Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Write Like No One is Looking Over Your Shoulder"

My greatest strength is my greatest weakness. I think too much.

I have been sparked with excitement about NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month); however, it really stresses me out as well. I had never heard of this event until just a couple of weeks ago.

Originally, I was planning on really starting to work on a fiction novel and polish my blog material into a “mom memoir.” My plan was to have exactly one and a half of these things done by the end of next year.

Then I hear about NaNoWriMo, and my heart is all a-flutter. I think, “I must do it!” Then, I think, “I cannot.” (One thing is for sure, I will now always remember that November is one of the months with only 30 days.)

Here is what I’ve decided. I want to begin that novel now. I want it to be fiction. I will not be able to write the required 1,700+ words per day, but I will block out time for writing toward my novel starting now. Two days ago I wrote 1,500 words! This is great, this is wonderful, I am fulfilling my life’s purpose.

However, I am having a hard time nailing down my character, getting to know this person, and make her live and breathe. This is probably due to the fact that I cannot stop writing from my own experiences. I certainly want to draw from my own experiences, but I did not originally intend to write ONLY from my own experiences.

It seems that in trying to “get to know” my character, I am still only trying to get to know myself.

And my mind? It won’t stop. I am constantly thinking and pondering and wondering about this character.

What does she look like?

How is she different from me?

What does she learn?

What problems does she face?

I would also prefer to have a “premise” figured out. What do I want my readers to feel? What do I want my readers to learn?

I am so indecisive about it all, and it swirls around my head like a million question marks. I am fretting.

This is not the purpose of NaNoWriMo, in which you must not edit and only write like mad for 30 days. I am also haunted by a quote from Writing Down the Bones, “Write like no one is looking over your shoulder.”

All that spews forth is….me, and not a fiction character. Do I go with it? Do I force a fiction piece?

I know. I hear you out there. Just write.

(So…Any ideas or answers for me?)


Anna Walker said...

So so so so freaking awesome that you're writing a book!
Maybe discover a primise first, or a direction where you would love the book to go, and then figure out the character from there.

How would she handle certain situations, what parts of her character would help her get through her life, and the trials and tribulations. IF you think you should, then model her after yourself! After all it shows really well when writers write what they know super well.

cristina said...

I'm doing the NaNoWriMo as well and set my own goal of 30,000 because I just needed the motivation to start.

I had some issues with mine and what helped me? talking to the husband about it and brainstorming together with him. My piece is fantasy and he knows a lot, so he is very helpful.

And some of the experiences my protagonist goes through are completely based on some of my experiences growing up. Don't be afraid of that. Maybe if you use all your own stuff with this novel, you can then make way for new fresh ideas for your next novel.

Good luck :)

Shell said...

I think it is awesome that you are doing this!

I am a giant chicken and not doing it.

Mama Hen said...

You have to follow your heart. It is not something anyone else can tell you, because you need to write from your inner place. When you are ready you will know what is the best route to go. And if it changes along the way, that is OK too! I know you will do great my friend! Have a good night!

Mama Hen

Jen said...

This is awesome that you are doing this. I want to, maybe next year for me.

MultipleMum said...

No words of wisdom from me. I have never even thought about writing a book! I reckon though that your central character needs to be believable so she/he needs to make decisions that are realistic to her/his personality. If you need to start with a version of yourself, I doubt that matters?

Jessica Anne said...

I'm doing NaNo for the first time too, so I'm certainly no expert. But, I say, just write it. So what if your character is you? If that's what your heart/brain/whatever is telling you you need to write, then write it. I know I've read multiple places that first novels are often somewhat autobiographical. Just go for it. Get it on paper. You can revise it later if you want.

TV's Take said...

My suggestion she looks like Natalie Portman. Love her style and intelligence. Congrats on going for it. You can do it and the quote is really something to write by. Good luck!

Tenille said...

No sage advice from me either I'm sorry. My first impulse is to say 'just go with it', but I guess that writers do need to have some discipline too. Give yourself some time to get to know your character, I'm sure it will all come together.

Ratz said...

First of all... Whoo hoo for taking up the challenge... i am a bit sure that you will be able to use your nature in your character.. what you want and what you don't the better you know about yourself, the better your character will become... it is just a lame suggestion... i wish you all the best though.. xx

Ca88andra said...

Yep, just write! Its taken me well over five years to put together a blog memoir and its still not finished! So - perhaps dont listen to my advice...

Glen said...

I almost did that last year - but chickened out. Really hard work - good luck with those characters i think you should have one that has a hump and always walks backwards - but then make that completely irrelevant to the story and NEVER explain it. Just let him be in there

Angelia Sims Hardy said...

Kristy, It's such a rough draft. I say you go for it and if it comes out more "you" than "her", so be it (for now). If it's worth taking the time to re-write you can adjust all that.

Writing NaNo is so hard. I tried last year and like you had never heard of it before. I missed a couple of days and just got to far behind to catch up. My daughter tried it too with a ghost story. I was so proud.

However it turns out, it takes a lot of guts to try. Good for you! Keep us updated. :-)

Aging Mommy said...

