They aren’t joking when they talk about the week two slumps. I couldn’t even post this blog entry on time last Friday. In my defense, I was busy ravaging the Penguin warehouse sale and watching hours of Sister Wives, so I didn’t really have time for silly matters like blogs. I was hit hard with lazy disinterest last week and started off barely writing at all. But that gave me a challenge to work harder and catch up to where I was. Ultimately, that pushed me farther ahead in my word count than I ever would have expected!
Another challenge of week two that I noticed a lot of other people experience is that their outlines start to not make sense. They become irrelevant to where the story is going, and you eventually have to throw them out and trust your gut. I started this project with a weak outline, a general idea of where I was going and how it would end. My constant struggle to hit my word count and keep my manuscript from being boring has produced some pretty great scenes and characters that I’m very happy with! It’s really incredible what can happen when you just let yourself go. I know that my first draft (while still being terrible) will be stronger for it, and I’ll have a better platform to jump off of when the time comes to revise. Overall my generally cavalier approach is forcing me to make pretty good decisions for my plot.
Last week I learned that you should trust yourself. I think I always knew that, but was too scared to really relax and let my intuition take control. I tend to try to outline a story to death, despite my hatred for the outlining process. I can’t say that it’s ever helped me much, certainly not as much as NOT outlining has.
I’m pretty optimistic as week three begins. I’ve got a bit less than 8,000 words to go before I “win” NaNo, which should happen well before the 30th. This makes me think that I could do this every month. In fact, I might write an entirely new manuscript next month while I let this one sit and gather some distance before I go back to revise. I’ve been thinking about a lot of concepts I’ve written down for scripts and think a lot of them would work nicely as a novel. Or maybe I’ll work on some essays about how much I hate people.
Another notable part of my journey thus far was reading the entirety of Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird yesterday while watching football. I don’t write on Sundays because I need a cheat day, but I think reading a book about writing and personal spirituality to help inspire me as I finish up my first ever manuscript is a pretty damn good compromise. I’ve never finished a book in one day before. I’m a painfully slow reader, so it just doesn’t happen. But I was so sucked into her wisdom and encouragement that I just flew through it! I even read through most of the Giants game. It validated me in almost every way possible, and helped support me where I needed it. I felt like Lamott was giving me a big hug the entire time the book was open. It’s definitely one of those things that you should ready every few years, whenever you feel your confidence dwindling. And it’s great even if you’re not a writer! If you’re creative or spiritual, or just need a damn hug, Bird By Bird is perfect for you.