There is something so freeing about being constrained. When you know that you simply cannot go beyond a certain point, it is easier to let yourself go and just enjoy yourself. Think about roller coasters where you spend half an hour securing your seat belts and safety bars for a five minute thrill ride. Once you are that secure it is easy to enjoy the adrenaline rush from plunging 100 feet straight down. Without the safety bar, the adrenaline will only fuel your fear. The same is true in the bedroom. A submissive knows that they can truly let go when they are bound. Then their body is taken care of and they only need to feel the sensations their Dom inflicts upon them. This of course only works when all the safety precautions are taken and respected.

There are many equivalents. The biggest of them is the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Here you strap yourself into a one month challenge to write a novel. There isn’t time to worry about silly things like whether the plot makes sense or if that’s really what the character would do. There’s no time to let the doubts have their say. You have to just go for it. You have to release the catch and plunge headfirst into the story and let the characters have their way with you. Of course there are safety steps you have to take first (fasten your seat belts folks).

1) This is just for fun. You can’t write a good, polished novel in a month – nope you can’t so don’t expect to. At most you will get a workable rough draft, but even that’s not guaranteed. So you will get a rough draft, sometimes it will be worth editing to a lovely polished gem and sending out to editors with the hope of a wonderful publishing contract and sometimes it will be shoved under the bed and laughed about when you tell stories around the campfire.

2) You are the only one who will be disappointed if you don’t make it. That is pressure enough. If you really can’t handle it, don’t. Stop and try again later if you are so inclined. Not every one likes roller coasters – not every writer will benefit from this kind of wild challenge.

3) If you don’t like what you came up with, change it in the editing process. The whole point of this activity is to get something down on paper. There is nothing sacred about what you write at that breakneck speed. All it is there for is to give you something to edit. So if you write a sweet romance about a bunny and a fox who’s love is forbidden by their respective communities, but later you decide that it really works better as a space opera adventure, go for it.

Safeties in place, it’s time to enjoy the ride. In thirty days you are going to go from “oh dear Lady what am I going to do” to “Oh dear Lady I have a story.” The thing is, if you weren’t limited to 30 days, you would probably still be staring at the blank page trying to figure it all out before you set down even one word. That tight (oh so tight) time line doesn’t give you any space for staring at a blank screen. Just like you can’t sit at the top of the roller coaster. It’s going to happen, all you have to do is let it.

I can hear some of you out there worrying about writing yourself into a corner. Yeah it happens. You deal with it and you look back later and wonder what all the fuss was about. This happened to me last year. I was tapping along at breakneck speed and suddenly realized that I’d put one of my view point characters in a situation there was no way for him to survive. Another view point character set off a bomb on the other side of a wall that he was leaning against. I spent about ten minutes trying to find a way out of the situation, but no matter where I put him in the room he was going to die. So I closed my eyes, said I’d fix it in editing and let it happen (went home and sobbed all over my husband who was rather confused until I calmed down enough to explain it).

When I did come back to it later (it still hurt) but I could see that I hadn’t written myself into a corner, but I’d written myself into a climax. That one scene took the silliness of the plot up to that point and made it real for the two remaining characters. No longer could they pretend that it was just a game. While that kind of attitude worked for the beginning of the story, they needed to get it real by the end. This scene that I might not have written if I didn’t have a tight deadline did what the story needed, even though I couldn’t see it at the time.

The lesson here: Trust the story – trust your characters. Let them play with your emotions; let them play in your world. If it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to edit it. More than likely you will write things you wouldn’t have thought of if you’d had time to think and that can be a good thing.

If you aren’t up for the wild ride of NaNoWriMo, there are other versions of restraints for writing to make the creative juices flow. All of them come in the form of challenges.

  • Write in first person without using the word “I”
  • Use someone else’s first line to write your own story
  • Eliminate one of the senses from your story
  • Incorporate random elements into the story (eg: Barbie, Attic, Elephant)
  • Start the story by writing a recipe

All of these put restrictions on your movement, and in so doing pushes you come come up with something you might not otherwise have thought of. That is writing gold. Play around, find what works for you. What limitations make you really think in new ways.

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