The Shine Is Off

Everything was going swimmingly and I was feeling incredibly enthusiastic -- until I hit the supposed halfway point. If you missed my last post, I am participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, attempting to write 50,000 words in November. Crazy, huh?

Behind already by a few thousand words at the start of the challenge's second week, I kicked it into overdrive last weekend. I went to visit a friend in Oxford and spent the train journey there and back typing away on my lap top.

And then. I got worried about whether or not I actually had a plot and the work week started off with an incredibly stressful day. So stressful that I started to question why I had the idea to do this stupid challenge in the first place. I couldn't face the writer's block along with the rewriting I had to do on a difficult piece of research. And my other excuse was it was too cold in the flat to type. So I spent three days writing absolutely zip. Zero. Nil. Nada.

Over a mid-week curry with the Hub I moaned about my plot problems and he suggested some wacky alternatives, which I was actually considering since I was so stuck. But then I realized they were very "him" and not me. And one thing I've learned recently is that I need to go with my gut more, and stop second-guessing myself all the time.

Last night on the train home I thought and thought about what the problem was, and I decided that I had to get more into the storytelling. When I write for work I'm constantly trying to condense everything down to the main point, in as few words as possible. Sure, I'm trying to make it interesting, but I'm more or less writing bullet points with data to back them up. Point, evidence, point, evidence. But with a novel, it doesn't work that way. You need to seduce the reader, show, don't tell: draw them in and let them figure out what you're trying to say. Where I edit in a research article, I need to expand in my novel. At least on the first messy draft.

Instead of thinking about how to get to the end, I made the decision to try to let it unfold in front of me, by slowing myself down, focusing on the detail in the story. And this morning, it seemed to work. I've written 2,900 before noon, and I think I've solved the plot problem -- as in,  I may have at least found one. (I may have drawn some strength from my wonder woman coffee mug.)

In order to finish the challenge I have to break the back of it this weekend, which means an enormous amount of catching up. I see why November is a good month for this. I've got the heat on and the coffee maker working its butt off. The Hub is worried by the end of the weekend that he'll find "All work and no play makes Taron a dull girl," typed out over and over again on my laptop, comprising the second half of my novel's word count. I told him to make sure he goes and finds an axe for self defense.

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    1. Thank you! And I was so excited to see a comment -- procrastination! I was checking email etc as I'm struggling to keep writing tonight...


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