The first week of NaNo, I was pumped. I had my book title and my cover image and I had a basic premise, and some character maps. It was the most prepared for NaNo I’ve ever been (most of the time I get as far as…saying I’m going to do NaNo).
I woke every morning at 6:20 and sat with my coffee and shoveled word after word into the engines that fueled my ambition. By the end of week one I had close to 20k words.
But right around the 25k mark, the self-doubt arrived.
A voice in my head that told me:
This book isn’t going to be much longer than 50k. You’re writing a novella. No one wants to publish novellas.
There’s too much science in this book that you know nothing about.
Your character sounded so much more three-dimensional in the beginning than she does now.
You only got about 200 words today.
You suck at conflict.
You’re totally bored with this story.
And I know I should be shushing my subconscious, because this is a rough draft, and rough drafts are supposed to be shit. But I’ve fallen into the trap of questioning everything I do and looking at my work like an agent might look at it.
If I don’t break this habit, I will kill this book (and my joy of writing).
So I suppose there are a few things I could try that will get me back into the “rough draft” mentality:
Change the font
Changing the font into something no agent will ever accept might keep me in the mindset that I won’t be sending this version to an agent.
Get fancy with the Format
I found a thing called “Drop Cap” in Word. It makes the first capital letter of the chapter huge, and I can change the letter to something scripty or something more fitting to the story (is there a bone font?). I can also “justify” my content or make the words “Chapter One” huge and halfway down the page. If I’m not sending this anywhere, I should be able to have some fun.
Stop going back to re-read
This is a habit I’ve gotten into from being stuck in multiple revisions this entire year. But if I’m going to write a rough draft, I have to disrobe each paragraph and kick it away as soon as I hit the enter button. Like the way I change into multiple outfits before I decide I’m not going anywhere.
Change the Background Music
I did this while working on my last revision. I had gotten bored and sick of writing and so I did a few of the above. But what really helped was changing my music. I changed it to something so incredibly opposite of what I was working on. It dislodged me from the funk and I wound up adding brand-new conflicts and characters.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Break
I’m sick as hell right now with a bad cold, and yet here I am. When I’m done writing this, I’ll be heading to NaNo-land. But today I’m going to congratulate myself, even if I only get 50 words. And then I’m going to lie down on the couch with hot tea and a book and a 3-year-old climbing on my head. Like a boss.
Haven’t been reading enough, and reading is fuel. It brings flow back to my words. Been reading Cloud Atlas, but I might pick up Nine Stories for something on the side. Salinger never fails me.
Remind Yourself that No One Will Ever See This
I should feel free to embarrass myself. Should feel free to let my character drop the f-bomb or let her best friend chain smoke. Writing is fun when I allow myself freedom, when I stop giving two shits about what people will think.
Luckily, week one got me at least five days ahead. So I can write on the blog for a change–yet another thing I should be doing to keep the fire lit–and I can also take time for my photography. I taught Goo about the planet Earth and have been pointing out Venus in the sky every evening. The canary has been allowed out of his cage every day this week. The laundry is…well…it’s in the dryer.