If any of you are doing NaNo this year I hope you’re checking your calendar because it’s close. Even if you don’t do writing prep, I hope you’re churning ideas in your mind, especially that opening scene. It’s best if you can avoid the brain freeze of staring at a blank screen.
Last week I talked about my own plans for NaNo this year. The week before that, I talked about prepping your life to make writing easier in November. Yes, I practice what I preach. I’ve been scrambling to take care of life stuff and have been freezing meals. Already, between those prepared meals, any cooking I’ll be inspired to do, and a pizza or two, I’ll sail right through to late November.
I’d be lying if I said I become stressed heading into NaNo these day. Excited? Yes. There’s a little stress because that’s who I am, but there isn’t much these days. My project is setup on NaNo already and I’ve done much of what I want done with over two weeks remaining.
That isn’t to say that I don’t remember my first NaNo. Oh the stress that year. It’d have been worse, but I didn’t decide to participate until thirty minutes before it was set to begin.
Regardless of your approach, please remember all you’ll gain whether you make 50K or not. It’s a learning process. Yes, I’ve won each year, but NaNo is about more than words. I’m a better participant than I was before, a better planner, a better writer. It’s important to keep in mind that what you write doesn’t have to be perfect. The real magic, which I’ve blogged about before, is in the editing (revising).
My personal style is to have any support documents I can in place before I write. Given that my fantasy novels all take place in the same world, I’m spared having to do considerable worldbuilding. The biggest change in that regard was in 2018 when I was developing Pannulus, which is a different country in Ontyre.
Those support documents include anything from research to character lists to biographies to simple maps. I’ve blogged about maps countless times and no matter what you write a map is great for keeping you oriented and giving you a better sense of what your character sees, not just up close, but in the distance.
Of prime importance is my narrative outline. I consolidate notes into a short narrative outline of the novel that’s kind of a mess. Then, I make one more organized where I break it up into chapters. I want to stress, though, that it’s flexible. If my narrative was a straight line, the actual draft would be a curving line that follows the same basic path.
Am I telling people how to draft? Absolutely not. In fact, just as important as learning to write a novel is learning the process that works for you. Mine has taken a lot of years to establish and it’s always evolving. It also, for whatever reason, varies from novel to novel. I change. Circumstances change. Novels change. Every single one of my NaNoWriMo novels was a unique experience that I still remember. Each one altered my process just a little.
My process is made up of pieces of ideas that I’ve taken from a host of writers, some famous, some not. All of that is wrapped up in the uniqueness that is me, my writing, my life. I’d never push my methods on someone as a solution or the way you do it. When someone tells me how to do it, that I must follow their plan, I know that’s how I won’t do it.
These days, I do NaNo for the camaraderie, to support others, because I love to draft in November, and just a little because of the memories. The memories spring to life each October and I welcome them. Each novel was special, regardless of its fate, and each writing experience was special. That’s what NaNo can do if you open yourself to it, if you just GO.
My writing process began with Ray Bradbury and the advice to just write as fast as you can and not look back. That isn’t the right advice for everyone, but it shattered my ideas of what the process should like like and turned out to be perfect for me. Draft fast, edit slow. That’s me.
I don’t need NaNoWriMo to draft anymore, but in a way, it’s like coming home and for that reason I’m back for my 8th visit.