NaNoWriMo 2014: Sticking point

The novel I'm working on for National Novel Writing Month will be the sixth book I've completed start to finish in the past five years. I don't say that to brag. If you read some of these as they currently stand, you'd totally get it.

Book 1 is in good shape.

Book 2 we must never speak of again.

Book 3 I love, but it needs to be retooled. To the max.

Book 4 is also in pretty decent shape. Also, I love it.

Book 5 is sitting there as a first draft. I like it, but, honestly, I don't know if I'll ever revisit this one.

And that brings us to this one.

I'm a hard core plotter. Plotting is life. Before I started working on this novel, I wrote out a beat sheet and I wrote out, in paragraph form, everything that happens in the story, leaving space for questions that still need to be answered and plot holes that need to be filled.

The book has been going smoothly so far. Too smoothly. As I approached the midpoint this morning, I felt it. The doubt. The frustration. The feeling that "fuck this book isn't really as good as it is in my head, is it?" Also, "do I have enough plot left to fill the second half of this bastard?"

Fellow NaNo-ers, are you there yet?

This feeling is normal. Since I'm a five-manuscript veteran I know that now. I except the roller coaster of feelings that is just part of the drafting process. I know that the novel will be great until it's not and then it goes back to great again. While I was riding high all last week, I had it in the back of my head that it would all come crashing down eventually, that at some point the doubt would kick in.

And sure enough, today it did. It's not a full-fledged, pit of despair type doubt. It's just a little baby doubt. Is this character too much of a douchebag? Is this other character not enough of a douchebag? Why am I making all my characters douchebags? Is the main character too focused on guys? Are she and the one douchebag acknowledging their mutual like-like for each other too early? Too late? Are the secondary characters too tertiary?

So, I'm taking a step-back. James Scott Bell recommends this in several of his books. Around the 20k mark, have a glass of wine (I may have added this step on my own), read what you've done, and assess the state of things. Then it's time to push forward and finish the danged thing. Chances are the situation is not as dire as you think it is, and, of course, anything that sucks can always be fixed in revision.

(And sure enough, I started rereading it last night, thought the first couple chapters were really good, the next few could be reworked, then I went to bed and dreamed about what should happen next to the story. Sometimes that's all it takes to shake you out of a funk -- your bed, a walk, or a shower.)

What are your tips for getting past the "everything sucks" phase of writing?

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Tags: Writing

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