So it’s going on the second week of Nanowrimo. You’re probably like most people and have written roughly around 10,000 to 15,000 words. You should be getting close to those juice innards of your story.
The whole reason you started on this endeavor. All those bits that made you excited to write that story in the first place. And you’re probably thinking you got this. You’re on a roll and nothing is going to stop you.
Well, let me give you a swift kick and remind you why you’re probably not going to finish that first draft.
1. It’s time consuming
You’ve started this thing only to find that more often than not it takes more then an hour to get a sentence down. Sometimes just coming up with a word is a struggle in and of itself. It’s a near impossibility to find what time you need to make even a short story burst from your fingertips because there’s so many other things demanding your attention. ( i.e. kids, significant other, pets, house that hasn’t been cleaned in a week, or that new season of Stranger Things demanding to be watched.)
I know. I’ve been there. Heck, I’m there now by catching up with that missed season of Doctor Who instead of taking care of my other responsibilities.
stares at pile of dishes just laughing at me.
So I get it. I really do. Writing a story is hard work. Pounding out 1600 words a day means having to sacrifice something somewhere. Either it’s time with the family, waiting to watch that new season of your favorite show, or forgetting about sleep by either going to bed really late or waking up really early. Night owl or early bird doesn’t really make a difference when you’re trying to carve out that time to write your magnum opus.
So why bother?
What’s the point of neglecting all other aspects of your life if it’s just something that’s going to seat as a dusty old file on your computer until it finally crashes and is forgotten completely?
Why stress yourself over something that’s no else is ever going to read?
There really isn’t a point is there? We both know it’s a waste of time so you might as well fold it up and give in now.
Except what if it isn’t? What if this is really something you want to do? What if this is your calling card?
Then you find the time. You tell your friends your staying into write those words. You tuck those kids in early and shut off that television to wrap up your word count for the day. Every writer will tell you there is 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. If this is something you really want to do then you find the time. You make it happen.
2. No one is going to support you
I know when I first started really thinking about being a writer, two years ago give or take, my husband rolled his eyes and said, “whatever.” To this day while I’m plunging through edits and attempting to build some kind of platform for myself he still doesn’t think of this as a real thing. For him it’s something I do as a pass time. Never mind that I’ve invested time and money into this writing gig, he doesn’t see it as anything else and chances are neither is anyone on your end.
Sure, they’ll smile and politely nod as you tell them about your work. Say something like, “Good for you. When will we be able to read your book?” and etc. etc. But inside their going to be thinking, “oh great, another one of these people.”
Yeah, the general population are dicks. They tell you go for your dreams and at the same time remind you it needs to be something sensible. Not writing. Unless your some sort of pro.
You ever see the movie ‘Harriet the spy’ that came out way back in the 90’s.
You know, the ancient days.
Harriet’s best friend’s dad was a writer, and through most of the film you saw him as some sort of lame father figure that no one believed would ever make it and used the status of ‘writer’ to keep from getting a real job. It was a bit of a joke in the beginning but by the end of the movie the dad got a book deal and all was looking up.
The point of the movie was to never give up on your dreams, and to be who you wanted to be. The writer dad didn’t give up and sold his book. Proving that you really don’t need the world to believe in you.
So what if people roll their eyes and think you’re some loon for believing in a pipe dream. If all you got is yourself, then so be it. Roll up your sleeves and prove all those people wrong and maybe if you show your work to someone, friend, co-worker, or that crazy next door cat lady, you’ll find someone who believes in you too.
My husband may roll his eyes and pretend like I’m not busy when I’m staring at my screen trying to come up with that next big scene but he also listens to me when I rant about my characters and plot. Points out things that aren’t going to make a lick of sense in any story, sci-fi or not, and kick me in the rear by reminding me it’s my own fault for rewatching Supernatural for the umpteenth time when I knew I had a so called “dead-line.” He likes to use that reverse psychology on me, which ticks me off to no end, but it get’s me motivated. 8 years together and I think he’s figured out how my brain works.
3. You don’t even know where to begin
Okay, okay. You’ve figured out a beginning. You’ve got a smooth opening and you’re sailing through your work. You may even have a killer ending in mind.
But is it really the beginning?
Do you keep back tracking to explain things?
Is it taking far too long to get to the point of the juicy, meaty center of the plot?
That’s the worst part of first drafts. All those ooey gooey outer layers that tend to just grow and grow like some sort of parasite is eventually going to have to be trimmed off and thrown out. Possibly even burned away, should it continue to grow and fester inside your story like some sort of cancer.
