ShortbreadStories: The Blog

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NaNoWriMo 2012: Derek’s Second Blog Entry

/by Derek Elsby/

Well, my own little National Short Story Writing Month is coming along fairly nicely. What I mean by that is that I haven’t given up and broken down in tears. Or it least if I have broken down in tears (which I’m not saying I have!) then I certainly haven’t quit. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it? Getting a story out of your head and down on paper can be a battle sometimes. Events don’t go the way you planned them, characters aren’t who you thought they were, sometimes the world itself – your world! – seems to be conspiring against you.  It’s easy to find yourself written into a corner with no satisfying way of getting things moving again. And even all of that assumes that you can actually beat the lazy and  start putting the words down the first place. Other than not starting, giving up can often be the easiest thing to do with an unfinished story.

One of my writing buddies recently asked if it was normal to hit the proverbial wall. She was finding it hard to get going, keep going and even figure out where to go. As one, we responded that this was normal and, what’s more, that it does indeed get better.

I’ve mentioned, superfluously I’m sure, that the unadulterated thrill of writing – good writing – is unique and almost unmatchable. Thinking back to my first NaNoWriMo, before I knew exactly what that was like, I can understand how a ‘new writer’ might dismiss such talk in the same way that the average person dismisses an adrenaline junkie talking about sky diving. Back then, I had distant memories of that writing thrill from the odd short story from way back in school and such, but those memories were long and distant. When I first hit the literary wall I gave up. I still have that story lying in my “unfinished works” folder. It is not alone. I’ve given up plenty of times. Sometimes it’s good to give up. After all, if something has stopped being exciting for you to write then, by all means, ditch it. Some things can’t be fixed and knowing when to give up and move on is an important skill. Giving up can sometimes be the answer.

I started on my second short story of the month last week and gave up after only 265 words. I didn’t know exactly how to get to where I wanted to and, frankly, I couldn’t be arsed digging through the situation I had created to find out.

Instead I started again, with the same characters from my first short story, and battered out just under 2000 words in two sittings. I’m loving it again. And that, for me at least, is what NaNo is all about: finding the joy in writing.

Without question, National Novel Writing Month is invaluable in introducing people to the hardships and problems of writing. Learning to overcome these problems is a valuable lesson to learn for anyone. It can also teach people the value and rewards of hard work. I referenced NaNoWriMo, and the lessons it taught me, in my university application and I’m certain it had an impact on my acceptance (I got my qualifications before some of the people in my course were born, so I’m fairly sure my written statement was more important for the selection process). Valuable lessons are, well, valuable, but why endure the hardships and struggle to overcome the obstacles of writing if the reward isn’t worth it?

Writing rocks! NaNoWriMo is an excellent excuse to ignore all the bad stuff that can come with it and get to the fun bits. The hard stuff will always be there. My advice? If you’re doing NaNo this year, and you find yourself stuck, try a few things before giving up. There are plenty of things to try – check nanowrimo.org for plenty of tricks and tips. But if the tricks don’t work, give up! And start again! The starting again is the important part. Insert a page break, add a new title and keep on battering the keyboard. Eventually, I promise, something good will fall out.

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