Just Keep Writing
It's August 17th and I'm more than halfway through my self-imposed one-half NaNoWriMo. In July, NaNoWriMo had a July Writing Camp and I missed it! I didn't realize it until July was almost over and was really disappointed that I hadn't noticed the email about it. But then I thought, heck, I can make my own writing camp! So I decided to make August my own personal mini-NaNoWriMo and pledged to myself and my Fountain Pen People buddies (a little group I meet with every Monday to discuss all things fountain pen related) to write 25,000 words before the month was over - half of the words in the regular contest in November.
By the time I made this decision, it was already July 31 so I had only one day to come up with an idea for my novella. Being only 25,000 words, it wasn't really a novel, but it was longer than a typical short story. So I considered it a novella. There are a lot of differing opinions about how many words make up these three writing forms, but I like the idea of it being a novella, because I like what Robert Silverberg says in his introduction to a novella anthology titled "Sailing to Byzantium". In it he says that "[The novella] is one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms...it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book." So how could I go wrong?
I did finally come up with an idea for the book, and guess what, one of the main characters is a fountain pen. OK, it's not really a character but it does play a major role in the novella. The first two weeks flew by and I was blowing away my average of 806 words per day in order to make my goal. But now, I'm stuck. I was kicking myself for not spending a little time to write an outline. But with only one day to come up with an idea for the book, it just didn't happen. And I also didn't write any character background stories or develop a timeline. I just sat down and started writing. And now, I don't know where to take the story next.
So I'm sitting in Starbuck's feeling sorry for myself and perusing the internet for ideas to help me and came upon this great article at the 'nybookeditors.com' website. It was titled "Planning to Outline Your Novel? Don't." The article really hit home for me. It talked about the fact that when you plan everything ahead of time, sometimes it can stifle your creativity. You feel glued to your original plan and don't feel free to write something unexpected - to let your mind and writing wander.
But there was one point in the article that hit me like a bat over the head. "Don't tie yourself to linear creation!" What? You mean, I don't have to write everything in order? The thought had never even occurred to me that if I got stuck in the middle, I could just go and write the ending. Or I could write a scene in the book that I knew I wanted to happen but didn't exactly know yet where I wanted to put.
Another great idea that absolutely relates to where I am right now is to "Write until you arrive at the point at which you have no idea what comes next. And then keep writing." I think after I break my timeline rule and write the ending, that's what I'll try next.
I never really expected to find anything that would help me so much. But these words of wisdom have definitely given me the catalyst I need to 'Just Keep Writing'.