As some of you know, I’m in the process of writing my first ever book (insert applause). It’s been a challenging, yet rewarding experience. There’s something magical about taking an idea that’s in your mind and putting it on paper. Something satisfying about seeing that story that was just a wispy image in your brain finally take shape.
But sometimes as you’re writing the story, that wispy image seems to disappear altogether. You’re happily writing along when, bam, you hit a brick wall. What you thought would happen in your story at this point doesn’t make sense anymore and you’re left with no idea what will happen.
I was at this point about two weeks ago (I even wrote a post about it). I was at the end of my story–only about 7 or 8 chapters away from finishing–when I realized the ending that I’d planned when I first started would no longer work. This left me feeling a bit burred out. Here I was at the end of the story when I should have that last rush to push me through to finishing. Instead, I was staring hopelessly at a bunch of puzzle pieces that didn’t seem they’d ever fit into place.
I was ready to be done with this story, but it seemed I would be working on it way longer than I’d planned. My writing sessions ended up being me going over and over in my head different scenarios. It got a little frustrating at times to spend so much time on the project, but not have any words to show for it.
Thankfully, I did finally come up with a solution (if I hadn’t, I would be drowned by sorrow by now and you would be reading of my death, and not this cheerful post about my story). Strangely, after figuring out what I would have happen, I didn’t have much motivation to actually write it. Maybe it was because I felt all the best parts of the story were behind me, and all that was left was the tedious act of tying loose ends and making sure everything came together. Or maybe it was because banging your head on a brick wall takes more energy than I thought.
There was one thing I had going for me; April was just around the corner. And April meant Camp NaNoWriMo.
You may have heard of NaNoWriMo, where writers come together and set aside a whole month to write 50,000 words. But fewer people have heard or Camp NaNoWriMo, which is basically the same thing except people can set their own word count goal instead of automatically trying to get to 50,000.
Let me just say, Camp NaNo is the best thing that could have happened to my story. It gave me a sense of newness and freshness that helped me get back to my story and tackle those words.
Here’s my word count since this month started.
Compare that to the end of last month.
Huge difference right? In 11 days before Camp NaNo, I wrote 10,343 words. In 11 days since Camp NaNo I’ve written 31,339 words.
Sometimes, you just needs a little NaNo to blow into your life and refresh your motivation. Setting a goal for NaNo gave me a way to look at this last bit of my story as a new project instead of on last draining bit of a much larger project I was ready to be finished with. My brain stopped feeling tired when I thought of my story and instead felt energized. Even if these last few chapters turned out a bit sloppy, it’s better than writing nothing. It is a first draft after all. That’s why you write second and third and fourth drafts: two fix all the sloppiness.
Sometimes you need a little help from the writing community to get you going. Thanks to Camp NaNo, the first draft of my story is almost finished. I should be done by the end of this month!
This lesson will be something that I’ll carry with me to the revisions. The exhaustion that comes from working on a project for so long won’t last forever, and you can always find something that will re-inspire you to keep moving forward. Even if that inspiration is nothing more than making yourself write when you really don’t want to. You may just end up writing more than you think you can.