When I did NaNoWriMo back in 2010, I was happy to get through it and win it without losing too much of my sanity. I have so little left to lose.
Writing 50,000 words in just a month’s time can be a daunting task and can put a severe strain on the other areas of your life. I have a lot of stuff on my plate: work, college classes, and other obligations that also need to be considered and can not just be shunted aside for the sake of a making a daily word count.
So why did I decide to to it this year and how will I manage it? These are the questions I’m going to attempt to answer in this post.
I’m doing NaNo this year for two reasons. One (and perhaps the most important): I have a story I’m dying to tell and I’m totally in love with it. I don’t know if anyone else will ever love this book as much as I already do, and right now, I don’t really care. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but I’m writing this book because I want to. I don’t know if there will be a market for it. Don’t care. Two: I’ve been in a slump lately with my fiction writing and I need to break out of it. I have a couple short story projects with upcoming deadlines. I’m hoping that by getting into a groove with my novel, I will feel inspired to begin these other projects.
How am I going to do it? I’ve been planning this novel for a little while now…long before I began entertaining any thoughts about trying to write it in November. Here’s some of the ways I’ve been preparing to write my November novel, Quellseek: Army of Empaths:
- Preliminary Notes: When I first got the idea for this story, I started taking notes on things that would come to me about it. I make sure I have small notebooks in my purse now to scribble things on. I also use Notes or Evernote on my iPhone to keep track of little things that come to me.
- A.B.T. & D.S.E.: Always. Be. Thinking. This leads to more of Number 1. It’s good to think. I couple this with…Dropping Some Eaves: I listen to the conversations happening around me. You never know when a great literary nugget will come from a complete stranger, or a good line of conversation. Thinking and Eavesdropping can be turned into some great plot twists or dialogue in your book, and when you’re writing a novel, every little bit helps. Once you learn to fine-tune your senses, you’ll discover tidbits all around you!
- Outline: I’ve got an outline I’ve been working on in Evernote.
Evernote is a great tool for simple outlines. I love the hell out of Evernote. It’s available as a phone app, too, so I can work on stuff when I don’t have access to a computer. I also use Evernote to record revelations I have concerning characters, plot, settings and to collect research. Seriously, Evernote is one of the coolest organization tools out there. And the basic package (which does everything I need it to do) is free!
- Story bible for serious notes (WIKA): I always buy and use story bibles, just plain Mead notebooks (with pocket folders inside) that I can carry around with me to jot stuff down in while I’m having lunch or riding on the bus. When I’m working on a story, I suffer anxiety if I don’t have my story bible with me. I only use them for longer stories, and novels, of course. One type of notes I’m taking for this one involve the POV characters. I’ve never written a novel where the POV will switch back-and-forth, so I’m writing a page or two of a chapter synopsis about what happens to the POV character in each chapter. I call these “What I Know About,” or WIKA for short. I’ll do the first one as a character sketch, then just write chapter details in subsequent ones. I also have a copy of my tentative chapter list in my story bible. I write the titles of the chapters followed by one or two empty lines…to add any chapters I may have to insert along the way. You never know.
- Character Set-up (StoryMill): I use the writing software StoryMill. I know a lot of people use Scrivener and swear by it, and to each their own. StoryMill works for me. It is set up a lot
like Evernote. There’s places for notes and research. But what I dig most about StoryMill is the mini-character database within it. I can create and keep track of all my characters. I can use tags to identify which characters are dead. I can then run a SmartView later to show me all the dead characters. It’s just a wonderfully helpful piece of software that works for the way I write. It also has a Timeline feature, but I haven’t figured out how to use it yet. I may need to play with it when I start getting deep into the plot of this story. It also has a section for scenes.
- Time Management and Expectations: I confess: I do not have great time management skills. I’ve been trying to get better at it by making myself to-do lists and such. As far as my novel goes, I’m hoping that what I have managed to do with my story bible, and setting things up in Evernote and StoryMill will help me to at least keep things straight in my head and will save me some time. Another important aspect involves my own personal expections for NaNo 2012. I’m not as concerned this year with finishing up November 30th with 50,000 words. If I don’t finish, it’s okay. I want to get a good grounded start on this novel. That’s what my goal is. Any word count I finish with will be okay as long as I can keep going and advance the plot when November is over. I’m not setting a high bar that I’ll likely be unable to cross. My goal is to start telling the story of the people on this world, and tell it to the best of my ability…and still want to tell more when I’m done. I have high hopes for this novel. But I’m smart enough to have learned from my NaNo of 201o. My high hopes may not be answered at the end of NaNo…but I can, and will, keep writing this book.
Happy (NaNoWriMo) writing!