Writer's block is a common excuse as to why we cannot get our writing done. I say excuse but I hope no one takes offense. It's just that I am a firm believer that writer's block has gotten the mean end of the procrastination stick for a long time, blamed for everything that goes wrong in our lives. But what we call writer's block is usually something else altogether that is holding us back, and figuring out what that is is the only way to survive as a writer.
Here is a link to a great article about writer's block by Elizabeth Moon that really sums up the whole affliction in a pretty straight forward, diagnostic way.
First, the taxonomy of "can't write". I like to divide the problem up by time of onset (in the writer's career and in the particular project), duration, and symptoms. This produces three main diagnoses, only one of which is true "writer's block." I call them Novice Nerves, Stuckness, and Block. Each has a characteristic pattern, and each responds best to different treatment. - Elizabeth Moon
Here's a video by the awesome author Jackson Pearce about "faking it." As in, padding your word count just to get to 50,000 instead of concentrating on positive writing skills, being a better writer, and actually writing a story. This is very, very good advice for any writer, not just NaNoWriMo writers. Also, Jackson is awesome.
Happy Day Twelve! I'm no good at math, which is why I am participating in a novel writing challenge and not, say, an epic algebra challenge, but I do believe that means after today you have 18 days left of writing. That seems like ALOT. See what I did just there? That's called a transition, right into today's cookie!
bcomet wrote:YIKES. Sommer! 12 days into NANOWRIMO. I've hit 20,000 words and it's f.l.a.t. or something or something
yes, I had to try a new genre, a complicated set of POVs, I was stretching out my writer bones...
my characters have made me CRY!
but now, the writing is worrying me.
Deep breath! No panicking allowed!
It is ok if your writing is flat and kind of boring. (I mean, for the moment.) Depending on the program you use to type up your work, put a note somewhere in your draft where you noticed the writing is kind of not there so you know where to go back to. Then just keep going forward. You'll fix the yawn-worthy prose later. I think it is awesome you are trying a new genre and POVs. I am trying first person for the first time and I think that is part of what is slowing me down.
20,000 words is such a great start, especially if what you're doing is new and complicated to you. I have your same problem where I know I've got terrible writing and some of the chapters are soooo boring. I also remember how great it is to go back and edit. So that's what I am looking forward to doing. Editing after first drafting.
Remember it is ok to suck. It is also ok to be awesome. Explore both.
You are the BOMB at pep talks! Seriously, you serve up Super Food for the writer!
P.S. I put my head in the head and body and moment of the next scene I was writing. Maybe it was short, but it came out much more powerfully for me anyway. (Sprinting in a new genre with new POVs really IS challenging)
* Hindi Dalit * Cashier Memoirs * Bitpunk * Twitter Novels * Picture Books for the Elderly * Progression Literature * Lucid Fiction * Kinetic Poetry * Combinatorial * Hmong-American
Granted, I’ve never heard of most of these, but I do remember back in the late 90s and early 2000s before blogs were popular (possibly before they were even called blogs), there was a girl cashier at a video store that also had an XXX area and the blog was all about life as a cashier there. If I remember correctly, she eventually got a book deal. I have also heard (and LOVE) Kinetic Poetry.
So consider this a Double Cookie Day 13, here’s some Kinetic Poetry for writers about how you must sacrifice if you want to be a writer called “So You Want A Social Life, With Friends” by Kenneth Koch. This poem really encapsulates the NaNoWriMo individual because if you want to finish all 50,000 words, you're going to have give something up to get it. I think day 13 is a very good time to take a look at what we've given up and really decide what we want to get out of this project. 50,000 words? New writing friends? New habits? A new sense of creative self? A better handle on writing in a new POV? Whatever your end goal is, I hope you acheive it, I really do.
Today’s cookie is a tiny article and comic by author Seanan McGuire – who I have never read but I hear is amazing, although I HAVE read Feed by Mira Grant, Seanan’s awesome other self and I can tell you with 100% certainty that I’d hand Feed to anyone who likes words. So I’m assuming that since Seanan and Mira are one and the same, anything that Seanan does must be equally as spellbinding.
Have you ever wondered about the identity of that guy sitting in the International House of Pancakes at eight in the morning, hunched over his laptop and hammering away like he’s trying to save his work before the apocalypse? How about the woman on the bus with the notepad on her knee, scribbling away and glancing around like she’s doing something wrong? The odds are good that they’re writers, trying to steal more minutes from the day. – Seanan McGuire
The reason I picked this as a cookie is because it sums up the writer’s life in a really important way – we are kind of clueless about the world around us when we have a word count to make. This goes for November during NaNoWriMo or any other time we are working on a story that is important to us. You don’t even have to be a professional, published author to be constantly aware of your self-imposed deadlines. “I will finish chapter 3 before I sleep.” Even when that means you don’t sleep until after Saturday morning cartoons have already started.
There have been points in my writing adventure where I had the Jimmy John’s delivery page queued up nightly for when my husband came in wondering when I was going to feed him.
I imagine it is worse in November as we fight to get to some magical word count ending place. Remember back at the beginning of the month where I congratulated you on being well fed and washed? Yeah well, I’m guessing you’ve started skimping on the daily showers and you’ve probably been subsisting off of mini candy bars, diet soda, expensive coffee, and licorice for the last seven days. It’s ok, you don’t have to be ashamed. We’re all in this together.
What is it about the half way point that gets writers thinking they are completely and totally in over there heads? It doesn't matter if it is NaNoWriMo or not. Whether it is halfway through the book, halfway through edits, or halfway through November, the halfway point is where we tend to sit down and go, "Am I only dreaming? What am I even doing anymore?"
Our journey is lonely. We can socialize with other writers but the weight of our dreams is ours alone to bear. It can be very easy to fall prey to our own self doubts. My favorite is, "Am I even good enough? How will I ever know?" Somehow, I doubt even publication would erase that nagging demon.
I believe the only way to keep going is to just keep going.
For me, I think writing a new story feels like falling in love. At first it is flirty and fast and everything is new and unaltered by preconceptions and darling one liners and the only voice in your head is the one jumping up and down screaming "This is really happening!" You call all your friends and gush about your new idea and over-analyze what people are saying about your intended genre. And then after you've spent some late nights with the new idea you start to get antsy. You pick fights with the plot holes and you over-analyze characters, motivations, and bad guys. And once the shine of your initial excitement has diminished and you've spent too much time with the same characters, you start to see glaring writing problems, and you're not even sure the idea was all that good to begin with. That's when you either break up with the story or you take some time and reevaluate. If you're lucky, one night after you're sure the relationship is over and you're a complete and utter failure at commitment and oh my god why did you ever think you could be a writer anyway, a flash of inspiration hits you, you realize which hole your plot fell into, and a string of dialogue comes to you that must be written down immediately. Suddenly the relationship doesn't seem so stale after all. Suddenly, you're actually quite remarkable.
I hope at the end of today you will all realize how remarkable you are after all.
(Just a heads up, there are a couple of swear words in this song, but it's totally worth it.)