Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I'm Scared

For the past few days I’ve been wrestling with the problem of my unclear plot. I have two characters who will butt heads for the first part of the book, then will team up and (somehow) find the answer they’ve both been looking for. I know their names, and I sort of know their personalities. But that’s it.

I finally wrote a pitch. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it, so I posted it on the NaNo critique board. Someone pointed out that my characters were flat. I thanked them and decided not to post there again until I fixed that. My problem – I still don’t know my characters!

This is the scary part of NaNo – you are faced with a problem that you don’t know the answer to. Sometimes, you have to turn to others so you can get an answer. But most of the time, the answer lies within us. Your writer brain, believe it or not, already knows what to do.

Yeah, right.

Most of the time, I’m stuck until I do the thing I’ve been avoiding. My brain told me to take this step, but I resisted, and I get stuck. Once I follow my instincts, I’m suddenly back to work.

The ultimate problem of NaNoWriMo is that it’s scary. You’re partaking in a new adventure, and you don’t have all the answers. There are others happily typing away, and you are convinced you’re alone in your misery.

While there are happy moments of discovery during the writing journey, the majority of us writers are also scared. We aren’t sure where we’re going. We know the rabbit hole gets deeper, and we don’t know much beyond that.

How do the NaNo veterans make it out victorious? We acknowledge the fear and keep on going. We explore the rabbit hole, knowing we might get lost, but trusting our instincts to guide us.

Writing is scary. It’s crazy, nerve-wracking, frustrating, and downright miserable sometimes, but writing is also a lot of fun. Most of all, though, writing is scary. We aren’t sure of all the words that will fill the blank page before us, but we’re going to fill it. And many more after that.

If you’re scared, you’re in good company. I am, too.

Want to cross the finish line with me? Then take my advice – don’t let your fear hold you back. Write anyway. Write when it feels like it’s coming out wrong. Write because you know you need to. And one day, you’ll look back on those pages that you filled and be thankful that you persevered.

If you’re frightened of the dark rabbit hole ahead, light and candle and see what wonders await you. You’re also not alone in your journey. If you sit still long enough in your tunnel, you’ll hear exclamations coming from nearby work sites, where other writers are working on their soon-to-be masterpieces.

What? No! I need her alive!

Okay, now what?

I have no idea what I’m doing!

Don’t you feel better? You’re not the only one struggling. Now, keep on writing. The only difference between you and a NaNo winner is that a winner will not stay in the dark hole for days and refuse to write. At every opportunity, they will continue to write. The finish line is somewhere out there, in the sunshine. It’s your job to find the path that began in the dark hole.

I’m saluting you with my own shovel, then getting to work. Until next time!

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