Just nine more days to November frenzy, and I noticed an interesting article on the Writer’s Digest website that may provide some help and motivation to those who are sitting of the fence of this year’s NaNoWriMo (like I am). It’s a short take on outlining, and I know that many of you out there like to fly by the seat of your pants. Kudos to you. But speaking from experience, outlining, even in its most basic form, saved my life the last two years at NaNo and was hugely instrumental in enabling me to finish.
Its much better to have some idea about what you are going to write each day than simply sit down to a blank page or blank screen and wonder where your muse will take you that day. My advice, in addition to what Brian Klems provides in the article, is to make just 30 outline points or scenes, and write to those points each day.
It helped me to write the opening and closing scenes on day one and day two and then fill in the gaps as I went along. As you can see. I’m not advocating a rigid linear experience. Once you having your scenes, write them anyway, anyhow and anytime you want. Just do one a day for 30 days, making sure you put in about 1650 words per outline point and viola! Some will go longer and some will be shorter and others will feel as if they need to be broken down further. Resist the urge to do any further outlining. Just put in a chapter break (###) on your page and continue.
Did it. Reached my goal with time to spare. Actually, I passed the 50K mark last Wednesday, but then the Thanksgiving holidays happened, and I didn’t write another word until today, Monday. But who cares. Makes me feel good, and that’s what matters. Now all I need to do is keep plugging away every week. Even 1K words a week will get me another 50K by next year’s Nano, and more importantly, I might actually get this damn thing finished.
All those pundits doing NaNoWriMo who said that the second week was the hardest are right. The initial euphoria is over and the struggle sets in. It’s easy to fall behind on daily word counts and the weekends, which seem like the perfect time to catch up, are strewn with procrastination prone pitfalls for the easily seduced. Count me among that number. I wrote not a word this Saturday, and then had to scramble the make up for lost words on Sunday. I’m still ahead, but with a headache every day trying to make sure I maximize my word count.As the days go by, I realize that there will be other days where I write little or nothing, and the only thing I can say to others in similar situations is – write extra while you are writing. You will thank yourself for it later. On a more practical note, if you find you need some background for the scene you are current;y writing, write it as if the needed material already exits, then go back to a suitable point in the narrative and add it. I do it on the fly, while writing the scene. You’ll find that writing in that background information is easy because you know what you need. Make the incident as elaborate as you need. You can always edit it later, and your word count will go up by the number of words you added in the background incident. It may be just to bring in a small fact, or to introduce a specific item or idea. Works like a charm, and you can write in blissful abandon knowing you are grounding your work as you go. Cheers!