This month, twice a week, we’ll be offering advice from NaNoLand (read more in our initial blog post!). Our second session includes questions about how to write without internet access, and whether you can write romance without ever having been in love… Require some wisdom of your own? Ask us here!
Dear NaNoWriMo, I’m going camping the first two weekends of November! It’s crucial that I be there. No internet service. What do I do? – Worrying in Whitney
First of all, I am intrigued by the importance of these trips. Are you part of some covert camping ops team? Or are you just really into s’mores? Either way, I have a few thoughts on your predicament.
As soon as you get to your campsite, carve this into a nearby log: “I don’t need the internet to write a novel. In fact, it can often be an unwelcome distraction. I’ll get along just fine.” Hopefully, you’ll be so consumed by your new interest in woodwork that you’ll forget NaNo entirely. But if that doesn’t happen, read over those words. They’re totally true. Many successful writers actually disable their internet connections so they can get words on the page. You’re lucky to be in a situation where you won’t even have to exercise that self-control; your camping weekends make the choice for you.
That said, there are some challenges here. If you’re a laptop writer, be sure you’ve planned some kind of battery-charging situation. (Maybe this crazy thing?) You’ll also need to figure out how to best track your word count since you won’t be able to do it online. I like the idea of stacking rocks or marking notches for 1,000-word milestones—but a pocket notebook will work just fine, too.
And yes, you might miss some word sprints. But many of us internet-addled novelists are envious of you getting to sit in nature and create for a few days. This time is a gift; use it to get truly absorbed in what you’re making this month. Also, you might see a bear. (Please let me know if you see a bear.)
Can I write good romance if I’ve never fallen in love?
This could not be a better question. My short answer? Hell yeah; superstars do what they want.
I’ve got a longer answer, too: when I was in my early-twenties, I wrote a novella about a robot that falls in love. Yeah, yeah, it’s well-worn sci-fi territory, I know; but as a fresh graduate of college, with not a single long-term relationship under my belt (yeahh, boy), the story became important to me, and something that was constantly on my mind. Your question inspired me to go find the email I sent around to my friends about it, actually:
Hey guys, this is totally random, sorry; I’m writing something.
So, if someone who doesn’t think that romantic love exists asked you to define it, what would you say? I know it sounds like kind of a hokey question, but it would help me a lot. Is there something you heard once, or read, or maybe even something you witnessed that stuck with you, or resonated with you about love? I know for me, my mom drilled it into my head that love is tied to persistence, that it’s the act of choosing and continuing to choose. That’s always stuck with me.
ANYWAY. LOVE. I know it’s a reaaaaaaaaaaally cheesy discussion and this email is disjointed as heck, but look past my lameness.
The ensuing conversation from my best friends, some of whom I’d known since high school, was incredible, and enlightening, and hilarious (One friend attached graphs he’d drawn in Paint. Real smart, Joe.). More importantly, it deepened my personal thoughts about love, what I wanted, what I was allowed to expect, where I needed to be flexible.
The thing about writing is that it offers you the chance to explore a whole world contained inside your brain. A side-effect is that you get the chance to know your inner-realms a little bit better.
You may not have real-world experience yet, but I’m willing to bet you know more about what your brand of love is than anyone else. Not only can you write a romance, you should. Why not take the chance to think about why you write your MC’s relationship the way that you do, why the obstacles you throw in their way seem troubling to you. Build up a bulwark and foundation, and when you do meet the right person, whoever he or she may be, you can bring to the table a rough draft of what it means to love someone. Editing’s always better with a partner, anyway.
Got any tips about writing while traveling, or writing romance? Weigh in below!
Photo by Flickr user EnvironmentBlog