One thing I've noticed about writing is: it's fucking hard. Why is it so hard? I have a good idea, I start writing, and BANG! I hit the wall, every time. Abandon project! Abort! Abort! It hurts, I hit the wall so hard my nose feels broken, I need to lie down, open up a bottle of Beaujolais. And then I think, well, I must not be a real writer because it's not hard for real writers to finish a novel. I imagine Philip Roth just typing away for eight hours a day in his leather slippers, so engrossed in his own genius that his butt never hurts, his stomach never grumbles; squirrels twitch at the picture window behind him and hurl nuts at his head and he never flinches from his deep yet gentle and encompassing concentration.
I know. And I've never even read any Philip Roth.
But then there's this e-mail I got from the NaNoWriMo guy a couple of weeks ago, maybe you got it, too?
The writer Edith Wharton once described novel writing like this:
"The beginning: A ride through a spring wood.
The middle: The Gobi desert.
The end: Going down the Cresta run."
As you move from the spring wood of Week One into the trying climate of Week Two, one or all of the following are likely to happen:
1) The fun, good-time feel of the first week will evaporate.
2) You will decide that your book is a miserable failure, that you are a creative fraud, and that novels are best left to novelists.
3) You will put 1 and 2 together, and decide to cut your losses and drop out now while the getting is good and the fall TV season is still relatively new.
I cycle through these feelings every year I participate in NaNoWriMo, and I have two words for anyone who finds themselves falling into a similar Week Two funk:
Yep. The greatest toboggan run in the world is just one week away. Make it through the grumpiness and self-doubt of Week Two, and you'll be rewarded with renewed energy and an eerily improved outlook on your novel. Work diligently through this, the hardest week of NaNoWriMo, and you'll see the tangled mess of your story begin to unknot, and your book begin to soar.
I know it's hard to believe. But look at all the work you've done already. You have characters! You have settings! Your manuscript has grown large enough to injure a small dog!
Not that you'd want to injure a dog, small or otherwise. But still, you've done more in the last seven days then most writers accomplish in seven months. You've made it through the first huge week of NaNoWriMo.
Now dig in for one more challenging push.
It's going to be tough. But you can do it.
Oh man, can you do it.
See you in Week Three, author!
It kind of cracks me up just to read that again. "See you in week three, author!"
So, today I'm going to write, no matter how much my nose hurts, even though I've already squandered two hours on e-mail, t-shirts, and my flickr friends. It's the last day of National Novel Writing Month and I have four pages; 1,182 words. But with you as my witness, by god, by the end of the day I'll probably have, like, 1,183.