On My Way to 50K!

nano-2

2014: 40,030 words (kinda)

2015: 23,111 words

2016: The year I make #NaNoWriMo my bitch

So, not fully understanding the madness that is National Novel Writing Month when I attempted it for the first time in 2014, I continued building on a WIP that I’d been writing off and on over the previous two years. In doing so, I effectively doubled my word count to just over the 40k mark. Though to be fair, I don’t really count this one.

Last year, I had just started another project, and had maybe half of the first chapter written, so I picked up from there, accumulating a total of just over 23k words.

This time around I’m starting with a blank slate. Only 3 or 4 lines of notes, the names of my main character, and a handful of supporting characters are all I have.

I’m a little overwhelmed, to put it mildly.

I’ve always been a seat-of-my-pants kinda writer, which has allowed me to bounce back and forth from various projects, and pick up right where I left off. I’ve not used an outline for anything since my school days, and even then, they were primitive at best. But this year, I figured, I’ve got a month and a half til November… I’m gonna do it right this time! So I Googled, and I researched, and I Googled some more, before posting in my favorite group of Ninja Writers on Facebook for tips and advice. And so far, I’m still right where I started. The best feedback I’ve got so far is to just make it as simple as possible – to just sit down and start writing, and inject notes throughout or at the end of my writing with plot points that I want to get to.

Unfortunately, that’s typically how I’ve done things in the past. And while it does get words on paper, it’s not been the most successful plan to get projects completed. I run out of steam half-way through, or can’t figure out how to get from point A to point B.

So, surely an outline will help, I tell myself. After some more late-night Google searches, I finally find an outline template that I like (see the links at the bottom of the page). One that’s simple enough to not overload me with details, and still structured enough to allow me to actually do this damn thing. It’s got lines for all sorts of conflicts, and climaxes and shit! Woot, I got this!

But then I remember why I just sit down and start pecking out words on the keyboard. I’ve never really been much of a planner. And now that I think about it, that’s always been one of my wife’s biggest complaints… I’m a live-for-today type of guy. She’s the planner. She makes lists like nobody’s business! And when she’s done, she makes more lists to keep up with her other lists.

I should enlist her to help!

Oh wait, she’s just started a new job, and will be starting back to school in October for her Master’s in Social Work, so her time will be monopolized enough as is. And I’m supposed to be working on a romance novel for her, which has been stagnant for a week now. So yeah, even though she’s my on-call muse, I guess I’m just gonna have to buckle down and do this on my own…

Here's what I've got so far...

Here’s what I’ve got so far…

Everything I’ve read online makes it sound easy to NOT fail at NaNoWriMo (see here).

Get a Plan – Pretty self-explanatory. Working on it… though further reading doesn’t exactly inspire confidence:

NOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE OUTLINING (Holy shit, its like they know me!) You don’t create a book plan so you can slavishly follow your outline and remove all the space for serendipity. A book plan isn’t a leash. It’s a resource.

“You create a plan to be your map for when you get lost (which is inevitable when you’re writing a book). — So, you’re saying I’m not the only one this happens to?

“On November 1, your book plan will go to pieces. And that’s completely okay. However, there’s no better way to spend October than working on your book plan.”

Get a Team – For inspiration, encouragement, advice, and accountability

Inspiration. Hmm, well my muse is busy, and I’ve yet to receive any applications for the position, but then again it doesn’t pay very well so I can’t complain. Fingers are crossed that the reading, video games, and t.v. I squeeze in in the meantime are enough to keep me going.

As for the encouragement, advice, and accountability, my Ninja Writers group on Facebook has me covered there.

And ticking off the boxes on my calendar as I achieve a daily goal is a great tool for adding visibility to my accountability, as it rubs it in my face when I don’t mark it for a day or so.

1,667 words can't be that bad, can it? Hell yes! It absolutely can!

1,667 words can’t be that bad, can it? Hell yes! It absolutely can!

Get in Rhythm – Another self-explanatory one that I am usually pretty good with when I start a project. A while back, while working on my latest WIP, I had the genius idea to set an alarm on my phone for 9:00 PM every night, to drop whatever I was doing and write.

Most days it works pretty well, allowing me time to get the little ones to bed and veg out for a few minutes, before diving back into something. But then there are certain shows that I can only watch after the girls are in bed. Or I’m in the middle of a game and have to get to the next save point, or beat this one last boss. And before I know it, I haven’t written shit in a week…  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

On the plus-side though, throughout all my efforts lately, I’ve found some really great music on Youtube to just zone out to while I write. Started out with ambient music and then found that I really enjoyed “ambient space music” (who knew that was even a thing?)

Aw yeah, I'mma kill some dragons and shit!

Aw yeah, I’mma kill some dragons and shit!

And then, after replaying ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’ recently, I’ve rediscovered the game’s amazing soundtrack and have been using it to get my inner Fus-ro-dah on.

So, at least there’s that…

The post offers some interesting ideas on maintaining your momentum:

  • Never miss two days in a row (obviously!)
  • Focus on the feeling of your writing. Meditate on the feeling of your fingers as they hit the keys, the feel of your hands moving quickly over the keyboard… Namaste!
  • Change your font color to light gray, or the font size to 4 pt, making your writing difficult to see. If you can’t see your writing, you won’t have the temptation to break your rhythm to edit. (How am I supposed to question my writing ability if I can’t see what I’m writing?!)
  • Turn off your computer monitor, or set the brightness on your computer screen so low you can’t see the words. For those with excellent typing skills, same effect as the one above (No thanks!)
  • Remove your delete key (Umm… no, but thanks for asking.)

So, what’s the takeaway, I ask myself…

Well, step 1, finish at least a rough outline. And soon. Which means I need to develop my characters a good bit more and come up with something other than “Main Character does space shit” for a plotline.

Step 2… Pray that my incredible wife can sling a few moments of inspiration in my direction, and continue to bounce ideas off my fellow Ninja Writers. Thankfully, several of them are also NaNo participants, so we’ll all be going through the same insanity.

And last but not least, stick to a schedule, and throw as much extra time as I can into writing. Fewer youtube videos during my lunch breaks when I could be writing. Less video games and television at night, and pretending I didn’t just hear that writing alarm go off. More sitting my ass behind a keyboard and clickety-clacking my way towards 50,000 words.

Well, there we go… {Insert long, exasperated sigh here.}

48 days and counting til November 1st. And I’m mentally exhausted already just thinking about it!

Links:

3 Ways to NOT Fail at NaNoWriMo

Novel plotting worksheets on AnnieNeugebauer.com

And the obligatory, “Follow me on Facebook!”

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3 thoughts on “On My Way to 50K!

  1. Pingback: I don’t know why you people do this to yourselves every year. #NaNoWriMo | SK Thomas

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