My NaNoWriMo “novel” isn’t much of anything. It’s about a bazillion words too short, and I doubt I catch up, but what I have so far is making me happy. It’s more or less a massive brain dump, in which bits of fiction and nonfiction are interspersed with no organization whatsoever. In other words, if I thought it, I wrote it. If I suddenly thought of something entirely different from what I was writing previously, I made a new paragraph and wrote that, too.
There aren’t any rules, so the “novel” is filled up with stuff like this:
He once smoked. When he blew the ring of smoke out of his mouth, I could see through it and into your eyes. You were probably smoking the same cigarette, breathing the same air, just halfway across town and standing in a different Walmart, a different strip mall, beside a different pickup truck.
I’m hoping that one of these odd snippets can be the basis for a story, or get me back on track with the story I was writing, but most of them are attempts to figure something out. (Although I don’t know what that something is.) If I don’t think while I write, there’s a good chance the writing and the feelings behind it are genuine because they are coming directly from my subconscious mind.
It’s liberating to write that way, without consciously thinking about it. You sometimes find things that surprise you. One technique for writers is called the Morning Pages, in which you write three pages a day in a stream of consciousness. It’s supposed to get your brain started, and from what I’ve experienced, it works. So I’m treating this NaNo like the Morning Pages.
How’s your NaNoWriMo going?
This is the first year that I haven’t felt enthusiastic about participating in NaNoWriMo. It’s not that my idea isn’t any good (because ideas are only as good as how well they are implemented) but that I have too many ideas, and I think trying to jam them all into a single story would not work out so well.
I haven’t written anything of any substance in a very long time, so I’m out of practice. When I sat down to write my first 1,667 words yesterday, writing just didn’t feel the same as it had in the past. The story and the characters didn’t bring me any joy. Maybe that just means I have the wrong story idea, or that eventually the story might come around and interest me the more I write.
Part of me feels like I have already written the best stories that I will ever write, and I shouldn’t bother creating new drafts but revising ones I already have. That’s probably not true because there have got to be some more good stories still lurking around in my subconscious mind. It’s just a matter of finding them.
So I’ll get back to my NaNoWriMo story now and try to get into it. If it doesn’t work out, there’s no rule against changing paths halfway through!
It has been a long time since I’ve written anything of any substance or length. Since then, I’ve learned that uninterrupted writing time really is a luxury, and you may think it’s easy to make time for it, but it’s not, especially when you have a million other things pressing at your brain from all angles. They tell you to write a few words here and there, just to get something down, but I find that I can’t get into the story that way. I need to sit down with it for a long time and immerse myself in it.
NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and I’m hoping it gives me the spark I need to really start writing again. Last year’s NaNo was the only one I ever lost (but a loss is never truly a loss in NaNo), and I want to make sure it’s the only one I lose. Still, 50,000 words seems like an impossible dream.
The only strategy I have is the one I used when I wrote 2013’s NaNoWriMo story: use the morning to my advantage. Because I recently moved, my commute to work was cut down from an hour to 30 minutes. It used to take me only about 30 minutes to hammer out 1,667 words per day (the minimum daily word count to reach 50,000), so if I can get to work 30 minutes earlier, I can use that uninterrupted time to write. (There is one other crazy, overzealous person besides me in the office at 6:30 in the morning.)
Now, about that story idea… I don’t even know if I have one yet. (But that will be a separate post!)