Wednesday, October 5, 2011

No one plans to fail

It is October, and Nanowrimo is more than a shadow on the horizon by this time. The clock is tangibly counting down for the final days before we throw ourselves into the creative maelstrom of writing an entire 50,000 word book in a month.

There's nothing quite like it, and I have no regrets for the past two years that I have done it. Nanowrimo forces me to do what I otherwise find so difficult to do alone: write an entire novel quickly.

Still, even after two completions well before their due dates, I still feel a tremor as adrenaline shoots through my veins when November draws near. Will I make it this year? Will I give it up during the hard second week (usually when I and many other writers feel most like quitting). As a mom with so much going on, I can't depend on life cooperating with me to make it easy. Then I take a deep breath and remind myself: since when has writing ever been easy?

As the saying goes, no one plans to fail, but many fail to plan. Not wanting to fail, I'm putting together my Nano game plan now that it's October.

1. Get everything that can be completed in advance finished

This means keeping up with grading for our home school, preparing materials my kids will need for classes in November, and making sure our home is in as much order as I can make it. At church, it means getting my department's assignments out well in advance so we're ready to roll and I don't have to do a lot of paperwork that month. So far so good. I think I can commit to that.

2. Making scene cards for my book

Up to the point where I read James Scott Bell's books, I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer. I didn't outline. I just sat down and let 'er rip. Bell's books helped me a lot because he suggested a compromise with scene cards. Although I found outlines incredibly restrictive, I found scene cards very helpful. I could easily move them around, throw them out, or insert more.

So I've been working on scene cards, and I probably have more than half of them ready for Nanowrimo. It should make a difference, since I do not intend to waste a moment getting stuck in a dead end that I could not have foreseen.

3. Recruiting a support team

Writing is an isolating activity. The whole fun of Nanowrimo is that you write with other writers. Sure, you're all writing during the rest of the year, too, but it's not the same as a formal event with a common deadline and planned events where you get together to knock out your first draft. The more friends I can recruit to participate, the better I will do, because it's more fun writing with other people than writing alone. Perhaps it comes from being in the same boat.

4. Making sure my family is ready

The first year I did Nano, our entire family wrote for it too. I was proud of them. They aren't all writers, but they did it for me. We had fun, and every one of us finished. This year I might be the only one, but they understand what I'll be going through, and I'm hoping they will help me by taking care of extra tasks that I normally would do myself.

5. Setting my face like flint and keeping it in perspective

Commitment is not a popular thing nowadays, but I know that once I commit to this, I am going to do it. No matter what. No looking back. Even so, I would let it go if a family emergency meant there was no way I could finish. I am the only mom my kids have, after all. I'll do my best, but I'm going to keep it in perspective.

Have you ever participated in Nanowrimo? If so, what was your experience? Are you going to do it this year, too? What's your plan to get through?

See you at the finish line. : )

1 comment:

  1. Sense cards!!! That's what I'm forgetting. I like your style, Beth. Also, I think the support team point is the most important one. If you ever find yourself in need of more NaNo cheering on, come over to the WriMos FTW site and join us in the madness. Good luck with NaNo!!!