It begins the way these stories always begin: Shinali talks me into signing up for (a variant on) NaNoWriMo, and chaos ensues. This time, though, is different. It isn’t the official month—it’s June, and we’re doing the “Camp” version instead. This time I’m leaving the Generic Villain behind and taking a stab at Almagest again, and, as with last time I worked on Almagest, I haven’t done near enough background to make the intrigue work. This time, I have massive writer’s block, but just enough time on my hands to feel guilty if I can’t keep up. And this time, I have a whole lot of RPG design to do in as little time as possible.
So, it being not the official month, I decide to work more within the spirit of the challenge than in the exact letter. The idea behind NaNo, after all, is to propel its novelists into producing output. In their case, it’s 50,000 words of novel. Mine, instead, is a combined 50,000 words of novel, game fluff, and the occasional blog post relevant to one, the other, or both. Then I fly to another state, lose motivation due to a buggy validation utility, get hit extra-hard by the block, have a fellow writer who both is convenient to write with me and inflames my competitive spirit… and there I go.
I need to write.
I need to write fast.
I need to write… fluff.
Over the span of two days, along with some major plotting efforts and a couple of scenes, I’ve written up two religions, two classes’ worth of fluff, and a couple of demiplanes—the last time I made this kind of progress, I was panicking about the upcoming introduction of a new artist. It leaves me staring at it and asking myself, “How did this happen?”
Part of it was the procrastination factor. When I procrastinate, as often as not what happens is that I jump from whatever I was doing to something I can do more easily. At home, it’s typically video games, or reading, or scanning through my older posts to see if I can come up with anything else. But here, with that too-low word count looming over my head, anything I do to procrastinate needs to be in service of that word count. (All right, except for talking about game, or looking at the books we acquired at that used bookstore the other day—but that was special.) As long as I sit down to write the story, delaying it to write game fluff comes easily; the fluff isn’t so much on the deadline, so it isn’t so much stress.
Part was prompts. Writing intrigue is a bear; I can do it just fine when I know who the players are, but when I’m trying to put together a ten-plot pileup and only have two characters thought out and one forming rapidly, it’s not near as straightforward. On the other hand, taking the god of natural deaths or things man was not meant to know or what have you and coming up with a writeup that touches on a pre-provided list of questions? I wouldn’t call it an easy several hundred words, per se, but it certainly gets the creative juices flowing.
And, of course, the fact that it was Actual Progress, not just writing for writing’s own sake, helped. I do so much better when I feel like I’m getting somewhere!