Here Comes November: NaNoWriMo Prep
Last year I did a pretty crappy job of prepping for NaNoWriMo. I was working on a couple different pieces, but basically started totally from scratch for NaNoWriMo without any prep on an idea that I’d been sort thinking about for a while. Obviously, I hadn’t thought about it enough… I got about 25,000 words written but halfway through I figured out that the first quarter of the book I was trying to write should actually be a book by itself. I was trying to jump in way too fast and accelerate to an arbitrary story point that I wanted to write about. In doing so, I uncovered a whole new story that could (and like I said, should) be told before I get to the other part.
My problem then became (and still is): I need to do some prep work. Why is that a problem? Because in my mind, Prep Work is not Writing. My logical mind is aware that I need to do more prep before my writing (the Valkyrie Project mostly congealed in my mind when I worked out the whole outline over a period of several hours while handing out candy to Trick-or-Treaters). But my goal-oriented mind says: You’re not going to hit your word count goal if you keep writing about this character or outlining more of the story! (To which my logical mind wants to respond: I haven’t hit my word count goal on a consistent basis in about three months, so maybe Mr. Goal-Oriented needs to STFU)
Nevertheless, this argument rages on in my mind even as I go through Sean and Johnny’s Planning and Outlining Novels using Scrivener course in the hopes that with 11 days left before November, I can have a wholly fleshed out plan for adding 50,000 more words to the start that I got last year (before going back with my tail between my legs to the other stuff I was working on before the month of insanity started).
If any other novelists are reading this, how do you account for planning time in terms of meeting goals? My possible solutions include…
- Go to a time count system for my goals instead of a word count. (The problem then being that I’d have to buckle down and make sure that I actually focus during the time I say I’m going to be working on writing. Also, sometimes I can come up with 500 words in 30 minutes, which might get me to my daily goal, but for planning I might get barely anything done in that same 30 minutes)
- Maybe go to a hybrid system of words/time where if I get to my word count goal quickly, then cool, I’m done. Otherwise, if I’m focused in front of the computer for a certain amount of time, then whatever I write is good enough. I feel like I’m self-aware and disciplined enough to make that work, but I’m also self-aware enough to know that I would probably try to use that soft measure as a way to slack off.
- Count words that I write as planning towards my word count goal. I like this idea, but it seems overly generous since writing about a character, or even a rough story outline, is a lot easier and can include a lot more superfluous/extraneous, stream-of-conscious type words than writing actual words for a manuscript.
- Write blog posts about my stupidly inane writing problems and count those words toward my word count goal. (Note: I actually do this already because I do count my blog posts as part of my word count. I justify this because: a) I am actually writing and editing the posts before I put them up, so it does at least require some of the same skill, and b) it’s part of marketing and trying to get my name out there a bit, so maybe someone will read a post I write and then be like “Who is this guy?” and see that I have a book [or soon multiple books] and decide to read something I’ve written besides a blog post).
- Just ignore word count goals when I’m doing Planning and accept that I can feel good about writing outlines and character synopses even though it doesn’t add any words to my manuscript word count.
Any other options?