Confession time: I haven’t been writing much lately. Well, I mean, aside from the blog and the emails and all the other crap that constitutes communication nowadays. I haven’t been doing much fiction writing. A few character notes here, some bits of dialogue, a cut scene or two…all for the New Story*. But actual sit down and pound the keyboard writing…not so much.
There’s a reason, of course. And not one of those jackass ones like ‘writer’s block’ or my muse is off taking a powder or whatever. I have the inspiration. I have the urge. I’m just…not.
And don’t think it’s easy. Seems like wherever I look, there’s story ideas walking around in their new fall clothes. Come on, they say. One little chapter won’t hurt. Or how about a short story? Or both? Oh, that got your attention.
I feel like a nun trapped in a bordello.
But there’s a bright side. This period of enforced writerly abstinence has an end goal: November. That’s right. I’m saving all my words for the New Story, which I start next month. Until then, I’m cut off.
This is kind of like Writer Lent: I swear off for an extended period of time and let it all out in one insane burst over a few days.** Because I know that’s what the first few days of NaNo will be like: a broken damn of words. The trick is keeping it going over the whole goddamn month.
That’s where Writer Blue Balls comes in. By expressly not writing, I force myself to do all the other bits. It’s like, “Okay, okay, I won’t write. I can do this. But…maybe some character notes? Yeah, that’s fine. That doesn’t even count. And settings? Pft. They’re okay. It’s not like real writing.”
This is the equivalent of the patch to a chain smoker: it’ll get you through, but there are deeper urges at play. But this is the shit that will keep the story going when I run into one of the inevitable rough patches: the Week One Gas, the Day Ten Cramp, The Halfway Mark Slump, The Last Hurdle Trip. Those are the days I’ll turn to my notes and remember this time with gratitude. Because I’ll know what to do next.
The good thing is that, when I am finally allowed to write again, I will have so much thinking and planning and general obsessing over the story under my belt that writing it…well, that gets to be the easy part. That part will feel like freedom.
*I feel like it deserves the capital letters at this point.
**Anyone who ever had a relative give up booze for Lent knows what this is like.