What do you do when you find yourself lost inside your novel? More importantly, what do you do when you’re lost OUTSIDE of it? It’s one thing to feel so immersed in your story that the world around you just doesn’t compare to the time and space of an alternate, imagined universe. It’s something completely different to wake up one morning, think about your story, and realize your connection with your characters has somehow been temporarily severed.
It’s not uncommon to have a day or two when you just can’t bring yourself to sit down and write a few thousand words in your spare time. I didn’t write a single word yesterday – and even though I easily could have after getting back from the movies last night, I just didn’t. Or, rather, I couldn’t. One thing I’ve learned over the past five years of “ultra-noveling” is that you can’t force yourself to write when you don’t want to. It never ends pretty. And I’m all about clean-cut endings.
Except for stories that end in cliffhangers. But that’s a completely different type of ink.
We have good days and we have bad days. There have been days over the past two weeks where I could have sat down and written at least five thousand words straight if it hadn’t been for other commitments and responsibilities. Two summers ago, when I didn’t have any classes to take or internships to upkeep, my novel was essentially my main priority in July. That’s one of many reasons why I was able to crank out 28,000 words in fourteen days. Ask me to do that now, and I’d probably fall asleep on my keyboard. I really don’t want any strange indents on my forehead, thank you very much.
Granted, I was a little loopy on painkillers (thank you, wisdom teeth, for being so deeply impacted inside my jaw). But hey, some of those scenes were the best I’ve yet to write. Not that I’d ever willingly go through that again. I like my cheeks being normal-sized.
So what do I do when I’m lost outside the world I’ve created inside my head? I wait. I sleep and I ponder and I brainstorm. And then, when all my other responsibilities for the day are done, I sit down and see how far my ideas will carry me.
When I’m lost within the mess? Well, that’s the most beautiful thing about writing there could ever be.