Seven more days and NaNoWriMo comes to an end. What a rush. Will you be a winner? Struggling to get those final ideas down? Searching for another doze of motivation to jump that final leap? Check out author Doug Goodman’s pep talk and get writing.
Here is one of my truths of writing: ideas are like fruit. They are planted, they are nourished, and they are harvested. When properly harvested, ideas can be sweet and juicy and inspiring. But left to over-ripen, they can die on the vine. This is the problem I have as a writer. A good idea gestates a proper length, then must be plucked. The harvesting is the writing itself.
I have on more than one occasion written a beautiful beginning to a story, then let the story gestate until a new story idea absorbs me and I get busy working that idea, and then everything else in life tumbles along and a year later, I have forgotten to go back to the original idea. When I finally returned to that beginning, I read it, and I am amazed at how beautiful it is worded, and I am enthralled with the setup. What a great story, I wonder how the rest of it goes! Then I remember that I wrote it; I am the one responsible for the rest of the story. I wonder where I was going with what I wrote. What was I thinking? It sounded great, and I would love to read more, but the idea has wilted and died.
For NaNoWriMo, this process is sped up, but the same repercussions exist. Stories can die. They can lay there like half-eaten fruit devoured by finches and blue jays. This is why it is so important to keep writing, keep pushing yourself, to finish the project. Finish! That alone is an accomplishment. I used to compare it to running a marathon. For most, it’s not about trying to break some record or place in a race, the simple act of finishing is an accomplishment. You will have written a novel. Few people can actually say that. And think about it: a finished project is much easier to adjust than an unfinished one. You can always go back and cut off the final act of your story, which is what I did for a recent project of mine. This is what the editing process is for, but ideas that are not fully developed are beyond difficult to renovate. Again, you return to the problems of “where was I going with this?” and “what was I thinking?”
And this is the hardest time of NaNoWriMo. Everybody knows this. Sure, it was easy to dedicate yourself to a rough draft on November 1, but then you took off that weekend, and now you are starting to feel like you are behind. And the holidays are beginning. Thanksgiving requires attention (cooking, cleaning, football watching, holiday luncheons) as well as early Christmas duties (Black Fridays and shopping and decorations), but don’t disregard the writing project. Get your numbers in. Put your words together. Don’t worry about refining yet. You are a writer. This is what writers do. We sit in front of computer screens and try to squeeze blood from a stone. You can make it happen. Leave revising to you in three months. For now, concentrate on the moment.
If you put it off, you may find that it is mid-January, and that great idea you had in November is now an autumn fruit that has died on your vine.
Doug Goodman is a writer who lives on the Texas Gulf coast. He works at NASA and in his spare time when he is not writing about death and destruction, he trains human remains dogs. Dominion is his first book with Severed Press, and Warriors of Camlann is his first self-published book. His writing has also appeared in anthologies such as Twisted Boulevard, Horrors Beyond, Cthulhu Unbound, and State of Horror: Texas.
Where you can find his books:
Warriors of Camlann (bloody King Arthur): http://www.amazon.com/Warriors-Camlann-1-Doug-Goodman/dp/1484836863/ref=asap_B00IHF1I8S_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416675195&sr=1-5
I hope you enjoyed today’s pep talk. I was thrilled to meet, Doug Goodman, one of the nicest and energetic writers I know, at South Texas Comic Con last month and just had to have him as a guest in our blog. Don’t forget to check out our previous pep talk by author Willow Wood.