NANO is less than 24 hours away.
I took my best shot at outlining (not a natural process for me), and have been exercising my creative muscle by writing every day since Oct 1 (resulting in drafts of one picture book story, one short story, one piece of personal narrative, and one ‘pome’ + other dross), so I am back in the routine.
I’ve also tested a three-step process that seems to work.
ONE. Begin each day by making a few notes in my daybook about the writing I expect to do that day (or about what I struggled with the day before). During NANO it will be at that point – in bed with my morning cup of tea – that I will figure which of the 33 scenes I’ve listed so far to work on. I won’t write it there and then. But write about writing it.
That’s me, can’t you tell? In shape and ready to go!
TWO. Then I will write that scene, and maybe more – in one or two 60- to 90-minute sessions during the day with my eye on the daily goal of 1,667 words.
THREE. Each evening, I will print the pages I’ve worked on that day, and mark them up. Not in the same place where I have been writing – at my desk. But in another chair somewhere far from the siren call of my laptop. And not for the purposes of revising and editing right away, but before I file the hard copy pages, which I will put away until NANO is over.
That’s it. As easy as One-two-three… that’s how elementary, it’s gonna be.
Well, we’ll see!
Seven days to go. And I am SO done with outlining.
It is not my natural way of working, but I thought I would try it this time, as I am working from scratch on a new project, and many other writers suggest this is a good way of working.
So far, I have:
- Identified the Six Big Scenes in the story – Inciting Incident, First Plot Point, Mid Point, Second Plot Point, Climax and Resolution.
- Listed 26 other scenes that I will cobble together – possibly combining or extending some into full chapters – once I have reached the end, wherever and whenever that is.
- Drafted notes of background and motivation for each of the three main characters and four secondary ones.
- Some days used my First 500 Words daily sprint sessions to brainstrom thoughts about setting and plot details, and the entire story overall.
- Collected a gallery of images to represent my main characters and three main settings.
- Started a section of Random Notes to add anything and everything as it occurs to me – so far three pages of handwritten notes.
And I am done.
And ready for the next – and my favourite part – of any fiction project.
This is when the actual act of writing tends to throw up all kinds of ‘spooky writing stuff’ on the page. Leaving me to respond – internally or out loud – “Ah, so that’s what happens.” “Who are you, and why are you here?” “Oh, I didn’t know that.” “Yes. That could work.” “No. Not a chance.”
One advantage of using my writing muscle regularly is that I am usually able to write ‘quick and dirty’. Which for the most part helps silence that monkey-mind editor that sits on my shoulder as I unconsciously delve into all the stuff that’s below the surface, or hiding in the deeper recesses of my overloaded brain.
Usually I can just keep going to see where the writing takes me without too much judgement and a lot of curiosity.
I will be interested to see what happens this time.
I tried NANOWRIMO once before, making it to 39,000+ words on a YA historical novel THE ROUGH DRESS by the end of the month of November. But without an outline, or a clear plan of where I was going and how to get there, I ended up with a lot of words but not much structure.
Four years later, that book is still a Work in Progress (WIP)!
I’ll be trying again this year with a midgrade contemporary realistic novel WHEREVER YOU ARE. This time, I’m outlining it in a rather hybrid way, drawing on some of the following tools, but not sticking faithfully to one or another.
I am still in the process of grabbing other bits of outlining advice as it shows up on various writers’ and writely website and blogs. I hope that by time November 1 rolls around – the first official day of National Novel Writing Month – I will have condensed all my notes, tables and index cards into one coherent outline. And be ready to write 50,000 words in 30 days. (That’s an average of 1,666 words a day. But who’s counting!)
Meanwhile, this is what I am working with:
I’ll check back in a week to let you know how far I have got.