Monday, October 24, 2011

organized chaos

NaNoWriMo starts in one week, and i have to admit - i didn't sign up until today.

there's been a lot of revising this year - rewriting Billy D and going through the editorial process with Butter. i haven't written anything new in so long, i wasn't sure i was ready to dive head first into another rough draft. so i was considering skipping NaNo, to give myself a break.
but then i thought - a break from WHAT? - a break from my favorite part of writing? from the pure freedom of rough-draft creativity? i don't need a break. writing a new manuscript IS my break - from editing!

so i'm going for it again this year, but now i only have a week to prepare. and preparation is key.

here is how i get organized for the mad-dash chaos that is National Novel Writing Month:

step 1 - story idea.
dude, ya gotta have an idea. otherwise that blank page can kick your butt on day one. for me, that idea has to be fully formed, which means:
step 2 - outline.
it's not cheating! you can outline your whole book - just don't count those words in your November tally. in fact, i go beyond outlining and fully recommend:
step 3 - write a first chapter.
again, i don't count it when i'm adding up the November sprint. chances are, your novel will be longer than 50,000 words - so it doesn't hurt to have a few thousand written ahead of time and a few thousand still to write afterward.
step 4 - make adjustments.
you have an outline and a first chapter. if you're not feeling it, you may want to switch gears. the point of the outline and the first chapter, for me, are to get me revved up for NaNo - to make myself WANT to write the next page so bad i practically can't wait for the madness to start. if you're not feeling that urge, you may want to look at your chapter and your outline and see if this is really something you want to spend 30 days of your life with. if not - go back to step 1 and start again. (if i were clever with PhotoShop, i would build you a little flow chart here, but i am so not talented in that way.)
step 5 - clear your schedule.
clean your house; get your doctor's appointments out of the way; finish up whatever other projects you are working on. these things, if left undone, will become distractions, at best, or give you a guilty conscience, at worst. i know i personally struggle with NaNo if i have a long "to do" list hanging over my head in November.
step 6 - do. not. write.
if at all possible, give yourself a few days or a few weeks to rest your brain and recharge the creative batteries. spend quality time with important people (in case you accidentally ignore them while immersed in NaNo), and do something FUN (there will be very little time for fun in November).
step 7 - strap on a good attitude.
despite what i said about the fun, that's actually what NaNo is all about. it's permission to have FUN writing. have fun staying indoors, unwashed and anti-social. have fun sitting on your butt for hours on end. have fun meeting new friends at local write-in events. however you "NaNo" - make sure you have fun while you're doing it.

personally, i plan to have fun writing something out of my comfort zone. it may end up getting tossed, if it doesn't feel like "me" in the end, but i will still get a kick out of trying.

oh, and part of my fun is in the preparation this year. i have a "research outing" planned for this week that should give me some GREAT inspiration. if i get permission from my outing "hosts," i promise to blog all about it.


Linda said...

I didn't sign up until a couple of days ago. I was doing my second draft of another book and I wanted to make sure I would get that wrapped up before committing to NaNo. I'm really excited though! My process is similar to yours. First drafts are my favorite part and I've picked something a bit out of my comfort zone as well.

Good luck!

erinjade said...

Good Luck to you too!
and yay for another first-draft lover! best part. :D