I remember a moment of time before I signed my first publication contract when I would hear published authors say – All of you newer writers, enjoy this time of no deadlines, where you are writing purely for the joy of writing. Where you can shut out the world, deadlines, editors, and critics and just write.
They weren’t lying. Being able to shut those things off is brilliant. But they also sometimes forgot to mention that the more novels we have behind us, and the more edits we’ve gone through, the louder that internal editor can be. That editor-voice can scream before we start writing, while we’re writing, and after we’re through. Now, I’m not saying this is a BAD thing, but it can really trip us up.
I knew NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) was out for me this year. I’m knee-deep in house buying and selling paperwork, my husband has already moved so I’m single-parenting it, I’m recovering from a fairly major hip surgery, and I’ve kicked up my editing job a few notches. But I love the spirit of NaNo for its reckless abandon of everything but story. In that spirit, I started a new project this month. Something else totally new for me, and while I love it, I’ve also spent a lot of time over-thinking, and just when I was about to set it aside indefinitely, I figured I’d write up the end to see how the mess I’d planned all turned out. (I plot in loose bullet points and scribbled out name changes).
Here’s what I’d forgotten: If I know a novel ends happy, I need that ending written early. I need to write that ending when I first start. I need to write that ending again when I’m about 1/3 of the way through and then again when I’m 1/2 the way through, and then again when I finally write myself to the end.
The ending sets the trail and tone for so many little moments, scenes and twists. Now that I know where I take my people, I can’t wait to sit down and write, which is a lovely change from sitting down, wondering if the work is going to be worth it, and then picking up another editing project instead.
So, here’s my best piece of advice for people stuck in a story – NaNo project or not: Find a way to love your characters so much that you cannot possibly let their story go untold. If that’s writing the happy end? Go for it. If that’s spending 2-10 days working on character sketches? DO IT. Find your path, take it, and revel in the feel of weaving a story from an idea.
And never forget why you started your journey.
~ Happy Writing!
P.S. I promise to try and not leave you all for so long, but for all the reasons listed above, my brain just isn’t functioning to capacity, so I’ve saved all the bestest brain cells for my lovely clients.