Writer's moments

I’m Writing Again

After an arduous two weeks of editing other people’s work, I’m finally able to work on my own novels again. Many of my fellow writers are doing NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month). NaNo is a challenge to write 50,000 words (a complete novel) between November 1 and November 30.  I would’ve loved to have given it a try, but because I have several editing gigs scheduled for November, I opted out of NaNo this year. However I’m intrigued with the idea. Maybe next year, I’ll see if I can make my paying gigs work out so that I can have more time in November. It’s a good goal.

Writers fall into two basic categories, plotters, who sit down and map out their stories before they start writing, and pantsers, who just start writing, full of faith that they will figure the story out as they write. (Pantsers write “by the seat of their pants.”) I am a pantser. Mostly. For me, stories begin with the people in my head. Characters show up and suddenly there is a circumstance, a “hey, what if this guy does this and then this woman comes in and does that?” kind of synergy happening.

And I start writing… Sometimes, a whole book develops immediately and the characters take me for a crazy ride that I never expected. Other times, they lose steam by chapter three and the idea gets set aside for another one that’s cooking in the back of my mind.  The last few weeks, I’d set aside novel A to finish another that I’d set aside to start that story.

The characters in book A  began shouting at me as I was writing on book B. They wanted their story told, dammit, and they weren’t about to shut up and let me finish novel A. My crit partner Sandy has the amazing ability to write on more than one story at a time. I’m not there yet–I’ve tried and it just doesn’t work for me. The people in my head start fussing when I abandon them for a new idea and keep me awake until I get back to their stories.

I’ve learned to make notes to quiet their clamoring, to use my little digital voice recorder when I’m driving or cleaning or editing, and ideas suddenly pop into my head. I carry the DVR with my almost everywhere–it contains conversation after conversation between my characters. I don’t always use what I’ve recorded, but often, the words become a jumping-off point if I’m having trouble crafting a scene. It’s a good thing.

So book A is done and with my agent–please send good thoughts to New York, we want her to love it. In the meantime, I’m back to book B–Sophie, Ben, and Eva have been pounding on my brain, needing their story to be told. Okay, okay…I’m coming…


  • Sandy James

    Tried NaNoWriMo once. Nearly killed me. I need to write when my muse calls to me. Like you, when I’m too angsty, I get writer’s block. That’s one of the reasons I switch between stories, to keep my mind working and shift to something different so I can think about stories and not submissions.

  • robena grant

    Glad you’re getting time to write, Nan. There’s nothing like the feeling when all is going well and every voice in your head is demanding attention. I thought I was done with revisions but remembered the ten common mistakes amateurs make and had to go back in and do a search for overused words, phrases, flat writing, etc. ‘Twas sad what I found. Ha ha.