It is Day 5 of NaNoWriMo. I am 8,201 words into my story. I am 1,533 words above where I should be now and I am shooting to be at 10,300 words by the end of today. So far, NaNoWriMo is going amazing. I am at the point where I am sure I can win this and learning to let go of expectations and the editing gene that’s in me to just get words on paper.
Up until October 31, I had a completely different story in mind. A fun little romance just to get my feet wet into the process of writing. I wanted to keep it easy, something I could write about without too many issues. And then I realized I had to write the story that has been brewing in my head for years. A coming-of-age story that borrows from a lot of my experience during my first year at USF. I spent the last day of October, furiously writing down a semblance of a back story with characters in mind to give my main character more depth. No outline. No research. And I’m getting to know my character as I write her. And while I keep toying with the idea of changing my story completely (my mistake on my last attempt at NaNoWriMo), I push away those thoughts and focus on this story. (I have given myself permission to outline the other story brewing in my head once I complete my word count for the day, though.) At this point, it’s really too late to change to a different story and still make the 50,000 word count. (Unless I spend all my weekends writing!)
My life has begun revolving around meeting my daily word count. I carve out time every day to sit down and just write. It usually doesn’t take me more than an hour and I write in 15-minute increments. I set the timer, write furiously, and then give myself a 5-minute break to get up and stretch, read a blog, anything to take my mind off my story for a bit. Then I’m back at it for another 15 minutes. This process is working for me, because I’m not the type that can just sit down and hammer out 2,000 words in one sitting. I don’t operate that way. (Yet!) I’m just crossing my fingers I can keep up with this pace, although the further I get into my story, the further problems may arise which is why I’m trying to be above my word count to help me when that comes.
I was never the type of writer who liked to work without an outline. Even for my school papers, I would usually lay out some type of a plan to figure out what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. A few years ago, I was reading a blog of a published YA novelist who got her first book deal at the age of 22 (!) and has since then published a plethora of novels. She talked about how she doesn’t use outlines. They don’t work for her. The process of just sitting down at the computer each day and figuring out the story as she went along was easier than adhering to an outline. She said when she sat down to write her first novel, she didn’t even know that her main character was going to end up with the guy she fell in love with!
And I loved that.
I loved how she just wrote. Figured things out organically. I think there’s always this broad idea we have in our heads of what we want to say but there’s a certain magic that happens when we just write like we are a reader, finding things out as we go.
The story I’m writing for NaNo doesn’t have an outline. I have a broad idea for what I want to happen throughout the novel, but not piece by piece. I want to figure out each piece as I write and it seems to be coming together that way. There are things happening to my main character that I didn’t expect, situations arising that I didn’t plan for. Sometimes, it feels a bit chaotic to just write without a plan but it’s all coming together somehow.
I wanted to do NaNoWriMo to show myself I could complete it and to establish a daily writing habit for myself. It’s become so easy for me to set aside my fiction and this is the first time since last NaNoWriMo (where I wrote for less than a week!) that I’ve done so much writing at one time. If my biggest dream for my life is to be an author, I have to be an author. I have to stop dreaming about it and planning for it and just sit down and do it. Daily.