I think you answered this one yourself right there at the end. Go with what wants to come out, what comes naturally to you right now, don't force it, just write :-)

Good luck - how exciting. Can't wait to hear more about your novel.

Amy said...

I think you're right in you're over thinking it, but that's not necessarily a bad're just a bit of a perfectionist and I can SO relate. (See you're already engaging your audience;)

My advice to you is to just write...get it on paper, er screen...whatever. You can always go back later and edit/ change things, but with 1,500 words under your belt it sounds as if you're on a roll. DON'T WASTE THE ROLL!!!

You are a talented writer. I love reading anything you do. Just be confident in your abilities. Good luck girlie:)

bettyl said...

Wish I could help, but the few times I considered writing, I was overwhelmed with too many possibilities!!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Personally, I think a book about YOU would be worth reading! Don't try to force it. If it isn't flowing, it isn't flowing.

(Haha, I don't believe I've ever sounded so zen. :))

Melissa said...

Good for you for taking the challenge! Even if you can't do it in 30 days it's good to try to nail down a writing schedule. My mother always says, "Work expands to fit the time allotted for it." So in other words, always be setting goals.

If you need help rounding out your characters I would visit a bookstore or do an online search. There are so many resources for creating good characters. HOWEVER, I also want to season that with some sage advice I received: don't spend too much effort creating a character's whole history because one of two things can happen. 1) You will have wasted your time because it isn't essential info for your story or 2) you lock yourself into something before you've even started writing. Remember, often plot changes from your original outline when you do the writing. A minor example is if you've pre-decided your character was born in New York City and has three siblings, what will you do when you're writing and it suddenly makes more sense to have your character be an only child? Or someone who grew up in a small town?

Best of luck to you!

karen said...

hey Kristy,
how about a character that goes by the initials LMB, wears flowy skirts and is in need of medication--I'll bet you have lots of material to use

Amy @ Never-True Tales said...

Funny, I have a very similar post ready to publish on my blog about NaNoWriMo and writing. I don't do NaNoWriMo, but have similar questions about where my piece is going. Good luck! (Found you via Red Dress Club.)

Cheryl said...

Follow your gut. Write your truth. There are no rules - write what you need to.

Kristy said...

Karen, I am still, LITERALLY, laughing out loud reading your comment. Stop it, you'll get me "in trouble!"

I have had an epiphany of sorts and am running with it. It is great. I have written 3200 words more since this post.

It's all going to be alright.

I hope.

:) Love you all.

Arti said...

Great that you are writing a book... Have a great day:)

Tamar said...

I'm NoNoWriMoing too
and sooo behind my goal.
good luck!

Style Maniac said...

Kristy, I think you answered your own questions. As you said above:
“Write like no one is looking over your shoulder.”
"... you must not edit and only write like mad for 30 days."

Sounds like this is your chance write all versions, all possibilities and see where they lead

So cool you are doing this!

Mellisa Rock said...

Coming over from Life as a Ceo to check your blog out - sounds like a great idea to block some time off to write...this seems like it would work for blogging also and I think that I might start doing it everyday too. Good Luck with your book and nailing down your character.

jazzygal said...

Wow Kristy! Good for you... I am so impressed! Definitely follow your instincts and stay true to yourself. The very best of luck with it and I look forward to reading whatever you produce!

I must admit it's an idea I too have toyed with from time to time..usually with wine on board! Don't think I have the wherewithal though. I'm definitely considering putting some of my blog posts together.. some time :-)

xx Jazzy

Meghan said...

What an incredible undertaking! I wish you the best of luck - can't wait to hear the direction you head!

Mommyfriend Lori said...

I don't have any answers for you because I've never actually taken the steps to write piece of fiction. Best of luck, I'm so proud :)

Nancy C said...

I believe that when we write, we're like an archeologist. We dig and dig until we find our story. It may be about you. It may be something else. We just need to keep digging.

I got this idea from Stephen King's book On Writing, which I simply adore.

JD @ Momagement said...

I'd love to do NaNoWriMo. Man, I really would. But I know this year is not the year for me given the fact that I just went back to work and I'm treading water as is. Next year, though ... Miss Bug will be in Kindergarten (ACK! Did I really just write that?!) and Miss Boo will be in preschool 2-3 days/week. So that gives me 11+ months to get a clue about what I'll write about...!

Anyway, I admire you for embarking on your writing journey! I 100% agree with Nancy C, above. Just do it. Just write. Just keep digging. Good luck!

Vanessa Rogers said...

When I write, I even forget my characters names! Good for you starting your dream!

The Drama Mama said...

Wanna be NaNo buddies? Seriously, just write. If what you get at the end is nonfiction, so be it. The best writing comes from what you know. Go with it.

(Florida) Girl said...

I think our best characters are the ones that have a little bit of us inside of them. Go for it.

Rudri said...

I tried NanoMoWriMo last year and couldn't pass go after 25,000 words. Most of what I wrote was awful, but it did get me into chair to write. I say write what you know and evaluate what you write at the end of the month. Good luck!

Babes Mami said...

Wow! Yay to writing a book! Good luck as well.

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