The NaNo Cometh

NaNo begins this week. Okay future participants, now is your cue to start freaking out.

Am I ready for NaNo? -ish. The outline is coming along and I’m solving plot point problems, but let’s face it. I need to get some serious plotting done if I want to be ready for Friday. I guess because it’s the end of the week that seems far enough away. Plus I’m trying to get some other goals accomplished before NaNo consumes everything.

But there’s something I’ve learned in prepping for NaNo, and that’s trust your creative brain. I worried a little about connecting some dots, but I kept that conundrum on the back burner and moved forward and things are starting to work out. I don’t know what it is about the blank page before me that makes me wonder if this is the one. You know, the time where you’ve finally run out of ideas. Where you won’t actually be able to pull a story off. End of the universe kind of stuff.

I think for us creative types, that’s just not going to happen, at least not permanently. Especially if you’re feeding your creativity constantly. (That’s where reading and watching and consuming other forms of media comes in handy. Blogging especially can spark creativity in unexpected ways).

So my small words of advice as NaNo approaches, is to prepare in your own best way, then trust your creativity. Let your muse run amok, send your editor on a cruise, and write. And if you reach November 1st and you’re a plotter and things aren’t quite there yet, don’t worry. Trust yourself. And trust that this is a first draft anyway. Let it be a land free of criticism and full of discovery. Just write. And enjoy it.

Are you ready for NaNo? Still doing last minute prep or waiting for that 12:00 a.m. November 1st moment? If you’re not doing NaNo, what will you be up to this November?

Connect the Dots, La-la-la-la-la!

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In preparation for the NaNo I’m outlining among other things for Shade 2. I have to ask myself questions like WHY? HOW COME? WHAT FOR? And so on.

I have a major plot point I want to get to and from their out it’s fairly plotted. But all the before that, I’m trying to forge some kind of sense out of it. After all…

In storytelling, logic is retroactive.
-Robert McKee, Story

But even if it is retroactive, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. And I’m not complaining… mostly… but was just curious to know any techniques any of you have out there when you’re throwing together your story. I know some of you pantsers will say, “Ba! Outline shmoutline. Just write!” And oh, I intend to. But surely even ye pansters have a few ideas about connecting dots in the heat of the moment.

WHAT I AM DOING

When I feel like something isn’t working, I stop and ask myself what the motivation of the characters is. Heroes, villains and secondaries alike. Sometimes I’ve found it really helps if you know what the villain is after, because then you can balance it with how the hero would react if they knew or when they know, etc.

I’m constantly asking myself: what is to be gained in this scene? And sometimes I write out in margins the arc I want a character to take. Perhaps they start off really good, but then tread toward the dark side which prepares them for the climax of choosing good or evil. Stuff like that.

And sometimes I pretend I’ve killed my darlings and left them in the dumpster across the street. If I CANNOT ABSOLUTELY use the plot line I just came up with, what’s Plan B. Sometimes this will show me Plan A was really the best plan and to stop doubting myself. And sometimes this shows me new pathways to try that turn out better. And more often than not Plan A and B get morphed into Plan C because I like elements from both.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Sometimes plot flows like I’m tuned into some cosmic writing spectrum flowing through the universe and I can hardly keep up with the ideas spilling out of me. And other times I’m forced to take the time to connect some dots. But many a writer’s conference has taught me when you come to those places where you’re struggling, when the dots aren’t so easy to find, that’s often when you’re on the cusp of something fantastic.

I’ve found that to be true in my case many times. So I’m thinking, thinking, and thinking some more. (Is there really any other way to get things done?)

But I still want to know, so if you’ve got ideas, spill them now.

What do you do when you have difficult plot dots to connect? Any techniques you use or have heard of that you recommend?

Monday’s Writerly Quote

This quote I ran into while reading some Spiritual Feng Shui for the Day over at This Psychic Life. It’s from Lemony Snicket. Although the end of his series was super disappointing, the ride was still a good one. Anyway, here’s the quote:

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

I know I kind of touched on this last week, but it’s still important to remember. And it applies to all facets of life, not just writing. The thing is, when you’re doing something crazy and adventurous in life, sometimes you’re going to want to feel ready for it.

I’ll query this book out when I’m ready. I’ll try for that new job when I’m ready. I’ll ask the hottie who lives down the road out as soon as I’m ready.

That’s not to say we should do things too early. You certainly don’t want to pull a cake out of the oven too early (flat cake is super disappointing) nor should you query a manuscript that isn’t ready. The kind of waiting I’m talking about is really fear of rejection waiting. There’s a time to prepare and there’s a time to do. Don’t spend so much time preparing you never get to doing.

What? Let you read my story? Eeek!

It’s like the people who say they’ll go to the gym as soon as they get in shape. Going to the gym is what gets you in shape. Sure, there will be jerks who laugh at you because you’re bigger than you’d like to be, but honestly the majority of people who see you there will respect you for coming to get in shape. Besides, that logic never made sense to me. I’ll go work out as soon as I’ve worked out. Huh? (I know, they mean to do it in private, but they’re not.)

Take a look in your life and see if there aren’t any areas where you’re waiting because you’re actually afraid vs. trying to be ready enough. And some things you just have to suck at to get any better at them.

Plus I think sometimes we just get comfortable where we’re at. Sure, I like writing stories, but I’ll share them with others when I get better at writing (I used to have this attitude). See what I mean? Got to be adventurous sometimes too. Make sure if you’re waiting until you’re ready it’s really that you’re preparing and not hiding.

What do you think about it? Were there times in your life you were waiting to get ready but really you were just too afraid to be adventurous? What would you say to those who are waiting? How do you know the difference between actually preparing and waiting because you’re afraid? Let us know below.