It may seem ludicrous to consider participating in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNo, NaNoWriMo, or just November to the rest of the world) when I’ve had to cut back to posting here only once a month, but I’m doing it anyway! Well, attempting it. With as much advance preparation as possible!
I have not honestly attempted a full NaNo challenge in over ten years. Then, I was in college and had an amazing, close-knit community of fantasy and SF writers surrounding me. We kept each other going and accountable, held near-daily write-ins. Now, I have a mischief-prone almost-one-year-old. She is a much bigger, more distracting responsibility than any amount of homework.
Then, I was also not a skilled enough writer to churn out a workable story. Now? I have a grasp of story structure. I know what works for me as a process, now that I’ve drafted multiple novels. The trick will be balancing my responsibilities and optimizing my writing time.
Which means starting preparation now.
Currently, I am typing this post on my phone via a Bluetooth keyboard while the baby naps in my lap. After all, this will be one rough draft I type. Because no other method will let me reach the daily word count goal. (Thankfully, I already have Scrivener and Drop Box on my phone, since I can’t always access my laptop.)
My notebook lies open to where I am plotting out the major story beats. While full outlines are the surest way to kill my desire to work on a story, mapping the major arcs and plot points with give me focus and keep me on target. Having even that much of a roadmap optimizes my writing time and make future revision less daunting.
Each month, I watch my bank balance drain, like watching the sand in an hourglass. It counts the time I have at home with my daughter. It counts the time I have to be my best self, live my most authentic life, and follow my passions without reservation. My hope – my goal – with NaNo is to find a balance with my work ethic. Because my ideal? Is to stave off the inevitable return to the standard workforce. To stretch two years to four or five. The financial bar to allows me that is low.
To that end, I need (and want) to work my ass off in the hopes my stars align. Because the publishing industry is that subjective. So systems and story-plotting aren’t my only pre-NaNo preparations.
I will be submitting a short story to an anthology with an imminent deadline. I will also be finalizing the query letter and revising and polishing the synopsis for The Novel. Then start querying agents. More benchmarks to add to my list of goals for the year!
Along the way, I have a busy two months for my theatre group, including heading our 24 Hour New Play Festival and prepping and running the writers’ workshop. I have a first birthday party to plan and execute, a baby to keep alive for said birthday party, and a house to clean enough to comfortable host. And, hey, the more I clean pre-NaNo, the less stressed about mess I’ll be in November and the less I’ll try to procrasti-clean.
. . . Wish me luck?