Dear NaNoWriMo Author,
It is mid November, your mind is sludge, you’re midway through a book you thought was just fabulous when you began but now that you are perhaps, 20k or 30k words into it, you look back, read through what you’ve written, shudder, tape your fingers together to prevent yourself from deleting what you’ve written because you think it is horrible, terrible and by god, it would be a Mother Earth Swallow Me Now moment if you ever let another living soul read it. What on earth possessed me to sign up for this, you tell yourself, while simultaneously self flagellating yourself with the Cat-O-Nine-Tails of negative self talk.
This is normal. We have all been there.
You will hate what you have written. You will go through doubt and schism and chaos. You will detest your characters, want to reach into the screen and give them a good shake up, you have also probably reached a dead end or two in your plot where you’ve needed to go back, retrace your steps, rewrite what you’ve written and change things around a fair bit. What you have down on the computer is nothing compared to the glorious, glistening gem of a novel you had in your head when you started out, in fact, it doesn’t even come close. You hate it.
Breathe some more.
This too is normal. And the urge to delete what you have written so far will pass.
Step back a minute from the page. Don’t look at what you have written so far. Don’t be tempted to re-read what you’ve done. What you have done is a first draft, and first drafts are meant to be reworked. And reworked. But it is essential to get that first draft down as swiftly as possible before that ephemeral magic of the tale you want to tell fades away. Write down your first draft.
Put down word after word, sentence after sentence, if nothing comes to mind, put down dummy copy.
Trust me that works. You can always go back and delete the dummy copy later.
Take a break while you are writing. Drink coffee. Make some phone calls to friends or loved ones. Read the newspaper. Distract your mind. Think about anything and everything except the book you are writing. Let your subconscious marinate the plot, the characters, the situations for you.
Set a timer. When your alarm rings, get right back to the keyboard and type. Don’t wait for the muse. She is fickle and rarely shows up when you want her to. She will linger around, watching, and when she sees you are going to get down and get writing with or without her around to help, she might just float beside you, look at what you’re putting down and if you are lucky, very very lucky, she might just consent to brush a smidgeon of her magic across your keyboard and clear the cobwebs from your mind. And when she does, you will know. You will feel it. But you can’t wait indefinitely for that to happen. You owe it to the book you are midway through to complete it, to see it through to the end, bitter or happy. Only you can do it, only you can put down the story in your head.
The thing is to write. To keep writing. That is the only way that books get written. You have to keep moving forward. A paragraph. A page. A chapter. Bit by bit, you build up the precious first draft. And there, at the end of the month, you have it. You will feel the pride, the sense of ownership, of accomplishment. And that nothing can ever take away from you.
About Kiran Manral:
Kiran Manral was a journalist before she quit to become a full-time mommy. She is one of India’s top bloggers and also a Tehelka blogger columnist on gender issues. She is also considered a ‘social media star’ on twitter by the TOI. IBN Live named her as among the 30 interesting Indian women to follow on twitter and among the top 10 Indian moms to follow on twitter for 2013. Sheroes named her as among the top 20 women influencers from India on twitter in 2014. (http://sheroes.in/articles/must-follow-women-influencers-on-twitter/NDAw)
Her debut novel, The Reluctant Detective, was published by Westland in 2012 and her second novel Once Upon A Crush, was published by Leadstart in May 2014.
She was awarded the Women Achievers award by Young Environmentalists Group in 2013.