As most of my readers know, my husband died suddenly the last week in October. I was devastated. The last thing on my mind was writing.
I had planned to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the month of November. It is a major project where an author sets a goal to write a novel in one month. During the month of October I outlined the novel, explored the characters, created several points of tension and talked it over with Tom. He grinned as I told him about the male protagonist. He knew he was always my model of a great guy in my stories. And in my life.
My NaNoWriMo project was/is a book I call On the Edge of Quiet. It is a book that is on the edge of being Amish. My next attempt was going to be a mystery or suspense novel.
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And I haven’t thought of it since. Not really. I’ve cranked out a few blog posts, polished a few stories in my files and submitted a completed manuscript as well as a children’s book for consideration to a couple of publishers. Nothing really new.
I started A Novel Creation to take my readers through the development of a novel. Yes, I try to include a few general posts about writing and marketing. I try to offer a guest post, the interview of another author, or a book review once a month. But the thrust of the blog is to share the writing experience.
Now is the time to begin writing again. I looked at all I had proposed for the November novel. I analyzed what I could do to jumpstart a work in progress (WIP) when I haven’t touched the manuscript for over three months. I offer these suggestions to you to jumpstart your own writing.
Jumpstarting a stalled work in progress takes more than a jumper cable or a battery charger. A jumper cable is great for stimulating your writing muscle as in using a prompt (Click here to see this blog on using prompts). I would liken a battery charger to a writing retreat, a time to relax, reflect, and recharge.
Now, to jumpstart a WIP, I offer the following suggestions:
Step 1: Read what you have already written. Resist the temptation to edit or revise as you read. Simply try to recapture your initial vision for the project. Reading through the few pages I started in October helped me regain a passion for the story. I did see areas for improvement, but that will come later.
Step 2: Without looking at your original outline, create a new outline. Once you’ve done that, compare your original with the new. I was surprised how my take on the story had changed from the original concept. Part of that may be shaped by the experiences I have had since I began the project. It could also be that I have grown as a writer or a new perspective has been brewing in the back of my mind over the past three months.
Step 3: Reintroduce yourself to your characters. Read the profiles you created for the characters you proposed. With your new perspective, add those characteristics and traits, habits, and physical details you know the characters now need. As I started this process, I found my characters were mostly intact, but I needed to eliminate one of the characters I initially proposed and one character shifted to a less prominent role.
Step 4: Revise those glaring errors in what you first put in print. I don’t always recommend revision this early on, preferring to get the story down first (See Hallee Bridgeman's post on writing in layers.). However, in this process of emerging yourself once again in the story, the process serves to move your fingers forward on the keyboard and stimulate your thought process, which leads us to Step 5.
Step 5: Write. Write daily. Set a goal for each day. It can be a word count you wish to achieve, a time frame in which to write, or even a scene to be completed. The point is to write. You may delete some or all of it later. That’s okay. You are getting that old writing motor going. And that’s what I call SUCCESS.