On Writing: NaNoWriMo 2013 day 20


Sometimes, it can be a useful exercise, when writing something that has no strong overarching plot, to imagine yourself explaining it to another person. It can be very reassuring when you’re writing something character-oriented, by making you realise how much is actually going on, in the absence of a plot-driven story.

And having defined to this mythical person’s satisfaction where you are currently at, you can then go on to describe where it’s going from here, even if, in your daily sessions, you are concerned only with the words of the moment, and no regard to what follows.

If your writing mind is attuned to what it is doing, it can reveal a satisfying amount of the forthcoming story, to the point of giving you the spine of the next several days sessions, up to a satisfactory point at which to reveal one of your major plot elements, a card that you have always had in mind, without knowing when it will come into play.

It is not, however, necessarily a sensible thing to do when you are about to go in the shower, preparing for a ten-and-a-half hour day on the phones at work. The biggest drawback about such speculative thinking is that when you do hit the motherlode of what is instinctively right for what you are doing, you have done so at the very point where it is not feasible to write down the fruits of your writing mind’s invention.

This can lead to attempts to scribble down barely-legible notes at the bus stop, and even less successful attempts to do that whilst the bus is in motion.

This process is inevitably complicated by the fact that at each turn, your mind offers little snippets of conversation, expanding upon the flashpoints of your scenario.

However, between that and a break two hours into your shift, the work can be done. After that, however, comes the very worst of it: the terrifying itch inside the skull as your mind keeps dipping into this spinal outline, continually starting conversations between your three leading characters at almost every point, conversations that you simply cannot write down and which, when you come, in order, to these moments, will inevitably haunt you with the ease and relevance of the unwritten words and leave you feeling decidedly unimpressed at how feeble and pale the ones you will actually write seem to be.

I feel like I could write more or less any of these scenes, in full, and the inside of my head itches with this frustrated feeling of being unable to attend to the book.

This is when you really hate not being a full-time writer.

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