Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo Mike Check

It’s day 16 of National Novel Writing Month and I wanted to check in with my fellow NaNo-ers. Some of us are gleefully getting words down on the page at an alarming rate while others are struggling but managing to make it. To those folks I want to say GREAT JOB! Keep up the good work! You’ll get there!

However, the rest of this post is for those who find this month stressful to the point of nausea and their already tenuous wordcount, stifled.  Those who write the words, then delete those same words.  To you, I want to say, cut it out. Stop making yourself mental. Get the words out on paper because you can, and should, go back to edit them later.  Get all the ingredients for your fabulous soufflé of a book out on the counter with the cookbook picture of what it’s suppose to look like and start whisking.  You can’t tell that story to the masses if its trapped inside your grey matter and not written on a napkin or a file somewhere.  Just breathe, give yourself permission to write--little by little, word by word, sentence on sentence.  Watch how quickly things add up.

I know it’s hard to commit to this month’s rigorous pace but there’s loads of help to keep or get you back on track.  My latest lifeline was thrown from an article in PW, 5 Writing Tips from Chelsea Cain. Ms. Cain is the author of the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell crime thriller books.  The series has been compared to RED DRAGON with serial killer Gretchen Lowell likened to Hannibal Lecter, and I can see how that might be the easy similarity.  A detective (Sheridan) visits a serial killer in jail (Lowell) but for me, their relationship is very different than the Lecter/Clarice Starling relationship.  Gretchen Lowell kidnapped and tortured Det. Sheridan for ten days and then, for reasons unknown, let him go and turned herself in.  Wow, right? I couldn’t WAIT to read the book when I saw the description.  Anyway, I’m getting off track here because I want to point those who’re struggling, in the direction of Ms. Cain’s excellent article on writing.   Take a look and see all the common sense awesome she shares.  Go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.

So, to recap—you have to write EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO, so just get your butt in a chair and do it. You have to write THINGS THAT MIGHT SEEM CLICHÉ because really, everything under the sun has probably been done somewhere so don’t let that stop you. You have to write WHEN YOUR CHARACTERS ARE ACTING ALL CRAZY AND TRYING TO BOSS YOU AROUND, so let the voices in your head know that you’re the one in control.  You have to write THE SCENES THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR YOU because your best work sometimes comes from the things that are difficult.  You have to write AND STICK TO THE DETAILS RELEVANT TO THAT PASSAGE because no one wants to read about a girl running from a killer who gets caught and murdered because she suddenly notices the lovely red dress in the shop window she just sprinted by.  So, lesson learned today?

You have to write.


Marilyn Brant said...

Pamala, thanks for pointing us to that article -- it sounds exactly like something that would be valuable for me to read right about now!

And, yes, to knowing that we need to write even when we don't want to... There are a few scenes I wrote that just flowed. There are many, many more that I had to pull out of me like a tooth extraction. But, it's interesting, a year or two later, when I read both sets of scenes, I can no longer tell which was which. So time eventually smooths away the record of our struggles, and all we're left with is the writing ;).

Happy Thanksgiving to you!! xox

Pamala Knight said...

Marilyn, the writing when you don't want to is the hardest one for me. I'm still trying to change my process from "when the inspiration hits" to "write now and facilitate the inspiration" or something like that. It's also heartening to hear that wonderful and talented writers like you also struggle with the word flow.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too! xoxo