September 29 – Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is coming. It’s advancing like a steamroller, ready to run us down and smash us into the ground amidst a pile of scattered pages and discarded Starbucks cups. We only have 31 days left before we will be staying up until all hours of the night, typing until our fingers bleed and crying when the word count is too low.

And then there’s the problem for people like me. Those of us with OCD are already starting to panic. I am desperately trying to decide what I’m going to write in November.

The worst part is that I have plenty of ideas. I have several novel and/or series ideas that I could write. Or I could revisit the worlds of one of the novels I already have and write a sequel. No, that isn’t the problem. The problem is with me.

It’s that OCD thing again. I need to be prepared, and none of my ideas feel ready yet. None of them are clear enough in my head for me to start writing them down. This is really frustrating since I seem to work best as a “discovery” writer, working without a plot outline.

Last year I started figuring out my story in October. I started working on an outline and had about half of the book worked out before I started writing it in November. Then NaNoWriMo started and I got to work. I faithfully kept to the outline for about a week, then I started feeling confined. The story didn’t want to stay in the lines. It kept straying into other areas, and wouldn’t get back on track. And I still hadn’t figured out how the story was going to end.

So I decided to scrap my plans and let the story run free. It worked. All of a sudden the words started to flow and the questions I had about the plot were answered. I finished early, after only three weeks. So I decided to start another story, without any preparation at all, and I got about 10,000 words into that one before the end of the month.

So why am I so worked up about it this year? Well, it’s because I look at those stories now and I see all of their little problems. Plot holes, weak characters, just plain bad writing. I finished NaNoWriMo with a novel, but it’s not something I can publish. This year I want to do better.

Another reason I am stressing out about this is fallout from my concerns about my epic series idea. Immortalis Rex could be a good idea for a long series, but only if I am extremely careful with my planning. A series like the one I am planning has to be though out carefully, as a plot point started in book one won’t be resolved until book seven. Each character I introduce needs to be shown in hundreds of different scenes, and their development has to be kept consistent throughout the series. This means that I MUST outline these books before I start writing. And deciding to plan my series makes me think that maybe I should try to at least start planning my NaNoWriMo project.

So that’s what I’m doing. First I have to pick an idea. Then I have the month of October to develop that idea. I have learned not to worry too much about the outline once I start writing, but I really do think I should at least try to have one when I start. The major benefit to doing this is that it will help me to develop my idea more completely before I start, which should result in a better book.

The next time I post will be October 3. I will try to have an idea picked out by then, and I will probably post it here so you guys can help me figure out where I want to go with it. It will also mark my return to ROW80, which I am hoping will also inspire me to work harder on being prepared for November. See you then!

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Filed under NaNoWriMo, ROW80, The Writing Experience

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