If you’re a writer, you probably have one or a dozen stories cooking on your big 14 burner stove. So what if 7 of them are on the back burners and another three stay simmering on super low? The point would be that our heads are always wondering how some set of circumstances will play out. Right?
Last year, I stuck my fingers in my ears on November 1st and willed myself not to participate. I didn’t have a story, didn’t want to get sucked up in the crazy NaNo vortex trying to figure out how I was going to come up with 50,000 words.
On day four of (and incidentally, my daughter’s birthday) while minding my own business, and doing my pay me dance at the 925, (okay, really, I was chopping tomatoes) and one of my coworkers says, “The planet would be a much better place if everyone over 50 was dead.”
What? How would that even be possible? And just like that, my mind started running down all the despicable ways that a wicked world government might possibly annihilate an entire 2.5 generations. My mind took off, like the dogs seeing the rabbit at the racetrack. I couldn’t write fast enough. I even developed a book cover I loved to further inspire me. I hit 50k a full 5 days ahead of the 30th.
Wonder how I made such good time? There is no prewriting, and I hold fast to that rule, but aside from that, I’m not a purist. When it comes to first drafts, anything goes, and all words count toward the 50k word count. If I want to spend 1000 words defining a character, I do. Sometimes it turns into a scene, or a conversation, which is even better. Dialog is fantastic for brainstorming. You never know what a character will say (Especially an angry character) and it often takes the story in a different direction. Sometimes I’ll have only vignettes, what a character is thinking. How do they dress? What’s in their pockets or purse? Who is their enemy? Who else is in the story? What are your character’s motives? What are their goals and dreams? How many characters do you have?
Once I start down a path, I don’t throw it over and start a new story. I stick with one story. Always.
A writer friend, who later became my husband, once told me, if you don’t have a linear story, write the parts you do know. Then later, you can find ways to string them together. (This has worked amazingly well for both of us.) On more than one occasion, I wrote a part later that needed to happen earlier. It’s wonderful how the mind works to build a story. Writing challenges ought to prick the brain. I love to challenge myself and 50 thousand words in 30 days is perfect. NaNoWriMo is the perfect venue to write with reckless abandon. Just rack up words. You can sort it out later! One of my favorite quotes of all time is from James Thurber. “Don’t get it right, just get it down.” Words I live by. More words to live by: Butt in Chair, Fingers on Keys.
And if you are lucky enough to write a linear, polished story by the end of the month, you will find many opportunities to preserve your diamond in print! So, who’s with me? Just go look around, think about it. Preregister. It makes life easier. But if you take the plunge, look me up. JuliOcean. Let’s be writing buddies! I’ll encourage you!