I’ve mentioned in quite a few posts recently that I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo. (For the uninitiated that’s National Novel Writing Month where the challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.)
The last few posts on my blog were written in advance and set to queue so that I could concentrate on writing but I’m at the end of my preplanning now (note: I can manage three weeks in advance but that’s the stretch of my planning.) and I thought it would be a good time to finally talk NaNo with you.
So where to start….
The beginning, I guess, was a few months ago when this imaginary guy called Caelum walked into my head from out of the shadows tossing around this glass ball of light in his hand. He smiled and I thought I want to write him.
Cue lots of research (how exactly does one use science to make a glass globe glow?) and from this the world grew. He became a captain of an airship (how exactly does sailing through the air work?) and I got a lot of headaches (physics hurts my brain), crew materialised in my head much the same way he did and magic systems were introduced and examined.
I had the crew, I had the world, I had religions and conflicts and backstories but I didn’t have a plot.
Then one day at least a month later (and let me tell you it felt like a lot longer than that) I jumped up from my bed with a massive smile on my face because I had a plot. Lots of dancing ensued and amused looks from my parents as well.
Now the problem I had at this point was, like always, I don’t make things easy for myself. I had nine main characters (NINE!) and while I knew them and where they came from I didn’t have their voices and I didn’t know from which point of views my story was going to be told.
I decided that if I wrote the backstories down as a kind of prequel of short stories that would be a good idea. I could write how each of my main characters got to be part of the crew and it would help me get to know them and flesh out some story arcs. (Also, I don’t know about you but I hate having to stop every other line to research something or name something so I thought this would be a good idea to get all that down before properly writing my story)
Something else comes into play here. And that’s the fact that since December last year I’ve been writing down a Harry Potter fanfic (which is basically a retelling without Harry Potter from a Slytherin main character and you can read it on AO3 or FF.net)
This time last year, I wasn’t writing anything.
I’ve been sick a long time and while I’ve always loved the idea of writing and I’m always creating stories in my head, I haven’t been well enough to actually write.
Last year I got to a point where that could change and I started writing down the harry potter story that had been keeping me company in my head for the past few years. All those days where I’d been too ill to do anything but stare at my bedrooms walls, I’d been escaping to the Hogwarts in my head. It was a great way of getting back into writing without too much hassle after all the world was already built and the story had been in my head for years.
(I also want to add that I write on my phone. I have a windows phone so use Microsoft word and it saves automatically to onedrive and if it wasn’t for this I still wouldn’t be well enough to write as I can only manage the laptop one day a week and can barely write a sentence with an actual pen and paper before I get pain.)
I didn’t want to put pressure on myself but I also knew that if I didn’t have any that I would give up too easily. So I got a beta (someone who checks your work for errors) and told myself I would write one chapter a month. At the start this ramped my anxiety up to eleven. I kept thinking I have to write now, I have to edit this, I have to…I have to. And it often stopped me from sleeping. And like any writer I had my self doubts. I’d go through periods of thinking what is the point? This is rubbish. I’m rubbish. But I kept going (in massive part thanks to my beta).
What does this have to do with nano? Everything.
I ended up finishing first year of my harry potter fic in October. Canny timing, I thought. I’d ended up writing 18 chapters in 11 months. And it wasn’t any where near as daunting as it had been at the start. I knew I could do a chapter a month, hell I knew I could do two if I needed. I also knew that I could stick with something even when I doubted myself.I’d also learnt a lot from my beta about punctuation and grammar and all those things that maybe we were taught in school and forgot and all those other things that we were never taught in school. So, finally, I was in a really good position to give Nano a go.
So I am and in a couple of days I’ll have part two of this post to share with you (because this one got very long) about my First Nano, the goals I set myself and how it’s all going.
If you’re taking part in Nano I’d love to hear how you are doing and why you took part this year? If anyone wants to add me as a writing buddy my username is Princess Blue.