I've been participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) on and off for years. I've never gotten very far - I think the first time I did it in 2001 I wrote 20,000 words and that's been the benchmark ever since. This past year I was going to skip it - I'd tried the year before with a lot more free time and barely cracked 7,000. My brother Scott did it with me that year - 2011 - and finished early. He self-published the resulting novel (The Well of Trees - available in Print and Kindle formats from Amazon) in early 2012. That was his first year trying NaNoWriMo.
I hate him a little for that. ;)
Anyway, this year I was a LOT more busy. Behind on work projects and just generally feeling stressed. Having failed to finish every time before I thought there was no point in writing this year - I'd be even less likely to.
However another brother (Jeff) decided he'd jump in this year and he has even LESS free time than I do (what with an hour commute each way and 2 kiddos). Scott's wife Crystal joined in and another brother (Micah) also signed up, so I threw my hands in the air and said 'what the hell.'
Usually I try and start a writing project with some idea of the general plot and characters. This year I started too close to the start date and didn't feel like digging out an old idea. So I just sat down and wrote the first thing that came to my mind:
"I woke up remembering how I’d had to fight the monsters in 1997, which of course I had never done. If you’re reading this, it means things got back to normal and you’ve forgotten how it all went down. If you somehow manage to track me down to verify this, I won’t remember either. As far as reality is concerned, there are no monsters. There was no monster war. It never happened.
Until it happens again."
That was my starting point and I just went from there.
In many ways this was a really freeing experience. I started each day not knowing where things were going. I even started leaving things in the middle of scenes - kind of daring myself to figure ways for the characters to get out of the situation.
It was stressful and at times I was really just typing words with no desire or intent behind them just to hit my minimums for the deadline, however somehow it all came together. I actually finished!
I have no idea if it's any good or not - I have the feeling it's at best a fun genre adventure - but what the hell, I actually finished a novel.
Now's when the real work begins - the rewrite/revision/editing process. I'll keep you posted how it goes.