You may not have heard of it, but each November a bunch of misguided fools (300k and counting) all commit to a glorious 30 days of carpel tunnel syndrome, highly caffeinated drinks, missed gym sessions and neglected families. All to complete the audacious goal of writing fifty thousand words of a novel.
I am one of them.
This will be my second year. I failed last time around. The romance of the idea did not quite gel with the commitments of real life. And, lets not kid anyone, I had no fucking idea what the hell I was thinking. I had just made the decision to formally become a writer and truth be told, I had no idea how to actually approach writing a novel, let alone 50k words in 30 days. Can’t say that much has changed in the last year but at least this time around I am more prepared to succeed than fail.
I tried the ‘pantser’ method (didnt even know it had a name at the time), you know the one where you fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best. Needless to say you can imagine how far that got me. First hiccup slowed me down and dropped my daily word count, second hiccup brought me to a crawl and doubt crept in. Last hiccup made me want to trash the last 35k words and took the wind out of my sails.
I don’t think that I am a true planner/outliner as I like to leave the evolution of the story to the characters (and surprise myself) but I have realised that I need to do some planning beforehand. I need to build the world in which my story will unfold. This way, when my character unexpectedly jumps into a raging river and is swept out to sea, I know where he is likely to end up. (In the belly of a pink see-through whale that ferries people from one dimension to another once every third thursday in April, but thats another story entirely.)
This time around, I have two outlines planned. Both are fantasy, one in an imaginary sword/sorcery world and the other in a modern day city. I have drawn maps, named cities, built a magic system and while I have no idea where my characters will take me, I have an overall idea of what the plot and purpose is. I honestly cannot say if the good guys will win (I like anti-heros) or how anything will turn out but I am confident that this Nanowrimo will not be a flop.
One last word, if you are keen to follow in the footsteps of hundreds of thousands, then embrace the experience. Participate in the forums, go to the ‘write-ins’, meet the others… you are unlikely to form lifelong friendships (most Wrimos are like hibernating bears only appearing once a year) but just sitting in a crowded coffee shop beside other fools just like yourself is.. well, try it. I am a loner and I have to force myself, but its well worth it.
Luck to all.