Originally posted on my writing blog which was active from 2010 to 2018.
I am all over the place with this year’s NaNoWriMo. Some days I write enough, some days I don’t. Overall I am behind, but not so far behind that it’s impossible to make it up. My heart is definitely not in it, though.
This story is bad. I mean, really, really bad. There is a kernel of a seed of an idea that I don’t think is too bad, but everything else around it is as bad as it can possibly get. And also the writing is bad.
For NaNoWriMo, it doesn’t matter if it’s bad or not, and with that attitude I have written plenty of words that are pure, self-indulgent comedy. However, as someone who is actually interested in writing for a living, I am struggling to come up practical lessons to learn from this, and what I can learn by continuing to write something that is obviously bad.
One unexpected writing lesson I have learned is that it is very difficult to write when your main character cannot physically react or move. My character is in a position where she is essentially trapped in someone else’s body, and can only view the world through their eyes. She has no sensory input other than vision, and she cannot express any emotions through typical physical reactions like tears, rapid breathing, blushing, hairs standing up on her arms, shaking fists at someone, punching them in the face, crossing her arms in exasperation, nothing. All she can do is speak. I had no idea how much of a challenge it was going to be to put someone in that position.
It brings up some interesting philosophical/physiological questions. Is it even possible to feel fear if your brain isn’t connected to a heart or lungs? The fight or flight response is extremely physical. Rapid breathing and rapid heartbeat make you better able to run away or punch somebody. Interesting to think about.
As for continuing to write, there is always the possibility that things could improve. I do believe there is a story in here somewhere, so perhaps that is all the motivation I need to keep throwing myself against a brick wall night after night. One day I might find the spark that pulls everything together, even if I only end up with a short story or novella.