Sunday, August 28, 2016

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

Once more, as we speed around the sun, National Novel Writing Month AKA NaNoWriMo approaches. Yes, November is coming and coming fast. Are you ready?

Of late I have repeatedly said, I'm not going to do it this year.  And, of course, each year I plunge into extravaganza event, thrashing about, ignoring sociability and family in my pursuit to write 50K in 30 days.

Seems this year will be no different except I've decided early on to engage in wild abandon.

How many years have I entered into this pursuit?  I can proudly say I started participating in 2000. That was the 2nd year of its existence.  I'll be honest, I attempted to do a cookbook. Let me tell you a little about that - DON'T ever try to write a cookbook for this event.

The following year my father passed away in October and I considered attempting it but realized I had too many obligations to ignore... so I didn't participate.

Okay, first year I failed to complete the 50K words, but I did get 35K written.  Good attempt. The following year I skipped out for personal reasons.

Since 2002 I have participated and completed the challenge.  That's right, folks.  I have 13 novels written.  And, yes, some of them have been published... not only self-published, but also via other publishing companies.

Now for the sordid truth. Some of those novels are so bad. In fact, once of them I went back and deleted almost 35K words. There are those who would claim that the effort was an obvious waste of time if I deleted all that text. Not really. I got the story down. I know what I want it to be. I deleted what I don't want and now need to rewrite what I do want.

Call it editing. I have several of those novels that have some text deleted that I wrote just to get my 50K words in. They were finished stories. They weren't the best stories. BUT they are being edited to make them better stories. Four of them have been published. So that leaves me with 9 novels to be edited. Let's just say they are in various stages of completion at the current time.

So, how to prepare for this event?

1. Get your research out of the way. Do it now. Get it all saved, printed, stored, whatever - so you can access it quickly and not waste a lot of time. Make copious notes.

2. Prepare you mind. Going in with the proper mindset is critical. You have to know you can do this. Thinking you can will work against you. If you want to win, you have to see the finish line and that means you have to know you will do it.

3. Realize that each day you will need to write a minimum of 1667 words. I set my goal at 1700 words each day with a final word count of 51K.  That allows for some gravy on the word counting app to verify your winning at the end.  I made myself a little word counter printout that I'm willing to share, if you're interested. It is 1700 word per day. Simple to use. Know today's date? See the number of words you should have written to be on target. Get It Here! Print it out and give copies to your friends. I've had mine taped to my desk hutch upright for about 8 years now.

4. If you fall behind, apply yourself and catch up.

5. If you're having a good day writing and can actually write more than the required word count, by all means, do so. I've had days where I was able to write 5, 8, even 10 thousand words. Now, if you do have a great day like that, don't sit back on your laurels because you're ahead - stay ahead. The next day, write the required words.

6. Remember that Thanksgiving Day (that's for all U.S. residents) is during the month. The family will expect you to come out of the cave and socialize. Be sure to shower and cleanup before doing so and enjoy the day.  Of course, there is a two-fold blessing to the holiday. If you work, you most likely will have off that day and maybe the Friday, too.  Use them to your advantage - WRITE.

7. Now this is the one that really is hard. Don't edit. Don't go back and fix. Don't . Don't. Don't. I mean it. The object is to get the story down - bad or worse... uh, er, I mean, good or bad. If you need to correct something - make it a note and continue on. I changed my main character's name about half way through - I typed: (RSN-NAME CHANGE - Mark is now Daniel, go back and fix) and continued writing.

8. When stumbling for a name of a character or place that you can't remember - do as I do. Type your initials and what you want.  For me that would RSNFirstName, RSNName or RSNCity and continue on.  When it is time to edit, the first thing I look for is "RSN" and see what I need to fix.  Did you note the RSN in my #7 rule?  Whenever I need to make a note, I toss my initials out there, that way they're easy to find later on.

9. Some writers will suggest that you lock yourself in your room or designate a certain amount of time at a certain time of day. That doesn't work for me. My life is hectic and varied. I write when I have the free time and free time means sitting at the doctor's office, riding to work or home on a bus, late in the evening, early in the morning, during lunch. You'll be amazed how much writing can be accomplished in 15 or 20 minutes. When I worked in the big cities and would get caught in rush hour traffic or an accident snarl, I would dictate into a small cassette recorder. (I know, giving away my age here.) Use your cellphone and when you get home, type it into your laptop.  Of course, if you have your laptop with you, depending on the situation, you 'could' attempt to enter it direct, but I'm not really suggesting that. Much easier, safer and conscientious to dictate.  Oh, I don't recommend dictating while driving. You want 50K words, not 50K words of spoken eulogy.

10. Enjoy yourself. If you don't succeed in the event, don't beat yourself up. Remember, if you only have 18K words when November 30th arrives, that is 18K more words than you had one month earlier. If you do succeed, congratulations, you now have a novel that needs an immense amount of editing, re-editing and maybe another set of eyes to review before you edit yet again.

Now, I need to get busy on my research. I have a great story to write this year. Getting excited. In fact, I think this novel will easily reach 80K without any trouble - maybe even bigger!  I won't give all the details right now but I'll tease you - it will be somewhat historical and is based on a segment of "Aliens" I watched on the History Channel. Giorgio Tsoukalos and that gang can get my imagination jumping and then, can I write fast enough to get it all down?

Until next I ramble on...

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