Still plodding away here on NaNoWriMo. I'm actually staying a little ahead of the official schedule as shown on the NaNo website, but I was hoping to be much further along by my own personal schedule. I'm at 14,068 words when I stopped on Sunday night-- I was trying for 15,000. I'd just like to get a little ahead of the game to compensate for any intrusions upon my life that may steal time away from my novel in the days and weeks to come. You know-- things like doctor's appointments, family matters, household crises, Thanksgiving, and keeping up with the blog and all things related to that. Time marches on and I don't want to get left behind because of lost time.
Speaking of lost time, this was an early stumbling block that I encountered with the novel. Last Sunday I had come up with a title, some characters, some settings, and some rough plot ideas. I begin writing, making up much as I went along trying my best to make it all fit together with what I had already. By Tuesday I started realizing that my timeline of events was not clear or logical. The course of my story was spanning about thirty years, but the aging of my characters and the progression of the story did not logically fit in with this span of time. My thinking on this had to grind to a halt.
To clarify everything for me I decided to map it out by drawing some parallel timelines for different characters to make sure ages and life events stayed consistent. The characters were all leading separate lives which were converging as the story progessed. By creating the visual chart of timelines it became clearer to me where everybody is and when they are there. I realized that the span of thirty years was ten years longer than it should be if the histories of the characters were as I envisioned them.
Often it's not a bad idea in whatever we do to draw out a visual representation of what we have done, where we are going, and what our goals are. This can work in any aspect of life, not just narrative story telling. Every part of your life has a story to go with it. It might be your life itself--your past history, your present circumstance, and your future goals. Or it could be health, finances, or sending your kids to college. Anything can be made clearer by drawing a timeline to visualize and understand how you need to approach goals to make them realistic.
You might say, "I weigh too much. I'm going on a diet." And maybe that works for a while, but you get sidetracked and the diet doesn't work like you hoped. If you're like me, you may have done this more than once. I think the problem is often that there is not only no good plan in place but there is no understanding of the history of the situation and the steps in time that lead to the end goal. If one starts at a beginning point (when did I first start gaining weight and why), plan a destination point ( I want to lose X amount), and realistically chart your intended progrress as well as your actual progress, which may mean you might have to adjust things as you go. A good map will help you to get where you want to go better than just trying to go without knowing which roads get there.
I don't think I've made a stretch in my analogy between writing a novel and regular everyday life. But if I did, well that's what happens sometimes when you stay up too late writing so you can post to your blog first thing in the morning. Ah, NaNo--it may get even more bizarre and off-the-wall. But hopefully we all have a good time.