by Vanessa Preston
Note to self, and anyone else who needs a little encouragement …
20 days ago you decided to do this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo, and bursting with excitement you started planning your brand new story. Ideas flew and characters queued up to join the ride. 20 days in though, you have more questions than answers. Plotting now feels like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle that’s missing half the pieces (mostly just the middle, a few corners and the edges you like to place first as a reassuring frame). It’s hard to see the big picture, and the start of NaNoWriMo is approaching like the ticking crocodile in Peter Pan … immensely thrilling and terrifying.
Take heart. Millions have gone before you on this perilous and wonderful journey. You’re not alone in your quest to plot a novel worth reading, crafted from wishes and dreams. Thousands of writers walk beside you at this very moment, gathering the materials needed for their masterpieces, just as you now search for yours.
You can do this. The choices you make are not set in stone. This is your story and you can let it change direction as you go. Once you have something on the page you can play with it and try on different ideas until you find ‘the one’ which makes your heart sing. The trick right now is to keep searching. Brainstorm. Ask why, and what if, where, when and why not?
Stay playful. There is no need for pressure and perfectionism just now. Remember, you sent your inner perfectionist on holiday … if she calls tell her you are managing quite well without her. Her job as editor is secure, she’ll be welcome to return when the time is right.
Make a glorious mess! Trust your creative instincts and let your pen dance across the page. You’ll have time to beautify your plot ready for the grand ball later, but this week, shop around for ideas, try on concepts and themes and motives. Take some time to get to know your story from the inside out. Admire her twists and turns. How? Play with your ideas. Let them ALL in and see what they have to say. When the moment comes, you’ll know which ones to invite to the ball.
Be brave! There is no wrong or right way to navigate the maze of possibilities. Explore. All paths lead to adventure, and behind every door there waits a prize … a world waiting to be discovered, or a character ready to trust you with her true self. Climb those trees. Crawl into the caves. Search far and wide for the elements that make your story come to life in your mind. If it fascinates you, it will interest your readers.
Draw upon the wisdom of the ages, your faith, the spirit within you, the inspiration gathered from the wonderful stories you have read, the experience of authors who have gone before you. Let them be your guide and friend. Your quest is a noble one. You are fit for the journey. You have all that you need. Go forth with courage and seize the day!
I hope you have enjoyed my whimsical pep talk … if you’d like to follow my novel planning process, check out my daily NaNoPrepMo diary at InkyWings on Facebook. If you’re planning a novel let me know how that’s going!