"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." ~ Louis L'Amour
I'm writing my fourth book (wow, it feels strange to say this) and yes, I promise this time.
It was this Instagram post, posted early this year, in which I announced that I was writing my third novel. In the caption, I wrote, " I’m officially writing my 3rd book. That’s not to say that somewhere along the road I’ll toss it, start again. But, I’m doing everything in myself to try not to. Try to hold onto that spark with everything I have and let it guide me. And I’m pretty sure it’s guiding me home." And, well... sadly I tossed this idea out the window soon after but was too ashamed to admit to doing so.
I had beaten myself up for quite some time for not working on anything new. I would dream about becoming the next New York Times Bestseller and yet, I was hardly writing at all, or at least, hardly stayed disciplined enough to stay with the idea. (The main problem was that the story ideas didn't ever feel quite right, but I'll expand on this later.)
So, I'd start an idea, then stop, then start an idea, then stop. Although the stories at the moment never went anywhere, collecting dust in my documents, they later become the foundation of Hummingbird Tales (which is out now and available on Amazon here). So, without these mistakes or starting and restarting, I would have never published a collection, would have never proved to myself that I still had self-publishing in me.
But now, Hummingbird Tales is out, has taken flight.
And I'm back to square one.
With the soon arrival of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), something I've always wanted to achieve but never had the time (more like never made the time, aka never made the discipline for), I've decided that that, well, I'm going to do it. I'm going to write 50,000 horrible words in a single month.
And I'm putting it out there for the world to know. Because if writing is as big of a deal to me as I say it is, then, well, why am I not making it a priority? It's time to start.
So, I'll admit, I've sort of cheated in the sense that I already have, at this moment, 4,000 words written, setting up the bones for the story. I aim to be at 10,000 words by the time NaNo starts to propel me further, ranking the word count to at least 60,000 by the end of November, ideally.
I've never been a fan of NaNo, to be honest. To the idea of churning out words for the sake of finishing a book. It felt like something one might feel obligated or pressured to do, without taking the time to fully engross yourself in the story. However, this was when book writing was easy for me. And now, although I've finally emerged out of my writing hiatus, writing a new novel, a new lengthy story with characters and plot and meaning, is quite daunting.
To me, NaNo now feels like ripping off a bandaid. Jumping into the cold pool before early-morning swim practice without allowing yourself time to truly think about how the chill of the water might bite at your skin and shudder you to the bone. Saying "yes" to a commitment you know will be good for you, even though such commitments are frightening. Taking a deep breath, and walking straight into the crowded room of strangers. Of diving headfirst into your suppressed dreams, which have been waiting for you for quite some time.
So, well, what better time than now, when I've homed myself back into the writing world, finding comfort in the feel of the keys beneath my fingers, which have rubbed raw against the plastic, eyes glued to the blindingly white Google Document.
The story. I presume you want to know what I'm working on.
I'm sure this will naturally manifest soon enough. All you need to know, now, is that is quite similar to my other novels, yet bolder. More thought-out and planned (but I'm still definitely a panster). Better.
Wow, that was brave of me to say!
But, seriously. Over the course of college, I have grown immensely, as a person, as a writer. I love Forsaken, Fifty Days, and the scattered array that is Hummingbird Tales. But, the number of books I've been reading, the type of media I've been consuming, the experiences I've now lived, have all seemed to come together fluidly to formulate a much stronger and even more humbling writing style. It's still mine. I'm well aware that I probably write the exact same. But I write better. I just do.
I'll give you a hint. This story is set in a creepy old house, and it encompasses mirrors. And it's weird, of course. Oh, and for once (and as of now) it's being written in the third person, which is quite new for me! (My other novels and most of my works were written in the first person.)
I've decided that perhaps, along the way, I can share my writing journey in this little blog format. To showcase the real, honest adventure that is writing a novel, and to talk about important topics I think of along the way, such as pansting vs. plotting, round vs. flat characters, plot holes, the slow, dragging middle, point of view, and more.
Right now, as I close in on the first 5,000 words, I've laid the bones down for the story, have created the environment, described the tone, and have, well, begun. As a panster, I only chase the light at the end of the tunnel, and everything falls together as I do. Once the structure has been loosely set, I run freely into the night. So, now I'm in the open fields. I can do anything, create anything. The fate of these characters, this world, lies in my hands. There's no turning back now.
I'm making sure of it.
When I was younger, people would ask me how I wrote books. They still do, but they especially did then. "How do you do it?" they'd plead. "How do you have the time? How do you think of your ideas? How do you manage writing and school?"
"You just do it," I'd reply with a beam. "You just sit down, and you write the book."
I can imagine now how much such a response might aggravate someone, as it aggravates me now. And yet, it's true. Little me knew what she was doing.
You really just have to sit down and start.
I will write back soon.
Any NaNo advice? Let me know in the comments below!