As we near the end of the month, I wanted to share with you one of the most important lessons that I have gained over the last four years of participating in NaNoWriMo. While the chief goal (in my mind) is learning how to consistently dedicate an hour or two a day to write in a way that progresses both your manuscript(s) and your craft, I think another important lesson to be gained is to step back from your prose and let it form on its own.
I am a dedicated Plotter. I do not go into a writing session without at least a bare-bones guideline for what I plan to write. I have a story I want to tell and I want to make sure that my tale progresses in the way that it should. However, this is not a scholastic essay we are writing but an evolving, living piece of art. It breathes and grows of its own accord and trying to rein in its growth will stifle your story.
I have learned that turning off your inner editor and your inner planner and letting your fingers just fly across the keyboard can sometimes create an immense freedom for the story to grow in ways that you did not originally imagine. More than once I’ve just written extemporaneously and witnessed the story change direction and go someplace magical and unexpected. Just recently, I’ve seen a new character created, one that I know will become a impactful part of the mythos I am creating. In my outline, this was a bit player, a vehicle to move the action from one location to another. Now, they are a vibrant part of my novel’s community. That’s something exciting.
So, I implore you to write recklessly. Write with abandon. Let your mind become a willing passenger for your soul’s imagination. Sometimes the gut is the best guide. Look at it like a safari. The seasoned, practiced guide will take you to see all of the sights in the most efficient manner. That’s important because clearly you want to see all of the sights, so that your safari is complete. However, sometimes you need that one person who will jump the ropes and take you to pet the lion cubs. Or dance with the baboons. You really can’t hop the fence and run willy-nilly through the game preserve all of the time, because not only will you fail to complete the safari, but you’re likely to get mauled or eaten. Yet, those little adventures -those side-steps away from your plotted storyline- can sometimes yield the most memorable and magical of moments.