As if the month of November wasn’t busy enough with the blog tour, I’d also decided to try to meet the Nanowrimo challenge, and write a 50 000 words novel in thirty days. This may sound like a totally crazy endeavor, and it is, in many ways. 50 000 words divided by 30 days, means that I had to write 1663 words, each and every day.
I didn’t make it, needless to say. But I did manage to write 28570 words in the first 18 or 19 days. Before I hit a wall. I had not plotted my story at all. Have I mentioned that plotting is not my strong suit? I tend to start with characters, situations and settings. I may have a vague idea of where the story is supposed to be going… but not always. The beauty of Nanowrimo is that it forces you to write, to add words, to push them out of you at whatever cost. Most of all, it means that with such a strong focus on getting a number of words written, you simply cannot spend time rereading yourself. Ah, now, we are onto something.
Who out there is like me, endlessly rereading their words, changing a coma, here, tweaking a sentence, there, and quickly getting stuck? Who, like me, finds it almost impossible to turn our inner editor into a salt statue or send them to a dark corner with the order to stay put and absolutely mute until they’re actually needed?
Nanowrimo taught me a few things about my writing process. Funny, because these lessons I also need to apply in my every day life. Maybe everyone ought to try Nanowrimo at least once in their life ?
So, the lessons learned? I need to let go (yeah, yeah), to trust the process, the characters, and the story more, to let them unravel themselves at their own pace and leisure, and it doesn’t matter if they fumble a bit, if they wander in a direction that seems to go nowhere, because actually, what looks like a dead-end could reveal a small tunnel, or an hidden path that will take us… to a totally unexpected elsewhere full of promises.
So why didn’t I continue, you ask? In order to extricate my characters from the dead-end into which they found themselves, mid-way, I would have needed to spend a lot of time doing research. My main character got tangled into a world that I know practically nothing about (and I don’t write fantasy) and it seemed pointless to continue without a few clues at least as to what was possible, and what was just ludicrous. I should also mention that by the middle of the month, I was starting to feel so exhausted from the lack of sleep and the amount of hours spent in front of the computer, each day, that I feared I would not be able to continue with the blog tour. And that was not an option, obviously. So, something had to go.
BUT Martha Alderson, of Blockbuster Plots’ fame, is giving out tips on plotting in her blog, during the month of December. And I’m happy to report that I’ve gone back to my story and my characters, and am now in the process of organizing a rescue operation to see if I can keep this project going. Wish me luck…