2010 was different. I had indeed set my languishing project aside, and worse, since my husband's cancer diagnosis, subsequent surgery and treatment, I hadn't been writing much at all. I couldn't get my arms around any kind of project--which is pretty understandable. A writer friend of mine mentioned in passing that she had begun writing a young adult paranormal book as an escape from her medical school studies. I later read the work and I found it astoundingly good! Meanwhile I was still trying to figure out something to write about, but life and work took my attention and I settled for writing in my journal.
Her words kept echoing in my head as I contemplated some ideas, and I was intrigued by the genre she was pursuing, yet the ideas didn't ignite. As my husband began chemotherapy I decided NaNoWriMo was the perfect productive distraction to occupy my mind and give me an escape of my own. I had planned on writing a novel based on a TV pilot I'd written for Scriptapalooza TV a couple of years prior, but as the November 1 start date loomed closer, the "rule follower" in me changed my mind and began with absolutely no concept all. The muse kicked in and I just started writing scene by scene rather than thinking about the project as a whole. The idea of writing just for fun--rather than for a result--sounded wonderful. And it was! It reminded me it was the very reason I started writing in the first place back when I was thirteen.
In addition to a brand new idea, I decided to add some challenge to the fun in order to explore myself as a writer. Most of my previous works had all been told in first person. It's a voice and point of view that is easy for me and I think I'm pretty decent at. So I decided
- to write in third person
- to not write chronologically, but rather jump around, writing scenes that were interesting to me (the point being to end up with no scenes that are boring or pointless)
- Don't title it until after the first draft is done!
- to not worry what the book was about (in true NaNo fashion)
- to tell people I was doing it--partly to overcome my "writing is private" sensibility and partly to help hold me accountable for finishing
I am working to complete my first draft of "NaNoWriMo Novel" a title I'm happy with for now at steady pace of as many as 1k words per day (or night) as possible. I think most writers struggle once they're so far in they can't see the way back or the way forward, but it's still exciting to me when I sit down, clear my mind of daily clutter, and try to focus, mostly because of the rules I established above. Even though I didn't "win" NaNoWriMo, the reminder of writing for fun was prize enough.
Writers are writers because they write, right?