Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2011

The National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I participated the last two years. Admittedly, I dropped off the first year due to work/family constraints but last year, I participated and succeeded. Those words for a YA Southern goth novel might’ve been utter drivel, but I produced them. But here’s the best part: I met other writers at the write-ins.

Writing challenges: For me, writing 50,000 words is going to be ambitious:

  • In my regular job, I have to produce a fair amount of content. Add to that the nightly writing I do with my buddies (not for publication), I probably already write over 50k easily.
  • I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year and doing a fair amount of the cooking. That means I’ll be busy doing prep things, cooking, spending time with family, and so on.
  • I’m leaving to go on a trip the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which cuts off about 4 possible writing days.

Writing strategy: This year, I have a tactic. I’m going to be working on Book 2, which is my favorite book in the three part series I have in my head. Back in my Trinity College Dublin days, I created an elaborate outline and wrote about 60 pages, which I will most likely expand. This means that I’m not starting from scratch. I’ll have a clear starting point, and a clear destination. That definitely helps when you’re staring at the blank screen.

Writing pitfall: I’ve already workshopped Book 2, Scene 1 with my weekly writing group, and I’ve already encountered the #1 hang-up that can trap a writer. They gave me some spot-on ideas, so I started revising it. I had to pull the reins, saying whoa-whoa-whoa. That’s not what I want to do at this point! My focus should be producing content (or at least a fair amount of it), so that I can revise a large chunk and not chapter-by-chapter later on. My mission is to send my writing group a different section for next week — a brand new one. So that’s forward progression.

Take-away: The following week — and I think this is great idea for anyone tackling a big project (thanks, Kerry!) — we’ve all agreed to send in brief outlines. We’re only going to be discussing the structure of our works-in-progress. Sometimes you can get bogged down in the details of line edits and not see the big picture. Seeing the big picture is what will get you to complete a project, including a NaNoWriMo project.

In any case, this is my plan for November. Check back here to see how I’m doing!

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