Trust. Don’t trust me, trust yourself.
Many of my writer pals are gearing up for National Vomit on the Page Month. Sorry, that is my snarky way of describing NaNoWriMo – National Write a Novel Month. The goal is to write every day during the month of November and by the end of the month you will, hopefully, have written a 50,000 novel. Well, let’s be honest, you’ll have a first draft of a novel.
Everyone is using these last few days in October to create their plan of attack: writing outlines, planning plot structures, creating character sketches and back stories, lining up the ducks in nice rows, all the essential planning every writer must do. So, come November 1st, Booyah, the blood letting begins.
I thought I’d put in my two cents (or about 600 words) on what I think is the writer’s most important tool in their pencil case. That tool is trust. Where am I going with this, you ask? Trust me. I’ll take you there.
It is my experience that every novel, story, stage play, or any work of art, has a mind of its own. In the Dramatica Theory of Storytelling, they literally describe it as the Storymind. Your story is a model of a human mind trying to solve a problem. I found this theory liberating in that, I didn’t have to do the heavy lifting any more. I don’t have to dream this up. Somewhere, out there in the imagination, or Image-Nation, my story already existed. All I had to do is be willing enough and diligent enough to take it all down. This is when trust becomes your best writing tool.
You have to trust that your story’s mind is as smart or even smarter than you are. You have to trust that it will reveal itself to you in the way it wants to. So, you dive in and you think the story you’re going to write is a touching, gentle romance between a trans-gendered vampire cowboy and a young rancher girl set in the sweeping Montana landscape. Great. You sit you butt in the chair on November 1st and say, “story, reveal yourself,” and you think about your dreamy cowboy vampire hero. You start to type, but you find yourself writing about some ugly trucker driving some loser bookie off the road in Florida. What? What? What? Where’s the tender romance? Where are the vistas of Montana? Who is this jerk character I don’t like?
This is the moment when you have to trust the process. Because by the time you get to the end of the first draft, you’ll know that trucker is the deadbeat father of the cowboy that your rancher girl falls in love with. It is precisely because his father was a loser, that our cowboy escaped a sordid life on the highways and chose to become a trans-gendered vampire cowboy.
Now, I know this all sounds a little naive. But trust me. I speak from experience. Writing is really re-writing. Once you have that first draft complete is when you really know what your story is and then you begin to work it, to use the rest of the tools in your pencil case: point-of-view, precise language, metaphor, pacing, voice. That’s when you craft out the story you want to tell. But when you trust that your story has a mind of it’s own, that the work becomes a collaboration between the two minds. That is something awesome to behold.
What do you think my lovelies? Do you trust me? Or do you think this is all crap and that you must outline your story within an inch of its margins? No matter what, best of luck to you all, I hope you meet your writing goals and kick some literary ass.