On day 7 of NaNoWriMo, my motivation and inspiration began to lose steam. My word count was ahead of schedule. My outline was barely touched.
While I had tentatively tossed my hat into this year’s NaNoWriMo ring, there was never any doubt I could finish the race and hit that 50,000 word goal at the end of 30 days. I had no reason to doubt, because I had hit and exceeded the goal every year since 2008. In fact, when the motivation began to wane, I expected it to rear its ugly head based on past experience.
What I did not expect was for the lack of inspiration to continue on for a week.
So now I must ask myself the question: Do I continue to press on?
Pressing on will mean defeating the writer demons of lethargy and indifference when it comes to building a story. Strengthening the muscles of discipline and determination.
The other alternative is to quit. To admit defeat. My entire being cringes at the thought! I written a lot of novels and novellas that exceeded the 50k word mark, so why should I allow myself the luxury of not completing this task?
Writing is hard! That is why only a select few can call themselves writers! Because they face the challenges and press onward. And yet I still want to allow myself the option of passing on victory this year.
Why? Because not all stories should find their way to the finish. There comes a point in time when we need to say “I’m sorry, darling, but you’re going to stay in the ‘Workspace’ folder.” It’s hard, yes, but sometimes it must be done.
With writing this post, I come face-to-face with that possibility for this particular story. Not the entirety of it, but this first portion. Where I previously thought this tale must be told, now I’m not so certain – and I understand why.
Understanding is the best result from anything. It allows growth.
As always, NaNoWriMo reminds me of the challenges to writing as well as the importance with having a daily writing goal. To produce something, anything, moves you forward toward a goal of completing a manuscript. Sometimes, that forward motion is the best remedy for the reason you have never written a book before, or since. I haven’t yet decided if I will continue to the end, but since I have nearly crested the half way point, I find it a sad state of affairs to entertain the idea of quitting.
Perhaps, instead of quitting NaNoWriMo, I need to quit the mundane storyline and throw the characters into some adventure!
I need to enroll myself in a type of to-do list boot camp.
Somewhere between the beginning of June and now, I lost track of my forward motion. My writing has fallen and can’t get up. My reading/reviewing is nil. My schoolwork is a month behind (thank goodness for the extension). My blog hasn’t had an update in a couple weeks… and the list could go on.
Now I begin the trek back to daily activities:
- Writing daily.
- Scene outlining.
- Blog reading/commenting.
- Book reviewing.
For someone more comfortable with two to-do items on her plate, this list of five seems daunting and could usher me into procrastination. That is where the discipline challenge comes in. When the temptation is to turn from my waiting work and do something else (that isn’t on the list), I will challenge myself to move forward instead of away.
In fact, I am writing this blog article instead of doing reading for my schoolwork. Whether this is a fail or not I haven’t decided, but I will view it as a way to get myself back on track for daily writing. Maybe even use the blog articles as a way to persuade myself into doing what I know needs to be done.
Discipline and follow-through is such a necessity for a writer! More than anything, I need to keep myself from growing too comfortable with the act of putting things off. So, what is on my to-do list? Should I even call it that? Even the name, to-do list, causes me to grimace and despair. To push back. To almost internally whine at the expectation.
This morning I wrote my Christian Writers blog chain post scheduled for July 26th. It felt good to want to write the article, and so I need to find that motivation as I approach the final three assignments for my schoolwork. Perhaps the best thing is to belt all three out before beginning the three book reviews due next month?
And, unfortunately, it also means pushing back the releases of my romances, Of Damsels and Dragons and Searching for Sara. Not necessarily a bad thing, now that I think on it, because I have a tendency of rushing the final stages of a book’s revision.
But I am up for the challenge, and I am determined to get back into the daily regime necessary to grow as a writer. This includes investing in reader and fellow-writer relationships.
Posted by Nona King on Jun 15, 2012 in A Writer's Life | 1 comment
You have more than likely heard the direction “write what you know” from an agent, editor, mentor, or English or writing instructor. But what does that mean? Does that mean someone who is only thirteen has less value to what they “know” than someone who is 23, or 63?
“Know”ing something is relative, and I don’t like the idea of limiting our imagination to our small realm of experience. Research can help broaden said experience/knowledge and gives us rare gems of opportunities to grow as a writer and as a person.
