All Hallow’s Eve is done, the ghosts move back into my writing and November is here. Are you ready for some musings on NaNoWriMo?
I recently posted my thoughts on tackling this years event starting with the concept that 50,000 words in a month can’t be too hard, or can it?
The conclusion was absolutely not if…
- Your story doesn’t die after 10K.
- Writing is done every day and daily word count targets are met.
- Accept absolutely it’s first draft mode; no stopping to edit, rethink, ponder grammar or tautology. Nothing matters except words on the page.
- Plan. Not the novel, but life around the writing. Time scheduling is everything, those groceries won’t fetch themselves and the kids might like to eat now and then.
- Plan. The novel, if that’s what you need to do. But don’t start November in this phase, that time has passed. Personally I don’t plan in detail, I write. It works or it doesn’t.
I won’t re-hash that post here, but I will say the points are entirely valid for the beginning of the challenge.
This months question on the Insecure Writers Group is interesting in context too.
Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
I’m not a fan of the word “win” in the relation to NaNo. I know it’s a challenge, but given the bullet points above hitting that target is not always as easy as saying write 16667 words a day for 30 consecutive days (yes I rounded it up for mathematical purists!).
Actually, it is easy to say and is very doable, providing nothing goes wrong. Flagging word counts early on can grow exponentially later and make the whole task impossible. My advice here is one of my few constants. I set several targets, the first being 20K and thereafter in 5K increments while trying to keep to 2000 words a day to provide insurance when that’s just not possible. If I reach 20K then I’m satisfied, anything else is a bonus.
In context of “win” or “lose” also consider what no words means by not doing it, or giving up because the 50K ambition quickly fades away. Yes, it’s fantastic to see that WINNER badge, but think in a different direction.
If your story dies, then consider it time well spent exorcizing a plot that was lurking, but didn’t have enough to fulfil a novel. It’s an idea tested and now removed from wondering. You might rediscover it later too as a short story, novella or even as part of another book.
If you don’t reach the target, then does it really matter? You have started a novel. One thing I’ve learnt recently is that many people haven’t heard of Camp NaNo months. This project is now suited to using those. Here the writer sets their own personal goal; be it editing a novel, writing another, finishing a book or outlining a new one. Word counts are at your own discretion. An unfinished November novel thus moves into a Camp. “Losing” November can be turned into “winning” in a Camp.
That said, any words are winning in my book, if the alternative is staring at an empty word processor. Writing a book is a huge commitment too, it takes dedication, sacrifice, emotional trauma and time. Not all books are written in a month either. Many take years so think hard on what you mean by “win” or “lose”.
As for the question in relation to me, I’ve done NaNo once so far and managed almost 60K words. My game plan is an idea and then just write and see what happens (see third bullet point). I have a general template aiming at 80K with 5K per chapter, so sixteen chapters in total. That gives me the time needed in each phase of the book without requiring a story outline. Yes, I know many people use those and all well and good if it works for you. I feel we all have to find our own method(s) that work for us and roll with them.
I am still to finalise last years novel and this years book prologue has defined the ending clearly. If nothing else this month, I now have my ending and the concept for a sequel. I call this “winning” before even starting!!!
So, yes, I will finish all my NaNo projects, unless they die on me. Even if they did then they would be will be filed and not deleted; you never quite know.
In truth, last years is alive and kicking and this years is not going to die. I have strong character voices in my head and a year between writing the first and now the sequel has consolidated the plot.
Publishing is indeed the ambition, although I have a few manuscripts pending there. Not with publishers as such, but my own mental ramblings on the best way forward #ISWG and all that.
For now this is my WIP. I know some have seen it before, but I’m trying to boost up my mojo!
MarshBank House is haunted, so say the locals. It consumes people, or sends them to the lunatic asylum.
Alan and Joseph Carmichael run a paranormal investigation side-line. Two years ago they lost Conrad while helping Emma Strickland with her late father’s estate. He went into the house and never came back. He was not the first.
Behind the house lies a marsh that gave rise to the name. A Black Marsh with a long forgotten past. One that bleeds out every so often and consumes what it can, laying waste to the rest.
The brothers are done mourning, they want answers. They are not alone. The dead are walking and the film between past and present grows thin.
Journey with Templars, howling ruins and a pub with the world’s longest serving landlord.
Anyone wanting to buddy up on NaNo is welcome to do so; juts leave your handle in the comments and I’ll come and find you!