The Busy Weekends history of Nano…
This is my 8th year doing Nanowrimo. Even though I’m not as focused on my writing as I have been in years past, Nanowrimo always teaches me so much about myself and my creative habits that I don’t think I could ever stop doing it. Sometimes around July I think, “maybe I’ll skip Nano this year, I have only written one story all year and I never even finished it,” but as soon as October hits I’m excitedly visiting the forums and generating ideas.
My two best years were ’08 and ’10, not because I won but because I was really involved with the stories. 2008 was a novel based on a family history legend that I had huge grand plans to turn into a trilogy, but as soon as they had to make the trek from England to America I lost steam. I don’t know anything about boats! How can you write an interesting story about months-long travel on a ship if you don’t know anything about how a ship is run or how people may have acted in 1692? It didn’t occur to me just to skip it and keep writing in America. 2010 was a steampunk-type adventure fantasy about a girl traveling and thieving her way to finding her missing father. I loved that story and those characters are still my favorites. I even cosplayed as one at an anime convention once. Cosplaying your own characters, yep. Never finished that one either because once November ends and half of the entire Nano community stops writing, I lose a lot of my own motivation.
The fire that fueled these two is what keeps me writing even with half an idea formed. It’s very exciting to write a novel after you’ve gotten past the first 5-10k words. Things start to fall in place, your characters actually start to say fun/brilliant things, and suddenly you come up with all these really great ideas for subplots and story lines that seriously? you have no idea where they came from, but you are going to hoard them like a lovesick squirrel. That rush to get words out, the excitement of being involved in something that feels like it’s bigger than you (even though it’s all coming from your brain)– that’s why I do Nanowrimo every year, and why I love it, and why it made me understand how much I love writing and art!
What are you writing about this year?
I’m not much of a planner. Sometimes (this year included) I’ll have an idea around the beginning of October, but I’ve learned not to marry it… more often than not, I’ll have another idea at 11pm October 31 and write about that instead. It’s not always a better idea… but I go with what I’m motivated to write, not with what I planned to write. 🙂
This year I’ve had the idea to write about a 31 year old guy who lives with fairies, but he doesn’t know he lives with fairies. That’s about the extent of my planning. I’m reading/reviewing fairy tales to refresh my sense of the fairy world so I can write their part well enough but I don’t have a plot in mind, or anything. I’ve finally learned not to force a plot. It’ll come if it wants to, and if it doesn’t, that’s okay too. (Some years I’ve had a full outline before October even started, some years just a one-line idea like this one. There doesn’t seem to be any reliability in which one “wins,” because I’ve lost and won both methods!) I can still manage to write 50,000 words worth of analytical thoughts… I probably do this every month in my emails anyway!
The novel is tentatively called The Daytime Boy and it’s loosely based on The Day Boy and The Night Girl by George MacDonald. It only resembles that story in the title and the fact that Bear (my main character) doesn’t like to be out at night… for now. Who knows what November might bring?
Who’s the best character in your Nano novel?
Since right now I only have one in mind, I’m not sure yet. I don’t think he’ll be the best, though. In fact I think he might be quite irritating, when all is said and done. In past Nano experiences I’ve learned not to expect too much of my characters before I start writing their stories. He’ll get his words out in November, and then I can decide which one is best!
What advice would you give to all your fellow Wrimos?
Keep writing. I know it seems so basic, but of all the blocks and issues I’ve encountered doing this for so long, the only one that ever made me fail was when I stopped writing. Even when you don’t like your plot anymore or your characters are going in a different direction than you’d hoped, keep writing. Trust your intuition and your brainpower to connect things. If you have to, jump into a different part of the story or start writing from a different character’s perspective. Try new things and learn your personal tricks for continuing… It sometimes seems like you wasted a lot of time writing whatever path you were writing that got you to that road block, but think of it as life. Just because you hit a dead end doesn’t mean you give up. Let your characters survive in another way! You might surprise yourself with how easy it is to find “the right story” just by changing your intent.
Also, donate earlier rather than later. Even if you don’t finish your novel, donate so that others can get the same experience you’ve had, and so that young writers get the motivation to use their imagination to expand their minds. Even just $10 will do, if you’re poor, and I say earlier rather than later because at the end of Nanowrimo you’re not thinking of ways to help the program regardless of your experience– you’re starting to think of winter holidays. So donate now! Today! Go!
Sneaky Ninja question! What do you have in your pockets right now?
Wrist warmers that I made out of socks. It’s not quite cold enough to wear them, but I keep them in this sweater at all times just in case. They’ve come in handy on more than one occasion — in the DC area, weather changes dramatically within hours, if it wants to.
A fortune I received on November 5 last year. Fairly relevant. 🙂