Word Grinder

You’re on your word processor, notebook, typewriter (I kid you not, there’s a guy at the NaNo gatherings using one of these), tablet, etc. The page is in front of you, there are words, and they are terrifying. Why? Because those words read a little like this:

Jim went to the anchor. He pulled it up. The weight was heavy in his hands. He became sweaty. “I can’t do this,” he muttered. Finally it was on the deck, and all was right in the world. They could leave port and sail off into the ocean. Blah blah blah. And dear Lord, why am I writing? Who is going to read this? Could I have anymore ‘it’s or ‘they’s? Of course I could. If only my fingers would fall off.

The words are like that anchor. You use the same ones, it’s not going anywhere, the story couldn’t become more boring unless you truly put some dedication into it. You have that cadence of noun, verb, noun, as if you were writing for an exam in middle school. People don’t read that. Obviously talented writers can’t write that. So why are you wasting your time?

Because writers do write like that. There is a point where they don’t want to be at that desk, typing the words, and the more they write, the more horrified they become that the words just won’t sing. But it’s a rough draft. It’s going to suck. Accept this. Say it out loud. “My first draft sucks.” Now exhale. It’s okay.

Why am I writing about this? Because I reached this point. It’s bad enough I can’t figure out how to get from where I am to where I want the book to end, even though I’m maybe two chapters away from where the resolution should be. It’s bad enough that I realized I have pretty much only scenes that advance the plot and the characters are two dimensional because I lost my stupid black notebook with all my scenes nicely laid out and I pantsed it for about 20,000 words. It’s bad enough that my right wrist is in a lot of pain. It’s not quite carpel tunnel, but I’ve been told by a chiropractor what it is, and I still dislike it a great deal. And I can’t find my wrist brace. But on top of all this, my words are not singing to me. I sit at the computer, putting words on paper, with a few glimpses of brilliance, but generally just writing out a scene and watching my word count to make sure I hit my goal.

You might have reached this point. You could feel like a complete hack. But guess what? We all are on that first draft. NaNoWrimo is like a hot dog eating contest. You’re not trying to eat the most beautiful and delicious hot dog ever created. Just throw them down your throat as quickly as possible.

The manuscript will need editing. By all that is good, mine will need so much editing. Tears will be shed and deities will be called out as to why such an abomination would be permitted to leave finger tips. But keep grinding those words, because if you don’t, if you don’t get through the bloodshed of first (second…third…fourth….) drafts, you’ll never see the polished diamond at the end. Remember, the diamond just looks like a clump of something covered in dirt when it’s first found. It takes work to refine it into something you’d use in a proposal. And by all that is good, if that manuscript couldn’t seal a “Will you marry me?” then edit it again! Just kidding.

So grind out those words. Keep punching your keyboard in the sweets until you have your word count, and then punching it some more. Because you need those words, even if they’ll be hacked away later. Because without a rough draft, you can’t have a published novel.

Note: This was entirely to motivate me that it’s okay to suck. Because right now my writing is really sucking. Not my story. It’s a great story that’s forming. It’s just written by a small child. And even small children have written better things than this. But I do hope this helped motivate you and realize you’re not the only one going through issues. Keep writing! 40k/50k. Almost there. Hoping to hit 42k tonight. If I’m not mistaken by day’s end, everyone should at least be at 32k or so. If not, you still have time! Thanksgiving isn’t for family: it’s for writing 5k-10k words a day! I kid. Kind of.

2 Comments on “Word Grinder

    • I will hunt it down! Today’s by Lev Grossman was also pretty good. Borrowed some of the concepts. Hope your writing is going well. Thanks for stopping by.

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