Five years ago I participated [and won] my 6th consecutive NaNoWriMo. Now I’m back and feeling a bit intimated, but not nearly as terrified as I thought I would considering the hubs asked me yesterday at lunch whether or not I was going to participate this year.
Then he admitted he would participate if I did.
So, here I am thinking about my project for NaNoWriMo, feeling out the questions and my character’s goals and challenges. Looking internally at his/her landscape, his/her history, and his/her possible futures.
That’s how my process works: first I search out the main character (usually it’s a name and a possible line of work). Then I observe his/her attitude and reaction to others. Then I begin jotting down all I know about them and the questions I have for him/her. Such as, what is his/her relationship with a sibling, or a parent? Does the sibling/parent even know he/she exists? Why or why not?
It all sounds so odd, doesn’t it? Especially considering these are all fictional characters! They don’t exist in any type of universe (unless you subscribe to the ‘Stranger than Fiction’ idea, which is more than a little horrifying for some of my characters…). But that’s how my mind works or, more specifically, that is how I remain interested in the characters and their story. I discover snippets at first and then break through walls and open doors and windows as I’m writing the character’s journey.
I write as much as I can about what I observe with the knowledge and acceptance that much of it may be trimmed and cut away upon future revisions.
Searching for Sara received a hack and slash of at least 60,000 words before it went to print.
My years in NaNoWriMo have shown that I prefer trimming to adding, because one is so much more simple than the other! Coming up with scenes to add after everything is said and done can be a ridiculously difficult expectation to put upon oneself, at least in my experience. For me it is so much easier to write every blessed moment of each day in order to uncover the poignant times in their story. Otherwise, to add an event could have a ripple effect on the entire story, adding frustration and confusion if you haven’t outlined or made notes on the storyline’s key points.
The one habit I am doing my best to avoid is to think about the “do”s and the “don’t”s of writing. That is the one monkey wrench which fouls up my process each and every time. It sucks the life and fun out of every writing moment without fail, which may be why I sometimes allow myself to have a beer or a glass of wine before writing anything other than a blog post (no, I’m only having coffee and cereal at the moment).
So, my hope with this year’s NaNoWriMo is that I can rediscover the joy of writing a character’s story as I used to once upon a time. That one story will blossom to another as I discover more characters whom also need their adventures written. One story always leads to another, either by accident or design matters little.
A writer must write, and NaNoWriMo will help me get back onto that path I once knew so well.
Are you going to NaNo this year?
Nona King is ‘writersprite‘ on the National Novel Writing Month website: NaNoWriMo.org.