If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, at this point (three-quarters of the way through the month, on Thanksgiving), you who are reading this entry exist in several possible states (like an exponential Schrodinger’s cat).
- You are writing exactly on target and will hit goal the last day of November, but family is already arriving and you may not be able to sneak away to write.
- You’re either a little bit or a lot behind, and getting apprehensive.
- You’re ahead of your plan. In fact, you won the challenge yesterday. No, the beginning of the month. You’re already on to your next novel, and you’re not sure what happens next.
- Life stepped up, conked you on the noggin, kicked you in the mashed potatoes, and you are terminally bewildered. You don’t know if you’re a writer or simply a stressmonster.
- It’s Thanksgiving Day. That’s supposed to be a holiday. You mean you have to write every day of November?
Sit down and bang out some words
My favorite writing state under such conditions is a sort of unhinged rant. I disengage the clutch in my brain and emit word salad, whatever comes to mind or falls out of the sky. It’s odd how often something interesting comes out of it.
Yeah, I know you’re working on a novel. But you also have a number of words in mind, and right now that’s more important than the novel. The goal of NaNoWriMo is not necessarily a publishable novel (few are published). It’s to become a writer. Writers write.
So even though your main character has just leapt out of her roadster with her scarf flung around her neck, or perhaps your main character was just machine-gunned in a terrible ambush just outside Tucson, and you don’t know what the heck comes next, make some stuff up and put it down.
Describe the scenery. Insert a long dialogue between two buzzards who happen to be passing through the midst of the action. Pause and interject your authorial annoyances as commentary, a la Kurt Vonnegut. Put in some Terry Pratchett footnotes. Have your first-person narrator pause and tell a story from his childhood, when his grandmother tried to nail his sister’s dress hem to the floor. Put some irrelevant scenes in your memoir. Heck, catalogue all the different kinds of things you have in your kitchen junk drawer, or complain about everything, or even write, “I don’t know what to write about” over and over again. Repeat as needed until you have the requisite number of words.
And be thankful you get to write. There are many people in the world who think they have a novel in them, but don’t ever sit down and write any of it. At least you’re writing. Happy Thanksgiving!
Let me know how it’s going in the comments.
Tomorrow: When characters escape from their descriptions