Writer’s Block, Blunders, and NaNoWriMo
|November means NaNoWriMo!
It’s November, which means a lot of writers are doing NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in a month (which for me is only half a novel). I participate every year in an unofficial capacity, usually because I’m on a deadline, and I am looking for any way possible to boost my word output.
As usual this time of year, the days go by faster than I could possibly hope. Before I know it, my deadline that was 3 months away is suddenly upon me. I tell myself that this time, I will do things differently. I will stay off Facebook and Twitter. I won’t check email before I’ve made my word count. I’ll ignore the headlines. I will write.
And it works for a day or two.
But then I’m back to the same old, same old.
I can stare at that computer day after day and get very little done. Writer’s Block? Or is it something else? I refuse to believe in Writer’s Block. I think that if Nancy Drew were to investigate, she’d also refuse to believe. She’d find a very practical reason for this lack of progress.
|Freedom App on computer
So what is the reason for this frittering away of valuable writing time (besides the obvious social media visits)? I’d hazard a guess that there’s something wrong in the story. Whether it’s plot, or character, or both, I don’t know. What I do know is that I cannot possibly write further (or farther) until I discover exactly what that something might be. Unfortunately, until then, I’ll often do anything else but write.
I’d like to say I know what the absolute answer is but I don’t. No doubt, doing a proper synopsis might be key. I tend to write organically (some call this a “pantser,” a writer term for writing by the seat of your pants). I’m not sure organic works. Perhaps if I spent that month plotting a good synopsis, I might be able to avoid the wasted days of trying to figure out what is wrong or where I’m going.
I know I need to stay off Facebook and Twitter.
(Note: I will be scarce until after the New Year due to above-mentioned fast-approaching deadline.) Thankfully, there’s an app for that. The Freedom app
installs right on your computer and helps to manage those particular time-sucks. (You can schedule time to block social media. I paid for the forever version. Totally worth it.) But it’s not the only game in town. There’s a new app that writer Holly West turned me on to. Focus Keeper
. (Available on both Apple, here
, and Google, here
.) This nifty little app installs on your phone. It’s like a metronome that ticks away in 25 minute blocks with a 5-minute break between the four blocks. It works. As long as you turn it on.
|Focus Keeper App on iPhone
Apps aside, there’s still that matter of figuring out why the story isn’t working. Interestingly, I heard more than one writer mention in the last couple of weeks that when they write themselves into a corner, they usually find that they’ve played their hand too soon.They go back, deconstruct their story to find out where, then fix it. Elizabeth George was one of those writers who mentioned this
particular writerly phenomenon, that, until this last week, I didn’t even know was a thing. I do now, so will be taking a new look at my story to see if this is where I went astray.
I’d like to know what other writers do if their story is off track. Do they get stuck or forge on? Go back and write a synopsis? See if they’ve played their hand too soon? Add a thread? Remove a thread?
Chime in, Rogue Writers and Readers who are writers. I’d love to know! (And Happy and Fruitful NaNoWriMo!)