Finding My “Drive” to Write: Novel Writing Month 10, Chapter 10

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Month ten!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!

I didn’t finish.

I know! Tragedy! Disaster! Horror! Failure! But by the time I wrote this blog I had finished. It took me two extras days of writing, but it is done! And I think it turned out to be a pretty decent chapter.

I’m still kind of stuck in this weird storyline limbo where there isn’t a lot of action, but there are still things that need to happen and thus writing that needs to be done, and it’s my job to figure out how to accomplish that feat! For this particular chapter I decided to play around a little more with form, which made the writing interesting for me and broke up the monotony of the “this-then-that” chapters I’ve been writing so far.

One of my favorite TV shows is ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” which has a really unique and beautiful means of story telling. Each episode holds two stories—one in the present day “real” world and one in the past Enchanted Forest. These two stories usually interact, intertwine, and reveal things about the other to the viewer as it plays out. It also makes for some creative transitions between past and present and a look at how one’s past can (and can’t) predict one’s future. And in Chapter Ten, I wanted to try something similar.

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Actually, it was more of an accident. I realized that I had started the chapter later than when some of the information I needed to give would have happened. My initial intention had been to do one longer flashback to establish all the information, but after one scene in the past, I found myself naturally wanting to transition back to the present time.

But I wasn’t done! What would I do?

Well I continued on in the present day for a little bit longer before finding another place to transition back into the past. And this pattern continued as I wrote the chapter. I kept finding places that connected between what I was trying to convey in the present storyline and key points I made in the past storyline. In the end, I think I made a chapter of delicately woven stories and timelines.

Now, I will say that eventually I had to give up on whether or not I was using the correct grammatical tense (I got lost pretty quickly there since both are written in the past tense but one has to be more past than the other which doesn’t make any sense.) However, I decided I would worry about the tenses and grammar later. What was important now was the writing. The getting down my ideas down onto paper (or digital files at least) needed to take precedence.

And once I knew where I was going with the story (both the form and the plot), I didn’t mind so much that I would be a few days late finishing the chapter. I don’t consider it a failure because it’s still done and I have pretty much all of November to write Chapter Eleven so no harm done here!

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I think this month taught me about drive. For a little while, mid-month, I lost the drive to write. I hadn’t quite decided yet how I was going to structure the chapter ,and I was wondering whether I would need to rewrite everything or if I should just keep going even though this “back-and-forth-present-to-past” thing looked like it might get complicated. So for a week and half I just didn’t write. I kept putting it on my daily “To-Do” list, but I would always put it off because I didn’t know where to go with it. But once I took a second look and decided—really DECIDED—where I wanted this chapter to go, I got my drive back and I finished the chapter. Later than I wanted, yes. But if I hadn’t had the drive, I could have convinced myself to make Chapter Ten a two-month long writing journey which was NOT my original goal. I don’t want to make consolations like that (although I did seriously consider it around October 29th or so). I want to write a chapter a month. It’s not that hard, and I know I can do it because I’ve been doing it for over nine months now! I just have to say “YES! YES YOU CAN!” to the inevitable questions and feelings of failure. I have to put my writing car into “Drive,” put my foot to the petal, and GO! No looking back. No second-guessing. No wondering if I should stop for gas. I know the tank’s almost empty, but I have enough to get to my destination. I just know it.

So I keep on driving!

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