As you know it's that crazy month when writers all over the planet sit at their desks with the sole intention of bashing out 50,000 words - known as National Write a Novel in a Month.
It is not, in my personal opinion of course, about writing a polished manuscript which is ready to submit to agents and publishers come December. For me it is about starting with an outline of a story, and with some pre-planning and a fair bit of fairy dust, writing out a number of scenes which may or may not continue with the path you've plotted. Some writers have become overwhelmed with other participants word count, so much so it has affected their own writing targets. And if I'm honest, as a beginner NaNo'er some four years ago, I can understand their distress. However I have learnt an approach which suits me.
My current word count is over 37k on day 13 of the challenge, but in fact I've only spent 11 of those writing for NaNo - I take Sunday's off. I'm told over at the NaNo camp that by November 18 I will have hit the magical target of 50k. Shall I stop there and declare myself a winner? No, I have another project planned for the second half of the month, which may or may not be realised. But that matters not, at least I'm writing.
My approach is as follows:
- Plan the 'novel' out in some form of outline prior to NaNo. This is not cheating, it's preparation and will help to understand your story before you begin. After years of claiming to be a 'panster' and sitting in front of an empty page, this has been a key development in my writing
- First thing each day I write another outline of each scene I'm going to write - a page of A4 in longhand which might have some dialogue, themes or just the hub of what my characters are getting up to. So I know I can at least write something
- My best time of writing is the morning before the internet is allowed to awaken and I work in silence. However, life often gets in the way and if I've take the twenty minutes to do my scene planning in point two above then I can write any time of the day
- The internal editor and those in any writing software I use (my personal preference is Scrivener) is turned off. I write from my notes and let the characters and story lead the way. Some of it I know I won't use, but you never know, do you?
- Finally, I call my project a 'work in progress' never a novel, that accolade will be used for the published product. Which I know is a long way off, but hey at least I've made a start.
It works for me... and your system will work for you - you just need to find it and believe in it.
Happy NaNo Writing!