Instead of viewing “write what you know” as a boundary, let us look at it on the flip side. Each person has a different realm of experiences as it relates to relationships, challenges, and the environments they have coped with. Add to that each person’s unique perception, and you have a broad bank of what you “know” that someone else may not.
An example: Mary Sue was raised on a 30-acre farm outside a small town. She had chores on top of her school work, wasn’t allowed in front of the TV until it was too dark to play outside with her siblings, and had both parents.
Mary Sue is a survivor of child molestation by a next-door neighbor boy at the age of 8 years. She grew up with anger management issues, a fear of commitment, and later discovered she had intimacy issues. She was stubborn and strong-willed. Impatient. Numb on the inside. At the age of 17 she realized she still needed to pray the “sinner’s prayer”, and at 23 she faced the fact that memories of being molested were not bad dreams but reality. Now she relishes emotions, strives to be patient and understanding, and is determined rather than stubborn. So, though her environment and life experience has been sheltered by living in a Christian home with both parents, she knows about pain, suffering, and the cause/effect which comes from reacting to situations in rage.
So, ask yourself “what do I know?” What challenges have you faced in your life? What hard decisions did you need to make? What fun experiences? What chance -of-a-lifetime events? These are key to writing characters and situations others can relate to, even on a small scale, because you understand the emotions behind them. Research can fill the rest, talking to friends and family, reading.
You may not know about space or life on a space station, but is the storyline ABOUT the space station? Or is it about the characters inside? Pull from your experience, your instinct, and your imagination. Common sense can help, too! The understanding of cause/effect.
You might think you don’t know much, but I bet you know and understand much more than you realize. Take a moment to list them out.
I read a most excellent post by ‘The Write Practice‘ this morning titled ‘Henry Miller on How to Finish Your Novel‘. While the entire post is definitely worth a read – especially the 11 Commandments for writing – there stood out a section of the post which… well… moved me.
‘What Books Do You Want to Write Before You Die?‘
Oh my. What a question? In fact, it is so powerful a motivator that I question why it had not been asked before, especially when I know of so many power writers who passed before all of their projects were completed.
Someday, I will die, and all the novels I dreamed of writing will die with me. Therefore, what books must I complete to die satisfied?
That was the realization Joe Bunting had, Joe being the owner of ‘The Write Practice’. That stands as the statement which made me realize that we, as writers with a calling, should create a ‘Bucket List’ of the projects we feel pressed to complete before we die. Maybe we need to fan the flames of desperation to get these projects to the front of our minds? Similar to the imperative nature of evangelizing, there should be a drive within us to finish these projects. After all, aren’t we participating in another aspect of the Great Call? Aren’t we a witness to our audience?
Writing practice (Photo credit: Global Lives Kazakhstan)
So, I ask you, as Joe asked his readers, what books do you want to write before you die? Are the projects you currently have on your To-Do list worthy enough to be added to that list? I know a few of mine are not. This blog article has completely altered my perspective, rightfully so. Now faced with the prospect of redefining my projects, I am reminded of the Smarter Goal List Carol Peterson encouraged us to put together in her post New Year; New You. I am also reminded of the wise saying, ‘Quality, not Quantity‘, which is not something that I have been focused on at present….
Perhaps now is the time to start?
Prayer: “Lord, I ask that you open my eyes to the end goal You have in mind for me. Fan the flames of my creative passion so that You may be glorified, others might be saved, and my heart fulfilled. Thank You for Your patience and Your grace. Amen”
It’s a funny word. Fun to say, horrible to spell, but it is exactly what I have been doing. “Perseveration is the repetition of a particular response” according to Wikipedia. I worked in the rehab industry for 8 years, and WikiP has it right.
“How have you been perseverating?”
Excellent question. Let me tell you.
Remember a few days ago I posted how I had conceptualized a new novel idea based on a sliver from my life? Well, several times a day now I navigate to the ‘about the book’ page and re-read the synopsis, gaze at all the cover concepts, and then reluctantly get back to work. I have even reorganized the OneNote file (saved on SkyDrive).
“Are you saying this is a bad thing?”
NO~well, yes and no? I should be writing the little scenes to insert into my “sweet & spicy” romance, My Fair Princess. What do I do instead? Write possible scene ideas in OneNote for the new romance. I suppose I should cut myself some slack (something I tell myself to do a lot) since I’m ahead of schedule with my MFP and it’s best to get as much done on a new idea as possible before the mood passes.
=D That’s all. Just thought I would share.