Within the scrawling marathon of NanoWrimo, there will undoubtedly be walls and plateaus which will impede the locomotive pace that you possessed in the first few days or weeks – best known as writer’s block.
Whether or not such a condition is “real”, rather than cursing your way through a tizzy and delete button mashing your pages, the best option is to identify what these walls and plateaus are, especially because you may not realize they are barriers.
I wanted to share a few that I’ve found which certainly bring my writing to a screeching halt due to my unneeded reliance, or expectation, on them.
Looking Too Far Ahead
I hear it all too often: “This is the first book of my trilogy.” Instead, let’s begin with the first book of the first book. There’s nothing wrong with reaching your story to span three books, or even more, but it certainly should start at one. Always start at one.
Saving A Line, Plot, or Character For Another Story, Or Not Putting Them Together
This is certainly warranted at plenty of creative junctures – saving for another tale – but sometimes it’s best to combine lines, plots, or characters into one story. As writers, we constantly dream up ideas, but not all of them are fully realized and never will be. With that, don’t be afraid to throw all of them into a cauldron and cook up something entirely new. These ideas may not work on their own, but together they may be the perfect combination.
Use placeholders until you are ready to settle on names, if you don’t already have them. All too often we obsess over finding the perfect moniker, researching meanings, histories, and family trees until we circle back to our original name. And don’t worry if one of your favorite stories has already used that name – unless you’re going to be smug and use Holden or Gatsby.
Not “Stealing” From The Best
There’s a reason why writers are encouraged to read – to learn how to write. Which, in a twisted way, means that you are reading about how to steal from the best. Most stories during those preteen days are blatant imitations of our favorite authors or movies or videogames; it is only once our writing matures that our unique voice shines through. But our inspirations continue to be the foundation and stealing from the best is not only the sign of a good writer, but a smart writer.
Being A Writer, Not A Storyteller
Although I’ve been prattling about the “writer”, I believe the best advice is to not be a writer at all, but a storyteller. There’s no need to follow proper grammar, format, syntax, rhetoric or any other English major term – save those for the crows. You’re sharing a story that is enchanted and heartbreaking and spans the galaxy of our creative minds. Writers are beholden to rules. Storytellers are beholden to none.