I don't see myself as a word count writer. When I try that, it feels like I'm missing the relationship with my characters that I so love. I write to go deeper with people, to understand places I've never been, to open myself up to the possibility that I don't know everything. (More a fact than a possibility, but it's so easy for so many of us to forget this.)
And, I write out of order. The Former Lives of Buildings, the novel that I'm currently shopping around to agents, happens on four personal timelines of a character with memory problems, and was the first project where I fully embraced writing different threads of story and weaving them together in some kind of sequence later on. But all of my longer writing projects have jumped around as I've written them, leaving me to fiddle with scenes like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle during the revision process.
So, again, I don't see myself as that kind of writer, one who can just write the first 1,667 words one day and then sit down to write the next 1,667 words on the following day, for 30 consecutive days.
And, as a result, I haven't tried NaNoWriMo before. I have used the month to do a mad dash on revisions for novels, and that's worked well. But drafting a novel always seemed like a silly thing for me to try in this manner.
But the world is crazy right now, and I need to create something while we're in the midst of all this destruction. I don't even care if I have a whole novel at the end of this. I just need to make something.
So, here's what I'm going to do. The novel I've been researching for the past year has an ensemble cast spread across the globe, and it's felt too big for me to sink my teeth into all this time. But I've written a bit from this character, and a bit from that one, and I guess I have about 20 pages of bits. And that, I think, is how this book needs to get birthed: bit by bit.
I'm going back to the classroom for this - I know consecutive, consistent word counts don't work for me. But prompts, the mainstay of the creative writing classroom, do. I am gathering articles, character prompts, inspiring photos, and other materials that can work as entry points to get at different characters in the book. Each day in November, I'll write from one of these prompts. I have a good feeling about this. I think it will give me all the threads I need to sit down and start weaving in the months that follow.
What about you? Have you done NaNoWriMo before? Are you considering doing it for the first time? How have you prepared? How have you kept going in the midst of it? I'd love to hear about your experience.