It’s mid-October (almost) and stuff is starting to percolate.
In an unusual confluence of coffee and a rare good night of sleep, I’m starting to plan for November.
It’s nothing too dramatic, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve come up with a few things I feel I should do. We will see if they work.
1- Pause the fiction
I spend a lot of time reading fiction. Now, I know, a writer must read and that’s fine, but I’m ramping up for my first NaNo attempt in a few years and it’s been a while since I’ve had anything resembling a decent writing habit (the main reason for this attempt). As such, I want to focus on what I’m writing and the art/skill/craft of writing itself. I’ve decided that starting today, until the end of November, I’m going to hold off on my fiction to-read pile. I’ll use that time instead to either work on my story or read non-fiction that could help the story directly or keep my mind focused on writing. I’ve got a pile of writing books that I can read and I will make a dent in those, as well as re-read some that have made an impact in the past (“On Writing” by Stephen King is one, “Outlining Your Novel” by K.M. Weiland is another).
2 – Get an outline done
I’m a pantser. My best stories have come from just writing and “winging it”. The problem is that my best successes (success being defined as actually completing a story) have come when I plan ahead, when I have a decent outline with decent characters and I know where I’m going. Maybe 1 out of 10 things will work when I pants it, and that 1 that does work feels pretty great…but too often I lose my way and the stuff that’s pretty great just doesn’t pan out and even the pretty great stuff doesn’t go all the way (I suck at revising and rewriting). The only way I can do what I want to do and get back in the game is if I find a way to NOT lose my way. Planning an outline helps with that, I’m hoping the great stuff will eventually find its way in.
3 – Flesh out the characters
This goes with the item above. A good plot, with an outline is great but without a decent cast of characters to move it along you have nothing. You can’t really do an outline without gaining some inkling of the characters in it. I don’t plan on writing thousands of words in character notes, but I do want to explore the basics before midnight on November 1st.
4 – Start writing (*gasp*)
On no! I’m cheating! Relax. I’m not. I don’t mean start writing my NaNoWriMo story.
It’s no secret I haven’t been writing. My keyboard is dusty and rusty. My hands are stiff and cracked and my muse is indifferent.
Fuck that muse.
The conventional wisdom is to ignore that fickle beast and just put out words. The muse will come back.
Well, I don’t want to shake off that dust and rust in November. NaNoWriMo is hard enough on its own. I have come to the conclusion that writing at least a little each day until November might clear out the cobwebs so that when NaNoWriMo begins I might be a little more in fighting trim so to speak. I don’t have, nor do I want, something else to work on. I’m not looking to add stress. I don’t want this to be a chore. I just want to get used to sitting my butt down in front of a keyboard and typing those word things onto that blank screen doodad (Like this blog post!). I might do some writing prompts. I might test a few scenes in some other WIPs that I have in mind. As long as words come out it’s all good.
5 – Eye on the prize
I am trying to remind myself of what I’m trying to accomplish here.
I’ve won NaNoWriMo several times. I know I CAN do it. I don’t need to make it 50K for that. I have nothing to prove to myself on that score.
I need to win NaNoWriMo to get my ass in gear. I need to win NaNoWriMo to prove to myself that I have stories in me and that I can put them on paper. I need to win NaNoWriMo to get used to writing again.
It’s not about the 50K. That’s the vehicle.
It’s about the story.
It’s about finding ‘the zone’ again.
It might not be the best way to go at it. I’ve been there and I know the week 3 slog isn’t conducive to loving your writing. However, that rush when you start right at midnight and FINALLY write a couple of thousand words on that story you’ve been dying to get out? That’s what I want. That insane high when you hit 50K sometime in week 4? I want that again.
That smile that comes on your face when you find your story and characters are doing something really cool, when your fingers just can’t seem to type fast enough to get it on the page. The next thing you know, you’ve written hundreds, or thousands of words without noticing. I NEED that.
I think this point is probably the single most important of all.
I haven’t felt that need in a really really long time. The want has been hovering just on the edge of my transom for a little bit, easily ignored. The need though, that’s new. I feel a combination of weird and familiar. It’s like digging up a pair of jeans that were my favorite years ago but that I stopped wearing because I got too fat, only now I’ve lost the weight so I’m going to put them on.
I hope they fit.
That’s basically it for now. I’ve been brainstorming this for the last little while off and on. I did have many more ideas but I limited myself to these four. I didn’t want to lose too much focus and get overwhelmed before NaNoWriMo even started. We’ll know how well it worked when December and beyond hits.