Every year during November, Persephone hosts regular Friday check-ins for our readers and writers who are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. This week is our first catching up. I can’t wait to hear how you’re doing.
For a lot of writers and especially fist time NaNo’ers, while the anticipation of participating in National Novel Writing Month is exciting, the reality of getting started is awfully sobering. Lots of writers drop out the first week. Many do it without having written a single word. Why? Because a blank page is damn scary. It’s a lot easier to sit there with the same untitled blank draft you had all year long than it is to actually add something to it.
But look at it this way. Your enemy is the blank page. You need to destroy it. And this is one fight that it’s not complicated to win — you just need to type something. Anything. Anything at all. Breaking the stasis of not writing is the whole point of NaNoWriMo. Keeping up your momentum is a lot easier once you get that figurative ball rolling. So if your story idea is stalled, type out something else. Describe the view from your window. Write a recollection of your high school English teacher. Recreate your favorite recipe from memory. Most likely none of these things will make it into your finished novel. A lot that you’ll write this month is going to get jettisoned in the revision process. That’s ok. Let it go. No one is charging you storage by the word. And who knows — maybe that English teacher will become a character, or that recipe will become a plot point in a baking themed thriller. Just get it down.
I got off to a slow start this year. I’ve been doing NaNo for so long I no longer have the burning urge to start promptly at midnight on the first, and have a decent sense of my output speed, so I don’t get overly worked up in the first couple of days of the challenge. I have a respectable word count of about 7,000, so I’m manageably behind at the moment. If you asked me, I couldn’t quite tell you what my plot is. This is the first year I’m pantsing it in a lot time and I’m having fun drifting along with the woman who appears to be my main character, Caroline. I anticipate a lot of pruning of useless scenes come revision month.
Still having problems get past writer’s block? Blogger apronwarrior posted last year about one of her NaNo’ing strategies: the NaNo jar. Using decorated popsicle sticks, apronwarrior keeps 30 prompts in a jar on her desk. When she gets stuck, she pulls a stick and has to do what the prompt says. The suggestions range from new scenes to plot twists and character investigation, but they’ll all keep you moving. I liked this idea so much I borrowed it last year, combing through some of my favorite writer’s guides for prompts and putting them on scraps of paper I kept in a bag by my laptop. The jar-and-sticks is a prettier method, but both work. Hop on over to Apron Warrior to view the whole post and see what prompts she’s using.