Here is the next article as part of the #Authortoolboxbloghop organised by author Raimey Gallant.
The #AuthorToolboxBlogHop is a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! The rules and sign-up form are below the list of hop participants. All authors at all stages of their careers are welcome to join.
Although I’m not a great astrology fan, there is a grain of truth in the archetypes. For example, when I read the description of Gemini, I got the uneasy feeling that somebody was stalking me when writing up the characteristics. I’m all that is written there: curious, enthusiastic, talkative. I also have the attention span of a goldfish. There are just too many things in the world to write about… and I want to do it all and at the same time. I have at least five-six novels in my head and I spend so much time running to and fro among them that I don’t have energy to actually write them.
I set out to participate in the Nano 2013 knowing that it would be one of the biggest challenges I had ever faced. 50 000 words from the same story seemed an unattainable amount but, as with my high school crushes, I was inspired by things out of reach. What is more, the promised glory was so alluring it eclipsed all my fears. The prizes, the Facebook cover picture I could use to show off my great achievements, but most importantly the opportunity to prove to myself that there is hope for me. If I kicked myself in the butt, I could squeeze out enough words to make up a novel.
To make things slightly more difficult, I started my first real, full-time job on the 28th of October. I was to bite into two big pies at the same time. I had the idea for the novel and I had some sketches already but I just didn’t have the strength to sit down and write a story from beginning to end. My novel writing methodology is the following: I have a vague synopsis in my head and I write random scenes from random points of the timeline. More often than not, the end is ready before the middle. I feel imprisoned by linearity and that’s how I’m rebelling.
I rolled up my sleeves and accepted the challenge. If I want to have kickass characters who can battle the whole world and come over every conflict I send in their way, I should start with triumphing over myself. I wrote everywhere. I wrote on the suburban train, I wrote on the tram typing hysterically into my phone. I blanked out in work drawing up plotlines and exchanged pep talks with my sisters in arms.
It was difficult at first but when I saw that it was not impossible to write regularly, it got better and better. Writing is like working-out: it takes an awful lot of determination to begin, your subconscious tries to convince you that it’s tiring and painful. But if you tie your hair up in a ponytail and listen to the Eye of the tiger long enough, you’ll be surprised to find the strength within. After regular practice it feels like a piece of cake and you feel that you could move mountains with your energy.
Sadly, as soon as I braved through the 30 days of writing and managed to finish the wished word count, all the other stories I’d been neglecting sniffed out my weakness and jumped on me with all their might. They all demanded to be written now and at once. I spent most of the following year running from story to story and praying for November to come and help me to settle with one.
In November, 2014 I started to write an alternative history Young Adult story and I had no idea whatsoever where I was going with it. Sometimes I was taken over by panic and felt sure that I wouldn’t be able to finish. That year I discovered the power of write-ins and meeting other brave writers. I didn’t talk a lot with them but just the fact that we were writing in the same coffee shop working towards the same goal helped me a lot. My advice for everyone is that if there is a Nano community somewhere near you, try to meet them and let them inspire you.
In 2015 I failed Nano because I changed country and I had a new job again and there was just too much stress. But I tried. I typed in my phone on the nightmarish rush-hour train, I tried to re-animate myself when I got home sometimes around nine and tried to squeeze out some more words. After a while I realised it was not going to happen. It was difficult to let the project go but Nano is as much about fun as much it’s about work and if it doesn’t give you joy any more, you should consider putting it aside.
In 2016, I failed again. I didn’t have a new job this time, but I had troubles in the one I already had that was also the time when my wisdom tooth first decided that it wanted my attention all the time. It wasn’t a good year, but I still went out to Nano meetings and I tried to do my best. I didn’t finish my project, but I made progress and that’s what counts.
So here we are in 2017. Just to be true to myself, I have a new job 😀 It just seems to be a thing I do in October 😀 I teach part-time, so I should have time to write, but I have two novel translations to finish and also the English part of a board game Kickstarter project, so honestly I don’t have my hopes up. I have no idea which story I should continue, because I’m sure as hell not going to start yet another story I’m not going to finish. Although as I’ve typed this resolution, two new novel ideas came waving coquettishly, wanting me to write them. But no, I’m not giving in, be gone, temptations! My goal will be to finish one of my “almost ready” manuscripts. If I’m unstoppable, maybe even two. We will see. I’m not going to torture myself about it.
Good luck fellow writers. May the odds be ever in your favor!
Find my August #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.
Find my September #Authortoolboxbloghop post here.
A list of my WIPs and past Nanoprojects.
A former version of the post was published as a guest post on Lidy Wilk’s website in 2016.