Friday, 29 November 2013

How Does Your NaNo Grow?

The final two days of NaNoWriMo and some of us have fallen to the wayside, bloodied and muddied, pens and printers empty of ink, bodies convulsing with anathesaurus shock while febrile comrades shout out they’ve completed their goal early.  Bastards.  Me, with two days left, there’s 3260 words needed to meet my goal, which for the non-NaNo savvy, means about 300 words better that the minimum daily requirement. 

This year, rather than a novel, I decided to write a daily short story.  It’s elegant to reduce a theme to a defining moment, not to mention that a writer of long fiction needs to churn out shorter works too.  However, I tend to get caught up in my novels and neglect shorter forms.  I faced NaNoWriMo with trepidation that I couldn’t do this thirty times over.  My fear wasn’t that I couldn’t do it well, but that I couldn’t do it at all.

The oddest thing happened.  Nearly every night this month, I’ve had a vivid dream which, the next day became my Nano contribution.  If you’ve ever kept a dream journal, you’ve probably amazed yourself with the range and clarity of your imagination.  But not every November morning was a vivid dream day for me, so the Butler tossed out a topic and off I went, no problem.  The dream experience seemed to prime the creative activity in my brain, and stories came.

Silk sock yarn.
Great for me, eh?  I dream my Nano into being like some type of New Age psycho.  Well, it’s not that idiosyncratic.  You can structure this process by giving yourself a pre-sleep suggestion.  Or recognise that this is a normal way of writing.  That whole staring into space part of creating.  Going for a walk.  Playing Patience (Solitaire) until an idea or phrase works itself into being.  (Me, I knit weird socks.) 

The essential factor in all of this is to relax.  To let it happen.  To trust that you have inside that noggin of yours the ability to express.  That means stop thinking about blog hits and trending topics and punctuation.  Simply let your voice spill onto the page without censor. 

So how did I do in my Nano?  A story a day, as required, but at some point my brain connected themes from the separate stories.  Then juxtaposed characters and put them into the same world.  Dramatic arcs sprouted.  Yesterday, I caught myself filling in a pre-novel extended synopsis grid. 

As I was knitting a weird sock this month and waiting for a sentence to straighten itself out in my head, I tried to figure out how many stitches made the total sock.  I’m not great at doing mental math, so never got the answer, but I did see a correlation between the type of brain that patiently click click clicks out hundreds of thousands of stitches for something as common as a sock, and the brain that tap tap taps out hundreds of thousands of words to write a novel.  It’s the long haul type of brain.
Hairy nipple sock.

However, that brain can knit what is fondly called in my house, the hairy nipple ankle sock or stay the course and knit an over-the-knee silk stocking.  The essential process is the same.  It’s the design and the desire that makes the final decision.  

NaNo’s taught me that I can write a short story a day.  I'm not sure which direction my Nano 2013 will grow now, but if we knew in advance where we were headed, it wouldn't be fun at all.

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