Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If you are, you’re around a week into your novel, and your inspiration is flagging.
Professional novelists know that after a week or two of writing, or at around 10,000 words, they’ll hit “the wall.”
The wall is the point at which you think you’re writing the wrong novel.
You CAN complete a NaNoWriMo (or any novel) when your inspiration flags
Amazingly, the wall can seem like fresh inspiration.
A charmingly seductive voice whispers: your novel is boring. You made a mistake. Here’s a MUCH better idea… It’s a guaranteed bestseller. Drop the dreck, and write THIS NOW…
Dismiss the voice, please.
ALL novels hit the wall sooner or later. A “better idea” isn’t. You’ll hit the wall with that idea too.
Here are some tips to give your inspiration a swift kick up the derriere, so that you can complete your novel (whether it’s NaNoWriMo or not) in style.
1. Power through by outlining fresh scenes (even if you don’t know where they’ll fit)
Although the voice intends to derail you, it sometimes has a point about the “better idea.”
Thank the voice, and make a note of the idea it brought you. Tell it that you’ll work on its “idea” next, after you complete this novel.
Now, ask the voice, because it’s the part of your creative self which specializes in ideas, for fresh ideas for wonderful scenes for this novel. Tell the voice that the scenes can be for the setup, the middle portion, or the final quarter of your novel. You don’t care.
Ideas for new scenes will come to you.
Add the ideas where they fit. If you’re not sure, put the ideas into a “unplaced scenes” folder. Scrivener, if you’re using the app, makes creating folders easy.
2. Create differently: dictate, handwrite, or sketch-write to generate words
You can often break through the wall by changing the way you write.
- Write in a coffee shop, or write on your phone;
- Dictate the next few scenes;
- Write several scenes by hand; or
- “Sketch-write” the scenes.
When you “sketch write” you write your scenes in all dialogue, or jot notes for them. Tell yourself you’re just playing around, you’re not really writing anything at all.
Oddly enough, when you tell yourself that you’re not writing, you’re playing, your resistance dissolves. It’s a trick, and it works.
3. Rethink: what do you REALLY want to write? (A subplot may help)
The wall gifts you with clarity on all the holes in your plot, as well as insights into problems with your characters.
Don’t panic. Although the voice can be brutal, it’s helpful too, as long as you don’t dissolve into a puddle of tears and despair.
Since the voice tends to toss ideas at you, ask for an idea for a subplot.
Subplots are fun to write. They also make your novel richer.
In Writing Fiction: 3 Easy Tips For Subplots, we suggested some ideas for subplots:
… whatever your genre and main plot, a subplot can add a needed change of pace. Shakespeare often added humorous scenes to his tragedies. When there’s too much gloom and doom, you need a contrast so that readers appreciate the next horror scene.
Whatever your genre, humor is always welcome. Try creating a character or two for comic relief.
Consider adding a romantic subplot, if you’re writing in a genre (science fiction, thrillers, mysteries) which doesn’t need romance. In these genres, a romantic subplot not only aids character development, it also provides a useful change of pace.
NaNoWriMo: onward, ever onward. Keep writing
If you refuse to stop writing when you hit the wall, you’ll discover that you’ll tap into fresh inspiration and will power through your novel.
Use the above tips to regain your enthusiasm.
Have fun. 🙂
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You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels.More info →
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