I quit NaNoWriMo.
*Accepts condolences* But don't feel too bad for me. :) I haven't thought about it much at all, and when I do, I feel surprisingly okay about it. And besides—I did manage to get 20,000 words down for my Snow White retelling. That's something.
I admit I have been a little curious as to why I suddenly felt so unmotivated for my story. After all, the I won NaNo last year and completed Camp NaNo this spring, too! I think there was actually more than one reason that my NaNo was unsuccessful this year, but I want to talk about one specific thing, something I'm sure we ALL struggle with.
I'm going to call it "writer's comparison".
Let me illustrate. 'Hem. Once Upon a Time, you may stumble across a brilliant story idea. You think about this idea constantly, you spin out a plot, dream cast your characters and save any picture that reminds you even remotely of your story. All's going well, you're about ready to write and then....
And then it happens. Those glorious daydreams just won't translate themselves to the page, and you're left wondering if your story wasn't all that great after all. Your characters won't DO what you thought they would. They're boring and unoriginal and-and-and why is it your brain has only three phrases for describing character actions: "he looked up" "he smiled" "he looked away" ??!
But, faithful to your original love, you try to plod along with your story.
Until that day.
Unsuspecting of your impending doom, you settle down to watch a new movie or read a new book. You fall utterly in love with it. Something about the characters, or the plot, or the dialogue just speak to your soul.
Then you sit down to write and find that........... you can't.
You can't even write those stupid little phrases you find yourself overusing. You can't because....you don't care. You feel no interest in your precious story. No love. No excitement.
Why is this? Well, I'll tell you. Because writer's comparison
is the thief of joy has left you feeling that your own story is utter trash and nothing you can do will make it as good as the story you just fell in love with.
You'll now have to retreat to the woods and abandon your plans of becoming a published author because it's hopeless at this point. You're lost forever. Bye-bye.
|probably Arthur's actually reaction|
*end example story*
(but stick around for the happy ending)
Yup, that's what happened to me this NaNo. It's happened before, to be honest. And I'm QUITE certain it will happen again.
You see, my brother and I have been slowly watching all the Marvel movies and in the middle of November we finally watched Captain America: Civil War*, which was SO AMAZING WHAT EVEN (hopefully I can share some of my thoughts in a different post someday:)). Not only did it break my heart and crush my soul and leave me hopelessly in love with Bucky Barnes, it left me with very little writing inspiration because....
(say it with me)
I can't help but compare my characters to the characters of CACW. Steve Rogers. Bucky Barnes. Tony Stark. Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton,Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson, Peter Parker, and the list goes on and on and on.
Those characters are FUN and inspiring and really precious to me. They've made me cry, laugh, and just plain happy. They're like a group of new best friends and I love them all so much.
So, when I sit down with my own characters, I can't help but compare them to the Avengers.
And I then have no motivation to write, because my characters feel stupid and boring compared to the Avengers.
And so I hide from my characters, and quit NaNoWriMo.
|forgive me, Arthur, I've disappointed you|
It's really disappointing how bad your own story feels after reading or watching a really good one.
At least, that's what happens in my experience. Rather than inspire me to better my writing, I feel like I'll never love my stories the way I love Captain America: Civil War. Or Lord of the Rings. Anne of Green Gables. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
THE COMPARISON POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS, FRIENDS.
But today, while taking my dogs for a walk, a thought struck me. Or, more to the point, a phrase.
My characters are important.
If Captain America inspires me, who's to say Arthur* may not inspire someone else?
If Bucky Barnes can break my heart who's to say Neven* might not break someone else's?
If Tony Stark makes me laugh, who's to say Henry* may not make someone else laugh as well?
I never quite thought of it this way before.
*Neven, Arthur, and Jacob are all characters from my retelling of Princess and the Pea, set to be published someday before I die, here's hoping.
Even if I do "fall out of love" with my own characters sometimes, well, that's okay. They're still my characters, and I'm in this for the long run with them. It's what we writers sign up for when we put pen to paper.
Even if I my characters never impact me the way Captain America or Frodo Baggins or Elinor Dashwood do, that's okay.*
Because my characters may impact someone else.
*For the record, I'm not saying my characters haven't impacted me. Because they have. But sometimes it's easy to forget that, I think.
I read a quote once that said something like,
"Remember. You're writing someone's future favorite character."
Think about that.
All of my favorite characters—characters who encourage me, inspire me, and keep me hopeful—were all once just ideas in someone's head.
Just like the characters in your head—and mine—are now.
Your characters are important. Don't ever give up on them.
Because someday...they may inspire someone else not to give up, too.
|this is beautiful <3|
So, the moral to this story? Don't give up. Those spells of writer's block or low-inspiration moments will pass.
And as for me, I may have failed NaNo, but that doesn't mean I've failed my characters. I'm going to keep helping them along in their story. Because someday, I want you all to meet them and feel as inspired by them as I will be by your characters.
Keep writing, writers.