Counting Down

Knee-deep in revisions this weekend, it occurred to me that National Novel Writing Month is only 43 days away.  I’m totally terrified by hooked on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, so there’s no doubt in my mind that I will participate again.   However, each year I struggle with one question: how much should I prepare?

My first NaNoWriMo attempt in 2008, I truly embodied the “pantser” method (i.e., flying by the seat of your pants.)  I had nothing more than my main character’s name when I started writing.  40,000 words and thirty days later, I ran out of time and my authorly dreams were temporarily dashed.

In 2009, a few weeks into a long recuperation from surgery, I decided to do something productive with the seemingly endless days that I spent in bed and dove in.   I had my main character’s first name and at least one major conflict in mind, but this time I decided I needed to do a bit more planning.  Instead of plotting complete outline of the entire story (the thought of which makes me cringe with anxiety), I wrote several journal entries from my main character’s point of view.  It was an interesting exercise and definitely helped me develop her distinct voice.  I also managed to glean several plot points from those entries that carried me through to NaNoWriMo victory.

By 2010’s attempt, I realized my writing style is somewhere between pantser and plotter.  I’m no longer comfortable with completely winging it, but I lack the capacity to compose every single twist and turn in advance.  Writing several character sketches beforehand definitely helped, especially when my Muse bailed on  me in the middle of Week 2.  I also constructed playlists for each character to keep me inspired (yes, I’m a music nerd like that.)

For this year’s effort, I have two story ideas floating around in my head.  This rarely happens! One of them actually had the nerve to flirt with me during last year’s NaNo.  It was very irritating, but kind of exciting, almost like being caught in a love triangle.   I’m curious to see which story pushes its way to the top of heap in the next 43 days!

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7 thoughts on “Counting Down”

  1. Thanks for the comment on my blog! I’m glad I could inspire you and I can’t wait to see which idea wins out!! hopefully your crazy love triangle doesn’t turn into a dodecahedron or something! lol

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  2. Nice new blog! 🙂

    I’m a plotter. The thought of staring at a blank document with no idea what to write about is terrifying. Plus, planning out the plot twists and key scenes in advance makes me feel less panicked about doing it all in 30 days. But I’ll be right there beside you this year!

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    1. I have done the completely blank document approach and while it can be thrilling, it gets frustrating when you hit snags and have no idea where to go from there. Often, I write knowing in advance that things will be rearranged, but I just want to get words on the page. The best thing about NaNo is knowing you’re not alone!

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  3. My approach to NaNo evolved pretty much the way yours did. I went from a couple of years of thrashing around and winding up with nothing accomplished to somewhere along the outliner/pantser line. I’ll never be a true outliner, but I need to know where I’m going before I take the first step. I’m not the kind of enjoys jumping off cliffs.

    Last year’s NaNo was a hard choice between two good ideas, but I finally picked the one with the best chance of hanging in for thirty days. I’m very glad I did because I came out with a decent novel that I’m revising and editing right now.

    I’ve been preparing this year’s novel for months, but the days are flying by and I’m just as nervous as I always am. Good luck to both of us.

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    1. Preparing for months! That is awesome. I think your method of idea-picking is sound. I may have to resist my urge for danger and go with the one that will propel me to the finish line. Good luck with your revisions/edits!

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