NaNo, of course, is that crazy writer’s challenge of writing a rough draft of a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November.
That’s something like 175 pages. Clearly, I love to write and have no problem getting lengthy. For me writing such short novels is like trying to put a muffin into a thimble. As skeptical as I am that my draft would be at the end, rather than midpoint there, I still enjoy the attempt to win the challenge.
Last Year’s Attempt
Last year marked the first time I got as far as working on the actual draft. Prior attempts, I couldn’t figure out what to work on, and life kept getting heavily in the way. Breaking the ice last year on that was great for me. Though I didn’t actually win, I did get 8448 of that novel done. 4093 of them the first day of working on it.
As further encouragement, I’ve worked on the draft of that novel since then. Admittedly, I wasn’t used to the writing software I use back then, so the next time I remembered I was supposed to be working on it wasn’t until one day in June. Then I remembered to work on it several times in both August and September. There is some hope of finishing the draft by year’s end even if I take November off of it to work on the 2012 NaNo. On September 15th I managed to clock in my highest typed word count in a single day thus far at 10,046, and even went to a BBQ that day.
Should I win NaNo this year, I’ll be surprised, given last November’s word count. Plus, I’m currently working on last year’s novel in an involved sort of way. I am sure that I will at least get further than 8448 words. Especially since I am now far more comfortable with the writing software I use (yWriter5, and a big thanks to @KMWeiland for mentioning this software to me, it’s very useful for novel writing).
A bit about that project, it’s a series involving mermaids, vampires and modern day steampunk, with the series working title of Wet Shades, which may end up being it’s actual title. I am sure to babble about it again.
What I Should Have Known Sooner
While sometimes just sitting down and starting to write does work fine for figuring out what to write about, it does not typically help me meet a deadline like the one for NaNoWriMo. Failing to figure out what to write about had been the dead end for me each year since I learned of it in 2007 or 2008 when I bought Chris Baty’s book about it. I’d like to work with that book this year but it’s still in storage, which I do not have regular access to.
It can take a good two weeks, or more, to do the preliminary think and brew before starting a draft, which easily can put the kibosh on a 30 day novel.
My prep plan for this year:
- Get more used to yWriter5, just get really comfortable with it. It has all sorts of great features. For example, the Daily Word Count Target tool will be extra useful for NaNo. With that you can set a time frame of the entirety of November and set the word count target to 50,000, and it does the math for you on your remaining workload. Aside from being great for fueling steady motivation, it also reduces stress and prevents random episodes of epic math related distraction.
- Practice regular draft writing by working on Wet Shades 1 as steadily and consistently as I can this month. Aiming for at least 500 words 6 days a week. The 500 goal gives me a number to warm up with most days, and others to be a break day. Writing 2,000+ words in a day is common for me on days I get to open up the program and spend some time in there. And going over the 5,000 word mark on a day I really get to focus is not unusual for me.
- Decide what I want to write about in general. Things like determining genre, basic setting, and a little bit about the major characters and some basics about plot.
- Coming up with a working title.
- Naming the most major characters.
- Coming up with a rough cover mock up image so that I feel more comfortable participating in the forums.
Aside from the cover mock up and the practice via other projects, the results of this prep work should occupy at most one sheet of paper, hand written.
I know some people do an outline for the whole novel before they start, but my outlining process is different, done in bits.
Anybody else planning to tackle NaNoWriMo this year? Who’s getting excited about it already?