We’ve passed the halfway mark of November and NaNoWriMo… which means I should have at least 25,000 words written of the requisite 50,0000 if I’m doing the slow and steady wins the race approach. I’ve fully recovered from the half marathon insanity and am still running three times a week – much smaller distances now – and have switched my focus to writing. So why do I only have 8300 words written?!?
I’ve learned several things so far this year. First, there is a huge difference between being six months pregnant and attempting to push through pregnancy exhaustion to stay up late so you can write a novel in a month and trying to find time to write with a 9 month old who is highly mobile and needs constant care. Baby Sister also chose November to decide that by staying on her well-established daytime nap schedule meant staying up until after ten so Mommy can’t write until way late every night; on top of no extra time while she is awake, of course. It is what it is… and it’s one reason I think coffee was invented!
Second, all novel ideas are not created equally. I wasn’t very focused on writing in the weeks leading up to November and didn’t really have a “great” idea for this year’s novel. Last year my idea was amazing and I had several months to work out at least who my characters were and the basic idea of the story. Not this year! I conjured up a little nugget of something based on a “what if” kind of situation and tried to flesh out an entire novel from that nugget. It took me down a path I knew little about so I decided to do some research and tapped into a friend’s vast knowledge of genealogy to help make the story more believable and authentic. She is a natural story teller and the next thing I knew my little nugget had morphed into her version of a story that had little resemblance to what I had first been inspired by – authentic and believable to boot. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I was totally fired up to write THAT story… until a few days into trying to do it when the spark died. The characters were blah, the story was blah and I was not feeling it… at all. And it showed in my dismal word count that didn’t grow much that first week.
So I abandoned that fragment and decided to start writing something else. Remember my first short story? The one that sucked but was packed with tons of emotions? I thought it would be cool to flesh that story out so I started to. But I still didn’t feel it after I wrote the initial opening scene. *sigh* Now what?
At that point I got a really great pep talk in email that somehow was written just for me. Bottom line, NaNoWriMo is not about writing a polished novel and if it is a ton of tangents that you feel like writing and have only a flimsy relation to one another but still add up to 50,000 words then you still did it. Okay, so just keep writing!
What I ended up doing is pulling out the really great idea I’ve been working on for two years and instead of revising – the idea of which overwhelmed me – I decided to start over… again. It began as a mere exercise in rationalization that, in my brain, went something like this:
And several thousand words later I have a fabulous prologue where before there was only a shadow of it. The action starts in a completely different place, the characters are much more believable, and most importantly, I’m inspired again. I’m going to just keep going on the re-write instead of a revision of what I’ve already written. I know what happens in each scene so just re-do them with a different eye this time around. At this point I have to write something insane like 3000 words a day to finish on time but I’m willing to try!
So, although I did move my writing chair to a different spot for a change of scenery hoping to inspire, it is really just the inspiration of a great idea that I really needed. Wish me luck! If you need me, I’ll be writing…