I’ve done NaNoWriMo a number of times over the years, under a few different names. For the past few I’ve done it under MeloraJohnson. (Feel free to add me as a friend!) My novel is Biomalware.
“In the near future a new line of disease and pest resistant genetically modified crops is being aggressively marketed, claiming to bring an end to world hunger. As biodiversity dwindles, menacing secrets lurk beneath the perfectly red tomatoes and ultra-sweet corn. But for many, these crops aren’t food at all. They are… Biomalware.“
As I mentally prepared for this November, I started thinking about the past few attempts. What have I learned from the numerous runs at NaNoWriMo? A few things.
Four years ago I started writing a novel about a girl who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, and NaNo got interrupted when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant around the seventh or so of the month. (Yeah, one of these days I’m going to write a novel about a woman who wins a giant lottery jackpot.)
That time I learned that life can get in the way, if you let it. There was really no reason for me to stop writing other than the fact that I was tired. I could have kept writing, maybe not with a view to winning, but to get the most out of it that I could. As Garrison Keillor says, “Nothing bad happens to a writer, it’s all material.” I let life get in the way. Now, I really wish I’d at least kept a journal of that time.
Last year I tried picking a different prompt every single day to see how far I could get on any particular day and if I could generate some solid short stories or story ideas. I found myself focusing on one particular idea for about a quarter of the time. What have I done with that idea since? Forgot about it, until this very paragraph. (It was actually a decent idea about time travel that I may have to dig out. Strangely enough, our writer’s group prompt for this coming week is time travel. Maybe I can turn it into a short story. Now, where did I put it?) I may do this again in the future, but with a plan, the prompts chosen and a filing system so I don’t just lose track of what I did.
Just over a year ago I wrote my first draft of Biomalware for Camp Nanowrimo in August of 2012. I tried to edit it but I just felt like it wasn’t up to my usual strong vision of a story. It seemed more like a giant outline. I’ve resolved to plan ahead this time so I can really bring every scrap of talent and skill I have to bear on this project. I want this to be a book people will buy, enjoy and think about. (Not to mention talk about.)
Right now I’m trying to tie up a few loose ends before NaNoWriMo starts. I have three short stories that I want to finish. The first is for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Contest and is on it’s very final edit before I send it off. The second is a rough draft for a Christmas competition that will benefit from being set aside for a while. The third is a short story that I wrote as part of my writer’s group weekly challenge, which I’m editing to post here on Halloween. This will all happen this weekend because, come Monday, I plan to delve into preparing for NaNoWriMo.
I have job applications to fill out for all of my characters and the story arch to fill out for the overall plot. I want to spend the next couple weeks watching movies that tell their stories the way I want to tell this story and reading everything I can get my hands on, pro and con, for genetically modified organisms. I’ve been doing this right along but now I’m going for an intensive preparation. (Wish I’d started at the beginning of the month.)
It’s true, there’s no telling how real life may get in the way but, to my mind, the idea is to prepare and plan so that you can dive in and immerse yourself in the pure creative process for November. Really have fun and enjoy it. I think that’s what keeps me coming back to NaNoWriMo time after time. It’s not really because I think I’m going to suddenly write the Great American Novel. It’s because there’s nothing like being given a license to immerse yourself in the creative process. I love to write, not just to have written.
If anyone gives you a hard time you can tell them that, well, it’s only for a month.