2020 NaNoWriMo Challenge: Week Two
Another week in the books, pun intended. Two weeks in and life has made sure to remind me just what it thinks about best-laid plans. For this post, I’ll talk a bit about life and my writing journey with brief glimpses into the distant past as well as the past week.
Overall, it’s been a fine week. The external distractions have been at a minimum, unlike the previous week. Yet the more personal and internal distractions have made their presence felt. One evening I had to forgo writing on account of a terrible pressure in my head. It wasn’t exactly a headache but a pressure in the sinus region primarily behind my eye. It stole my focus and convinced me to stop looking at screens for the day. The next day I was fine, but I had some writing to make up.
There was also one evening where my wife required my attention. I consider communication and taking the time to do so vital to the function of any relationship. As we rarely have time to do this during the work week outside of my writing window, it happened during my window after the kids had gone to sleep. I believe I mentioned time and scheduling being a challenge that could throw off your progress in a previous post. I was more confident in that forecast for the month than snow, which has not shown up in my region. Another night missing the writing window.
I’ll admit either of these nights I could have potentially pushed through or started writing a little later when I was ready, but I chose not to, and I do not regret that decision. I’ve also been writing a fair amount on my phone during bathroom breaks and lunchtime walks. Tony Robbins coined the term N. E. T. Time, or No Extra Time, where you take advantage of the extra pockets of time in your day where you focus doesn’t have to be elsewhere to accomplish something. I have attempted to capitalize on this for my writing as I know the evenings can be a mixed bag, yet I’ve had to battle my usual instincts to play a game or browse the internet in my downtime. I won’t claim to be the most disciplined person, and NaNoWriMo demands consistency. Nevertheless, after the week and missing two days, I’m only a few hundred words off. My other days have all been near or exceeding 2,000 words. It’s a tense contest, but that has actually made it more fun for me, and writing this blog has also added to my internal sense of drama.
I’ve spent a lot of these posts talking about how to address the challenges of Nanowrimo and what those challenges are in my life. Now I invite you into my actual writing for a bit because I’m quite excited to share my process and content.
I’ll give a brief history of myself and writing for starters.
I started writing in the eighth grade, very much inspired by The Lord of the Rings and similar fantasy settings from games and some shows and movies. My early writing was by hand in notebooks and binders, but late in high school, I received my own laptop. The opportunity to transpose my old writings to an electronic file was there, and it seemed exciting. I did transpose that first story and learned two things. Handwriting, at least my poor handwriting, totaled far fewer pages when on a word document. Second, I hated this process. Never again would I write out anything besides notes by hand.
I wrote a story my freshman year of college. It was a complete and much more developed story than in middle school or high school, but still largely lacking. It was then that I learned another important thing about myself. Rewriting, outlining, and copious notes robbed me of much of the joy of writing. I am more of a discovery writer.
I approached NaNoWriMo with the roughest outline of a story. I knew the prologue I wanted to rework, the magic concept to be explored, and where I wanted the story to end. The rest has mostly come to me the day I wrote it down, or at most a few days beforehand when some exciting concept struck me.
It can be a bit difficult to plan a story of a specific length with only a few characters and concepts, a milestone, and a destination, yet for me this is exciting. As I’ve been writing, I’ve been thinking more about where I am in the story and what needs to happen to get me to the end. I’m nearly halfway now, so my main character needs to be facing the big question of their character development, a question she answers by the end one way or another.
I also determined in the last week that to set up my finale, I needed to show a bit more progression even though it was disconnected from my main story. Someone who my characters do not have a relationship to must do something foolish just as they arrive at the final scene of the story. That was where I started the month, with no more concept of where or how it would end than that. However, as I thought about my story throughout the past week, I realized I was going to need to add a few point-of-view chapters with this side character, stumbling down the path to the required course of action.
Again, this was originally not in my plan, but as my week went on, I realized how necessary it was to the story. It would be beyond unsatisfying for the main cast to arrive at their destination and then have a major event happen inexplicably, with some side character explaining afterwards that the reasoning for it all was some other side character the cast never met felt it was appropriate given circumstances that neither the characters nor the audience has been made aware of yet. Weird coincidence that the cast showed up at that very moment. No, that would not do. As I write the first of these new chapters, I determined that it would be earlier in the book and it feels rewarding to seemingly revise my story while actually writing entirely new content.
So that’s where we are for now. I’m a bit behind the gun, but I’m feeling more eager than ever to finish. The coming week will be exploring some of the main character's internal conflict, which I did not have pinned down when I started writing, and worldbuilding a new cultural group that came to me during a lunchtime stroll last week. Very excited about all of it and I’m excited to update everyone next week.
Check in again next week!