Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time and being a competitive person really wanted to ‘win’. I was quite proud when I met the goal of 50,000 words early in the month. Immediately after my pace slackened and in the final ten days of NaNo I barely managed 5,000 more words – well under my previous achievement.
Originally I thought my sudden lack of progress was a result of having achieved my goal – I sprinted to the finish line, crossed it then sat down to puff and pant instead of jogging on. However, going back to the manuscript now I can see another issue which was probably just as large a contributing factor: my plot outline.
In late October, prepping for NaNo, I moved most of my outline into little plot cards in Scrivener. I didn’t do them all for several reasons, including: I never thought I’d get that far and I like to be a little more flexible with the end half of the novel, because as many writers know things just happen sometimes in the story, while riding on that euphoric, muse-induced typing frenzy ideas you weren’t even aware you were thinking pop out and they cause your story to change course a little. A tight outline restricts this creativity but a softer, looser one encourages you to expand on those new ideas.
So now I’m back in Scrivener, taking my loose little plot outline from a notepad document and trying to put it into little cards so I can finish my NaNo novel before I take part in Camp NaNoWriMo. So far it’s working well, an additional 6,000 words over the last two weeks, slow, but better than nothing. Now lets see if I can’t get myself typing like this guy:
Most authors believe in their muse. The muse is a being that lives somewhere in your heart/mind/soul which inspires you to write. This quixotic creature creates the magic in your stories. She tells you to do something which seems a little odd, but then ties those little oddities up into a great twist or a superb surprise. That moment when the words keep flowing out of your fingertips without you having to think of them – that is when the muse is writing. Often the muse makes magic happen, she gives birth to the amazing idea which you never planned.
Sometimes the muse leads you down an odd path though. My muse has done just that. I have reached a point where my muse insists on a certain thing happening – she won’t proceed without it – but the whole thing seems wrong. It goes against my main character’s personality to do this thing, it would totally change her relationship with another pivotal character and it just doesn’t sit right with the logical part of my brain. But that selfish little @%$*# won’t write another word until I do it. Seriously. I’ve had no inspiration to write in three whole days all because I refused to allow this argument to occur. My muse is stubborn. I tried skipping to a later scene in the book, one I’m eager to write, but she pouted, folded her arms and looked in another direction like she was pretending not to see me at all.
I tried tricking her, writing the explosive argument but with the plan to edit it out later, but she then refused to help me create the heated words she wanted typed, leaving me unable to even satisfy her.
I tried to spite her today by only working on the blog in the hopes she’d come back to the table, but she saw right through that (well she is a part of me after all) and just told me to go on and keep blogging, you need to anyway.
And now, to top it off she’s sitting in a corner with her pencil and book creating wonderful ideas for other projects and calling out for me to pay attention to them. That contrary little wretch. She’s torturing me. Aaagh, is this what the hen-pecked, impotent husband of many years feels like? Unable to escape because of the children (my novels), unable to make my wife happy because he won’t bend on that one little thing that is against his principles even though he usually complies with her every whim? I have no idea what to do!