WriMo Writer’s Confess is a collaborative blog project dedicated to venting, discussing, and all manner of respectful complaining about the challenges introduced by writing a novel in a MONTH.
For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, here’s the rundown:
National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.
In other words, you write 50,000 words in a month, and if you finish the novel, HURRAY, you’ve won! This is roughly 1,600 words per day, which seems easy enough, right?
Depends. This WriMo Writers Confess Series is here to highlight those frustrating aspects of writing anywhere from zero to thousands of words in a day, for thirty days.
Hitting The Brick Wall, by E. Prybylski
When Nov. 1st came around I put pen to paper like thousands of other writers. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and then I hit a brick wall at about a hundred miles an hour. The results were about what you can imagine: kersplat!
The wall I hit? I realized I hadn’t thought out my setting as well as I wanted to.
I am typically good at world building. I often write in high fantasy, and those worlds are layered and have full threads all the way through them. This one was different. This year I challenged myself to try something I hadn’t done before: post-apocalyptic. Even moreso than just the setting, I challenged myself to write in a genre I’ve never written before. The genre proved to be simpler than the setting by a substantial margin.
I started writing, chugging along until I realized the simple fact that I hated everything about my setting. I don’t like writing in post-apocalyptic settings because it’s too complicated. How much tech do they have, what sort of social structure do they have… so many questions. I
know it sounds silly because I answer those same questions over and over in my fantasy writing. But when I changed some of the window dressing I immediately shut down and lost my ability to think of even the simple things. Woe betide, I am now several thousand words behind on my NaNoWriMo project.
Given that I am an experienced writer you’d think I could get past this, but I’m not sure I can. I keep staring at my Writer page and finding nothing is flowing.
My solution is that I’m considering changing my setting from post-apocalyptic to cyberpunk. The plot doesn’t need to change much in order for it to work in the new setting, and even thinking about changing my setting has the ideas flowing again. I think that’s probably going to be how I handle this situation.
Hitting a wall like this is frustrating to say the least. It keeps me from making my word count and it also adds anxiety and stress to the writing process that I shouldn’t be having.
Writing is fun, it’s a pleasure for me rather than a source of unhappiness. Or it should be.
I suppose my “nugget of wisdom” for this post is going to be that hitting a brick wall at a hundred miles an hour doesn’t have to be the end of your writing process. You can find ways around whatever it is that is troubling you.
Just be patient and give yourself a chance to refocus. Sometimes bouncing ideas off of friends or other writers will help, too. They might share thoughts you find reignite that spark.
Whatever you do, however, don’t give up. You can do this.
E. Prybylski is the Editorial Director for Insomnia Publishing, an indie company located in rural New Hampshire. When she isn’t writing she is reading, playing video games, and being part of the historical reenactment community.