When you feel like you’re not going to achieve a goal, it makes you feel like quitting. That’s how I’ve been feeling. At just under 23,000 words, I’ve been asking myself if I want to take a break from this.
Then I think, well it’s only ten more days. Maybe I should just hang in there for ten more days. What could it hurt?
Keeping the pressure on has prompted me to think about my novel every single day. I write in spurts, for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening. This works when I already have a clear idea of what’s happening. This doesn’t work when I don’t. I’m learning how to actively think and solve problems. So my NaNoWriMo schedule looks like this:
- Morning: Write
- Afternoon: Think (An hour during lunch. This involves drawing pictures.)
- Evening: Write
Books that have been invaluable guides for me have been:
- Novel Shortcuts: Ten Techniques to Ensure a Great First Draft by Laura Whitcomb
- Building Better Plots by Robert Kerner
These books have been great resources, and I highly recommend them. Every time I get stumped, I thumb through their pages and find ways to get unstuck.
Today, I made myself focus on my theme. The books say to sum up your theme in a sentence. What was my theme? I wanted it to have some kind of push and pull between science and mystery, between knowing and not knowing, between things that you want to know and things you should never know, and the responsibility that comes with knowledge.
I wanted to say that mystery is essential for humans to remain human. On and on I went, driving myself crazy. I thought about the symbols I had set up in my story to represent these ideas. I wrote them down on a sheet of a paper and considered opposites. Mystery vs. Knowledge, Good vs. Evil, Life vs. Death, Happiness vs. Sadness, and so forth. But in the end, I think I came up with something interesting. Something that can apply to all of my characters as a unifying theme. It’s a little odd, so I like it.
The next thing I did was figure out a device. A device is a way of organizing and presenting the novel, such as how Dracula is written as a series of diary entries and letters. So after some thought about my theme and about contrasts, I think I came up with an original device. At least I haven’t seen it before. It’s probably not original, but it fits, and maybe it will add interest and creativity.
So now, my inner critic is taking a new tact. Instead of attacking me personally, which it was doing early on in the project, it’s now telling me I don’t have enough time/energy to really think these things out. To do the best job. To pull it off.
So what do I have to say to that?
Maybe not, but I’m the only one I know with these ideas and if I don’t put them down on paper, who will? And now that I’ve conceived them, I want them to live. So maybe I can’t do them justice. I’m not experienced. I’m not a genius. But I do have grit. I have the gift of not having it handed to me, of having to struggle. Maybe my weaknesses will work to my benefit—in the end.
Maybe now I should focus on my villain. He’s a hard one to write. He’s selfish, egotistical, and supercilious, but he has some good points too. I suppose it’s a place to start.