For the past few years I’ve faithfully been a part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for the uninitiated), using it as an opportunity to try something new and different. I wrote my Loose Id release, An Angel’s Blade, during NaNo a few years ago because I thought a romance novel with zombies – how cool! Last year, I wrote a young adult book dealing with therapeutic riding and best friends reconnecting. It’s called Walking Summer, and while a couple of teens, including a girl at the barn and her father with whom I work, have read it and pronounced it excellent, I’m still wobbling on revising and sending it out.
This year I thought about doing NaNoWriMo. It’s a yearly tradition, a rite of passage where I can do something new and different, crazy even, without any penalties. If it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, well it was an experiment, and as they say, “no harm, no foul.” I even thought about what projects I could try this year, such as a sequel to a very special project I’m writing (not romance, I’m afraid), maybe try my hand at the fantasy novel I’ve been thinking about, or even use it to hammer out another erotic romance. In the end, I couldn’t decide and looking at my current responsibilities and my “to do” list, I figured I’d take a pass this year. Besides, I’m already writing that new and different, and completely out of my comfort zone project and loving it!
I’ll admit that I’ll feel a twinge of sadness this year as people talk about all their NaNo successes. I loved the write-ins that our local group holds, where we all converge on a Carribou Coffee or Panera and write for a few hours. I usually got between three and four thousand words done and learned quite a few tricks for boosting productivity. (Such as roll two dice, add the total and then take it times 100. That’s your word count you have to it in the next thirty minutes. Go!)
The lesson I’m taking away from NaNo is that it’s okay to write those projects, the ones that touch your muse, your heart, and your soul. No plot, no problem has become a mantra for those of us who do 50,000 words in a month, and even though I am an insanely detailed plotter, it’s enough of a mantra for the times when your characters rip the plot right out from underneath you by introducing new ideas, new backstory, or even new directions. It’s important to listen to your characters, just as important to listen to your muse.
So now, this week, I’ll be finishing my “super seekrit” project of my heart. I’m excited about it. It’s new, different, and I think a fresh voice in its genre. I don’t think I could have written it a year ago, or maybe even two. No, I needed those NaNo’s under my belt so I knew that not only could I write the different projects, but also finish them. And that it was okay to do so.
To everyone doing NaNo this year, I wish you a cooperative muse, lots of coffee, and speedy typing. You can do it. I know you can! And maybe you’ll have some NaNo lessons you can share with us, too. In fact, I’d love to hear what NaNo has taught others. Happy writing!
Mary Winter…explore seasons of passion
Latest release (something a bit different from my usual genres) Southern Rose, a lesbian historical novella from Pink Petal Books.