Friday, November 4, 2011

Are we having fun yet? Or, Where's the fun and other writerly spinning.

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  
Filed under "NaNoWriMo"

NaNoWriMo- if you've been following me in November, you know it's been a rough start for me. Today, I'm just creeping over one-thousand words, and it is well after noon. I've been in front of the computer for hours, since eight this morning.

And, it isn't even the word count that is bothering me. It's the tension, anxiety, and dread that plague me every time I put fingertips to keyboard. What gives? I thought writing was something I enjoyed.

I mean, I love this story, love my characters, especially my supporting cast - they're so lively and fun, I really want to spend time with them. I can't wait to see how it all plays out, then I sit down in front of the computer, and all this other junk washes over me. I think I have performance anxiety, and the blank page is my stage.

Let's face it, writing is frakking hard work, and lots of it. It's an endless pursuit, too, one for which it takes a lot of stamina. One story finishes, but then there's always someone else peeking around the corner, waving their fingers at me, beckoning me to come see what they're up to. But once I try to capture the images stalking my synapses, it gets all clumsy in my hands. The images fall apart and dialogue gets stiff and I'm wondering how the hell I'm going to make it through to the middle, much less the end of this novel. What happened to the fun? How can I keep myself going, continue to put forth all this effort, without any joy?

It reminds me of my decision, many years ago, to take on the cello. Ah yeah, it was going to be so cool to be able to play a musical instrument, but you know what, they stuck that hunk of wood and string into my arms and the only sounds I brought forth made my cats run and hide. There was a lot of work between picking up that instrument for the first time and being able to bring forth some decent music. Did I get this neurotic over the cello? I really can't remember.

I've got to hold on to the fun, the playfulness of my story, and to the love of telling a story, or I'm doomed. Yesterday I talked about my inability to let go of the inner critic, and I definitely think that is part of it, but today I'm realizing that I'm forgetting to enjoy my story and the process.

Enjoy the journey. Shit. I'm so bad at that...


  1. I'll say this: as much as I think NaNo was good for me last year, it's not so good for everybody, and it's not necessarily good for any one person all the time (I'm not sure if I'm clear on this). I needed it last year, to get me going. The truth is, I may not need it this year, and maybe you don't, either. I am well behind this year, which makes me unhappy, but I'm not putting pressure on myself over it. I'm putting much more pressure on myself over the WiP, which feels much closer to being done now than it did yesterday.

    Hang in there, and don't let it crush you if you don't make that word count.

  2. @Jeff - So, you think perhaps it's the NaNo pressure that's getting me down?

    I was thinking I was having some writerly crisis, but maybe it's the word count pressue pushing me.

    You make some very good points about NaNo. Going to mull this over a bit - see if I can't change my outlook. I would like to get this rewrite behind me - I know I've got another heavy revision after. I'm excited for you - being so close to going to beta readers. Cheers!