The weather is getting warmer, and it’s that beautiful time of year when it just feels so perfect to sit outside at night, looking at the stars and listening to the cars drive by on a busy road. The sunsets are all gorgeous, with their pinkish-purply orange colors, and walking around outside sometimes just feels like being on vacation because I’m just so content. Those occasional April showers happen, but as long as you don’t get caught in the middle of them, their perfect for watching from the window while sipping tea. Plus, half the time they disappear after ten minutes anyway, and the sun and wonderful weather return.
Sadly though, all that perfection of landscape does not transfer to my mindscape, particularly when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I decided to actually take on Camp NaNo this year in April, something I’ve never done before, and I’m writing a story based in a sort of fairy tale world, because it’s spring and I’ve always felt spring is the perfect time to tell fairy tales. We’re hitting the end of the third week, however, and it’s been difficult, to say the least.
I didn’t have a solid idea going into Camp this year, so I’ve mostly been winging it, which has worked out fine from a plot standpoint so far. I read Stephen King’s On Writing about a month or two ago, and he recommended not planning a plot out, but rather, letting your characters lead the story for you and coming up with a plot along the way. I decided to take that approach this month for my novel — mostly because I had no ideas when I sat down to write on April 1, but also to quash what a therapist once called “my unhealthy need to be in control all the time.”
It’s honestly been a bit freeing. I have nowhere to go, so I’m trying to let my characters shine through and take me where I need to be, which is probably a good thing, but I’m not so sure I really like this method. I’ve been questioning my writing more than I ever have before during NaNo. Sure, I’ve learned some surprising things about my characters, like the fact that the old woman who owns an ice cream parlor is way, way feistier than I ever thought she could be, but my novel just feels boring. I have places I want to go, but I don’t know how to get there. And when that happens, I get caught up in the minute details of my characters and the boring parts of their days — what they’re eating for breakfast, an irrelevant conversation they had with a neighbor, or just far too much description of the weather (not unlike the opening to this post).
Of course, these are all things I can fix in editing, which I absolutely will, but it’s so hard to just allow myself to get to the good stuff. I refuse to write out of order: that just feels sloppy and confusing, and with my aforementioned control issues, I don’t think I could handle it. But I’m also lagging in my story.
I’m at just over 23k words right now, which is decent considering I only set my goal to 30k this month. There’s part of me still shooting for 50k though, because I feel like it’s not a real NaNo win unless I get there, in which case I’m very far behind where I need to be. But it’s hard to work up the motivation to write when you feel so far behind and so boring all at the same time. There’s this constant notion of “why bother?” that floats through my mind every time I sit down to write. I don’t even have an ending to this story — why does it need to be finished at all?
And I guess the answer to that question is the one reason I’m still writing. I don’t know how my story ends, but I need to find out. It’s going to drive me crazy until I know, but there’s no way I’m ever going to know if I stop writing now. I have to keep pushing through, writing all this boring crap now that can be taken out later, just so I can get to the good stuff. And while I may not finish this story in April, finishing out Camp NaNo through April is the best way to start my journey towards the end.
Hope everyone else’s novels are going a bit better than mine. On the bright side, the calendar has blessed us with a solid 5 weekends this month, and there’s a 2 of them left to take advantage of.
Here’s to writing to all the 2k, 5k, or even 10k weekends that will happen these next couple days. We’ve got this.