Well dear reader, it’s true I’m doing a National Novel Writers Month project again this year. It’s also true that I was at a writers’ conference last week. And, to be honest, the writers’ conference both hindered and helped me in my thinking about NANO this year…
Things that get in the way…
My wife and I were officially on the “nonfiction” and “fiction” tracks of the conference respectively, but we went to sessions based more on interest than a sense of “supposed to”. That led to me spending a fair amount of time thinking about what to do with my Instagram and how to improve some nonfiction projects. It also led to me feeling a little unprepared for the manuscript I’m starting in two weeks.
I’ve always considered myself a “plantser”, both a planner and a pantser. But it was shocking just how much planning some of my fellow attendees were doing for their books. It left me with a (temporary) feeling of “I can’t do this! I’m not ready.”
I attended a session on plotting that had some useful information. I applied it to the story I planned to tell for NANO. I had trouble making it work. I had trouble making the advice work. I realized the story wouldn’t work.
I had stove-piped two stories together. At least one of those stories wasn’t ready to be told yet. It was a problem. The planner part of me was stymied. I wasn’t sure I could pull things off.
May also be the things that help you!
The plotting advice kind of threw cold water on the story I meant to tell. But then I remembered two other stories I’d “been gonna” work on.
I had the background research for those already done. I was just getting pulled toward the other stuff because it was shinier and newer. Finishing the stories I’d left “on the shelf” would clear the way for newer stories and solve problems with stories further along the line.
They need to be written. I know that. So, I crossed my fingers and went to work again. Applying the things I’d learned about plotting to work on my newly remembered ideas. And, wouldn’t you know, it seems to work. The stories seem to work. Which means I can make the whole series work!
What matters is the effort you put in
Not all stories are ready to be told. No story “pops out” perfected on a first draft.
That’s ok. I know how to work. And the stories that feel ready are ones I’ve been wanting to do for a while. The others will come when their time is right.
There’s still a lot of work to do. Even after I finish my new, better plotted, first drafts, where will be a lot to do. But by improving the work I do on the front end, I will (hopefully) reduce the work on the back end. That means the stories will get out faster.
Six years of NANOWRIMO “wins” and the conference tell me one thing, that what you get out of your writing depends on the effort you put into it.
They also tell me I (and you) can do it if we put in the effort. We all had a first time somewhere. I’ve written a book. I’ve published a book. I went to the conference as a first-time attendee. Now I’m on the convention committee!
It can be done, dear reader. We just have to put in the work and really think about what we want to do. Speaking of which… I’d better get back to work. Good luck with your writing dear reader, and I’ll see you next post.