Amidst being busy with school and different Speech Communications projects, baking cookies for my co-workers, and trying to finish the forth Harry Potter book, I am back with another post about NaNo. A few people showed interest in trying NaNo this year, which totally elated me! The more people we can get to climb aboard this ship, the better! I did notice, though, that most didn’t know what to do about plotting, outlining, or wrangling up various ideas in general.
So here I am with my attempt to help the cause.
First of all, it is never to late to begin planning for NaNo. We do have 40 more days before November 1st, people! …excuse me a moment.
*aside to herself* 40 DAYS AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
Ahem. As I said, it isn’t too late. Most people don’t start their planning until the last two weeks of October! In fact, Chris Baty himself suggests you leave yourself a week to plan, then jump into the challenge headfirst. Remember, NaNoWriMo is about writing as much as you can, as fast as you can. There is no quality, only quantity. Quality is for December and beyond. The goal is to write a novel and have the finish product: the skeleton of an idea that you are welcome to spend making pretty…after November. For a lot of people, National Novel Writing Month is a whole 30 days of motivation and deadlines that they normally wouldn’t otherwise have. It’s the push to get them to write. In my case, I probably wouldn’t be tackling a novel with such fervor at the moment if I didn’t have NaNoWriMo to back me up.
However, if you do want to start planning, I suggest you start now. There are two sorts out there: plotters and pantsers. You are free to choose which you would like to be.
Pantsers are people who only figure out the minimal amount for their novel preparation. They might sketch a very loose outline, figure out the main characteristics of their characters, and grab a starting point for their novel, but that’s it. Pansters are people who want to step into NaNo and a shroud of mystery. They embrace the fog and the uncertainty; they love being blind and leaving room for something to jump out of the darkness and surprise them. Only the pressure of the deadline and what little they know keeps them going.
Plotters, on the other hand, are people (like me) who cannot dive in with so little information. Plotters write detailed outlines, figure out character back stories and subplots and descriptions, and sketch out the plot down to a T. They enjoy the deadline and the competition without having to worry about getting lost. At every point they know exactly where they want to be, what should be happening, and what is to come. There is very little room for surprise…but even then the story never quite behaves how it should. Everyone knows that.
As I said, I am a plotter. I’ve never been a pantser, because I know I would get lost, then confused, then frustrated. I like knowing where I am and what should be happening (though what should be happening doesn’t always, you know, happen). I have been plotting out my November story idea since June, and it is miserable to wait another 40 days to start it.
Being miserable does build character though, or so I’ve heard.
- Get ahead in the first week. If you want to reach 50k, the goal is 1,667 words/day, but really during the first week you might want to try doubling that if possible. The first week is the week that usually runs the smoothest. The next two are definitely harder. Plus, you want to leave room during November for sick days, lazy days, and various outings.
- Stock up on candy and caffeine! I cannot stress this enough. There is nothing more empowering than knowing a Kit Kat bar awaits you at the end of the next 600 words, and there is nothing more motivating than a sip of fresh hot chocolate with whipped cream between sentences.
- Set aside a time each day for writing. If you can hook into a schedule and use that time for writing every day, you are less likely to procrastinate and get behind. For myself, I’ve set aside the time from 7-9am to write, and I’ve told myself that if I don’t write the quota during these two hours every day, I’ve lost my chance for the day to write because I have other things I need to do for the rest of my alert hours (school, chores, work, etc). This will hopefully keep me writing and keep me from sleeping in.
- Get involved in the NaNo forum community! Maybe even here, too, depending on how many people are crazy enough to try writing a novel in a month. c: The caffeine and the deadline are good motivators, but the true motivation is the encouragement you’ll get from all the people who are writing like fire alongside of you. There is nothing more exciting, and competitive, than trying to reach the same goal with thousands of other people who know, perfectly, of the pain and joy you feel.