Read Words, Kids

I just realized: I post a lot about recovery.  Recovering from writer's block, recovering from too much writing, recovering from mistyping 'recovering' nearly three times in a row...  I've posted almost as many recovery posts as wrap-ups.  For me, recovery is important.  I don't have lightning to call from the sky.  I don't have a big green monster within me who can take over when I get tired.  I don't have a suit to protect me from the punches.  I've got spandex, which takes almost as much recovery (mostly mental) as any of the shots I've taken.

Barton knows how I feel.  Romanoff knows how I feel.  Coulson knows how I feel-- far too well (I mean him getting shot, not the fan stuff).  You get shot, you get kicked, you take a fall-- after that, you're no use to anyone until you take some time to recover.

Unfortunately, recovery doesn't only apply when bad things happen.  Sure, getting Mj√∂lnir in the side hurts more than anything, but even something as simple as a push-up, or a punch, can bring you an ache the next day.  It doesn't matter if you were punching Loki back into the void.  Despite your good intentions, even the best and most fun activities can take a toll.

NaNoWriMo is one such activity.  Weeks of words, days of dialogue-- this month of madness, as wonderful as it is, takes time.  It takes energy.  It takes enthusiasm.  Somehow, you have to recover from that.  Sometimes, you don't want to recover.  Sometimes you want to ride the wave of euphoria into edits, tackling the novel the same way you wrote it.  Perseverance, unfortunately, will not help you now.  No matter the dedication, there comes a point when you'll hit a wall.

But I'm not here to talk about taking a break.  I'm here to talk about recovering, which can happen even if you keep pushing.  How do you recover from putting down so many words in a single month?

Read.  Read, read, read.  Take a good book you love and read it again.  Take a book a friend has recommended to you and read it for the first time.  Read without looking under the surface for the nuts and bolts of character and plot.  Read with a crazy eye for detail that picks out metaphors in the main character's hairstyle.  It doesn't matter how you read, as long as you read.

Unfortunately, watching movies won't work the same way.  Often, even the best movie won't instill in you the same feeling as a good book.  Movies are hard to make, with hundreds of people working on a single two hours.  Actors, writers, directors, not to mention the guy who has to order lunch for everyone during a long day-- watching a movie, while it gives you character and plot and setting, is not the same.

But a book...  You get a special feeling reading a book, something that you enjoy.  You wrote one of those.  It's all there, on your computer or in a notebook somewhere-- and someday, it could be published, in the hands of another new writer like you were two months ago.  That book is your future (unless it's a bad book, in which case you have my permission to pick a different future).

Something about seeing the words there on paper, telling you a story, empowers you.  Seeing a book as a finished project reminds you what you were fighting for during November.  You have a first draft, but it's not quite there yet-- time to turn it into something publishable.

Read.  Read, read, read.  It inspires you.  It reminds you of your love for words and the stories they tell.  It shows you the power writers can have with just a pen and a notebook-- the power you've already experienced.  This is your recovery from a month of wonderful madness.

And once you've read something, go write something new.

~Captain America