Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Releasing the Fear and Writing Prompts

This is the letter I sent out to my region yesterday. Some of it I've already mentioned here on the blog, but I'm repeating to free up more writing time. There are some fun prompts to help work through writer's block.

Dear Wrimos,

We are now nine days into Nanowrimo, how are you feeling? Have you entered the slump or are the words still flowing freely from your fingertips? No matter where you are at the current moment, we will all experience some ups and downs over the next three weeks.

I’ll admit, I struggled last week with my own fears, as my word count reflects. My mind was bogged down with other concerns and looming deadlines. As a natural pantser, I also wondered if by plotting this year, I inadvertently locked up my muse. I mean, come on. I know what’s going to happen next so I don’t feel the excitement of writing to discover my plot.

Saturday night I told my husband I was quitting. Yeah. I thought he would be relieved, but being the wonderful man he is, he simply said, “Just write.” He was trying to remind me that I needed to write because I enjoy it. Not because I signed up on a website to write 50,000 words this month. But how could I get that feeling back when I felt so much pressure to “perform”?

I pulled out one of my favorite quotes, condensed a bit here:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

"Actually, who are you not to be? ...And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson from her book A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracle (also used in the movie Akeelah and the Bee and incorrectly credited to Nelson Mandela's Inauguration speech in 1994).

What if I worked hard all weekend on my non-fiction project and finished it? Maybe relieving that stress would free my muse once again, so that’s what I did. It worked! My word count sat around 4,500 words at noon yesterday when I finished the cooking curriculum and emailed it to the next step in the process.

Relief was immediate and I started writing on my Nano project. I wrote off and on the rest of the day and by the time I called it quits at 9pm, I had inched passed 8,000 words. I’m still behind, but I feel so much better. I’m moving forward again and I’m enjoying the story.

So, if you are struggling—DON’T GIVE UP! You can still find your groove. Remember, whatever you write today is more than you had yesterday.

Some of you are rocking your word count. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now, get back to work! Seriously, don’t slack off because you are ahead. The Middle approaches. You have introduced your characters, setting, and now the conflict is heating up.

If you get stuck try a few of these prompts to get you moving again:
  • Have your MC (main character) get into a fist fight.
  • Flashback to something from your MCs past giving insight to his/her personality.
  • Have your MC get arrested for something they didn’t do.
  • Monologue on how much your MC loves or hates the color blue.
  • Work a sailboat into your story.
  • Write a dream sequence. What kind of nightmare would your MC have?
  • Describe a colony of lady bugs living in your MCs curtains.
  • Have your MC eat dinner in a fancy restaurant with their ex.
  • Make your MC dig through a dumpster to find something they lost.

So, I’m back in the game and looking forward to a day of writing. It’s not too late for you to join me if your lagging. And for those ahead of me, see if you can stay ahead cause here I come!

Good luck and happy writing!