One week left. If you haven’t hit the golden mark yet, refrain from searching #nanowrimo on Twitter. Who are these people, killing it left and right? Everyone is saying, “54,000. It’s been real, NaNoWriMo,” and “Woooo! Just submitted my NaNo!”
I’m still 2 days behind. After a day when I hit over 4,000 words for my daily count, I’m checking the bottom of my Mac to see if there’s a hole all these words are falling out of. I mean, come on. 4,000 in one day and I’m still behind? Ugh. As with all things difficult or demanding, I’ve obviously been learning as I go. I know I did this last year, but I feel like that was, comparatively, a brainless slide down the mountains on a flimsy piece of cardboard.
I’m trying to make something good this year, which means I’m actually thinking about what’s working for me and the story, and what’s not. What’s working, it turns out, is that I’ve mentally committed not just to finishing on time, but to finishing on time with something that doesn’t completely suck. (Well, we know it’s going to suck. There’s just less suck than there might have been if I really hadn’t given a flip what the words were saying.*) What else is working for me is that I’m paying attention to my characters. When they’re getting bored, that means I’m getting bored. When I realize that, it’s so nice to move on from that scene. I don’t even wrap it up nicely anymore. I just shut it down and get on to the next interesting bit because I figure, if I’m going to revise and rewrite this later, I’ll get the bricks down now, and add the mortar later. (Someone give me more cereal. It makes the metaphors stop.)
The thing that is not working for me is basically what I talked about last week. I’ve overestimated my ability to spontaneously construct a complex, multiplot story. Which is, you know, totally forgivable, considering that . . . ummmm no, sorry. No good excuse for that. But however much that fact might suck right now, this is actually great news. Now, when I start my next project, I know that I need some sort of system–color-coded sticky notes!–to construct and keep track of my plot. Also, all that ‘research’ I did to prep? Not real. Reading a few articles on the Black Forest, Mayan hallucination practices, and traditional muses doesn’t cut it, sweet cheeks. Next time, there had better be pages of good stuff to pull from.
It’s taken me two tries at NaNoWriMo to realize those things fully. Which means progress, even if it’s the sluggish, lurching up from the primordial goo, first steps with your fins sort of progress. Tonight’s goal is to hit at least 3,000 words, and by next Tuesday, I promise you, this thing will have its pants kicked in and I’ll be down at Rula, if you need me.
*For more info on why it’s good to allow yourself to suck, I suggest you go here: Dare to Suck. Also: More Serious Research.