Writing through the unexpected

Posted October 29, 2013 by Kelly Apple in Writing / 4 Comments

This past weekend, I had author Jodi Redford visiting for a few days. I willingly put everything on hold for this visit because OMG! SHE’S A FREAKING HOOT AND I ADORE HER! But this got me thinking… you can prepare and plan and plot until the cows come home and yet sometimes things happen that get in the way of writing (or reading or summoning of ancient and better-left-alone deities — stop that, by the way, I just cleaned up after the last apocalypse and I need a little break). They can be highly anticipated things (like Jodi’s visit) or they can be things that hit out of the blue (your car gets infested with a rare colony of miniature albino spiders that were recently put on the endangered species list and you have to deal with several branches of the government as you attempt to wrangle your car back from the EPA. Or whatever branch of the gov takes care of miniature albino spiders).

The question that arises here is… what do you do when something like this happens during NaNo? The way I see it, you have two choices — you can either freak out and lament how things always conspire to keep you from writing your epic masterpiece and give up or you can suck it up, reevaluate your plan of attack, your goals, etc and keep on truckin’.

I’ve been one of the lamenters. I know how much it blows to have great momentum on a project (whether it’s writing or not) and have it suddenly derailed by an unexpected occurrence. I GET THAT. Did I ever tell you about the year my computer crashed halfway through November and I lost the first half of my NaNo story? Yeah, it wasn’t fun. I bitched about it. I might have cried a little. Not that I’m admitting to that part, mind you, because I’m not a crier. *shifty eyes* The point is that I could have thrown up my hands and given up. I didn’t. I finished that story and eventually retrieved the first half I thought was lost. AND I WAS SO THRILLED WITH MYSELF FOR PUSHING THROUGH.

In some ways, I think that was a turning point for me in regards to writing. I mean, it’s easy to write when things are going well. It’s when the craptastic happened and I kept going forward despite it that showed me I COULD DO THIS.

(And here’s where I’m going to insert my PSA and remind people to BACK UP YOUR WORK. Learn from my mistakes. Back up early and often!)

The point of all this is that even if life throws you a curve ball in November, don’t give up. Your plot just took a nosedive and you’ve written yourself into a corner? Move onto a new scene. Nobody says you have to write your book in order. If you hate your book and have no passion for it on day 2 of NaNo, CHANGE UP WHAT YOU’RE WRITING.

It’s your book. Now, go write it. (err… but wait until Nov 1st. Because, you know, that’s when it’s all official.)

4 responses to “Writing through the unexpected

  1. YES to everything you said. Especially the part about me being a freakin hoot. This is true. I’m very hootish. Hence why owls worship me. And you are SUCH a crier. I totally saw you tearing up at least 2 and a 1/2 times during The Blair Thumb. Freakin crier.

    • I also discreetly cried during Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. DID YOU SEE HOW THOSE AVOCADOS WERE TREATED! IT WAS INHUMANE! OH, THE SMASHING! THE GUACAMOLE MAKING! THE EATING! *weeps uncontrollably*

  2. This is so true and something that I definitely struggle with. I feel like I’m always waiting for that Perfect Time when life tells me to just sit back and write, like, “Don’t worry — I got everything else. You do your thing.” But that’s not going to happen. The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it does get people writing every day. Don’t they say it takes 21 days to make a habit? Maybe after 21 days of writing, I *could* get into the habit of sitting down and doing it every day — even after NaNo is over.

    • I have a post from a few years ago where I talk about exactly that. November sucks for quality writing time for me. Between the holiday stuff and the fact that I have the kids home from school more often than not, it’s not the ideal time to crank out 50K words. But… BUT, there is no “good time”. Every month has its quirks and we can either bitch and moan about how we’re never going to find the time or we can MAKE the time and do it.

      And, yeah, the doing it every day is tough. I have plenty of days normally where I don’t meet my daily goal. That’s something I’m trying to work on and get more consistent with. NaNo always reminds me that I can do it if I focus. And I love that.

      Thanks for stopping by, Kristilyn!

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