Wednesday, November 13, 2013
NaNoWriMo Day 13
Pushing through NaNoWriMo, I'm learning that the more I write, the more I write.
Yes, I've wrestled with words, with the "What comes next?" I've struggled with characters and scenes better suited for Act 3 than Act 2. I've let the internal editor out to help me with some problems - not with mechanics, such as grammar, spelling, punctuation - but with those characters and scenes that niggled at me after I shut the computer down for the day.
The mind never shuts down, even when you're sleeping. So while doing laundry, preparing supper, cleaning the kitchen, running the vacuum, "redding up" (western Pennsylvania speak for "straightening up" the house), and doing the countless daily tasks that must be done, NaNo or no NaNo, the muse was mulling, analyzing, asking questions and searching for the answers.
"Follow your gut" - I kept telling myself. "Stop thinking so much. Just write."
But there is a phase where forward movement grinds to a stop and you just have to think. The editor and the muse work together. That's also following your instinct. Instinct tells you if you continue the plot in this vein, you're going to write yourself into a corner.
So I figured out what I had to to and went back and fixed it, rewriting two chapters (but saving the old ones in case I needed something from them).
Writing is a learning process at every level, from novice to best-selling author. Writing is a gut-wrenching, ego-slamming, doubt-fertilizing profession. And I write "profession" whether you are just getting started, grind out those words whenever and wherever you can while juggling a full-time life, or are writing full-time and getting paid.
We all go through periods of doubt, disappointment, and discouragement. You've received the umpteenth rejection, your current work-in-progress has stalled out, someone you care about told you you'll never be a writer. Maybe more than one person "advised" you to give it up, it's a waste of time.
Do you have a dream to be a writer?
Whether you get published or not, you are a writer. You're writing. You're wrestling with words. You're talking to your characters - and they're talking back. You're living in the fiction world you have created while going through the motions in the real world. Your family has to live with a zoned-out person who was once someone they knew. But they've gotten used to it, and they know as soon as you've typed "The End," you'll return to them.
DON'T LET ANYONE STEAL YOUR DREAM! Ban the naysayers from your life. They have no clue. Be pleasant to them, but surround yourself with people who believe in you. Fill your mind and heart and spirit with whatever motivates you.
For me, when I get down on my writing self, I whip out the words of James Scott Bell. May they motivate you as they do me:
"I wasted ten years of prime writing life because of the Big Lie. In my twenties I gave up the dream of becoming a writer because I had been told that writing could not be taught. Writers are born, people said. You either have what it takes or you don't, and if you don't you'll never get it. . . . I thought I was doomed. . . . So I did other stuff like go to law school. Like join a law firm. Like give up my dream. But the itch to write wouldn't go away."
Then he read about an interview with a lawyer who'd had a novel published after he'd been in an accident and realized he really wanted to write, even if he never got published.
"Well, I want it, too," Bell writes. "I went out and bought my first book on fiction writing. . . . And I discovered the most incredible thing. The Big Lie was a LIE. A person COULD learn how to write because I was learning."
Google James Scott Bell and you'll see how successful a writer he is. He also has the best (and funniest) writing tips video clips, especially the one on "Writing Through Frustration." (For a list of of his video clips, click here.)
All writers, even the published bestsellers (like James Scott Bell and Stephen King) feel like failures at times. More frequently than you'd think. Bell hits what he calls "The Wall" about 30,000 words into his novel:
"I get there and suddenly think all the worst things about my novel: the idea stinks and is beyond redemption; my writing is lame, the characters uninteresting, and the plot virtually nonexistent. I can't possibly go on. Career over."
Then he gives a list of things he prescribes for breaking through The Wall.
The above quotes are taken from his book, Plot and Structure, which I highly recommend, as I do all his books, both his "how-to-write" books and his fiction. It's always a good idea to be reading good writing. Your mind is absorbing the technique, and you're learning while enjoying a good read.
If you're doing NaNo and you're behind where the graph on the NaNo page indicates you should be, don't fret about it. Just write and . . .
**GETAWAY MOUNTAIN UPDATE:
TOTAL NaNo words: 17,158 words written in WIP this month
TOTAL words in novel to date: 39,487 (43%) almost to the mid-point, the "Dark Moment"
Posted by Michele Huey at 10:54 AM