Obviously, it is October at the time of my posting this. National Novel Writing Month (otherwise referred to as NaNoWriMo) is not until November. If you’re wondering why the heck I’m writing about my experience before I experience it… congrats! You’re in the exact same shoes I was in a few weeks ago. But I’ll get to that point.
When I graduated from college a few months ago, I set a few goals for myself. I’d always loved writing but hadn’t quite had the time to write for fun. In my final semester I took a creative writing class that reignited my love of it. What it did not reignite, though, was my motivation and the ideas I’d once overflowed with. Creativity is a muscle just like anything else. Unfortunately, it was a muscle I hadn’t flexed it in years. It was initially quite difficult for me to justify writing with no clear goal. That class challenged my boundaries and I wanted to do more – so I set myself to writing more! I took baby steps. First, I started reading more. That’s all documented on my bookstagram (@Paiges_next_pages) and also here on my website! Though I read a fair amount prior, I read more mindfully now. I ask myself why something made a story more or less enjoyable. My Fun Friday posts are also a practice in giving myself a prompt, instead of writing to what somebody tells me. That all, though, was very light prep. I felt like I’d stretched for my marathon… but at the start of October, I realized I still didn’t know the route I’d be running.
And thus, I learned that the best practice for NaNoWriMo success was the work done in Preptober. Frankly, my prep is highly likely to fail miserably. I have never charted a book out before. The longest story I’ve written for a class was about forty pages. I absolutely do not expect that, at this time next month, I’ll have anything even remotely resembling a publishable novel.
But what I do expect is to learn a lot.
I expect to learn what I should’ve been doing this past month that I overlooked.
I expect to learn more about my own time management methods.
I expect to learn what I did this month that helped my life go more smoothly.
Most importantly, I’m hoping to cement into my brain something I have learned but never quite managed to internalize. It is so, so much better to have something flawed and clunky to edit than to have never written anything at all.
So, what have I done for prep this month?
First I had to get an idea. Maybe I’ll decide I hate it and make a game-time change, but for right now I plan on writing something to get myself in the Christmas mood! A fluffy romance that’ll give me plenty of opportunities to watch Christmas and rom-com movies for research.
The next step, which has been the main focus of my month, was trying out a new planning style! For classes, I flew by the seat of my pants. The issue is that that made me slow and hasn’t worked well for longer pieces. I get too distracted and end up down a Wikipedia hole every time. Instead, I’ve written out the skeleton of what scenes I absolutely want to happen. I’ll focus on writing those first, and if I finish all of them (Ha. I can dream) then I’ll circle back around and write the connections – whatever it takes to reasonably get from one scene to the next and explain any background I missed.
Again, this is an experiment. I might fail miserably. I am actually very likely to fail miserably at the actual goal of 50k words. But if you think I’m going to fail miserably with this method… maybe wait to let me know until after I learn that lesson for myself?
Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween!