As part of my NaNoWriMo Halo Giveaway, I offered all of the folks who signed up a chance to write a guest post for How Not To Write. I think you’ll be amazed as I was at the variety of people who have submitted posts. I know I am. I’m also proud to share their words here and I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a comment. — Jamie
The Best Laid Plans
You know what it is like. You plan and dream and outline. You think about your plot for days on end. Finally, you sit down to write, and . . . nothing happens.
Yes, we all face that moment when the planning finally ends and the execution of the plan begins, and that is exactly what it feels like–an execution.
Here I was, on the first day of NaNoWriMo, finally starting the novel I had been planning, and the new file I had open in front of me seemed to mock me with its emptiness. Most writers face this at one point or another, whether when starting a new project or in the middle of the writing. Words elude us. Sentences fail to form. Anything that is written seems insipid, boring, or stupid. The hardest part of writing is often . . . the writing.
It all seems so easy when planning. I have pages of notes written about the characters and the plot. I have an outline which seems very reasonable and generally answers the necessary questions. I am writing a murder mystery so I know what clues must be given, what red herrings I have invented, and who the murderer, victim, and detective are. All these things are ready, yet writing can seem so hard sometimes.
Part of this is probably nerves. After all, writing a novel in a month is a big undertaking. 50,000 words is no laughing matter. Of course, I did just finish a 340 page dissertation, but I also had longer than a month to work on it (WAY too long, in fact, if you were to ask anyone who knew me well).
Fear can be a huge motivating factor, as it was when I needed to finish my dissertation by a deadline, but it can also be a stumbling block. Fear of a large task or even a fear of success can make the task difficult to start and once started, make it difficult to complete.
Several things can help. I try to brainstorm. The “Editor” in my brain has to be told to shut up. I tie that “Editor” in the corner and stick a sock in his mouth, because the start of a draft isn’t a good time to be stopping ideas from coming with a negative voice in my head judging me. I remind myself that drafts can be revised. I set timers for short sessions and force myself to write until the timer goes off. Then I take a break and try it again. If it works, I soon won’t want to stop when the timer goes ding.
I know what I must do. I must face my fears and start writing. I revised my dissertation multiple times during the process and I am sure it will be the same for my novel. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect on the first writing. What matters is that I get it written and finish the first draft of my novel for NaNoWriMo.
After all, I am a writer and writers write. No more blank pages or empty files for me–I’m going to write my novel and finish NaNoWriMo and I hope you will too, regardless of how many words you have counted so far! There is still time for all of us to break through those barriers and fulfill our plans!
Kim the Blogging Bard earned a Ph.D. in English Lit with a specialty in Shakespeare and the writers of his day. Her dissertation was on the fictional representation of working women in Elizabethan and Jacobean London. She is currently looking for writing or teaching work. Her new blog is a place for her to share her thoughts on . . . well, anything which comes to her mind. Recent posts have included a story about a barnacle from her childhood (which she thought had a tiny dinosaur skeleton on it) and her love of collecting books.
A few of Kim’s Great Posts: