Well, here we are smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo 2011. How are you doing? I don’t know about you, but I’ve barely kept up with my daily word count, thanks to a few thousand extra words clocked in during Week One! Thank the NaNo Gods!
Week One is honeymoon time with the whole NaNo experience. After anticipating November 1st for months, our fingers fly over the keyboard, plots thicken up nicely, and our characters are so well developed, it’s like they’re on steroids. Updating word counters and statuses across the Social Networking universe hourly, we want everyone know: We’re IN it, man! We’re DOING this thing!
We Are On FIRE!
Enter Week Two - notorious for sending Wrimos into panic mode when they realize they’ve run out of plot, and still have 30,000 words to go. I should know. This is my 5th NaNo! Whether we’re Plotters or Pantsers, Week Two is when many of us go from “FLOW” to “SLOW” faster than you can say “Is it December yet?”
Suddenly, we’re staring at blank screens, the clock is ticking, and our word count hasn’t budged in hours. Maybe days! We’ve used every adjective known to man (and then some) in our last paragraph, and now we’ve got - nothing. Nada. Zilch!
Ugh! What happened? We were doing SO well, then without warning, our Muse goes into hiding and NaNoWriMo feels a lot more like WORK, and a lot less like fun.
Two words sure to strike fear into the heart of anyone who’s ever put word to paper.
The BAD news is, almost every writer will experience writers block at some point, and it has nothing to do with ability or desire.
The GOOD news is – especially for us Wrimos - we’re going for PROGRESS in November, not PERFECTION. They may not be the best words we’ve ever written, and we might type the very last word at 11:59 p.m. on November 30. But the goal here is to just FINISH, blocks be damned.
So what’s a writer to do when they hit the proverbial Block Wall? Try the WEDGE:
WANDER away from your story for a while literally (take a walk, go for a ride, or watch a movie) and figuratively. Suspend your original plot and try something different. For example, your MC could step into a Time Machine and meet up with a historical figure. Or an alien. Whatever! Wandering may not sit well with you Plotters, but it will get you writing again. And THAT’S the whole point. You can always edit later.
ENLIST help from writing prompts. There are some great books available, as well as card decks. But you don’t have to spend money - make your own! Cut some index cards in half, and write a word or phrase on each one. “Take a Road Trip” “Kill off your MC” “RUMBA!” The point is to have fun with it! Then shuffle the cards, pick one, and get writing!
DRAW from real life. Did you have lunch with a friend today? Maybe and your squeeze got into a fight, or you just found out you’re adopted. Real life is great fodder for word count. Who knows? Maybe the ‘nice guy’ that stopped to help you change a tire is really an ax welding murderer who’s looking for his next victim!
GUT IT OUT. I know, I know. This one doesn’t sound sexy, but perseverance DOES pay off. It might seem like you’ve run out of ideas, but if you’ll just stick with it, the words will come back. So what if it’s not the next Great American Novel? (NO NaNoWriMo novel is at first!) You’ll eventually find your voice again, if you don’t give up. Just ask Ernest Hemingway or J.K. Rowling.
EASE UP ON YOURSELF. No, really. Try not to stress so much about it. We’re going for word counts here, not trying to solve world hunger. Just do the best you can for now. If you write only 50 words today and not a one makes sense, so what? Beating yourself up is a recipe for more blockage. Try again tomorrow. Just don’t give up!
Janece Herrington is a native Southern Californian who grew up in the 60s addicted to reading, listening to the Beach Boys, and playing “journalist on the street” in the beautiful port town of South Shores.
Mother of two and grandmother to one, Janece works full-time as the Marketing Manager for a national property management company. She’s been blogging since 2005, and considers creative writing her ‘real job’. Her blog is The Wild Pomegranade.