Scott D. Parker
I'll admit that the primary reason I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year is to re-establish the writing habit. I have, until this month, fallen out of the habit of writing stories. Ironically, I've never stopped thinking about stories, seeing stories in the everyday, wondering if they might be crafted into something more, but I've rarely done anything about it.
This non-writing habit atrophies the muscles used to create prose. That's a fact. Even when I'm seeing stories in the news or from any source of inspiration, I'm only "seeing" them in my head. I haven't been writing them down, in sentences and paragraphs with dialogue and characters. I haven't, in short, been doing the hard work of what it takes to make stories.
Now, I'm a technical writer by day so the physical act of typing is still honed to a (mostly) sharp edge. That's not the issue. What I'm not good at recently is making up stuff as I type.
One of the things I did in October to plan for the NaNoWriMo initiative was map out the large main sections of the book and fill in all the individual scenes along the way. It's a way for me not to have to think too much when I write (that sounds bad…) because the thinking, imaginative part of the story has already been predetermined. I mapped out the scenes and merely have to put that scenes to prose once or twice per day. Simple?
Well, yes, in theory. But you still have to make your fingers move, making words and scenes and, well, stuff. It's that part of writing that is rusty. It's this part that is, frankly, hard. There's a part of me that knows that first day back in the "writing gym" is going to be difficult, frustrating, and awkward. And, yes, when I started this week, it was all of those things. I had to force my fingers to move in certain spots of the scene I wrote. I had only a vague sense of what the characters needed to do. I worked through it. I wrote the scene. And, using Scrivener's target indicator (you set the word count and, the bottom of the screen, is a moving, color-coded indicator to monitor your progress), it's rather straightforward to reach a goal.
What I found happened, slowly, is the various neurons that make up my imagination began to wake up. It wasn't instantaneous and it wasn't without pain, but they did wake up. And, somewhere deep inside, like a rock dropped in a deep well that, after you let it drop, finally finds the water, something from the past emerged. It was a memory more than an active thing, a memory of how I wrote my other novel. But it was there, and I felt it.
And it was encouraging, and sometimes, especially after a long lapse, that's enough.