I’m in a Glass Case of Emotion

My NaNoWriMo wordcount holds no fear for me, anymore. I’ve written under adverse conditions. I’ve done 5k weekends and 5k Saturdays. I’ve written 11k in a single day, while still going to my day job and getting my work done. And one year I restarted halfway through November and wrote my 50k words in 14 days. I know that I can do this. There’s no question about that anymore. You could ship me to the moon and I would probably get my wordcount in for the month.

So why am I running 2 days behind par? Why am I constantly and consistently writing 500 or 1,000 words a day instead of the 1,667 needed to catch up?

I said last week that 1,667 was just a little too much for me and I need some downtime in between my good days. That pattern is holding. I wrote 5,800 words over the weekend and then promptly fell behind again. It’s not a question of time or energy. I have plenty of both when I’m pacing around my living room not writing. It’s a question of emotion.

When I write, I need to feel emotions. I feel the adrenaline in my character’s body when someone is shooting at her. I feel her heart flutter when she sees Mr. Wright.  And I feel the gut wrenching betrayal that will come when she learns the truth about him. And there’s a certain amount of panic at the thought. My chest gets tight. My face scrunches up. My limbs tell me with every nerve ending they possess that it’s time to run away. Which probably explains why I pace a lot when I’m thinking about my writing.

I’m not very comfortable with strong emotion, you see. It’s something that I have a hard time tolerating. People sometimes describe sadness as a sea. For me, sadness and all of those other emotions are a great big ocean that I’m living in the middle of, on a little island, below sea level, with a rickety dam built all around to keep the feelings back. Let in a little bit, and the rest will break through the dam and flood me.

I have a highly developed ability to keep it all bottled up so that I never feel more than a small wave to rock my boat. But I need those emotions when I write. In a safe way, so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I have to willingly pull a small part of them up out of me and use them up before their big brothers come looking for them. And I don’t always trust that I can do that.

And if this is all sounding a bit melodramatic to you, I’m right there with you. My point, if I’ll ever get around to it, is that writers all write differently. Some of them work best on cloudy days, some in their writing sheds, some only on weekends. I write best in short bursts. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. One Band-Aid equals about 400-500 words. Now imagine how many Band-Aids you can tolerate ripping off of your skin one after another after another and you’ll get an idea of why I don’t hit par every day.

But what I really need is an external deadline and a combination of enough passion for the project and just enough panic that it overwhelms everything else and short-circuits my emotions so that I can write. That usually kicks in around week three for me. Until then, I rip off a few Band-Aids here and there when I can stand it. And my wordcount slogs on.

Dianne Williams lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries and classic science fiction. She once dreamed of being an astronaut. Or maybe a lawyer. Or an artist. She settled for being as many of them as she could all at once through fiction writing.

 

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