I had heard other authors discussing this but had nothing to base it on until after doing NaNoWriMo myself, and that is the experience of writing until you are empty.
50k words was the most I had ever written before on any subject, EVER. It was over 100 pages single spaced–and, it wasn’t even finished. Meaning, there are four more scenes that I will be going in to complete the line by line writing for. In meeting the Nov. 30 deadline and to meet my personal desire to at least have the skeleton completed, I ended up writing just the beats for four scenes.
Regardless of not being an entire first draft, I felt empty for three days afterwards and gave myself permission not to write. It actually felt strange.
So I tried to refill the creative well. I read fiction. I read graphic novels. I watched fun things on Netflix with my children. I cooked. I socialized with people.
1. Action Adventure Television
Watching the TV shows and movies definitely gave me a lot to think about from a storytelling perspective. My son and I love Marvel’s Agents of Shield, and in 45 minutes, that show has a lot of action.
It’s jam packed with alien invaders, alien artifacts, hand-to-hand combat, cool gadgets, emotional drama, unrequited love, mythology and secret societies. It’s a marvelous teaching tool for how to keep things fun and how to get your protagonists out of a hole.
2. Graphic Novels
Visual storytelling is such a great way to activate the brain. There’s so much to engage your brain and your eyes. It’s also a useful tool for when you resume writing and need to describe the things you see unfolding before you and to share it with your audience.
My older son struggles with reading chapter books, so usually I prime the pump by reading aloud with him for the first couple of chapters. Also, I have found that he has far more enthusiasm to read the chapter book when I also buy the graphic novel. I grew up reading comics and I still very much enjoy graphic novels. They aren’t just for kids. So if you are in the mood for some faster paced story telling, , I recommend picking up something like Rick Riordan’s newest, The Red Pyramid: The Graphic Novel (Kane Chronicles)
If you don’t fancy the young adult genre, the master storyteller himself, Neil Gaiman has many fantastic graphic novels to choose from, the recent one I read being The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Single Volume. Not that you need an excuse to read Neil Gaiman, ever.
For those of you who don’t already have this, run don’t walk, to get your copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 1)
It is full text, a gorgeous book.
3. WriMo Buddies
This was my first NaNoWriMo. November was a horrible month for me, travel wise because I was hardly in one place for very long. This meant missing many of the local write-ins which I had been hoping to go to. I went to school with a someone who is now a very accomplished fiction writer, something like 10+ books and three of them optioned for movies or television. She commented once that being a writer is tough on extroverts because it is such solitary effort, where you just shut the door and get your butt in the chair night after night.
I think even if you are an introvert, you could probably relate to feeling that you are going at it alone when you are trying to crank out your daily word count. So it was with great pleasure that I had dinner with two dear friends who had also participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. And we didn’t have a deadline.
So we ate a homecooked meal, ate chocolate cake, and drank red wine.
We talked about the scenes we had gotten stuck on, the scenes we were surprised we wrote, the scenes that we loved. It was wonderful to share about our story journey.
And it worked. Because I’m feeling the urge to write again, and to tackle those last four scenes.