Ah, the dreaded Week Two! Until a couple of days ago — as predicted (see The Seven Stages of NaNoWriMo) — I was riding the fine line between glory and failure. All of those lovely words that sprung joyously from my fingertips during Week One hadn’t yet formed into a perceptible story, and the work-write-sleep-work-write-sleep routine was starting to wear on me. I was over it.
Until I took one of the most productive showers of my life. Instead of cranking up my current go-to Pandora station, I opted for a silent cleansing. And somewhere between washing my face and my hair – in other words, as soon as I stopped banging my head against the proverbial literary wall – the ideas came tumbling out of my brain, all clamoring to be heard. (My next invention: waterproof voice-activated recording device.) By the time I was toweling off, I’d worked out several stymieing story issues and even plotted out the end of my novel.
Later that evening – buzzed on red wine and revelation, and with the help of my patient boyfriend – I continued to hash out a number of other plot challenges. Of course the main character would find the missing girl’s diary! Of course the neighbor’s dog would sense a disturbance in the space-time continuum! Once I’d tapped the well, I could barely hold back the flow of ideas. It felt fantastic.
I could have ended this post right here, with me soaring high among the clouds of inspiration. But lest my fellow writers begin to loathe me for my Pollyanna, sunshine-and-lollipops demeanor, I will disclose this: less than 36 hours after my remarkable shower, small black nuggets of doubt began to pop up in my mind. Was my plot even believable? Would anyone actually want to read this story?
While far from pleasurable, these moments of doubt are an essential part of the creative process. They keep us asking questions and improving our work. The trick, of course, is learning to trust your own constructive critic and shut out the internal naysayer. And that’s where patient boyfriends (and other good folks) come in handy.