Archive for January 7th, 2012

Let’s face it. This month hasn’t gone, for one minute, the way I envisioned it would. I had hoped to stay on top of my writing, especially since the first was a holiday and the second I took off. Nope. Not only were those fails, but I also blissfully ignored the story for a few days. Once it got to the 4th, I started forcing myself to think about it again and by this point I had built it into this crazy, intimidating project that was going to eat me up and spit me out.

The problem was that I had planned for months that I was going to focus on a specific subject matter. At the time, it sounded great because I had a quirky, catchy title to accompany it but once it was time to get started, I had no interest in the story. In fact, it bordered on a severe aversion. I’m sure Freud would have plenty to say about that. I started feeling the pressure of time slipping past as I frittered away my days in decidedly non-creative pursuits.

So in true NaNoWriMo style, I sat down on the 5th during some down time at work and set a 20-minute sprint for myself. I had a totally new direction sketched out in my mind before I started and lo-and-behold, it worked! I managed 3,000 words that day, the most I’ve written since August. The story ended up going somewhere I never expected, consciously thought of or even wanted to go. It’s amazing what can happen if you just let your mind loose.

I’m coming up to page 10 and you would think that I have my main character determined. Nope. I still don’t know who it is. At the moment there’s one character that is the main focus but I’m not entirely convinced that she’s the true protagonist. I suspect it could be her baby or maybe the character that just appeared last night. It really depends on which direction the novel wants to go. I’m starting to see this as a tree. There are some vital decisions to be made soon and I don’t feel comfortable actively making them. This story has to be written by itself. The more I manipulate it, the harder it will be to regain the essence that is slowly starting to bloom.

I’m really enjoying the writing sprints at the moment. I’ve tried them in the past and they’ve either been too pressure-filled for me or too long and my brain short circuits. But 20 minutes, that’s short enough that I don’t fry my brain and long enough to really get going. Without a timer to stop me, they’re great for kick starting a serious writing session. This month’s story is much more compatible to these sprints than previous ones were.

Obviously there will be times when I can’t really get into the story but I’ve completely let this one go. I care about it but I’m not going to force it. If I have to back track because I went down the wrong route, that’s fine by me. Like when I was working on the western, I started heading in a direction that just wasn’t working because it felt wrong. I’m not afraid to take chances with my stories in that regard. It makes things interesting.

I used to think writers were crazy when I heard them talk about their stories taking on a life of its own but I totally get it now. It’s exciting to be taken on this wild ride that you’re simultaneously creating and discovering. The characters really do come alive and the story really does take on a life of its own. You can feel the give and take as the story progresses and as the writer you take a back seat and let it dictate to you. I know there are some people out there who think this sounds nuts and others who start to quake in fear because of the haphazard approach I’ve taken. This route is definitely not for everyone- some people need the structure and anĀ  outline that becomes like a fill in the blanks project. Not me! I love every minute of this roller coaster. In fact, sign me up for 5 more after this!

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