Beginnings of first drafts are usually the worst for this. You find that you want to explain how this plot happened. Why the characters are doing what their doing and next thing you know you’re ten chapters into the story and still not to the main point.
All that excess is going to have to be done away with eventually, unless you really want to bore your readers.
Word of advice.
Don’t bore your readers with unnecessary information.
If you find that your main plot device is 25,000 words into the story, you may want to reevaluate those first 25,000 words. Are they character development that could be spread out through the next 25,000 words. Is it some back log story, you know the story before the story. Most of that probably isn’t needed. It can be mentioned, through dialogue or otherwise, through out the rest of the story or just trimmed out completely.
Next question. Is it filler chapters?
You know those chapters where nothing happens. People are talking or monoluging, or some other mundane tasks that doesn’t move the story along and puts your reader to sleep. Those are the bits you probably want to burn with a blow torch. Just get rid of them.
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes finding the real beginning to your story is tough. In my WIP, Stop the Raven, the fist draft wasn’t even the story that I have now. I had it finished, and edited and even had a book version printed out for my own self enjoyment while I reread it to see if it’s ready and realized it wasn’t even the story I wanted to tell. Sure, I liked the characters and the concept. They were the whole reason I wrote the story to begin with, but I didn’t like the story.
So, I figured it was just the beginning. It needed something more and so I wrote another beginning, and another one, and another. You get the point. After I don’t even know how many different beginnings that all fail flat and seemed lame to my own eyes I shelved the story for a whole year. I worked on other things. Short stories and what not, but I didn’t touch Stop the Raven.
Sure, I thought about it, and kicked myself for giving up on it cause I really liked the concept and the characters. Those flipping characters never give me a moment’s rest, but I didn’t have a good enough start for it. Not one to me anyways.
Until I did.
Now it’s completely re-written, to the point it’s not even near the original story, or it’s beginnings and I love it so much more now. Sure, I’m beginning to think that this new beginning is still a little soon because the main plot is five chapters in, but it’s still a hell of a lot better then the original.
So, is your beginning really the beginning of your story? Are you willing to scrap the whole thing if need be and start from scratch? If not, you’re probably not cut out for this whole writer thing, cause you are going to go through a hell of a lot of beginnings until you find that perfect one.
4. People will hate your ideas
Let’s face it. This is the crippling self doubt of every writer, painter, creator in general.
That no one is going to like their ideas.
I mean, really, who wants to read that story about the alien squid hooking up with the earthly witch woman with supreme powers…..oh wait….right.
There’s an audience for that, but we won’t go there because there might be kids in the room.
shifts eyes back and forth
Really there’s an audience for just about anything that you can think up. Even if it’s just one person that likes your story, their still your audience. They will still enjoy reading your work no matter how ridiculous it may get.
And sometimes, your only audience may be yourself and that’s fine to. It harks back to that old saying of “If there’s a book you want to read that hasn’t been published yet, then write it.”
Unless you’re going to let crippling self doubt over power you. That’s fine as well, the rest of us will continue sharing our stories about squids and women with supreme powers.
5. It’s too hard.
I mutter this at least half a dozen times a day. Rather I’m coming up with snarky come back lines in my first draft or wrestling with the idea of deleting that kick ass fighting scene during rewrites and edits.
Writing is hard.
Let it sink in.
This is no cake walk.
No one is going to hold your hand and tell you step for step what you’re suppose to do.
Much like raising children, there is no instruction manual.
Sure, you can buy all those writing advice books and search blogs and youtube videos for weeks on end looking for advice on how to get through your first, second and third drafts. But at the end of the day. It’s just advice. It’s how those writers managed to succeed with their own stories and what worked for them may not work for you.
This isn’t a one size fits all process.
It’s more of a trial and error process. You try one thing and it works, try another and it doesn’t. You move on. You figure out you and the best part, what worked on one story may not work on another story. So you figure out your process all over again.
Like I said. Trial and Error.
There is no right way. No signs that are going to point you down the right path to success and if what you’re looking for is an easy path or get rich quick scheme, you’re in the wrong line of work.
Writing is hard.
It takes time and patience and a hell of a lot of caffeine and if you’re not willing to put in the work and make your story the best it can be, then why are you bothering? Why waste your time?
On the other hand, you could easily over come all these obstacles and even manage survive editing and rewrites and countless days upon days of querying, or prepping your story for publication, and come out the other end a successful author.
Who am I to tell you other wise?
Prove me wrong. (Please, please prove me wrong) Write your story. Make it the best damn story you ever wrote and good luck on the rest of your Nanowrimo adventure.