Any artist knows that their work is hard. Painting, writing, music, etc. These tasks are so difficult because progress is hard to track. Any designing is done purely in the mind, and sometimes thoughts are too convoluted to sort out and put onto paper.
So many people read books and think, “This can’t be that hard.” I mean, how many times in school did you have to write papers and essays? All you have to do is keep talking but on paper. It’s easy!
First off, you need characters. Then you need a setting, plot, character development, conflict, resolution, world building, genre, etc. Not to mention somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 words. And it all has to fit together so perfectly that the genre makes sense with the setting, the setting influences the characters, who influence the plot, which in turn causes character development, creating the conflict and eventually leads to the resolution.
It’s almost like thinking forwards and backwards at the same time while sitting on your head and trying to keep all the blood from rushing to your brain while flying a pig when you can only look in a mirror so everything is reversed. Or a much simpler comparison- keeping the house clean when you have kids.
How on earth do you get all those little pieces to fit together? Practice? Patience? Trial and error? There really isn’t a right way to do these things. Just like there isn’t a right way to write music or paint a picture.
There are so many different techniques that every writer needs to know and so many rules to follow (and break). It’s a truly convoluted process.
Some people plot out every little detail of their story ahead of time. Others have no idea where the story will go until it’s written down. Some people (me!) do a little of both because their characters have a mind of their own and like to change details and the order of events at the last second.
The only real advice that works for every writer is to keep writing. Every other piece of advice is debatable depending on individual writing style and preference. But every writer has to keep writing.
And that’s what NaNoWriMo is really all about. It’s motivating writers of all styles, techniques, and genres to just keep writing. It joins them together for their one common goal- to finish a novel. Because sometimes the only real way to fly your pig while looking in a mirror while on your head, etc. is to get to the end of the novel so your image isn’t reversed and upside down.
Once you make it all the way to the end, every little detail is much clearer. You can see what needs to be changed, what can be deleted, and what needs to become more important. Sometimes the order of events needs to be tweaked so the plot flows more clearly, but you can’t know that for sure until everything is written. Sometimes characters don’t play enough of a role, but you don’t know whether to delete them or add in a subplot until you see their whole story from beginning to end.
So stop procrastinating and get back to writing! Get all those words written so that you can finally see your story in all its glory and make it even better. It may be hard work but for those of us who choose to live the writer’s life, it is definitely worth it.