If you've been following this blog for at least a year, or have known me since 2012 and are aware of the time of year, you'll know that I am gearing up for the most (or one of the most) maddening challenge a writer can partake in.
Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)!
For those of you
who haven't been following this blog, or if you haven't known me
since 2012, I am a writer. I've been doing it since I was old enough
to write the stories in my head down on paper. It is a beautiful
hobby and a large part of my life revolves around it. It is also
quite challenging and insane. I am insane! Most artists are. We're
not clinically insane, but our lives are tremendously different –
we feel our way through life, our minds are always buzzing about our
next major (or minor) project, and we're... we're just different. And
we're unapologetic about it. At least I am.
And for those who
don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it's a month-long ordeal that
challenges writers to write 50,000 words between November 1st and
November 30th. Yes, 50,000 words is a lot of words, and yes, we're
insane to undertake this, but insanity was already established in the
previous paragraph. The goal is insane, but it is achievable. Many of
my friends have achieved it many, many times over. Unfortunately, I
am not among them. I have attempted the challenge since 2012, and
have yet to clear 30,000 words for the month. Maybe this is my year.
How does one
prepare for this insane challenge? Well, I can't speak for everyone,
but I can speak for myself. I am a habitual planner. I plan the crap
out of everything I write, including fanfiction. Okay, maybe I don't
plan the crap out of everything, but I do plan. I plan,
at the very least, the main scenes that are going to be the driving
force of the story. I figure out who my characters are, and create
their back-stories so they can drive those scenes. Once I have my
major plot points, I let my characters guide me from point A to point
B and beyond. Sometimes the path they chose is twisty and hilly and
convoluted, but they, eventually, get me where I'm going.
I used to be a
pantser. A pantser is someone who writes by the seat of their pants.
They start writing and see where it goes. I used to be like that.
But, I ended up with more unfinished stories than I knew what to do
with. However, I also know several people who have won NaNoWriMo with
a pantsed novel.
There is no right
or wrong way to write. If you are a habitual planner (and
subsequently, a world-builder), that's awesome! If you are a pantser,
that's awesome too! The most important part of NaNoWriMo is simply
starting. You can't write the novel you never start.
I also find
stocking up on tea, hot chocolate, and food is immensely helpful for
navigating the highs and lows of November. Staying caffeinated and
well-fed (especially well-fed) is essential to just surviving the
chaos that inevitable ensues. And when I say there are highs and
lows, I mean it. You will have days when nothing short of the apocalypse can stop you. And, you will have days when the apocalypse is in full force inside your head and writing is nigh impossible. I
know this, because I've been there. Back in 2013, I had a 5,000 word
day. I surprised myself! And it felt wonderful! It felt amazing. But,
that was only a one-time deal. I haven't had a 5,000 word day since.
I've had a couple of 2,000 word days, but nothing quite so tremendous
as that 5,000 word one. I've also had many, many lows. I've had zero
word days, and days when I've struggled to keep focused. Any of my
friends will be able to tell you that, sometimes, I have the
attention span of a goldfish. This is due to my ADD, and some days
are worse than others. I also struggle with dark moments when I doubt
myself a lot. That doubt manifests itself in an inability to write
when I really need to. This is when I'm glad I don't hole myself in
my room for NaNoWriMo. I meet other writers to write with because of
these low days. I often need the encouragement, to hear the voices of
my friends telling me not to give up and to keep writing. The advice
doesn't always sink in, but it helps knowing I have people cheering
in my corner, people I will cheer on in return.
Oh, and something else that helps? My ever-present, all-round comforting, mascot, Perry. He's my NaNoWriMOwl!