Today’s guest poster is Dylan Madeley, a freelance writer, editing professional and several time Nanowrimo winner. I hope his words will inspire you to greatness!
* * * *
It’s been a week and two days since we started this thing, you and me.
Chances are, your novel is comparable to mine and many of the others:
it’s a caterpillar.
How you view this caterpillar means a fair deal. You might perceive a
big ugly worm-like thing in front of you every time that you open the
notepad or file. You might feel frustrated that there isn’t a
wonderful, colourful creature instead.
Or you might be more protective. You might say: “This is not just any
caterpillar, but my caterpillar, who is cute and fuzzy and look I have
given him a purple mohawk and/or a bowler hat.” Given that this part
of the novel writing process is absolutely necessary, more power to
you if you’ve found the fun in it. Otherwise, if you find things
dragging already, there’s not yet any need to worry.
Whether you’re one type of person or the other, or a degree in
between, the fact is that you probably have a caterpillar. And how you
feel about this creature going forward matters far more than what it
presently is. You could have the germ of a brilliant concept, a
detailed outline and character profiles at the ready, or you could be
pantsing like me.
I want you to think about how you feel. Disagree if you want, but I
believe that the feeling is where it starts. It’s not that I don’t
wish I had an outline right-frigging-now, but if this doesn’t feel
right, the outline is not going to amount to much.
If you don’t know that feeling, I have all faith that you will find
it. If you’ve felt it before, you’re slightly ahead: you need only
find a way to remember it. What readily accessible thing do you
associate with it? A song, a book, a movie, a conversation with
someone special to you? Some perfectly reasonable thing that hasn’t
occurred to me just now?
This might not be a new idea for you. Many people seem to have an
intuition toward this, even if they never read it anywhere. I log in
to chat and read about an acquaintance who put Hans Zimmer soundtracks
on for inspiration; hopefully that works for them.
Turn that key. Open that door. Before you know it, you’ll find it’s a
beautiful day and you’re riding a unicorn next to the constant tides
of a glittering ocean, rainbows springing toward the sky out of every
hoof-print before the sand has any chance to settle back down. Unless
that isn’t an accurate description of your feeling, of course, in
which case, insert accurate description here.
And don’t worry about how things are now, because it’s not the time
for that. Today’s caterpillars can be tomorrow’s butterflies.