I woke up this morning with so many thoughts in my head. The first was…its NaNoWriMo Day! I got out of bed, took the dog out, and made breakfast. During the course of those tasks I found myself straightening every item in sight, looking at things critically and moving them, discarding them, rearranging them etc. Dang it my OCD was coming for a visit. I got a mental image of being back in the dorm freshman year of college. My roommate, who is still my very dearest friend would secretly laugh back then (she was too kind to laugh out loud), watching me get ready to start homework. I would first prepare a cup of tea, always using a cup and saucer my brother had given to me. It was sky blue, and had a design in dark blue of clusters of cherries and a checkerboard pattern. After making the tea I would take out three Nilla Wafer cookies and arrange them on the saucer. Then I’d lay out my homework in front of me. I’d sit back and look at my desk, turn the tea cup slightly or adjust a Nilla Wafer. Then I’d survey it all again before starting on my homework.
The mental image made me laugh this morning, and I knew it was time to do something productive. While I ate breakfast I searched Pinterest for ideas to put on a secret Pinterest board about the main character for my novel. I found clothes she would wear, the handbag she would carry, and what her office would look like. Why wasn’t I was doing this before? I could have Pinterest boards for every character in my book and all the settings etc. What an awesome idea! Why hadn’t I started this sooner? No, OCD you are not getting in again.
Let’s cut to the chase…today was the first day of NaNoWriMo and…I wrote 3,847 words in 2.5 hours!!! For those not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of NaNoWriMo, the goal is 50,000 in 30 days. That’s an average of 1,667 each day. Probably like a lot of people, I plan to write more at the weekends when I have more time, so that in case there are days I can’t write, or can’t write for as long, I can still make the goal.
While writing I discovered something. I suppose that’s no surprise. Why would you want to write if you didn’t discover some things along the way? What I discovered was how much I enjoy free flow writing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have an outline. I have character profiles and note cards filled with ideas. But what I found when I started writing today was just how much I enjoy the openness of it. I realize this is a completely naive and non-professional writer thing to say. If I were truly drafting a novel, there would need to be some sense of discipline around it. Some structure. And if I do decide I like what I write during this month and I want to do something with it, there will be an inordinate amount of clean up work to be done. But I’m not focusing on that for now.
It’s fun to start writing and let a character go where she wants to go and say what she wants to say. Now I get it when some writers talk about things their characters do that surprise them. I always thought, how can that be? You wrote it! But I get the unplannedness of it. And I like it.
I also like writing without regard to the length of the text. When I write a blog post, I’m always conscious of how long it will take someone to read it. I try to be considerate of the reader’s time, and be as concise as I can, without sacrificing my personal style. It’s different with writing a novel. Because I’m not trying to restrict myself to a single paragraph or short page, I can just let go.
Now, I realize every day isn’t necessarily going to be like today. My husband has offered to make me endless cups of tea if I want them. And my daughter texted me just as I was starting to write to say, “Happy NaNoWriMo!” Friends have been wishing me luck and there’s been a holiday-like feel to the day. The words flowed freely and I loved learning things about my characters that I hadn’t planned on them saying or doing before my fingers flew over the keyboard. But there may be days when the words don’t come. Or I’m too tired. Or we’re out of tea. On those days, I’m going to come back and read this post. Then I’ll go back to the keyboard the next day and start again.
So…I’m at 3,847 words and I couldn’t be more pleased. Until next time…