Camp NaNoWriMo: Week 4

I hear that

This week’s theme: epiphanies.

If I was Ira Glass, I’d have lots of insights into human nature, a soupcon of charm, and a very relaxing voice (soooo…soooothing…). But I’m not Ira. I have minimal insights into my own life, let alone humanity as a whole, an awkward charm that’s less charm and more awkward, and a voice that’s frequently described as having a New England accent, which I don’t really understand.

No, seriously, what does that mean? Do I sound like Katherine Hepburn or something? The calla lilies are in bloom…

Back on target: epiphanies. The moment when things suddenly become clear. While they’re all important, I’m talking specifically about writing epiphanies. Where, as a writer who has slaved away at a manuscript for weeks, months, years,  all of a sudden something clicks into place.

Maybe it’s a character, someone that’s been giving you problems and keeps dominating a scene or refusing to play nice with others. I find that all my character breakthroughs come when I’m writing their dialogue and, completely unintentionally, something as simple as a word I hadn’t planned on slips in. And that word completely changes their speech structure. Which then changes how they act while they’re speaking. Which then changes their motivations and goals.

Or maybe your epiphany is plot. Plot epiphanies seemingly come out of nowhere, changing everything but also suddenly making sense. I find it hard to remember what I was thinking about to trigger these kinds of epiphanies. If I could, I would bottle it and sell it for millions of dollars. And I would totally Scrooge McDuck-it and dive into piles of money I made from bottled inspiration.

But it’s the best feeling, a relief, when a puzzle piece to your plot falls into place. It’s the best you can ask for at any point in your writing, but especially when you’re on a deadline.

Well then, what do you do when that epiphany eludes you, when you feel like the muses are mocking you? Do you just give up and wait? Settle for the first crappy idea you have? Make some conciliatory cake?

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Take a Walk: walking gets the blood flowing, gets your brain away from your work, and creates endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don’t kill their husbands.
  • Take a Nap: yup. Nap. Like when you were a kid. And you will suddenly remember why you used to love them so much.
  • Make a List: write down all your ideas. All of them. Every one. Even the terrible one’s you think you’ll never use. Just get them out of your head.
  • Eat a Snack: recharge! Power up! Coffee and cookies! Or, you know, whatever gets you happy and pumped up…
  • Skip to a Random Part in Your MS: pick a page at random and start reading. Thinking about something other than the scene you’re stuck on might kickstart something.
  • Animal Sacrifice: actually, I don’t recommend this. Unless the animals are marshmallow peeps, and you are the angry god they are sacrificed to.

So, if you’re like me and in the final crunch of Camp NaNoWriMo, I hope you get the epiphany you need to push through to the finish line.

Now, back to my MS and epiphany manufacturing.

I love it when the camera zooms in on your face

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