I've been participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for six years, although I've only completed a handful of 'novels' during that time. The 50,000 words which I wrote back in November of 2010 is still a monumental milestone in my life, although the story itself from that year is now being reworked to fit into a much newer idea. For this year, I bounced around several options. The first was working with one of two fanfictions that have recently been pleading for attention. One of those fanfictions is based in the amazing and magical world of Harry Potter, while the other takes place not long after the defeat of Smaug and the rebuilding of Dale in the Tolkein-verse (flavored heavily by Peter Jackson). The second was to start something completely from scratch and totally original. When I sat down on the first of November, I ended up choosing the latter. All I had ready were my computer and a little notebook. And, much like that first year, I have had no problem pumping out my required 1,667 words a day.
Something that stands out about this year's novel, though, is that my protagonist is male. I've never done that before. Not even in a fanfiction has a guy stood alone for several thousand words. While he isn't the only important character, and a female does come into play a little later on, he stays in that position as 'most important'. A cross between Sherlock Holmes and Special Agent Pendergast, Jasten Gretz is a man who loves puzzles. Better still, he loves solving puzzles. Shunning certain aspects of his family's past, he willingly works in a position below what his station could obtain for him. A fascinating study in protocol and independence, Gretz has proved to be one of the easiest characters I've ever written. At moments, I feel like I'm nothing more than the pair of hands typing out the words he's dictating. For anyone reading this who isn't a writer, that will sound incredibly daft and probably a bit like I'm suffering from some sort of strange multiple personality disorder. However, for those of you know exactly what I'm talking about, isn't that a wonderful feeling? You aren't having to drag words and thoughts out of an unresponsive character. Instead, their actually shoving more at you then you can handle! For the first time since I've started NaNo, I've actually had to keep myself to only writing my word count each day.
I know there are people out there who probably wonder what the point of such a program like NaNo actually is. After all, what sort of product will you have after thirty days of intensive writing? It won't be perfect, and it probably won't even be complete! True and true. But that isn't the point. The point of sitting down and writing over 1,500 words a day is a bit like an artist sitting down and doing several pages of sketches at some point between when they wake up and when they go to sleep. The goal is to simply do it. Not to make something perfect....not even to spend a great deal of time on what you've done. The more you practice, the better you get. The more free throws you shoot, the better you get at shooting free throws. The more miles you run, the easier the miles get. The more times you play the song on the piano, the more ingrained those notes become (even if if drives your family insane). Basically, you're creating a habit for yourself, something that will keep you going, even if you 'don't feel like it'. Because let's admit it, writers. There are definitely days when we just don't have the desire to come up with yet another scene. And yet, we know we need to.
And so, have a great rest of November, NaNoers! Keep writing and don't forget: if you get stuck, just throw in a troll!