirely unrelated to what I'm working on (today's TBR stack is Quilts en Provence, The Pirate's Primer and Dungeon, Fire & Sword.) I also stock up on cooking, architectural and archaeological magazines for writing break times. P.S. If you don't agree with me, and find reading your favorite authors doesn't mess with your own work, go for it. In all things writing, do what works for you.
If you know the only thing keeping you from your story is self doubt and/or fear of failure, I invite you to join the No Expectations Club. We don't charge dues because as writers we've been informed -- repeatedly -- that we suck, we can't write, and we'll never produce a bestseller, interest a single reader or attain even a tiny crumb of that mythical fame and fortune that has been bestowed on far better writers. Naturally we won't; we're serious losers.
In fact, everything we write is probably going to be utter garbage that should be used only to publicly humiliate us, or line kitty litter boxes, or be burned along with our effigies at the next BEA. Sad, but true. So come on, say the club's motto with me: We're totally worthless, no one cares about us, and we know it. See, once you join the club and accept our charter, you can write whatever you want. No expectations = complete freedom.
I've made this novel journey almost a hundred times now, taken the same roads, moved at the same speed, and followed the same lines. Even when I make stops in the same places, not once has it ever been the same trip. It's always different. No matter how carefully I plan, I will never really know what's around the next page corner. That won't stop me from writing, because a big part of this is discovering what's waiting for me to find it.
So how are you guys doing with NaNo?