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November 10, 2015

Working through Writer's Block @sloanebcollins PlottingPrincesses #Nanowrimo #amwriting @OneStop4Writers #MFRWorg

Last month I wrote about doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, in which authors write a 50,000 novel. In a month. Thirty days. Yes, a whole book, or at least the start of a bigger novel.

All over the world, writers gathered up their notes, laptops, research, and set out on November 1 to begin their newest endeavors. And I was right alongside them. I had just attended a workshop on Scrivener the weekend before (if you haven’t heard of it, Scrivener is an AMAZING software program for writing. I’m hooked on it now!), so I was raring to go. I can set a target word count for the whole project – 50,000 words – and also a smaller target for sprinting (writing as much as you can in a timed interval).

Oops, got off on a side tangent. Back to NaNo. I did great writing for a week. I had a general idea of the scenes I wanted, who the characters are, what the goals, motivation, and conflict are for my hero and heroine.  Then this past weekend, I stalled. 

Every word was a struggle.

So I went back to the basics.  What’s my hero’s greatest fear?  I used the Characters Fears worksheet template on One Stop for Writers and dug deep into Nash, my hero.  And I came away with something golden.  A big fear he has, way down deep.   (Thank you, Angela, Becca, and Lee from OSFW!)

Then I had another inspiration.  What is the worst thing that can happen to Nash when he finally thinks he’s by himself, and can let down his barriers?  Yup, it happened.  I made it bad for him.  Then another kernel of an idea, and I made it even worse. 

I ended up working my way through that block and wrote over 3,000 words.  In one sitting!  I was so happy.

I’m also participating in a NaNo Boot Camp on Savvy Authors, which is a community for authors.  I’m on a ten person team, and we write every day to achieve the daily goal of 1,667 words toward our goal.  I love boot camp, because we’re all in this month together, and we support each other, encourage, brainstorm.   And there’s a daily challenge we complete for points.  I think that’s my favorite part of the boot camp.  It gives me things to think about, and even if I don’t use it in the book, it still gives me insight into the characters.  A couple of years ago, I had an inspiration for one day’s challenge, and it turned into a key element for the book. 

Last week I was given a great piece of advice.  You can know all about your characters, even what their favorite food is, or what their shoe size is, but you want to dig deeper and figure out how they react in a situation.  To find out what they are really like, write the most boring, clich├ęd situation, and figure out how they react to it.  Do they get caught in the rain?  How do they handle it? 
And it’s true.  Last night on the way home from work, the trains were delayed, so by the time my line finally came, it was standing room only.  I think I got the last seat.  The guy in the seat opposite to mine starting complaining, yet everywhere else, strangers were talking and laughing, sharing their stories about the ice storm last year, and how long it took to get home using the train and bus system.  So dig deep, see how characters react, and WHY they react the way they do.

Authors, what techniques do you have for getting through writer’s block?
Readers, what do you think about this NaNo challenge that authors put themselves through every year?


Kathy Ivan said...

Good grief, how did I forget that yesterday was Tuesday, which meant another great post at the PP blog?

Sloane, such an insightful blog about writer's block. I know some people don't believe there is any such thing, but for some of us the struggle is very real. I was in that place recently, and your mind flits from one thing to the next, trying to focus on everything except the story that isn't working. But once you figure out how the character would react or another situation where you can torture the heroine even more than she's already suffered, the creative juices start flowing again and you can get the words on the page.

Which reminds me. I'd better get to writing because this book isn't going to write itself. LOL

Sylvia said...

I guess I'm one of the people who don't believe in writers block, I think it's more plot/character plot. Whenever the writing becomes difficult I know I screwed up someone and have either not given the characters enough motivation or I don' t know them well enough. Nobody likes a boring book, so I work very hard before I start writing on my plot. It still usually changes once I begin the writing, but at least I don't write myself into a corner this way. You guessed it, I'm a plotter, not a pantser. Need my road map to keep me on the road to the end.

I've never done Nano.

Phyllis said...

I have the nasty writer's block bug all the time!