I've been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2008 (I know,I'm old), and each year my pre-planning process has been a little bit different. Some years, the weeks/days leading up to November 1st included in-depth and intricate research on things like celestial events and how often they occurred and the religious practices/customs of ancient Sumeria (yes, seriously) or survival rates of certain bullet wounds, or parts of the brain that work whilst in a coma (also, various physiological occurrences of being in a coma and how long it takes for muscles to atrophy). Some years I had a cast of characters, their motivations, relationships, physical appearances, etc. Other's I began typing away at midnight with nothing but a character's name and a semblance of their journey would be.
This year, I found myself scrambling for any thing even vaguely resembling a plot the week leading up to NaNo. I made some failed attempts at research, I wracked my brain for characters, stories, literally anything that would spark my imagination and cause a eureka moment that would launched me into a fantastical journey of novelling abandon.
Nothing worked. But, I was determined to participate in NaNo regardless. So, this year, I did something that I had never done before, I decided to embrace the 'Pantser' title and completely wing it, starting on November 1st with a blank page, a random assortment of printed prompts to help move things along, and nothing else.
The process, one week in, is both a relief and frighting. By writing simply what comes to mind, occasionally using prompts to create short stories, I am free of the constraints that a plot would inevitably fit around me and my writing (though, let us be honest, NaNo is a month for rambling and weird unnecessary character introspection). It is frighting, though, because every day I sit down at my laptop (or open up my notebook) and am faced with infinite possibilities and no clue where start or what to write.
I cannot stress the importance/benefit of the NaNoWriMo forums enough, whether you're a Pantser or a Planner. From adoptable lines in every genre, help fleshing out your plot/idea, to general cheerleading and moral support, the NaNoWriMo forums have got it all.
In fact, the Adopt a Line forum/thread led me to the story that I began on Day 5, and have not been able to stop writing about three days later.
I have been able to reach the word count goal, and then some, this first week. It's not all quality work, in fact I'd say about 70% of it so far is barely passable as 'work,' the writing more akin to random directionless rambling than a story with any direction, but that is okay. For me, NaNo is not necessarily about producing anything I will publish. I am not writing for anyone but myself. NaNoWriMo, each year, is a challenge that forces me to get back in the habit of writing, something I used to do simply because I loved it, and each day that passes, each 1,667 words that I write, I remember why I loved writing again. And though some days I struggle to reach the word count, the sense of satisfaction at the end when I add however many words to the total and I am that much closer to the 50,000 goal is incomparable.
NaNoWriMo represents, specifically in writing form, what JAF Ink as a whole represents: a way for people to be creative, even just a little bit, every day, it is a supportive community of like-minded individuals that will cheer you to the finish line, no matter where you are or what you're writing. So, even if you are not writing a 'traditional' novel and rebelling like I am, even if you can't seem to reach the goal, remember that whatever words you have today, it's that many more than you had before.
Editing is for December (or January/February...or never, depending on your preferences).
If anyone wants a writing buddy, someone to cheer them on, daily prompts, or to meet up to have word wars/word sprints, let me know through our Instagram account or add me as a Buddy on the NaNoWriMo website (username: jafinc).
Happy writing! You got this.
P.S. I am so tempted to add this post as part of my word count today. Let's see how I feel later ;-)
P.P.S. if you have any questions, concerns, prompts, advice... literally anything at all, feel free to drop a comment below or on any of our social media pages!