By ALYSSA MURPHY
Your favorite time-traveling coffee-consuming columnist about NaNoWriMo for the Williamsport Sun-Gazette is here! I had to be very specific just in case you might have another favorite time-traveling coffee-consuming columnist.
I come from the distant past of Nov. 5.
My Twitter feed is a mix of "Total word count: [insert astronomically high number] #NaNoWriMo," encouragements to vote in Tuesday's election and updates on businesses reopening after Hurricane Sandy.
I like using other people's word counts for encouragement.
Sometimes it's tough, though. When I was insanely proud of my 10,000 words shortly before midnight Friday night, a man I followed also doing NaNoWriMo posted he wrote 50,000 words.
The fact is that while I can feel good about being ahead of some people, I never will be in the lead. I just have to keep doing my best.
Today's column is something anyone who has tried writing can appreciate: those evil plot bunnies and roadblocks.
Evil plot bunnies are the ones that creep up on you when you're so excited about what you're writing about and say in their rabbit-y language: "Hey, isn't this plot really cool? You should write about this one!"
This happened to me on my fourth day of writing.
I was watching the animated movie "Anastasia," about the Romanov grand duchess who may have survived the slayings of her royal family.
"Hey ... psst ... Alyssa ... wouldn't it be so cool to research this and write your own novel about it?" asked that evil plot bunny.
Yeah, it would.
Luckily, it was easy to defeat that plot bunny because I still love my novel.
It's going better than expected. I managed to write more than 15,000 words by the fifth day of the month.
I'm finding out new things every day when I write about my characters and my plot.
Kevin does not go anywhere without his trench coat.
Sparky is an immature 20-something.
My main character, Aria, actually is not the main character in the story, but it's told from her perspective.
That last one really was a surprise. It led me to my first roadblock.
When I realized that Aria, with her kind of lame superpower, was not the star of the novel, I didn't know what to do.
Should I start writing from someone else's perspective?
Should I choose someone who is more important to the story?
I stopped and considered for just a moment getting rid of the whole thing.
Everything in that moment changed. I picked the wrong character.
Before there was a novel, there was Aria with her power, although those who remember last week's column might remember she did not yet have a name.
It was a big obstacle, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to continue the way I started.
A novel from a supporting character's perspective? That's different. That's exciting. Another roadblock I hit daily is not plotting enough.
Sorry, readers, I tried plotting the whole novel before I started and it just did not happen.
I thought with my more than 700 words, I had a good grasp on it and it should take me 1/3 of the way there. Then I could see how the novel was going and adjust.
The truth is, that was about three chapters. I've already written seven chapters.
Every day before I start writing I'm forced to sit there and think, "What's happening in this chapter?" I jot down some notes and then write from that.
I keep telling myself one of these days, I'll do the rest of the plotting.
The truth is, I probably won't.
At least I'm honest.
On those days that I feel frustrated and don't want to write - I had one on the third day of the month where I didn't write anything - I turn to Twitter to help.
Those NaNoWriMo people are great at encouragement. Here's some of the tweets people sent either after I announced how much I wrote or said how much I don't want to write.
"You can do it! Think how nice it would be to get one more day ahead of the goal."
My favorite Tweet came on Halloween when I was sitting at my computer, thinking, "What the heck was I thinking? I can't do that?" That's pretty much what I tweeted and one of my followers replied:
"Don't panic! Everything will be fine. You can definitely do this. It's all fun no pressure. Just write."
Encouragement is like a free cup of coffee. It makes you happy and sometimes, when you're at your lowest, you just need it.
Stay tuned to find out how this month will continue for me and the other people in Williamsport Writers. This column is too long to mention them now, so next week, expect to hear about their fabulous stories.
For more up-to-date information, follow me on Twitter at @Murphy Alyssa.