I wish I would have known about Writing Month earlier in my life. Last year was the first time that it entered my consciousness and I found out, this is the most fun you can have with a word processor! Last year, I wrote a novel (first draft) in a month. Well technically, I finished in 25 days due to a 2000 word-a-day goal and extensive word padding. I spent the month of November pondering characters and plot twists and it was a party in my head.
How did I do it? I used a few weeks in October reading about how to outline a novel, tips on narration and how to build three-dimensional characters. Mostly, I wrote about what I knew with a lot of creative vandalism. I used an outline, made character sketches and wrote from my gut until the sun came up. Then, I put it away. I had a couple of things that I didn’t have solutions to in my head. So, I let it percolate and jotted down notes when inspiration struck me. Usually, when I was in the middle of something else, so I had to run to my phone or notebooks and scribble some bullet points so I wouldn’t forget.
During Camp NaNoWriMo, in August, I read my draft and started round one of editing my first novel. It was cringe worthy – but some of it was touching and funny – so much so, that I wondered if I have really written it. It is now ready for an intensive clean up, editing, rewrite session but not yet.
All this thinking about writing this past year, not to mention reading all the books has really put my mind on alert for stories. I mean that is what my blog is about but here I tell my stories. Telling our own stories, as trivial as they may be, in hopes that they will make someone laugh or strike a chord with some other kindred spirit out there. But my life is not that interesting, I mean it’s not exactly the Girl with the Dragon tattoo here or even Bridesmaids.
All this focus on writing has made me keenly aware of all the juicy stories waiting to be told. I have always loved making a profile while people watching, fill in the blanks with my fantasy of their life but now I know what I can do with these little imaginative seeds. I can plant them in my notebook and nourish them with details until they grow into stories.
Sometimes the stories grow all at once like the night we ate at Dau Cila in Riomaggiore. An American girl we had chatted with the night before, came over to tell us something dramatic and shocking that had happened to her, as very often happens to me, I have that kind of face.
Boom. It was like a fertilizer. The story exploded in my mind and became so intensely real that I could see the details and characters unfolding. I started writing the details in my journal in the middle of dinner and telling my husband about the protagonists fatal flaw. Much to the dismay of my husband because I think he was more interested in what was actually happening than what I had imagined could have happened.
The story from that night is the one I have incubated. I have 50 words written in the back of my travel journal waiting for National Novel Writing Month and this time I am doing it by the seat of my pants. I have no idea where this story will go but I think it will be dark, there will definitely be a murder (which didn’t happen when we were in Cinque Terre, if you were wondering). It will be far outside of writing what I know. 50 000 words in 30 days. I have a feeling that without my chapter prompts I might get stuck more often but then, that could lead down some interesting paths too.
That’s what WriMo is all about stretching beyond what is comfortable and doing something insane. Like writing a novel in a month.
Want to know more about the NaNoWriMo experience? This guy has the break down.
If you are doing WriMo this year I would highly recommend following the feed on Google+ this is the best place to find writing buddies.