A fine start to this 2016 NaNoWriMo I’ve got. Didn’t even get to start on day one. YAY FAMILY, THANK YOU! Playing catch up has been fun. HA. But I’m not going to lament bitterly on my fumbled start to what I assume is going to be a great month! 50K FTW! A rough draft hopefully completed (or at least 80% completed)! Huraahhh!
Ahhh but…here’s the thing. The proverbial “other shoe dropping”. Ever hear the quote “The devil is in the details?” Course you have. We’ll it’s true and it hasn’t been more apparent than starting a new novel for NaNo. Most of what we novelists have as we plot and outline (or pants on our word processors) are general ideas with a few details sprinkled here and there to remind us of our intentions.
I kinda had the OPPOSITE problem coming into this year. I planned on writing book 2 of my trilogy and I had so many details coming in from the first book I finally backed up and looked at the whole of book 2 and realized….I got nuthin’ but devils. Whoomp, there it is The sad truth that pushed me to finally start my 14 year WIP instead.
I mean we’ve all had that point in writing when we look at all the notebooks, computer files of notes, notes jotted on napkins/scraps of paper/ receipts, documents full of notes, ripped up scraps with tiny sentences penned on them and we go WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? What is happening here? Is that even my writing?
Welcome to my current problem. I call it the PIT OF DESPAIR. Or, as some would say, “losing the forest through the trees”. (Chock full of witticisms today aren’t I? Har har.)
Background information you may never use. Characters you may only meet once but you include in a list SOMEWHERE in case you need to recall hair color or last names at a later date. Notes on which historical era your book is taking place. Actually, make that a whole 60 page separate document on that Era just so you don’t miss anything. You catalog every single allergy the aliens have and you memorize the Greek alphabet because your heroine is trying to impress some hot Grecian language tutor.
Eventually, you drown in your own writing. You collapse into an abyss surrounded by tiny whispering voices like a hundred radios all tuned to a different station and suddenly, you can’t see what your story was about at all. You sigh, push everything off the bed into a heap on the floor and take a nap. Or you yank the power cord to your computer and watch Netflix.
This is an entirely acceptable reaction and I encourage it. That’s right. I’m saying chuck it for a while. *GASP!!* The procrastinator is telling you to chuck it and procrastinate! Yeah yeah but hear me out. It’s LEGIT. Your brain isn’t going to slog through this mess with all the little devils whispering to it. It’s the same thing with any important work you do whether it’s paying bills, working retail, sitting in a long meeting or dealing with noisy family members. Everyone needs a break to calm themselves and get centered again or they are going to cause bodily harm.
Now I’m not saying take a week or two and forget everything that happened and start a new novel. Nuuuuu never that. But you do need to get back to basics. Because of this experience I’ve decided it’s a great idea to make a separate document labeled “ROUGH STUFF (__insert book title here__)”. This includes all the very basic things my novel has and where it needs to go. I have to remind myself of the over-arching plot so I don’t get lost trying to figure things out. This is the North Star of writing navigation, lemme tell ya. I now have a copy taped to my bedroom wall near where I write along with a copy of the Snowflake Method and a version of a Plot Structure Template that works for me. All these things keep me on track and focuses my brain more than a herd of screeching little devils.
So when you feel like you’re sinking and your brain is scrambling, trying to swat all the details out of the way, take a break and get back to basics. Don’t let the Pit of Despair take a year off your life!
Also, don’t let the muggles get you down 🙂
And not everyone who wanders is lost….
Okay I know, I know…Happy writing all and good luck with NaNo if you’re participating! You can buddy me at any time: IsikkahJai on the NaNo website. I’m more than happy to help (if/when I have the time).