NaNoWriMo is a great way to get words on paper. Especially if you have someone to work with you. I am going to attempt the 50k words in 30 days this year. I’ve attempted it several years previous, but I’ve always stalled out about halfway through the month (last year I stalled out a week in). I have selected a piece of writing that has been kicking in my brain for a couple of years now and made it into my idea book. There are no names really, and I don’t even know what the story is, but I wrote out this scene and I feel like it is the story I need to work on this year.
The problem is that I don’t know anything about it. Of course, many writers do that with NaNo. They start with a blank screen and a blank mind and the start with “Once upon a time. . .” at the beginning of the month without any idea what might come next. There are other writers who spend all year outlining, researching, character building, re-oulining, developing, and basically pre-writing their story, and then they actually do the writing during NaNo.
The super detailed outline is not me. If I start off with a super detailed outline I feel like all the creativity is sucked out of the writing process. In addition I’m slightly OCD, so when I deviate from the outline I feel like I have to go back and redo the outline and figure out how the deviation fits into the outline I wrote before I can move on. That means that a week in one of my characters does something unexpected and I find out something new, and then I have to spend the rest of the month thinking about it and getting frusterated that I have to change the outline around. Not productive.
On the flip side, I’ve tried charging ahead without any plan whatsoever. I tend to write myself into a corner and can’t figure out how to get back out of it. I write to a stand still and either run out of ideas or have tons of ideas, none of which actually make sense. (This is the point where I generally change the point of view character and end up frusterated because I’m essentially retelling the story from another POV.) Then I never get to the end of the story because I can’t figure out how to get there.
So now, I’m stuck between trying to figure out how much planning I need, but not wanting to do too much planning and every time I try to think about it I get nervous about over planning anything. I literally have NO idea what the story is about right now. I know there is a compelling scene that seems to be the beginning, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe it takes place in the middle of the book. Maybe it’s the ending. I don’t know. I have a sense of who these people are, but no clear view of what their names are and what they do for a living. But I don’t want to go in knowing everything.
I suppose we’ll see what happens this year, but I’m just letting everyone know that I’m having a hard time this year. I’ve always had at least a basic idea of what the story would be. But maybe that is a good thing. Maybe that will be freeing this year. I’m just trying to stay positive (though I know it doesn’t sound like it). I think I will simply focus on getting words on the page. Ultimately, even if I only get 25k words, that’s good. Even if I get 50k words and only 20k of them are usable that’s good. Even if I get 50k words by writing the same three pages over and over again I will at least be able to say I lived The Shining.