Friday, November 30, 2007

Measuring Progress

It's the end of November, and in much of the writing world, that means the final day of 'NaNoWriMo', National Novel Writing Month. For the uninitiated, it's the challenge, joined by amateur and professional writers alike, to write the first draft of a novel (at least 50,000 words) during the month of November.

I first heard about Nanowrimo when I joined Forward Motion for Writers a few years ago. Though that kind of intense pace is not for me, I have always cheered on my fellow FM'ers who participate in the insanity of Nanowrimo.

This year, I did a kind of 'reverse' Nano. After writing nearly every day over the course of the past 3+ years, I made a conscious decision to let my current novel, "Heal Thyself" sit on the back burner. I didn't write a single word on the manuscript.

And it felt right. I wasn't frustrated. I didn't beat myself up about it.

I worked on several new poems, spent several weeks editing "MindBlind" and readying queries for it, and worked on an online class for the folks at Forward Motion on pain and wound healing for writers.

In the middle of November, my writer's group had an online chat and they offered me their time and their insights on where I was stuck with "Heal Thyself." They asked insightful questions and helped me find a new direction for the story and its ending. (Thank you, guys!)

Two days ago, I sat down to write again after looking through the whole manuscript with fresh eyes. The words have flowed steadily, the scenes building one by one into a cohesive whole.

Someone asked me if I experienced writer's block. I don't believe even the nearly month long stalemate on this novel was a case of writer's block. I think my subconscious knew that my plot plan was untenable and rather than spend my time beating my head against that particular wall, I took a different approach. I neither tried to power my way through the problem, nor did I run away from it. Instead, I kept the story in my mind as an open question. Every so often, I would find myself wondering what Lilliane or Zev were doing, before turning to another piece of writing.

I know that other writers have experienced this and I also know what works for me may not be what works for someone else, but I offer this in the spirit of a hope and a prayer: may the muse grace you with her presence and may the writing bring you joy.

And for any of you who have successfully completed Nano, my congratulations and applause.


  1. well i am thrilled to hear a more accomplished writer like yourself express this ... i have done something quite similar since finishing my nano.. i had written on the same manuscript daily for the previous month as well,, and at 95,000 plus words was just freaking burnt on it.. i know the ending,, i just cant write it right now... so i am going thru fleshing things out,, editing,, just "playing" with it.. i have also started a new endeavor,, and i am really focusing on creativity,, writing poems, answering memes adding chapters to the chain fiction blog i write with another author... thanks for being so honest and letting me vent on this.....

  2. Well, paisley, my hat's off to you for finishing Nano! As far as 'more accomplished', I don't know if I can claim to be accomplished at anything other than being persistent. LOL.

  3. Sounds like you have a good process that works. Don't change. :-)