So this year, NaNoWriMo has not been a labor of love. It has been a 14-hour delivery in which the doctor did not want to give any pain meds and you’re birthing the old fashioned way, screaming and choking and wishing ‘oh god oh god why did I ever want to do this in the first place’…
Yeah, “who the hell thought this was a good idea” went through my head a few times this year. Let’s just say, life has been very difficult lately for me so things have been driving me absolutely batty and therefore away from my writing. So, since that has been making life harder for writing, I fell way behind in NaNo until I thought I’d never catch up. I would lug my laptop all over town and then sit somewhere, staring at it with forlorn eyes for ages.
Until today. There are times you just have to fish or cut bait and today I just said I was going to sit myself down and do it. So I found a few things that made me able to write and man, did I hit my word count with a stick. How many words did I type today? Why, 14,036 in one sitting. Six hours of work, two teas later, I can’t feel my legs, I have a crick in my neck and I have to pee like mad (TMI, I know) but whew.
Total word count: 44,720. Nearly there folks, nearly there!
Plus, the story is finally coming together. This little crazy 14-baby that wouldn’t come out is finally turning into something that might actually be worth calling a novel. Loosely called “Prisoner Sixty-Three” as a codename, it’s my attempt at an alien abduction story and yet, as some of my friends know from my descriptions, it’s a lot more. I’m not going to talk a lot about it until it is DONE but lets just say it’s a whole lotta weird and it’s a different writing style then I’ve ever tried before. But, it’s also showed me a few tips about my writing that I didn’t know before. So here is what got me through the ridiculous word count jump, take this for what it is:
- Smut helps: Okay, so you’re stuck in a part of your story that honestly is so boring you want to cut your own feet off just to do SOMETHING interesting. Your characters are sitting around talking and honestly, you have no idea what the hell to do next. You’ve got another chapter where something has to happen, and you want to introduce a spooky element that you need to push the plot along. Okay, need to be spooky? Need to introduce some info? Mix in some smut. I know it’s cheap. I know it’s taudry. But why not, right? Sex happens in real life, and as long as you’re not making it too gross (as in not making it too out of awful left field or too wine and roses OMG I LURVE U high school nonsense) and write it well, there’s no reason a sex scene can’t make your story move a little bit where it’s getting a little saggy… And I just used saggy in the same sentence as sex. Moving on.
- Find a Place to Write You Like: This is meta-story here, but I cannot tell you how serious this one was to my state of mind. I had been trying to write all over town for the last week, everywhere from my room (NOT going to happen, with family drama to distractions from the cat to my PS3) to the local Starbucks (the playlist is SO irritating). I kept dodging around trying to find a place that was a writing haven until, low and behold, I came upon the right place. I just sat down and thought “where is the place where I have felt the most creative” and “where have I thought I could write the most when I walked in there”. The place I ran into was a place called Argo Tea in Manhattan and oh BOY did it work. Two teas later, I was settled in to write, relax, and work and oh boy, did I.
- Accept That You Will Not Always Write: Again, this is a meta-story thing, but I was kicking the garbage out of myself for the last few days that my writing this NaNo has been coming in fits and starts. I have been going from big word counts to four/six days of NO writing. And that’s awful. Then I’ll have a day like today when explosions happen, and you know what? That happens. Life happens. You’re going to have things that come along and eat your time, your energy, your attention. Have fights with family, get distracted by good books, go out with friends and talk about the nature of life and the universe – that shit happens. But don’t forget to come back to writing – it does NOT make you a bad writer that you can’t write some days. Just try to show up for the work. If you don’t make it that day, don’t give up. You’ll still have explosion days, and you’ll still have show up days. I managed to get at least a few words in here and there a day, just to make myself feel connected, and that kept things alive.
- Don’t Just Kill Your Darlings, Love Your Detestables: I have often had serious problems appreciating certain kinds of characters in stories. Like weak female. Oh BOY do they make my fingers itch for the slappin’ (listen to me rant about Bella from Twilight for a while or Harley Quinn- whoo boy). Anyway, the problem is, if you try to write a story, the idea is you have to write some of these to round out your stories and if you don’t like them, sometimes you’ll jam up your writing mojo because you’ve got a hate on for your own characters. I did this in my NaNo. There’s a character I wrote in that I wanted to include, a kind of weak woman character and the minute I got to the chapter for her? Bam. Stuck. So… what did I do? I had to learn to love my detestable character. I had to get in there and learn to get into her head and write her in a way that would make her interesting to me while still keeping in the spirit of what I had in mind for her. I had to understand her, get to know her, and in the end? I ended up empathizing with her, getting her where I needed her and it turns out? Making her one of the main villains of my piece! Who knew she had it in her! Still the way she was going to be but now, much more useful and dynamic because she’s not cookie cutter and all because I didn’t let the archtype get in my way anymore.
- Just Let it Ride: So after all the stress and craziness, I wandered around some bookstores. I thought about writing, and I came down to the most important thing that was holding me back: I was stressing. I was stressing that I wasn’t good enough, I was having aggita, and had to stop. So what did I do? I just put it aside. I decided that if this book doesn’t matter, if I burn it at the end, if I delete it, if it never sees the light of day, I needed to give it its due. I sat down and let it see the light of day because I promised myself that it deserved its due. It chose me as the vessel by which it was coming out and by God, I was going to let it Ride. So here I am, letting it ride, and to hell with what happens next. Next is editing! Next is second draft! This is the ‘Get the hell out of me you enormous monstrocity!’ part. This is just the Let it Ride. And I will not stress it so much.
So that’s it. Tips that got me through these last two weeks of OMG. Class dismembered. I’m going to soak my fingers, I typed too much today!