Best Thing to Happen to My Story

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.

Image result for puzzle gif

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.

April 1 2793
2 589
3 2277
4 2239
5 2160
6 549
7 0
8 4343
10 687
11 2060

Compare that to the end of last month.

11 3952
12 0
13 3215
14 1436
15 0
16 0
17 0
18 1003
19 0
20 0
21 1037

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.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Best Thing to Happen to My Story

  1. I actually experienced this with Discovering Juliana a few days ago. I made ONE [what I thought was] small change to the ending to make it stronger and make it clear that the goal of the story had been reached. However, said “small” change opened the door for an infinite number of chapters to be added between the old ending and the new. Those chapters will totally help strengthen the ending, buuuuuuuuuuut I’ve been overwhelmed by all the possibilities! I’ve been working on this story almost non-stop for more than a year, and it’s been great! But like you, I was looking forward to wrapping this thing up in like 20 chapters. Knowing that 20 chapters could potentially turn into like 40…brain exploded! I think I’m kinda tired at this point and need a break; I’m terrible at taking those lol. So, opposite to you, instead of diving into something motivating, I’m gonna step away for a minute. If I try to decide the fate of my story in my present state of mind, it’ll definitely be an emotional decision and not a strategic one. I will not allow my story to suffer!

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    1. Yeah, sometimes those small changes end up bringing more change then we expected. And then, like you said, it can be overwhelming to think of all the possibility.
      A year is a long time! I’ve only been working on this for about about half that time and I’m ready to be done. 😀
      Sometimes you need to push though and keep going, and sometimes you need to take a brake from it all and let your mind recoup. Sometimes that can be harder than forcing yourself to keep going because something inside of you says that taking a break is counterintuitive. But that can be just what your story needs.
      Good luck! 🙂

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  2. Congratulations! I felt pretty burned out before the end of my novel “The First and the Last” was completed as well. The writing community really does help out a lot, both online and in public groups. It helps to step back and write something else, even if it’s just a 100 word story, to get the juices flowing again

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    1. Good to know I’m not alone in that end of story burn out. 🙂
      I’ve only had the opportunity to be involved with writing communities online, and they are such a help. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to meet some fellow writers in person.
      I tried once to write a little flash fiction piece just to take a break from my work in progress, but all I could think about was that story I was trying to take a break from. 😀 I guess my brain has trouble disconnecting from my WIP.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know this feeling exactly! I usually try to remedy it by giving myself a break with a nice drive and some inspiring music, but that doesn’t always work. It’s especially disheartening when, like you said, you are just sooooo close to the end of something just to realize you’re going to have make a plot or character change.
    I used to reach this point and just stop writing for weeks which I find totally unacceptable. Last year, however, I started letting my mind wander where it wanted to go and just write from there. I told myself that as long as I was writing I was doing well. From the disconnected writing came potential novels and short stories, and from those came a basket of fleshed-out projects that I could jump between in case I start losing interest in one of them. I’ve had to prioritize more carefully now (so that I can make sure something actually gets finished) but it keeps me writing and that’s most important to me 🙂

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    1. Yes, music is a must. For me, it goes hand in hand with writing. While I’m actually writing I like to listen to movie track or videogame music because I find lyrics distracting while writing. But if I’m taking a brake, songs with lyrics are just fine. 🙂 How did writers write before YouTube, Pandora, and ITunes? 😉
      I’ve found that letting my mind wonder is perfect for figuring things out. It seems counterintuitive, because I just want to focus on the problem and figure it out. But I think that just makes the creative part of your brain freeze up, which is exactly what you need.
      Sounds like you’ve figured out what works for you in your writing process, which can be a long journey itself. So good for you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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