30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 1: I Don’t Know

Hi there, and welcome to the first post of 30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2. It’s been two years since I participated in NaNoWriMo, and . . . a lot has changed. Two years ago, I had a work-from-home job that allowed me to make my own schedule. To go out for all of November, writing in public and then blogging about my experiences. Two years ago, I was excited to use 30 Days to find interesting places to write all over New York City.

Now, it’s 2016 and I have a job that is very demanding of my time. And I’m also . . . not . . . too in love with the idea of writing about writing-friendly places.

What I’d much rather do . . . is write about writing.

I did love the first 30 Days and, if I ever have the freedom again, I’d love to return to hunting for writing spots all over the city, but this year, I’m going to take you on a different journey–an incredibly in-depth look at my process. This year, 30 Days will be a way-too-honest journal. One that I hope other writers can relate to, laugh at/with, and hopefully be inspired by.

And, goddammit, since there’s no bad time to be inspired, let’s jump right in!


I don’t know what to write.

Two years ago, with zero preparation, I decided on my first NaNo project instantly; the moment that I learned about NaNoWriMo, two days before it started that year, I immediately knew what novel I was going to write–Memory: Shadow of the Lord Sun. At that point, it Memory of the Black Sun, a handful of scene ideas, hastily duct-taped to an incredibly rickety framework of plot. Powering through it was an exciting exercise in improv, resulting in a fun novel . . . that needed a lot of maintenance.

I wound up skipping NaNoWriMo last year, intent on editing and writing shorts; a risky, lethargy-inviting move . . . that actually paid off recently when one of those stories got published. Now. . . I have a follow-up for that published story. And I also have lots of ideas for other short stories. I have a bunch of novel ideas too. And a table top game idea. A graphic novel concept.

I have all of these ideas with the knowledge that I can get them done, and–finally–that I can get them published . . .

. . . And somehow, I still have no idea what to write.

Is it personal? I don’t know. Is it writer’s block? I don’t know.

All I know is, on this first night of NaNoWriMo 2016, I’m torn.

My options:

  1. A fun, suspenseful, fantasy, crime drama (-ish?) ensemble piece. I’ve done a good bit of the plot for it, but not enough worldbuilding. Well, not enough to feel like I’m done worldbuilding; I’m still in that phase where I see something mundane (i.e. a bushy plant with colorful flowers) and lose five minutes thinking, “What color flowers are on the plains outside of Errsai?” These questions assault me daily, along with the nagging sensation that this project won’t be authentic if I don’t worldbuild enough for it.
  2. A fun YA fantasy novel. This one also has enough plot work done, but it also feels like it has enough worldbuilding as well–the point of Option 1 is to create a super immersive, believable world, but this YA novel isn’t the same beast. It’s a standalone adventure with strong emotions and strange magic. It’s also a genre I haven’t written in yet, which means that completing it would widen the field I can pitch to. So, basically, it has all of the things going for it. Only . . . its major themes include friendship and family, two things that don’t exactly fill me with inspiration at the moment. I’m not sure I can sell the emotion or muster up the right feels for this one. Not this month.
  3. An emotionally intense adult fantasy. It feels right and absolutely all of the worldbuilding is done, but the plot has never come to me. Or, rather, the root of it–the important, beautiful truth of this story–just isn’t there yet.

I look at these three options and, somehow, I draw a blank. Most of last month, I was excited about Option 1. But then, last week, when I realized that I wanted to keep worldbuilding for 1, I got excited for Option 2. But now, after a long week, I find myself not in the right state of mind for Option 2, realizing that I am absolutely in the right state of mind for Option 3, but I don’t feel like I’d do it justice–not without more writing experience under my belt.

So, that’s where I am right now. Confused.

But I am not . . . giving up.

I’m taking night one as a test. Tonight, I try out a throwaway scene from each story. Whatever works–whichever feels comfortable–is the one I’m going to work on for the month. If I at least start off by going with my gut, I can figure out the rest as I go along.

I can do this. I can write something awesome this month.

I just need to figure out how.

Published by

Louis Santiago

I'm a fantasy writer based in New York. One of my short stories, "Aixa the Hexcaster," was published at Mirror Dance Fantasy. You can read it here: http://www.mirrordancefantasy.com/2016/09/aixa-hexcaster.html.

5 thoughts on “30 Days of NaNoWriMo 2 – Day 1: I Don’t Know”

      1. Not doing it officially, but my target wordcount for November is 40,000 – so I’m getting close!

      2. Whoa. 40,000 is a good chunk of words. Well, I wish you all the good writing vibes I can muster! May the words flow like a river of coffee, nectar of the muse! . . . (Sorry, it’s late and I get weird. LOL Thanks though!)

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