Preparing for NaNo part 3

My last post talked a bit about my past NaNo experiences. I’ve also mentioned to you (not to sound pretentious) my writing process, or at least a portion of it. That brings me to this year’s NaNo. Here’s the problem: until last week, I knew exactly what I was going to write for NaNo.

I wish I had the synopsis handy so that I could paste it here, but I’ll give you as much as I can off the top of my head, without spoiling anything. I had intended this NaNo project to be a sequel to the book I’ve been shopping around, Falling Apart. Falling Apart is a m/m erotic romance about a rock singer who falls in love with a(n ostensibly straight) country boy. Country boy falls in love right back, but since he’s always been straight, chaos ensues. Right? Right. Of course, who can resist a rock star in tight jeans? Certainly not me, and definitely not Billy, our country boy. I mean, obviously. So that said, this year’s NaNo was going to be a sequel. What happens after the fall? Well, more chaos, as per usual. I won’t say much more because I don’t want to spoil FA for all of you who are dying to read it.

The plan was all laid out. I have character sheets, summaries, pages and pages written about the major and minor plot points. I’ve got descriptions of what the story looks like from other characters’ POVs, a new man in the mix, ex-partners, angry parents, pushy bosses, all sorts of things going on. I must have 10 pages, maybe more, of notes, plans, and ideas. So of course…

Now I’m second guessing myself. Should I work on the sweet love story that came to me in a dream a few weeks ago? Pick up the sci-fi that I’ve been playing with for several years? Finally get on that story about two twentysomethings that meet on a train that’s been bugging me for almost nine months? Should I stop everything and skip NaNo to edit this year? Maybe I should get back to flash fiction instead, let myself just write 500 words a day. Or three pieces of flash a day! Or, or, or…

See my problem? This is why I’m a “pantser.” Planning too much paralyzes me. Which means next blog will be all about planning vs pantsing!

Preparing to NaNo part 1

My writing past is patchwork at best. We all have our journeys, and mine is perhaps not that uncommon, but it felt like a revelation to me at the time.

As a child, I loved to write. I loved to create. Making up stories was a pastime, and as an only child, it was a necessity. I lost myself in reading and I wanted nothing more than to help others lose themselves in their writing. It was generally dismissed as a silly diversion by teachers, and uncool by my friends (see my previous posts to know that I’ve mostly let go of worrying about looking cool), and that’s where it ended. In a fizzle.

When I was in college, studying something unsatisfying, I heard about NaNoWriMo for the first time. That’s National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated, and is a month-long challenge to write 50,000 words in November. (Didn’t know? Don’t worry – I’ve been doing it for three years and my mother still doesn’t know what I’m talking about.) I thought that it sounded cool, but I was way too busy, and besides, I wasn’t a writer. What would I write about?

The writing bug teased me a bit when I heard about “that NaNo thing” again in 2011. I toyed with the idea and started six days into November with no plot, just a character. It took me places, but not farther than a few thousand words. It died out there. Another fizzle.

Finally, November 2, 2012, I ran across the term NaNoWriMo a third time. I browsed through the forums at NaNoWriMo.org. I found a plot someone was “giving away” that I thought I could do something with, and I took off running. I wrote almost every day, and by the end of November, I had over 50,000 very messy words. They were a mess, but they were mine. And with that, my love for writing was rekindled. I was on fire.

NaNo is coming up again and I’m already preparing. For the first time, not only do I have a concrete idea of what I want to write about, but I’m fully planned out. I’ve got characters, a setting, a story arc, I know what terrible things await my characters (oh, the pain they will suffer… haha), and I know where it is supposed to end. (I say “supposed to” because my characters always teach me things I didn’t know before, and I’m never certain if they’re going to do what I tell them to do.) Now all that’s left to do is put the book on “paper,” and I’ve never been more excited for NaNo!

Thinking, thinking

Where do writers get their ideas? Mostly blogs about this don’t really  cover new ground. They talk about stealing, people watching, that kind of thing. I do that too. We all do. I also trawl the internet for prompts I like, anything that inspires me. “Plot bunnies” as some people call them. I even visit some writing forums that have “adopt me” lists and pull from what other people can’t use.

My favorite places to get ideas are what I call “snippets.” There’s probably a better word, but I’m going with it. Photos that set a spark, a person whose hair or from whom flash of blue-green in a wink leaves me desperate to write about the experience of going weak at those things. A single image can captivate me for weeks or months until I’m haunted enough to make something out of it. But mostly, I adore getting ideas from songs, usually just a line or two. When I write for a song I’ll listen to it over and over for an hour or more, whatever it takes to get the feel for the story. I’ll scribble out the lines on a notepad and see what else lives in the song. I’ll make a playlist for the story after that, let it carry me away. Typically by the time I’m done, the story has almost no resemblance to the original song except in my heart, but I know it’s there.

Speaking of inspiration, I have an image haunting me. I’ll see you guys next time!