It probably sounds like a strange thing: between the blog, the job, the commute, the game(s), and the household, why am I participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? The easy answer is the enthusiasm of a friend; Shinali had half my game group involved at one point, and I figured it was as good a kick in the pants for getting one of my long-running projects off the ground as any, so I decided to participate, mostly unofficially so I wouldn’t feel as bad if I got overwhelmed and dropped out. (But not so unofficially that I couldn’t mine it for blog topics, right?)
But I think I’ll be staying for the challenge. It’s been four days, and I haven’t quite reached what should be my second-day wordcount (does it count as double if I’m both doing it longhand and then transcribing it onto the computer?), but I have learned more than I thought possible. And hey, this is more noveling than I’ve done in years; I don’t think I’ve written anything longer than a short story since I started running game. And they say that you learn the most by stepping out of your comfort zone, and NaNo is causing me to do so in ways I sort of expected but underestimated the intensity and results of.
First is the simple matter of inspiration style. I’m character-based, with setting-based as a secondary; most of my work, both gaming and writing, has flowed from knowing at least a few of the characters inside out before I began, and letting them and their world create the plot. (Particularly game; mine has been going for five years in that manner.) Granted, one of my characters I’ve known since before I had any idea what the setting would be, and one of my two viewpoints is apparently a strong enough voice to wrest the plot from my original planned lead character and run with it, but the latter doesn’t have a name and my original character needs something to do. Then there’s the setting, based on a time period that I know a lot less than I’d like about (so I spend half my computer time studying), with no map so far and not too much political landscape. Working entirely from a half-plot—and one where I can’t tell where the beginning should be, at that—is taking some getting used to.
Second comes back to those characters and settings I barely know, particularly the setting. In my game, I’m confident enough to toss in names and details on the fly, or at least with a quick flip through my namebook. With this, I don’t know what I don’t know and don’t trust myself to make it up—and I’m scrawling in a notebook on the trolley, with a backpack too full to pack said name book—so I tend to leave names open, to be filled in either on transcription (as with my first antagonist character, now going by Yachne) or later (the country from which Yachne hails has been rendered as [That Country Over There], both pre-and post-transcription, pretty much since I started).
Third is my perfectionism. Usually I write slowly and self-correct lots. Right now I’m writing as fast as I can and trying not to let the urge to self-correct slow me down too much. It’s not entirely successful, but it’s a start.
There’s a deadline, peer pressure is (at least for some values) on my side, and now the project’s started and seeping into my mind. I may not finish this thing, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am going to learn a lot in the process.