I spend years mulling over my characters and their realities. So when all these new people started appearing I just couldn’t believe it. The story, to my surprise, ended up being a redemption tale for one of my nastiest villains from a story I have never been able to complete. That first year taught me some important things.
First- I can create, under pressure, and without a plan. Because my method for years has been to let stories simmer in the back of my mind I had no idea I could pull off spontaneous story telling. I had to trust the characters and the places I found them in and in the end it paid off. It’s a complete story and the elements of the story tie together pretty well despite the frenzied circumstances they were created under.
Second- Habit goes a long way. If you don’t already have the habit of writing everyday this is a good way to get into it. I give myself permission to have one day off a week, but if your brain is accustomed to having to create something on a consistent basis it will. It may not seem like that at first, but commit yourself to writing daily for six weeks and see what happens on that 43rd day. If you can do it at the same time of day that will help too. It gets easier, I promise.
And third- Get that first draft written as fast as possible. This helps keep continuity of character personality together as well as plot. For 2009 I didn’t finish the story by November 30th. I managed to return to the story in January and finish off the narrative but the characters had changed without my consent and I think it’s pretty obvious. The plot suffers over a long period of time because you forget what you’ve said.
I succeeded in 2010 at writing 51,000 words of material for a future sci-fi epic but it is not a story. It is only pieces and parts of a story. Some of the material will be usable, but I’m thinking I will have to chalk up most of that material to an exploration of world and characters. Which is fine but it didn’t feel as amazing since it’s not a complete story.
For 2011 I experienced some of what I had in 2009, new people and situations with no prior knowledge, but I lacked the drive to push through it. This year my goal is to knock out that first draft for my next Lysandra story. I know how I want to start and I think I know how I want it to end, but everything in between is a mystery. By November 30th I may have a workable first draft or I might just have bunch of parts. I’m really hoping for the former.
If you decide to do NaNoWriMo tell your friends you are not available and clear your schedule. This will help you to avoid feeling guilty about telling them “No” and you must tell them “No” or you will pay for it later. Definitely write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. And go to the write-ins in your city. Sitting with a group of strangers as tired and exhilarated as you are is fun and you get to meet some really great people.