I just might shudder and fall over with creative anticipation. NaNoWriMo does that to me. Quite an irony given my reluctance to participate back in 2014, so much so I didn’t commit until the last trick-or-treater had faded into the night. October 31st held one more hour when I finally decided to give it a try. I’d had a few ideas and characters adrift in my head so that last hour was spent jotting them down and creating an account.
One key to success I learned that first year was lowering expectations and letting myself view that first attempt as an experiment. No pressure. A learning experience. It worked, though my lack of preparation caused me a lot more work over the course of November. Even so, I had a great time and finished with a completed project and 62K. I was hooked!
So much has changed since then, especially my attitude, which has gone from apprehension to enthusiasm. I go all in! Yesterday I threw together a cover image to use. It took about 45 minutes in Photoshop Elements after some trial-and-error to get the effect I wanted. I then wrote a blurb and posted it. So exciting! Having my simple cover makes it all more official and now the book is sitting there waiting to be born.
For me, no matter how bad the cover I create for NaNo, it’s vital to my buy-in.
I continue to toil on other prep work like the characters. I cycle through the various story elements, each time through influencing the other elements (character sketches, theme, plot, etc.). Still, no matter how much I have ready before I start drafting, the characters still do the unexpected and grow in ways I hadn’t foreseen. My prep work, in the end, becomes less a guide and more a way to enable my characters.
The characters do the real work and it’s mesmerizing watching it happen.
My process could be summed up as happening in three phases. The first might be described as plotting, though I spend a lot of time writing essays about, or as, characters to gain a better understanding of who they are. For the second phase I become a pantser in many ways, but not entirely because I have so many resources backing me up. It’s a lot like being a brain surgeon and having a huge staff surrounding me while I work. The last phase is editing and that’s its own magic.
Oh wait, I just checked the date. Still nearly four weeks? No…!