Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Don't Know What I'm Doing!

It suddenly hits you as you sit down to pen that next scene that you have no idea what you’re doing. You likely did not major in English, you haven’t read enough books, and you’re wondering what the forum people are talking about when they’re mentioning a Mary Sue. Beyond that, you’re only inching along in the story.

First off, relax. Remember there is no wrong way to write. What works well for the person who’s already penned 20k may not work well for you. Part of the writing process is to learn what works well for you. Part of this NaNo experience is to push you a bit. If you’re freaking out a little bit, fretting over your story and its current problem, you are likely on the right track.

But I Don’t Have a Map!

If you plan a trip for a place you’ve never visited before, you prepare. You book a room if you will stay overnight or touch base with the friend who has offered you their couch. When it’s time to leave, you either look up directions online or plug in the address into GPS. You follow the directions and trust the map. Nine times out of ten, the map will lead you properly to that destination. Alas, your story has no such map.

At times like this, if you’ve planned ahead, you can refer to your outline. You will remember the subplot you’re supposed to institute. You can talk about a new setting that will be important later. You will remember a moment of brilliance from a few weeks before, and it will send you on your merry way back to your story. You have a plan, and this plan will help you cross the finish line

If you have not planned ahead, going forward when you’re unsure of what you’re doing is harder. Please remember that there are no wrong answers. Try something new with your characters. Put them in a different place. See what works. Remember, you can delete the scenes you hate at another time.

Either way, the same brain that birthed your story idea holds the answer to your current plot problem. If you have no clue of what to do, ask on the forums. Helpful souls in desperate need of procrastination will offer their advice. But likely, you are on the right track. Realizing you’ve run into a problem you didn’t plan is most likely a good sign.

I Haven’t Been Trained To Do This!

Few have been trained about what to do when your characters hit a road block. But that is all right. The only way you can learn is to do it yourself. Stinks, doesn’t it? Sorry, that is the way of writing. The person who wrote about the road block will have to be the person who writes their characters out of the situation. Others can offer suggestions if you visit the forums, but you will have to determine which course is right for you.

Take a deep breath. Remember when you had the story idea? Remember how you named your characters? Remember when you realized Jessie drove a Green Honda? You already figured out those details when the story needed them. You will figure this out, too.

Don’t Listen to Doubt!

Doubt has no place in your draft! Your doubt want you to quit. Your doubt wants you to leave this story for the professionals. Don’t listen. The professional writers didn’t have this idea. You did. And you’re the best person to tell this story to the world.

Take a look at that draft again. Read over what you have. Tackle that problem the same way you’re conquering your draft – one bite at a time.

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