Dig Deep, Admit You're Scared, Cry it Out and GO
A friend of mine told me about Nanowrimo and I was instantly sold. That year, I didn't have a novel in mind, so I tried doing a picture prompt every day. I didn't make my 50k that time, but a lot of really interesting stories spilled out and I wrote a lot of things I didn't know I was capable of (I also discovered that sometimes writing a little poem is a great kick-off for a sprint!) A few years later in 2013, I got all riled up about Nano again and this time I had a novel in mind. I had been watching Star Trek TNG and getting into old-school Sci-fi. Following a prompt, I wrote a novel about a man who finds an alien, throws it in the water, ends up at a government research facility, and later discovers his very strange connection to said alien. Like any good story, it took me on a ride and went places I never dreamed of.
As far as making my goal? Well, you always start off on-task in the beginning. Then you hit a wall, such as unexpectedly moving your story twenty years into the future, and realizing that you have to sit down and try to imagine the next twenty years of technology before you can continue. One thing I will say is read those pep talks (if you run out of current ones, check out the archives!) During a tough writers block, I was wondering why I couldn't just pump out the words. I opened my Nano inbox and the words staring at me made me tear up. I forget the author, unfortunately, but they said writing is hard because you care. It's not hard because you suck or because you're broken, it's because you really want your story to be good. And then it was less of an up-hill climb and more like a triathalon. I felt like an athlete warming up her muscles and getting ready to tear up some pavement. By the end I was writing 5000k a day, but realizing I was capable of such a feat was exhilerating! I kept typing right up until the last day, the last minute, and when I hit that 50k my boyrfriend came in the room and we jumped up and down.
One trick I had to get over little bumps in progress was to break form. When we write, even if we skip punctuation (which I highly encourage,) we still write on form.... you know, in our "voice." Sometimes it helped to push me through to just type, "and then the stupid thing falls from the ceiling and the guy jumps over it..." etc. Another was to reach a meditative state and stare at a candle while I wrote. Meditate for 15 minutes if you can, 5 if you're in a pinch, or even just 1 minute makes a difference. Though I've come back several times and tried, I haven't reached 50k again, and I've never published a novel. But Nano has inspired me, helped me realize my potential, and carried me through some cold winters.
After Nano ended that year, I got my first T-shirt (I figured I earned it, plus it's the 8-bit one, and you know, I'm a videogame nerd) and got to editing. I started publishing every week on my blog https://tezzatipoca.wordpress.com/, but I eventually hit a big road block there and never finished. Recently I went to a writer's meeting where we read aloud to each other. Reading The Foreigner aloud was nerve-racking, but I found myself enjoying the read, and reliving content I had long forgotten. My peers all gave me praise, and, looking back, there is still a lot of value in that old thing. Now I am thinking about an 80% rewrite. The "voice" I was using back then was experimental and I feel like it doesn't translate well. At least one character needs to be eradicated, and she's in almost every scene. So hopefully there is a future for The Foreigner, and maybe even a future for me as a writer. But who knows, I'll never find out unless I put my fingers on the keyboard and start typing.
Happy Wrimo! Good luck in November!
Becca (SITCID) (Friend me!)