The secret of getting ahead is getting started. – Mark Twain
So, this #MondayMotivation quote (which I will get to unpacking following a bit of ramble, as I do), did not actually come from my Inspirational Quotes About Writing board on Pinterest. A friend, who actually took over my position at my old job picked it out for a #MondayMotivation graphic he’s using for this week, and I thought it was fitting in the days leading up to NaNoWriMo. Welcome to:
Part Four: Pre-@NaNoWriMo #MondayMotivation
And the rest of the series
Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!
Let’s talk about getting started.
Blank pages are incredibly intimidating. Like, so incredibly intimidating it’s not even funny. How are you supposed to just…start? Especially if you’ve already written a novel before, it’s easy to forget how you got from blank page to thousands of words in a document you’ve backed up 82 times and saved to 45 different places (seriously, save your work religiously, you guys. I’ve been burned before and it is NOOOOOOOOOOOT fun).
But here’s a little trick I like to use to get around that apprehension you may feel about starting something as intimidating as your first of 50,000 words in 30 days:
Don’t start with a blank document.
What do I mean? Well, I’m the type of person who is constantly writing (or thinking about it) and prepping and noting down plot ideas and little pieces of dialogue for the stories I’m going to write (I wouldn’t say it’s an outline, but it’s a general idea of what events are going to be included. I’m much more a Pantser than I am a Planner). So, I already have a little bit of content that I can work off of when November 1 rolls around and I get serious about getting the words out for #GroundhogOne. It’s not much, it’s not even 1,000 words, and they’re not remotely in order, but it’s something I take take to get started, and that’s the point of NaNoWriMo. It’s starting something that, if you work at it and persevere through moments of writer’s block or distraction, will eventually become a complete story that, if you get lucky, will become an actual novel.
The very first novel I wrote (the one I mentioned in Part Three about finding a writing space and using the study room in my dorm my freshman year of college), started with me imagining an argument between two people. I didn’t have names, I didn’t have details about what they were arguing about, other than one person being really angry with the other. But I turned that into a novel that had about seven planned sequels, and a prequel, and even almost a decade later, I know basically everything that’s going to happen with that story. I haven’t touched that story in years, it’s not great, and one day I may go back to it and do something with it, but it started with dreaming up an argument and ended with a story.
But it became a story with seven planned sequels and a prequel because I started writing book one.
And I dabbled in storyline after storyline in the years after finishing that story, and eventually stumbled on the idea for the #WhoIsTalyaNightingale novel, which was inspired by my annoyance at how queer characters are treated in the media (if I see one more incident of burying your gays, I’m going to be pissed), the lack of female superheroes who don’t need rescuing by a Strong!Male!Hero!, and an episode of CS!: New York. Among other things. But it works, and somehow I went from Point A, in which Talya Nightingale wasn’t even called Talya Nightingale, and she was hiding out on a farm in Montana with a PR guru I created for another story, to Point B, where Talya Nightingale is Talya Nightingale, has no idea why she’s Talya Nightingale or what she did to be stranded on Earth without her memories, and buys a house in a weird town that has a giant lake shaped like a bird.
So, if starting with a blank word document is too intimidating for you, don’t. Start writing somewhere else, like a note on your phone or a couple pages of notebook paper by hand, and THEN start.
But you have start before you can finish. So, come Wednesday, join me in starting whatever project you’ve been waiting for the so-called perfect moment to start. There never going to be a perfectly perfect moment to start, so you must take advantage of ANY moment, and write.