November is National Novel Writing Month, commonly known as NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to write a full-length novel entirely in the month of November. Though I’m not a formal participant, I am currently working on a novel; it’s been an ongoing project for almost a year. All I’ll spill is that it’s a YA fantasy. Even if it’s never published, I’ve had a lot of fun writing it…but I digress. In honor of NaNoWriMo, I though I’d share my thoughts on the writing process– the business of writing.
It surprises me how many authors (take Shannon Hale) say that, in general, the writing experience for them isn’t always pleasant. The horrors they describe-the rewriting, the struggle to get the tone of the story just right– are very off-putting. I haven’t encountered any of these issues yet. It makes me wonder if I’m writing correctly. But there isn’t an incorrect way to write, is there (grammar, etc. aside)?
No, there is hardly anything about writing that I don’t enjoy. When writing longer works, like a novel, I’ve found that the hardest part is to get over the “hump.” For the first 50 pages or so, the characters aren’t really alive yet. The fate of their world doesn’t matter. They are lies. But if you manage to push through that first awkward stage, you can race to the finish line with the feeling that your characters are alive. You feel that you have to do so; if you abandon your book, your characters will languish and die. You have to find out what happens, even though you may have the basic plot in your head. This is the only reason I’ve been able to make time for my writing. However crazy it may sound, my characters need me to.
As I was saying: once you get over that hump, you just have to let the words flow. It doesn’t matter if it’s from a pen on to paper or from your keyboard into computer files. You are showing your story, its characters and events, to the world. This quote I stumbled across illustrates the point perfectly:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
— Ernest Hemingway