During November, I will be posting Weekly Pep Talks written by myself or by guest Pep Talkers. This Pep Talk was originally sent to the NH Region participants on 11.6.17.
To be honest, I’ve never climbed a rock wall or scaled a mountain. But that’s what it feels like so far this NaNoWriMo. Prior to November 1, I made less progress outlining my novel than I wanted to, which means that I’ve been trying to maintain a pattern of writing/outlining/writing/researching/outlining to keep up with the daily word count. I’m creating small foot holds and hand holds. I imagine this is what it’s like scaling a mountain: my commitment to my project is maybe my safety harness, and I reach up and forward, chip away at the rock face of the unknown and dig just enough to get a handhold. It’s messy, hard work, but then I pull up and move ahead just a little bit more.
But it’s enough.
The point is to keep moving forward. Sometimes something unknown unravels as I’m writing, sometimes something else will reveal itself in my research and I see these tasks as supporting each other. And when I’m focused on my project, when I’m feeding my creativity, I notice more connections in the novel periphery that is my real life. I allow myself to follow this glimmering shiny thing and see what else it might shake loose in my story. The other day a friend was describing a family situation that was pretty serious and I have to admit a tiny part of my brain was thinking, “Is there any way I can work that into my NaNo novel…” While this might seem rude it was a signal that my writing antennae are up, and since for me, a big part of NaNoWriMo is giving myself permission to feed my creativity in the midst of a very busy life, I took this as a good thing. That part of me is awake.
Also, I’ve started to babble about my book but that’s typical for Week 2. Week 1 started with a hopeful idea and by now we’re all getting to the middle of the story, which some writers call “Bizzarro world” or the flipside of the world our MC started out in, or the middle muddle. Friends will ask how my book is going and instead of starting at the beginning, I just start talking about that current question that I’m mulling over in my head about bizzaro world. I’ve started babbling in a notebook and write down a lot of questions so I can spare people in my real life, and I think being able to refer back to written questions has been helpful.
I’ve got this Stephen King quote pinned to the top of my MS:
“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
In Week 1, we’ve met your MC and some other characters; in Week 2, what kind of monsters will they face in their version of bizzaro world?
The remedy for this middle muddle, I think, is to consider what feeling do you want your reader to have after they’ve finished reading your book? For me, it’s the feeling that’s evoked by an image of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor at the end of Terminator when she’s no longer innocent because she just battled the Terminator and she’s planning for an even bigger battle ahead. I know my MC goes through *something* to become more…wise? experienced? adult? …to become that image of Sarah Connor…but since I haven’t written that part yet, I remind myself of the image. For some writers, music will do that same – evoking that feeling that you want your novel to produce in your reader, which is why creating playlists can be so helpful.
So hang in there, WriMos! We can do this and come out on the other side with a bit more knowledge about our story that we had before. Let’s just try to get that idea on paper; think of this as a very messy first draft. The world needs your novel!
NH: Municipal Liaison