I recently received what is, quite possibly, the single best example of a mass e-mail that felt as though it had been written for me alone. Here it is (in its unashamed truth and glory):
Here we are. Week Two.
If there were a zodiac sign for each cycle of the noveling escapade, Week One would undoubtedly be a magnificent galleon at full sail. Week Three would be a road-tested marathon runner, smiling as she catches her second wind. And Week Four would be a lone figure silhouetted against the setting sun, arms raised in triumph.
Unfortunately, Week Two would be represented by a pack of rabid weasels hurling themselves from the treetops onto a group of screaming campers below.
This, I think, is why they don’t make zodiac signs for NaNoWriMo.
And this is also why we need to have a few words about the week to come.
Because Week Two is when you’ll likely begin having some second thoughts about your participation in NaNoWriMo. It’s the point when the effects of sleep-deprivation, mind-wearying creative output, and a shortage of leisure time will combine to create the infamous Week Two Wall.
You’ll know you’ve hit the Wall when you start thinking that the whole endeavor is futile. When you start worrying that you don’t have the time or imagination to pull it off, and you come to see your story as an unmitigated disaster that should be put out of its misery before the thing gets old enough to remember where you live.
Happily, a small percent of participants will never feel the demoralizing thud of the Week Two Wall. These are the disciplined folks who exceeded their daily word counts throughout Week One, and who will coast through the tough period ahead on a cushion of surplus prose.
Those of us who’ve skipped a few days here and there, though, have our work cut out for us. Because Week Two is when that dreaded, celebrated thing called ‘plot’ appears, adding yet another flaming machete to the daunting juggling act we began last week.
It’s a demanding moment for a writer. We made huge creative strides in Week One, creating and introducing our cast, and getting them comfortably situated in their homes, workplaces, and zombie-filled swamps. But just when we’re ready for a well-deserved nap, we have to drag ourselves back to the keyboard and struggle to come up with something for these people to *do* over the next hundred and fifty pages.
These are the kinds of difficult decisions that novelists writing without a deadline can successfully avoid making for months, if not years. Happily for those around us, we’re compressing months and months of guilty procrastination and agonized decision-making into one soul-crunching week.
Ah. Week Two. Where the key to survival comes down to one simple mandate: Whatever you do, don’t stop writing.
Because there is no way over or around the Wall of Week Two. The only way to get to the sweet sunset and triumphant arm-raising that happens as a matter of course over on the other side of the barrier is to run directly at the thing. And smash straight through it.
Which is why it is so essential this week that we dig deep into our reserves of tenacity and overpriced Swiss chocolates. Let’s double-brew our coffee, triple-pace our writing, and stay glued to the computer long after our beleaguered brains cry out for mercy.
And plot! This is the week we allow plot to happen in our books by proactively tackling the tough decisions all novelists have to face. Let’s set exciting crises in motion, and willfully place our protagonists in harm’s way. Let’s allow our characters to embarrass themselves, and let them make the kinds of dangerous miscalculations that form the heart of any juicy narrative.
More than anything else, though, let’s celebrate the pain and suffering of this week. Because, seven days from now, we’ll have traded the menacing weasels of Week Two for the revitalizing second-winds of Week Three. The writing will be much easier, the hours more humane, and those glorious creatures called naps will have returned in delicate flocks across the land.
At that point, we’ll actually *miss* those adrenaline-filled moments of Week Two, when failure seemed all but inevitable, and the desire to quit lurked behind every demoralized word-count.
Hard to believe, but true. So let’s start pounding it out. Daily. Copiously. Imperfectly. Knowing all words are good words, and everything — no matter how flawed it seems at the time – can be redeemed in the rewrite.
See you on the other side of the wall!
He managed to describe =exactly= how I feel! So how =is= my story going? Well, I scrapped it in favour of something much more ambiguous. That is to say, I was getting bogged down in having to research little details (although I did find tons of useful stuff) and was running way behind in actually =writing= my story.
So now it’s not so much a story with a plot as it is a weird, long, pointless dream. Perhaps I’ll add plot later, but for now I really only care about making it to 50,000 words. As of this writing, I have 3,066 words. So I guess I had better get back to it.
Oh, and before I forget, I really want a remote controlled helicopter. They’re badass.