Nanowrimo… The crazy hits the fan
It is November and the writing world is thrown into a frenzy as National Novel Writing Month starts again. People all over the world are attempting to write 50k of new fictional novels, some of which may end up on actually bookstore shelves someday (after much rewriting and a whole lot of other work). But the entire point is that it is a month of complete literary abandon.
So what do you do when you run out of words?
Such a hard question, because you can’t reach 50k if you can’t think of what happens next. And if your characters have already decided to fight you every step of the way (like mine have) it gets even more difficult. All those wonderful, amazing, stupendous ideas you had before hand slowly slip away and turn into mist, and you’re left wondering why you feel light headed, and why on earth you decided to put that character in that certain place at just that time, and how on earth you’re going to get him out of the mess you’ve gotten him into.
This is where I am only 3 days in. I start to ask myself, “Will it ever get any better?” Yes, I’m being the rebel and rewriting an older piece this month (which is expressly forbidden), and on my Nano Profile I adamantly state that I couldn’t possibly run out of words because of all the ideas suddenly flowing in. And yes, 3 days before Nano I wrote about 5k worth of new scenes and thought for sure that was only the beginning… only to be hit with writer’s block after the second day. So what can a person do to get out of the early slum?
Well, the first thing anyone can do is write: that’s right, sit your butt down in that chair and don’t even think about getting up until you have at least 500 words on the page, because after all, 500 words is better than no words at all, and even if it sounds like gibberish, it will at least get you somewhere.
Second, start outlining. I know, I know: WHAT ON EARTH AM I SAYING, right? But it’s a known fact, the more of the story you have mapped out – whether in your head or on paper – the less likely you’ll be to fall into writer’s block and the faster the process will go. Then even if your characters decide to misbehave and start climbing walls (or trees) and leaping into the air making funny faces and strange guttural noises, at least you have a “whip” to put them back in line: you’re outline. You can go back to what you have mapped out already and beat your characters into doing what they are supposed to do and going where they are supposed to go. Now, that’s not to say they won’t fight back; most likely forcing them to do what you have planned with be a grueling task where the words still come slow and feel choppy and incoherent, but hey! You’ll have them down! And that’s the important thing. You’re story will be moving again… slowly, yes… but moving.
Third, brainstorm with friends. Yes, I mean it. Look around for people who want to get together as writing buddies (whether online or in person) and ask if they wouldn’t mind running things over with you. If they agree, then give them the basic gist of your story (up to wherever you are in it) and have them give you theirs. Then sit down and start bouncing ideas off each other. This is probably one of the most fun ways to get the words flowing. So many times after talking with friends, all of a sudden I remember where I was trying to go with the story all along, or I have a new revelation as to what my character is supposed to do and who he is supposed to be. This just happened to me the other day, and I started working on a new experimental beginning for “Song of the Daystar”. (Don’t know where it will take me yet, but so far the prospects look good.) And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to my friends and writing buddies with “Eldrei” saying, “Hey, my story is being dumb; would you take a look at it and tell my characters to straighten up?” (ok, not exactly like that, but my friends all know that’s what I mean.) After a couple minutes of pondering, someone will come back with an all together ingenious new outlook, and the inspiration flows again.
So there you have it: the best three ways to keep your Nano project moving. Besides giving up your social life and all your free-time that is (because if you don’t, how else are you supposed to manage it?) And hopefully my own advice will sink in and help me out of my slum. Hey, I just wrote a blog post of aprox. 900 words in about 10 minutes! Now I just have to go write at least that many for my novel…
Wish me luck. I’m most certainly going to need it.
News: Since April of last year I have managed to accomplish several monumental things in my studies, but I update you now to tell you that three nights ago I had the best sleep since I last visited my aunt's house (years ago) and probably will never have another good sleep like it for years to come *nods sagely*.
--12 March 2017 --
Quote: I really dislike how glasses slide down your nose impetuously when you're glaring down at your unfinished work. -Me