NANOWRIMO: WEEK 3

Hey! It’s week 3 and if you haven’t sent me a comment or update on how your process is going, please do! I have a drawing going on for a Writer Care Package, with all sorts of fun goodies for you to enjoy as a treat for surviving this month. And speaking of surviving, let’s take a look at the dreaded week 3.


Hey there writer.

I know I don’t have to thank you for being here with me because if you are akin to me, you’re looking for any excuse to change up the monotony of this novel-writing month and escape that mad-dash. Perhaps you’re feeling like this story you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into for what seems like years is starting to stale. Things are getting drab. The plot line is petering out. The characters have run out of things to say.

This is the dreaded, dead-ended doldrum, (say that one a few times fast) of week 3. And it can often feel like middle age in its sunken sails, stagnant air, and the questioning of the choices that brought you here.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

With only days left in this crazy adventure, you may feel like you just don’t want to go on. That perhaps it would be easier to abandon your project all together and take a hot little novella out for a spin. Maybe start seeing some poetry on the side. Perhaps dabble in a little erotica?

While I encourage some dabbling (especially in erotica) I would argue that all of those exploratory practices can be done right in your own work in progress. So you’re bored, so you don’t know what the characters will say to one another…I urge you to start a new chapter, in the same document, where your characters take a jump off of the tracks and do something completely unexpected. Put them in a different time, put them in a different dynamic…hell, switch their genders and see what happens. Write a poem that serves as a synopsis to the story, first from one character’s perspective, and then from another’s. All of this play might help unlock the paths your novel needs to get going again. Think of it as putting some wind in those sails. A little spice in between the pages.

And all of those words you put down, even if they may be edited out later, still count as words towards your 50,000. Let’s be honest, at this point in the process, any word count is better than none.

It’s normal to feel a bit discouraged and bogged down in week 3, but what you’re building is worth hanging on to. It’s worth the investment of time and thought in this, the darkest, dreaded, dead-ended doldrums.

Hang in there kid. Go get freaky with your WIP and spice things up to see you through to the end.

Next week, look for the final, and highly inspirational installment of my NANOWRIMO survival guide.

Damnable

 

For the love of all that’s holy it’s hot. My garden is parched, my houseplants are wilting, their stems thrown across the table in dramatic death scenes. My hair falls in flat, dirty-dishwater blond against sun-damaged cheeks and sticking to shoulders that sag, heavy, with heat and sweat.

 

It’s the doldrums. Insomuch as February is the lull of winter, the end of July is it’s sweltering kissing cousin. When the novelty of sunny, endless days, snow cones, and happy children is replaced with the nasally cries of “I’m bored!” and the gnat-annoyance of siblings chiggering under each other’s skin with parasitical genius, the world becomes a stagnant hell.

 

The words don’t come, the ideas dry up, and the desire to do anything but lie beneath the AC unit and wish you could take off a layer of skin just to ease the burning, is squelched. (And let’s not even get into the latent idea, sitting the back corner of my brain, knowing that this is a trend that will only worsen due to my own species’ idiotic, selfish, money-obsessed path to self-destruction. I don’t need anything else piled on the heap of hopeless sagging.)

 

It’s Damnable.

 

What do we do in these contestable times? To find the beauty? To find any reason for heaving off the physical discomforts and brain lag?

Push on through, I guess. Isn’t that what the tough do? Get going?

 

Remind the under-five-foot rebel rousers of the house, with knowing eyebrow raises towards the shiny new school supply displays in every store, that the end is near and these day should not be wasted just because the heat and boredom has drained us all of the will to step up with any kind of exuberance.

 

Push on through.

 

Keep going.

 

Write the words even if they’re awkward and faltering. Even if over half will be cut and the other half will be changed. Get out the gunk and keep at it.

 

Turn your heated brain fog into the crisp daydreams of low-lit falls, exultation of Autumnal leaves and the bite of cool in every morning breath. The dark early runs, clean and shivering, cheeks pink with cold and breath puffing in perfect clouds before you.

