Phew. I was just writing, and this is crazy, but if I write ~3500 words by Friday, I might hit 50,000 maybe.
I can’t believe I just did that. I’m so sorry, everyone everywhere.
I’d prefer to have this thing all nicely packaged and bundled into 50,000 words of finished product, but time and responsibility have a tendency to gang up on my good intentions and leave them broken and bloody in some dirty alley. Looks like I’ll be writing all the way up to and across the finish line this year.
Lessons learned this week:
1. Transcribe, transpose: I found a hidden cache of words that I had been hoarding in my little brown notebook, almost subconsciously. I had been scribbling notes, scenes, dialogue, ideas, and other literary detritus whenever I was away from my computer, and when I sat down to type it all up, I found I had nearly 4800 words in there! Sure, they were an incoherent mess of the very rawest of my brain oozlings, but they were words. Words in pursuit of the novel. And those count.
The double plus mega awesome advantage of transcribing notes from one medium to another is that you get a chance to do quick edits and fill out points you missed in your hasty penning. I even came up with a whole new idea for another story, just from some random thing I had drawn (it was like a mushroom-tiger-dragon-monstrosity-thing)!
2. Get up, get out: No joke, 16 of my 20 original short story ideas came to me while I was out wandering the world, experiencing the electromagnetic spectrum, interacting with other beings, living and inanimate. One came from noticing how a meeting presenter kept walking in front of the projector and the text from the PowerPoint slide looked like a tattoo on his forehead. Another came from watching some obscenely large rats run from cover to cover scavenging for food at the fountain in Dupont Circle. One even came from a late-night session of Borderlands 2 (who said video games never taught us anything).
It can be hard to come up with vivid, living ideas in the vacuum of your writing cave, so don’t make it any harder on yourself. Get out there. Check shit out. Ask questions. Drive across that bridge. Take note when something or someone or some concept bothers you. Take a picture of that weird flower or bush that totally looks like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But don’t sit around in your pajamas trying to force the creativity to spontaneously explode inside your skull. Go get stimulated by some stimuli.
3. The word count doesn’t really matter, the ideas do: One of the reasons I’ve managed to keep up this month is because I’m masochistic and uber-competitive (even with myself). If I commit to something, the idea of failing to do that thing is worse than any other situation I can imagine, thus I tend to get it done, somehow someway. It’s either totally awesome and effective or terrible and unhealthy.
But really, it doesn’t matter if I or you or anyone makes the word count. It’s not like someone busts into our homes on December 1 and confiscates all of our computers and notebooks and pens and tiny scraps of pencil lead that could possibly be used to write. The ideas, thoughts, introspection, and other mine-able literary gold is what makes this month so great. It’s an opportunity for you to expand your brain, learn about some stuff you’d never even heard of, and hopefully learn about yourself as a result. It’s a chance to commit to something bigger than the right now, and work towards a real, tangible goal. It’s a chance to break the monotony of the perfunctory and think about exciting worlds where anything can happen, and heroes are real. It’s a chance to wring some satisfaction out of life, and remind yourself that you are creative and hardworking and really freakin’ love words.
So if you didn’t make 50,000, no big deal. If you came up with some great ideas, or even one pretty good idea, I’d say that’s a NaNoWriMo well spent. You’ve got plenty of time to write it all down, unless you are currently on fire or being chased by an ornery velociraptor. Take what you’ve learned this month about how and when and what and why you write, and store that in your database under “stuff that will make me a better writer.”
Writing drink of choice this week: Magic Hat Heart of Darkness Stout
This is a weird but compelling beer. It almost looks purple in the glass, just on the edges where light pierces the blackness of the body. It tastes choclately and heavy, sort of what you’d expect people from a SteamPunk novel would drink out of gas-powered beer steins or something. It lingers on your tongue for a while, making it a great “I’m in a pensive mood tonight” beer.