07 October 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set, NaNo

I’m doing National Novel Writing Month this year. Yep, I’ve taken a big dose of crazy already for even contemplating it. (For ease of writing about NaNo, I’m dropping the Word Nerd-third-person schtick… my brain isn’t that talented.)

I found out about NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but it’s never been the right time. As a reporter covering local governmental bodies, there were always these pesky things called elections every November. Trust me, waiting until midnight for returns to come in and then writing front-page worthy copy was not a great way to stay on the 50,000-word bandwagon. The fallout of elections kept me too busy and occupied too much brain space to force that many words of fiction out at the same time. (No jokes about reporters writing fiction anyway… )

Then, two years ago, I’d just moved to Indianapolis and was hammering away at the current WIP that’s the subject of query letters. Why do NaNo when I was already writing?

Last fall, I’d just transitioned from being an impoverished AmeriCorps member to having a real title and real salary and not-scary apartment. I’m not sure NaNo even crossed my mind then.

This year, though, is the perfect time because of several factors.

One -- the fate of the current WIP is rapidly moving out of my hands.

Two – I read a blog post from Paperback Writer that recommended for every writers’ convention you attend, you should write a novel. I’m headed to Bouchercon in two weeks and next year, I’m thinking World Fantasy (since that’s what I write). It seems like good advice: if you only go to cons, and don’t write, you’ll never move out of that “aspiring” category for authors. If I go to World Fantasy, that means I’ve got about eight months or so to crank out most of the next book.

Three – Marcus Sakey, in similar advice to Paperback Writer, recommends writing the next book while working on selling the first one.

So why NaNo? My plan is to use the 50,000 NaNo goal to make a serious dent in the next book. My plan is to write what will hopefully be 50,000 words well on their way to being good words that contain interesting characters and a compelling plot.

That’s why October is becoming critically important. October is all about planning. I’ve erased one of my blackboard panels; the second one is coming clean in a few days. I’m giving myself space and permission to scribble out ideas. I’ve got a list of characters already. I’ve got my 3x5 note cards handy to jot out fuller scene ideas. One of my original ideas for a main character is already being replaced with a much better new character who can help the plot move better and provide more tension.

The plan is the key. And the rest of the dose of crazy I need to do NaNo.


Krista said...

Ooohhh! You sound so PROFESSIONAL!!! I get a little thrill just reading your plan. Thrilled to hear of getting your WIP ready to ship off, thrilled to hear about 3 x 5 cards and plot ideas.

You are absolutely right so many people just talk about it, it's refreshing to have a glimpse of you just DOING. Keep it up. I am operating on the premise that the key to success isn't being the smartest or most original, it's being the most persistent.

Rachel Brady said...

Hi Bethany!

I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year too, feeling equally crazy and--I admit--freaked out! We'll have fun.

See you NEXT WEEK! Wahoo!


Bethany K. Warner said...

Krista -- I totally agree that success is about persistence.

Rachel -- I hear you on the freaked out part. When I think too much about doing NaNo, I think maybe I should go get my head examined. We'll have to commiserate about what we've signed up for next week.

Tolmek said...

lol You are WAY more organized than I am about this, but you are a professional. :) I just write random thoughts down in a notebook.

Roxann said...


Can I read it as you write it? Huh? Huh? Can I? :)

Jay H said...

One day I will once again have the energy and time to tackle NaNo. But NaNotThisYear.

Unknown said...

Hey, I'm headed to Bouchercon, too! Also planning to NaNo in November, if I can get The Muse to cooperate.

Glad to find this blog!

Bethany K. Warner said...

Roxann -- a big qualified maybe on reading while the writing's going on. Generally, that's a big no-no for me...but we'll see.

Jay -- hang in there.

Sarah -- hopefully I'll run into you at B-con. I'm getting excited!