 

With anything in life, any challenge, any weight, any trial; Just. Keep. Going.

Because the one thing that I do know for sure, is that it all changes. Always, it changes. Today was not yesterday. Tomorrow will not be today. The heat to cold, the children to young women, the sapling to tree…it all changes. You have this day. It’s all yours. Damnable or not, it’s the only time given with any sense of certainty.

setting sun

Bust open an otter pop, strip to your underthings and sit in the shade-drawn room with your thoughts. Write them down.

Run through the sprinklers with your children. When they get sassy and obnoxious, remind them how you used to rule the kid-kingdom of summer time boredom with a decent water balloon fight.

Plenty of things will make us miserable in life. Annoying heat or total emotional upheaval, bitter cold or catastrophic life events, none of it is permanent.

 

We are not permanent.

So live.

Push on through.

Bounce-Catch

I was, quite often, a lonely child.

I have wonderful parents and two amazing siblings that filled the space of my childhood. But being the youngest (and unexpected) of the family, my brother and sister had already formed a subtle bond somewhere in the first delicate years of their lives. It remains this way even thirty-some years later. Of course we love each other and get along well, but they always seem to have an invisible members-only jacket to a club I couldn’t join.

That being said, I spent a lot of time trailing behind in a constant state of catching up to the bigger kids, the bigger wheels, the bigger ideas. Often, having exhausted the possibility of joining them, I’d hole up in my room.

Some would say this was sad.

I say (in retrospect) it was a seedling of a blessing, buried under the obvious soil of loneliness.

Sometimes the absence of noise from other minds and voices leaves us with the vital quiet so essential for creation. Not all brains are the same, obviously. Some people need the crash of busy streets, and nightclubs, and neon-thrashed cities, feeding off the energy like some sort of urban vampires. I’m not knocking that method. The brain works as the brain does and it draws inspiration from the strangest, most unfounded places. But for me, and for a few other minds I know, the quiet drudge of boredom is the perfect nesting ground for good ideas. After all, how can you ask “what if…” when all the ideas and answers are pounding around you, distracting the neural pathways and interrupting the natural stream of human consciousness.

So out of this boredom, this loneliness, comes the theme of today’s post; the game of Bounce-Catch.

We’ve all played bounce-catch. You just need a ball, a wall, and the ability to repeat the motion of throwing and catching the rebound. Bounce, bounce, catch. I remember the sound of the hollow tennis ball’s echoing reverberation. I can see the wall in front of me, and feel how the slightest deviation of hand movement would change the trajectory of the returning ball. The repetition led to meditation. Meditation led to flourishing thought.

Meditative states free up neural pathways and unclog thought highways, leading us to the subtle and slow coming to new ideas. We need a pastime, or practice that helps us let go of our frantic mind-state and relax into the untapped creativity within us.

The second part of this analogy is a counter-balance to the idea of loneliness.

A wall is essential to the game of bounce-catch. In the same way, our creativity needs someone to return our thoughts to us, with nuances of change that can build and grow them.

Who is your wall? Who is the person you can talk to without being judged? Who will listen, patiently to the rough outline of our ideas and return what you say with an outside perspective essential for growth and movement?

The wall’s job is not to throw a wild return that causes you to bolt across the parking lot after your idea. It’s job is to add to the force and power of the throw, echoing back the reality of what happens when the outside world receives your idea.

So, this week, try to focus on two things.

1.) Find a meditative space, a mantra, a mindless, repetitive activity (folding laundry, running, bounce-catch, etc.) and while you do it, let your brain wander and play with the creative seeds in your head.

2.) Take your foundling ideas, or those that have paused with stagnation, and find someone to talk to about them, (friend, co-worker, spouse, writing group, family member) and ask what they think, what they’d do differently, how you could improve or move forward with the idea.

Remember, this doesn’t have to be about writing. It could be a painting, or a quilting project, an invention or engineering problem. It just needs to be your Work In Progress.

Good luck out there. Find some boredom. Find some support. But find your Folly and follow the hell out of it.