I swear, I don't think I've fought this much with a first draft... ever.
I think it's because the entire story is "so-unlike-me". It's a battle, twisting these characters out of my brain. Nothing comes naturally. They think differently, speak differently, behave differently, and I'm constantly questioning myself... am I doing this right? Is this correct? Is that how they'd really act/choose/argue/etc?
Don't get me wrong, I'm still having fun, I'm still enjoying the challenge of working on something difficult and unusual (for me), and I think I finally can appreciate the concept of *writer's block* a little more, because I don't think I've ever really had it before.
Sure, there have been plenty of times when I didn't know what would happening next in a story, but I would always just take a break and wait until the words came again, or I would jump ahead and write scenes I did know, and would figure out how to connect them up later.
I can't do that this time.
These characters are so different, I can't jump ahead because I really don't know how they would act... I don't know how they will get to where they need to go, and how they will have changed by the time they have gotten there.
I suppose, since I don't fully understand them, I don't have a clear idea of their character arcs.
...which never happens. Normally, I only need to get a few pages into a new story, and their arc is clear.
This time... I'm closing in on 20,000 words (don't ask what I should be at to *win* NaNo...) and I still don't know what major change they will go through. I don't know what they will have to give up/sacrifice, what wounds they will endure, what hard choices they will make...
I think this is the first time I have a better idea of what the plot is than what the characters *are*.
Probably, some of this not-knowing is because this is an unusually stressful/busy month for me, where my brain is only putting about 5% of its total energy into this story, as evident by my absurdly low word-count... but hey, I'm typing this from the ferry... again... because I haven't had a moment to write at home all week.
Changing the conditions will obviously change the outcome. In this case, since I seem to only get time to write on the ferry, a very public, noisy place, when I normally I write at home in perfect solitude/silence/no distractions, my concentration level, and my writing, are obviously not going to be the same.
Strangely, I think because of the constant distractions, I'm finding it easier to write quick/argumentative dialogue and action sequences... maybe because of all the nose/activity, but it's much harder to keep track of things like emotional/personal changes/connections/etc.
Where do you normally write? Do you switch it up? Do you find it's easier to write some kind of scenes in specific circumstances, and other scenes in other places? How do you find writing in public vs. private spaces? Noise vs. quiet?