National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, happens every November. The challenge is to start a novel on November 1 and write 50,000 words by November 30. There’s a website with a supportive community, forums, locally hosted write-in events, and swag to buy. If you hit the target, you’re considered a winner and for that you get bragging rights.
Ever since I heard about NaNoWriMo, I’ve made annual excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly participate. This year was shaping up to be no different.
Excuse #1: I need to finish editing that book I already wrote.
Excuse #2: I need to spend my free time preparing for the pending move.
Excuse #3: I…need to…um…
But the fact is, I haven’t touched my old book in months, and there’s not much more I can do to prepare for the move short of packing all the things, but since the move is still a few months away there’s only so much packing I can do. And honestly, I could use the distraction.
So I grabbed my trusty notebook full of book ideas and picked my favorite.
Any time I have an epiphany or an idea for a story, I jot it down in this notebook. I love this little book even though it’s pretty darn impractical. It has stone paper, which means it’s made of limestone and resin. It feels incredible and is virtually impossible to tear. But it’s also nearly impossible to write on. Fountain pen ink puddles on the surface. It will dry eventually, but the one and only time I used my fountain pen in this book I had to leave it open overnight to dry. Ballpoint pens don’t like to work on it either, and they etch the letters into the paper in addition to ink. Fortunately I also love felt tip pens, and they work on this paper no problem.
Idea chosen, I started to prepare. That meant picking out a blank notebook (my favorite part).
This is one of those Denik notebooks. They have a lot of fun covers and a portion of the profits goes to schools. Unfortunately the binding is pretty awful. It won’t lay flat, and it will barely stay open. I have to use an alligator clip to keep it open to the page I want.
Anyway, I rewrote my initial idea on the front page. Then I made a list of characters and named them. My book takes place on a cruise ship, a submarine, and an island, so I gave each location a page and did some research on each so I would have some idea of what I’m talking about. And then I came up with a rough outline for the story.
I added a brainstorming page, for all those times when I get ideas for the story and need somewhere to jot them down. I have a page filled with questions that will need answered. And I’ve started some character sketches.
I numbered 30 pages with the intention of putting 1/30th of the outline on each page. I thought that way I would have a set number of scenes to write each day. But then I remembered that sometimes I get into a rhythm and will write for hours. If I got “ahead” on my outline, my procrastinating brain would take that as an excuse to take a few days off. Don’t want that! Instead I’ll use those pages to summarize each day what parts of the story I wrote. Then I can refer to it the next day rather than rereading what I wrote which would lead to compulsive editing.
I plugged this graph into my bullet journal so I can keep track of how I’m doing word-count wise. To hit 50,000 words, you should average 1,667 words per day. But I’m not going to cling too closely to that. If I hit 1,667 and still feel like writing, I’m going to keep writing. Fifty-thousand words doesn’t make for a very long book, and I want to actually finish the story by the end of the month. I want to prove to myself that I can write a book quickly.
My last book (which I’ll talk about in a different post) took me three years to write just the rough draft. I’ve now been in editing mode for more than a year. That’s pretty discouraging. If I can crank out this rough draft in thirty days, I might start to feel like a writer again.