November is National Novel Writing Month. The time when many writers will embark on a mission to write a novel in 30 days. Or at least 50,000 words towards a novel project. “Winning” at NaNoWriMo means reaching the 50K benchmark by November 30th.
Will you be NaNoWriMo’ing? Have you ever “won”?
Drafting a novel is a slow process of writing and rewriting for me. I’ve unsuccessfully attempted NaNoWrimo four times before, BUT this year will be different. This year, I have an actual deadline, the experience of several published projects, and—more importantly—a plan. (Look for a follow up post in December to find out if this plan succeeds.)
There’s still time to join. You can sign up on NaNoWriMo’s site to track your progress. If you send me a buddy request, we can cheer each other on (kacummins).
Writing one novel in 30 days is no easy feat. So writing two in 30 days. . . well, at least both projects are middle-grade books. They’ll be shorter than a traditional novel. And if I’ve learned anything about the process of writing, it’s this:
- You don’t have to write every day to finish a novel. You only have to write and be committed enough to see it through to the end. No matter how long it takes.
- And the consistency and efficiency of your routine directly affects how long it takes to finish a project (much like losing weight with a fitness routine).
My ever-evolving process is best described as structured chaos. There’s a blurry consistency throughout the various stages of brainstorming, planning, drafting, editing… and the scrap-it-all stage, where I set aside a finished draft and start the project over again.
Pre-writing work and writing habits have increased my consistency and efficiency over the years. So maybe spending more time brainstorming and planning (to avoid the scrap-it-all stage) and sticking to a daily routine will finally put the 50K goal within reach?
The Plan: Beef up pre-writing work though journaling and set a daily routine that accounts for habits and naturally productive times.
I’ll be using a new approach for pre-writing work: journaling. It’ll need to be completed before November 1st in order to stay focused on drafting during NaNo.
For those who find it helpful, below are the eight sections included in my pre-writing journals (along with links to some free worksheets I created last year):
- Story premise/hook/idea/log line—A high level view of the central story plot focused on the protagonist(s), antagonist(s), and what’s at stake. Typically, it’s anywhere from one sentence to a whole paragraph, but it’s good to have a couple of pages in this section for brainstorming when you’re starting a new story. (Story Spine Worksheet on TpT)
- Protagonist(s) & Antagonist(s)—These are separate sections, but they contain the same type of information: goals, wants, needs, backstory, etc… (Character Development Worksheet on TpT)
- Plot Points—A high level outline of the entire story, including the ending. It develops from the premise and incorporates the main character arcs. (Story Spine Worksheet on TpT)
- Worldbuilding—If you’re writing speculative fiction, you’ll likely need several pages for this section. Otherwise, you may only need a page or two for this. (Worldbuilding Worksheet on TpT)
- Characters—The rest of the cast. (Cast List Worksheet on TpT)
- Chapters/Scenes—Building on the outline from Plot Points, this is a more detailed breakdown of the story by chapters or scenes.
- Notes—This is like a writer’s miscellaneous drawer. It’s a good place for all those random thoughts or story considerations that don’t have a home. (In that spirit, here’s a set of visual organizers for writing: Story Elements on TpT.)
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days (25,000 for each book) requires a daily writing average of 1,667. Taking off on Sundays increases this goal to a daily writing average of 1,923.
That’s way over my daily writing average of 500 words (on the days I write, not including regular work writing). Hopefully, breaking it down into a few mini-sessions will get me over that barrier.
- Morning writing session: 1123 words
- Noon writing session: 500 words
- Evening writing session: 300 words
To keep the momentum going during drafting, I’ll save edits for after November 30th. Leaving notes when a plot point gets changed or a name or detail stumps me helps. (It’s not unusual find things like THE OBJECT and NEW FRIEND in an early draft.)
And at the end of the day, every word written counts!
As mentioned above, there’s still time to join! Sign up on NaNoWriMo’s website.
Hope you find this helpful in your writing journey.