NaNoWriMo—the national event that writers from all over the world participate in every year. To say it is difficult is an understatement.
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is an event held every November. Writers who participate write tons—and by tons, I mean 50k words. It’s a lofty goal, but that doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of people from joining every year. On average, only 12% of participants actually reach the goal.
This November, I’m doing NaNoWriMo. And I hope to be in that 12%.
What is the prize?
NaNoWriMo is a free event. There are no prizes, but if you reach the 50k, you can tell people you won NaNo. For most, it’s a way of showing yourself you can do it. Consistency, perseverance, and preparation are all key to winning.
Writing 50k words in one month is no easy feat, and one doesn’t get there by jumping in plan-less. (If you do, I commend you.) The fact that holiday season begins around this time makes things even more difficult, and some people have to make up for missed days of writing by doing even more when they have the time. So what am I doing to prepare for NaNo?
For starters, I came up with a solid concept and then drafted an outline. The outline has been written in very great detail. That way, writing will be a breeze, and I (hopefully) won’t get stuck on parts wondering what should come next.
Coming up with my concept
When I started, I just had a vague idea what my story would be about. Basically just a theme and setting. I developed my ideas into a concept by using a plot web, which gave me tons of options on which way the story could go. When I’d found the “plot web path” I wanted to use, I put away the web and got to work on developing ideas for my story.
Let me start out by saying that I’m a discovery writer. I have never made a complete outline in my life, and for the past few books, here’s how my writing process looked:
- Create enough outline for a chapter or two
- Get stuck
- Come up with more ideas and add to my outline
- Keep writing
And repeat. This process wasn’t the most efficient. I did come up with amazing ideas this way, but I ran into a lot of issues with plot cohesiveness and plot holes. NaNo pretty much forced me to write an entire outline (for an entire book), and you know what? I’m actually not mad about it.
To start outlining, I began with the Save the Cat! Beat Sheet. This is where I came up with the big plot points and added in major characters. However, this was just the beginning.
Next, I used the Katytastic’s 3 Act/9 Block/27 Chapter Outline. I transported everything from the first outline to this one, then I added in more details and plot points. I didn’t stick super close to the prompts. This allowed me to enjoy the process as I added as much as I could to the chart.
Lastly, I copied everything from the last outline to a blank document. From here, I added in even more (yes, maybe I’m a little extreme), and kept adding until it looked like I had around 25 chapters. Obviously, I can’t really know until I write the entire book. I’m aiming for a 90k novel, and as I want my NaNoWriMo project to be the third book in The Fire Trials, it kind of has to be precise.
November is a busy month. Furthermore, that’s also when my personal life will be more hectic than normal. I probably won’t be able to write in the day on weekends, and if I end up getting a job, neither will I be able to do so on week days. Thus, my strategy is to stay up every night writing until I have my desired word count. I’m a night owl, and night time is usually when my creative energy peaks, so this actually isn’t a bad idea. I’m just hoping I won’t be physically exhausted from what I did in the day time.
Oh, and the other part of my strategy: accountability. Honestly, I’m pretty good at keeping myself accountable, but for NaNo, I’m going to be checking in with a friend who also hopes to reach the 50k mark. It’s more for the encouragement, really.
So, how far do I really expect to get? I’d love to win NaNo, but in reality, I’ll probably only get 40k words. If I don’t win, I won’t be sad (maybe just a little disappointed). I’ve never done something like this before, and even if I don’t get to 50k, I’ll still have other achievements to be proud of.
- Making an entire outline for an entire book—in great detail
- Writing more than I ever have in one month
- Finishing (part of) a first draft more quickly than I ever have before
- Having half a novel in my hands—I mean, computer
- Knowing I had the perseverance and consistency to even attempt this challenge
I’m excited to see how NaNo goes, and I’m hoping to reach 50k. If you’re doing NaNo this year and still haven’t prepared, there’s still a week and a half left. *little nudge*
As for me, I think I’m prepared. We’ll see how everything goes, and at the end of it all, I’ll update you on how it went. Happy reading, everyone!