My first NaNoWriMo was in 2006. I started the month with nothing more than a counting down tagline, a couple rough characters, and some ideas. And I was doing okay. I was slightly ahead, even. And then I hit the scene. The scene where my brain completely shut down. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t write the scene, and I couldn’t figure out how to move past it. Because, for the most part, I had no idea what was going to happen. Getting stuck meant staying stuck.
Enter NaNoWriMo 2007. I had just had a baby at the end of August. I was exhausted, and knew there was no way I could finish if I tried things like the year before. So I pulled an old project out of my writing box, made an outline based on what I’d already written, and what I’d planned. Then I put away the old version (and subsequently lost it completely), and started fresh on November 1st. That year, despite the 3 month old and the sleep deprivation, I finished on the last day. Why? Because when I got stuck, I could skip forward by half the book to write the part that I was inspired by, then work between the two parts until I caught up with myself. And that’s what I did. Knowing what was going to happen, made it easy to write in whatever order I felt like it.
NaNoWriMo 2008 I spent most of October plotting out my novel and writing my outline. I got to 40,000 words by the 15th. Unfortunately, personal stuff made the remaining 10,000 take the last half of the month. But I made it. And while I mostly wrote things in order, I knew that if I got stuck, I could always skip forward. It was a good feeling.
Enter 2009. I’m doing NaNoWriMo again, but because of everything that happened at the end of October, I’m working on a completely different novel than the one I’d planned. And while I had a vague idea about my novel, I’ve had to stop several times and brainstorm, just to get the next section figured out. I still don’t fully have the ending worked out. It’s the sort of situation, that makes me feel a little uneasy when I’m writing. Because any scene could become the scene that stops me in my tracks.
Writing without an outline isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can do it. I’m just very nervous about doing it for NaNo. The writing period is so short, I don’t like having a huge margin for error. But I feel like I’m conquering fears this year. I’m pushing through when I start to feel blocked. I’m learning new things about story structure and how to figure out what comes next. And I broke 30,000 today. I’m doing okay (one might say I’m doing well, even). I can clearly see myself making it to the finish line (both the 50k finish line and the end-of-book finish line) and while I know the book will need a lot of editing when I’m done, all NaNovels do. So that’s no big deal.
It is definitely a year for being fearless.
And, in case you’re curious, you can read all 20449 words of my unfinished 2006 NaNovel, I’m Afraid I Have To Kill You Now. I have warned you though, it’s totally unfinished. And I’m not sure it will ever be finished.