*That title was directed at me.
This post brought to you by a writerly obsessed mind.
The first time I hear about NaNoWriMo, was when my friend Garry mentioned it at church one day, and we discussed possible story lines. We both agreed that with the lofty goal of 50 000 words in a month, science fiction was the way to go, on account of being able to make up a whole lot of stuff, including lots of multi-worded named things. I don’t know if he ever made the total that year, but I know he gave it a red-hot go.
I’ve never really thought of it being something I would do. Not because I am opposed to it, but just simply from a time factor. It’s a huge amount of dedication to get those kind of numbers, and you need to have a great story that you’re committed to. I’ve never had that, so it’s not been a consideration.
Until this year.
I said in my last nano post that I was doing it because I had the story; have had it for years in fact. I was itching to write it, and this seemed like the push. So I mentally decided I was going to give it ago and that was it.
I went checking the NaNo website, just for a funky button to put on my sidebar (cause that clearly equals commitment), and there I discovered that they encouraged you to sign up to do it. So I did. Because I am a sheep like that.
Now I don’t know if it’s because people want to keep this information to themselves, or if it’s just I’ve never shown an interest, but with signing up to that one little website, a whole new world opened up. One with forums, and inspirational articles, and emails to keep you motivated. I discovered I was part of a region, and that region had a facebook page, and a Twitter account, and its own chat channel. The last time I chatted with some on I think I was 14, and every new introduction started with ASL. This was vastly different.
My plan for my story had pretty much been, ‘write it.’ Which, albeit, is a much better plan than not writing it. Joining in on one of the chats one day, however, I found there are whole other ways to write, like, take for instance, the crazy idea of plotting.
This whole idea that you could start describing your book in one word, and from there move on to three words, and then a sentence, and then a paragraph, until by the end you had chapter outlines complete with a music play list, in-depth character descriptions, and possibly even a book cover.
Which, call me crazy, sounded a whole lot more organised and successful than my grand plan of ‘write it.’
And so being open-minded, whilst also slightly skeptical (won’t that much planning ruin the spontaneity of the story?), I set about plotting this story. Over about ten days I did it. Starting first with the basic idea in my head, and writing it down. Then I started thinking about my main character. I had a rough idea who she was, but I wanted to really nail it down, and so I started mind mapping her. And suddenly, she came alive. It was amazing. It was like I had breathed life into this two-dimensional thing, and suddenly she was a breathing person who was telling me that certain things in the story needed to be changed.
So I went back and changed them. Realised I needed a secondary character, so I mapped her too. That was exciting. With my book play-list on in the back ground, character number two also came alive, and revealed a plot twist even I hadn’t considered. When you’re shocked by your own story, you know you going down the right path.
So on and on I went. Every day focusing on a different character, tying them all in together. Working out motivations and catalysts and how to resolve differences. Until I was re-writing my entire synopsis all over again, still true to the original idea, but now with so much more depth, and those chapter outlines I never thought I would write.
My very mundane, flat, vanilla story idea, that I had thought was great, was now so much more improved, I was itching to not only read it, but see the movie of it. (Because that’s how it plays in my head, and you know it’s that good someone is going to make a film out of it 😉 )
We are four days into November and my current word count is 20 324. I put it all down to the planning and word wars online. (Where you try to bash out as many words as you can in a given amount of time.) I’m not having to think about where a thing is going, because I already know, and instead I’m having so much fun being swept along on the ride.
A few weeks ago my mojo was dead, gone and buried, even last week I was struggling to find ideas. Now I’m happier than pig in mud, or a kid at Christmas or two hopeful uncles dancing to the beat.
This is not just about writing. It’s not just about finally giving bones and flesh and muscle to a vague idea; it’s about remembering what I’m good at. Remembering what I love doing, and, dare I say, remembering what I was made for.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to write.
What’s the thing that makes your heart sing?