Crazy Days With NaNoWriMo
by Teresa Trent
Have you heard of it? National Novel Writing Month? The goal is to write at least 50,000 words in one month. That works out to 1676 words per day. Every day. For an entire month. Let's travel back in time to my life about a year ago. I was writing, but not daily. I had published my first book and was slogging along on my second book, but not daily. I had characters, plots, subplots all coming along nicely, but my fictional garden was growing weeds between work sessions. I decided to join National Novel Writing Month just to see if I could do it. I went to the site nanowrimo.org and signed up for my month of fun. Now, the rule is you cannot have a single word of your novel written before November 1, so the novel I had been working on had to be shelved temporarily. I had to start at word number one, so I created another story. Here are some guidelines for the weeks before NaNoWriMo.
Setting Up Your Book: You can't write any chapters or scenes, but you can work on your outline prior to NaNoWriMo. Not only can you, but if you want to succeed, I highly suggest doing this. Work out your plotlines, research your settings, write up your character and setting sketches. Imagine if you were going to paint a portrait. You would need to prepare your paints, choose your colors, get the right size canvas, find your model and set up your work schedule to get it done in a certain amount of time. This is what you do before NaNoWriMo. If you go in with nothing prepared hitting that 1676 words daily can be harder than you ever imagined. That being said, once you are into the flow of writing that novel be flexible to make changes where they're needed. Many times I plan events out in a book and then find a hole in my plot. For example- If character A is doing this here then character B needs to hear it. I'll need to write them in or write a scene that sets up a clue for the reader. Don't be so rigid you can't let your story breathe.
Ready Start Write: This part seems so easy in the beginning. A little less than 2,000 words? Piece of cake! Then you realize you are in what month? NOVEMBER. The month of preparing and having one of the biggest family gatherings of the year. Last year I was writing on my ipad to and from Louisiana trying to make my daily word quota. Did I hit it every day? No. I admit it. I took Thanksgiving off but then tried to double up on the weekend. It took me several days to really get back on track with the book.
Picky Writers-Chill: If you tend write and then rewrite-that's good. Doing this during the first draft process, though, is time consuming. There will be plenty of mistakes in your manuscript in the first draft, but that is what the second draft is for, right? Too much backing up and fixing will ruin your thought flow for writing your story. Go, Go, Go. Need I say more? Get from beginning to middle to end and then start all over again and correct your mistakes in December.
Don't Give Up: So there I was, on the last night of NaNoWriMo with 47,000 words and an important choir rehearsal to go to at my church. Did I mention the end of November also coincides with the beginning of all the Christmas crazy scheduling? It does. I was ready to give up. I could cling to the fact that I had done so much in one month, and I just felt like I was out of story to tell. Other writers write books that are hundreds of thousands words long and someday I hope to be one, but for right now I am what I am. I was trying to write but ~BLOCK~. Then it hit me, probably as I drove to choir. Let's hit somebody in the head with a frying pan! That's right. I visualized an old German beer glass my father had with a lady hitting her inebriated husband on the head with a frying pan. That image stuck in my head and I rushed home and wrote that scene at 9:30. The contest would end at midnight. By 10:30 I had the scene in and uploaded my novel.(Trumpet Blast). I had achieved NaNoWriMo.
Before you get too excited, you don't get any major prizes for winning NaNoWriMo except for that 50,000 word novel you now have to work with, submit and/or publish. Even though you have to upload your novel, the NaNoWriMo people aren't reading your words—just counting them. After writing this book, which is my second mystery novel, Overdue For Murder, it still took me until around Easter to finish the rewrites. I have to admit that once I was out of NaNoWriMo my work slowed down, but one thing I learned from my experience was consistency is the key. If you want to write, then set a goal and WRITE EVERY DAY. If you stop, then you will lose that precious thought thread going on in your brain. As November rolls around again this year, will I NaNoWriMo? Can't wait!
Teresa Trent wasn't born in Texas but after a few glasses of sweet tea and some exceptional barbecue she decided to stay. With a father in the Army, she found herself moved all over the world, settling down for a while in her teens in the state of Colorado. Her writing was influenced by all of the interesting people she found in small towns and the sense of family that seemed to be woven through them all. Teresa is a former high school teacher and received her degree from The University of Northern Colorado. Teresa is presently working on the third book in her Pecan Bayou Series. Her second book, Overdue For Murder, came out in June of 2012.http://teresatrent.wordpress.com/