I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, I had firmly decided to sit this one out.
I’m invested in another WIP, one I wrote very quickly after Pitch Wars. A story that I have put together, pulled apart, ripped open, and dissected. A story that has been through one full draft and a bunch of false starts at rewriting. A story currently existing in half a dozen Word documents and scribbled on countless Post-It notes. Starting a new project would just complicate things. The timing was wrong. Right?
But at the same time, there was another idea percolating in my head, and a character who demanded my attention at the most inconvenient times. I was itching to fast-draft again, to let myself be free with my words. I wanted a ticket past the critical self-editing watchdog taking up residence in my brain. I wanted a magic formula to unstick the places I was stuck in with my WIP.
And while I’m pretty sure that magic formula doesn’t exist, NaNo does, and maybe that was exactly what I needed. Time away from my WIP. I wondered if absence really would make the heart grow fonder.
So I dove in. In the end, I only spent 16 days of November working on my NaNo novel for a total of 50,014 words, including a 15K sprint for the finish on November 30 that left me bleary-eyed and sore-wristed. It’s probably the loosest, most sparsely detailed first draft I have ever created. (I recently described it to my CP as a “hot mess.”) But that’s okay, because it’s a first draft, and that’s all it has to be for now.
And more importantly, that time away from my WIP was invaluable. It was different than just taking a break from writing entirely, which I have also done in the past when I felt burnt out. Because as I was typing those fresh words, the puzzle pieces of my WIP were also coming together inside my head. Shifting, interlocking. Taking shape.
Maybe that would have happened without NaNoWriMo. Maybe I would have figured things out without fast-drafting something new. But I think that by giving myself that freedom, by not treating my words like glass that would break if they weren’t placed in careful sentences, I helped shut that self-righteous editing watchdog up.
Does anyone else use this strategy, fast-drafting to stimulate creativity on other stalled projects? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!