Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blahs and Doldrums

It was great to receive a pep talk email from Chris Baty (founder of NaNoWriMo) this morning. It maybe explains why I do this with the group, and not just any time of year when I think I will have time, etc.

To know that you have hit the same problem as thousands of others seems reassuring, even as people quit and fade for reasons of their own (and no-one sneers at someone who can't run more than ten miles in a marathon...)

That's still ten miles further than most people... I hope he won't mind me quoting chunks:

Bah. Those of us who are grappling with sluggish stories and dwindling mojo? We're having the real NaNoWriMo party---the Struggler's Party! I've been hanging out at this low-energy fiesta for the past week, and I've been hearing some familiar laments around the punch bowl.
"I think I picked the wrong story.""Work ate my word count.""Nothing seems to happen in my book.""My main character is getting on my nerves." The most common refrain at the Struggler's Party, though, is that we're just feeling Blah. Our stories are Blah, our writing is Blah. We've spent the last two weeks mining our creative depths, and many of us have emerged with too few diamonds and way too many lumps of coal. [...]

1) Incite change. If your story is losing momentum, juice it up by inflicting some major changes on your characters. Crash the spaceship. End the marriage. Buy the monkey. Change is scary because we have to figure out what comes next. But feeling afraid is ten times better than feeling bored, and your book will benefit from your risk-taking. Go big this week! You won't regret it.
2) Trust the process. If you're doubting yourself or your story, just keep moving forward. It will work itself out in the end. Every year, NaNoWriMo authors who press on to 50K are treated to the equivalent of NaNoWriMo's northern lights. This is the electric moment when the tangle of plots and people we dropped into the first half of our books end up forming unexpected connections with what we write in Weeks Three and Four. Themes develop. Arcs emerge. As we fly out of the 30,000s and into the 40,000s, a current begins to flow through our writing. Things crackle, then hum, and, at the very end of the month, enough circuits connect that the whole story lights up with a charmingly bookish glow.

Thanks Chris!

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