Just over two weeks or so ago, I blatantly claimed that I was allowing myself some grace and not participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, as I already had too much on my plate.
Not only am I trying to revamp my blog, in the mist of launching a second, focusing on my new YouTube channel for writers and finishing off my novel whilst going through the beta reader feedback for it; but there’s a baby’s first birthday and Christmas to prepare for, clients eager for their work and a never ending though gratefully sought after reading list to tackle….so why on earth would I add in the extra stress of writing a novel in a month?
I think we can all agree it’s not a good idea to overload oneself and with NaNoWriMo being notorious for writer’s burnout, it’s probably best to just cheer other writers on from the side lines, right?
Well, it turns out I am a glutton for punishment and last week I decided to casually jump on the bandwagon and try my hand at a novel in less then a month.
Now, let’s review my current word count of a pitiful 5k and the fact that we are now officially half way through the month – is my want of writing a fifty-thousand word story in a month even possible now?
Probably not…but we will give it a good shot anyway.
However, motivation alone isn’t going to cut it. I have come to NaNo without a plan, pockets full of enthusiasm and no clue how to get to the final word count. Whilst I have been able to get to my 5K in under two hours of word sprints, the Obsessive Compulsive Planner in me needs to know where my plot is going, as currently I am just blagging it.
So, with that in mind, join me now as I come up with my plan to not only finish my NaNoWriMo project, but to do it sanely and without too much stress. Fingers crossed, it’s not too late.
I am going to start off by pretending I haven’t written a word and ignore my current word count. Thus I shall divide the NaNo goal with the days remaining and thus set my new daily word count to beat.
50,000 / 15 = 3333.3
For the sake of argument we will call it 3400 words a day to allow oneself a buffer. Whilst this is a lot, it’s not impossible provided you can get into the zone and know where your story is going. For ease you could argue that 1-2K in the morning and then again in the evening, or three sessions to just over a thousand words would also work well as a way to catch up.
At this point I am not sure if I will attempt two or three writing sessions a day, however, I do know that I will be adding in several daily writing spirits in order to relieve the pressure of those chunkier goals, as I know, in a good 10 minute writing session I can get up to 500 decent words without having to push too hard. (And if you really want to break down your motivational goals, at a result of 500 words per 10 minute session, you could blow out 4000 words a day with just 8 writing sprints, or 4 x 20mins!).
And I think that is the key here. Whilst I am behind, and desperate to catch up, the main reason I wasn’t going to participate was because I don’t want to add in too much stress. The whole point of this is to have fun, create an entertaining story and daily writing habit and to see if I can provide other writers with some tips and tricks as a result of this experiment. I would like to prove that it’s not too late and that we shouldn’t ever get discouraged when we aren’t quite on point with a project or feel bad when we see how well someone else is doing in comparison. It’s time to just plough forward and make the most of the time left.
I know if I am going to do this then I will need a plan/plot for my story. I very rarely write anything without at least a basic outline, unless of course it is part of a writing exercise, which is usually under 500 words.
With this in mind, before I do any more writing, I need to spend some time to create a guideline for my story and figure out where I want it to go.
So for this, I am going to keep it really simple.
First things first, I have a piece of plain paper, a ruler and a pen and am going to divide my page up into six sections.
Whilst I know many writers like to plot using the Save the Cat method or 4/6 act structure, I am actually rolling my novel writing method all the way back and in fact, usually a simpler method that I use for short stories.
If you are familiar with the six act structure then you may already be familiar with the concept of the three overviews of Setup, Confrontation and Resolution. If not however, let me know in the comments below if you would like a blog on it!
In each of my six boxes I will be using the three overviews to divide the overall word count up in order to provide a more structured goal. This in turn will take the pressure of burnout off as I know I only have a limited max amount of words to put to any one but of the story’s main arcs.
Fortunately for me, I do know, based on the current bit of writing that I am not congratulating myself on just yet, is the fact that my story starts with a bang that will undoubtedly provide a lot to the overall story.
I also, without providing spoilers, know roughly where I want it to go. I know that my basic plot will revolve around the quest matrix and that I have ideas for places, characters and situations along the way.
So to start with, I will work out these points and where they need to go in my squares.
I am also going to go against the grain and go back over what I have already written and extract the character names, cultural words and worldbuilding items I have already put into the piece and create a list of references so that I am not at any point forced to keep scrolling back over things. The main focus with this whole exercise is to get the words down, without worrying about editing, spelling mistakes or anything else. And moving forward, if I think I have forgotten something or need to add something I will just insert a note via comments and worry about it during my revisions (though I don’t know when that will be at the moment).
Once that is done, I will turn to my Pinterest Board and figure out the rest.
I will then divy this up into very rough chapter concepts, usually with title inspiration to help lead me through the story and then make my undoubtedly chicken-scratch nonsense into something much more presentable and easy to follow, and put it on a shareable system, such as Google Docs, so that I can access it on my phone, laptop and computer and thus not need to be in anyone place in order to write this thing.
Next I will decide day to day what my allocation is, aka if I am trying to write twice, thrice or multiple times depending on what I have already going on and go from there. I will also check in regularly and honestly on Twitter to keep myself accountable and motivated (feel free to pop over and see how I am doing over there) and use some of my do-or-die writing methods to ensure words end up on the page every day.
Do or Die
I have mentioned this in my The Most Dangerous Writing App – A Review post, but one of my go to methods for ensuring I hit word count goals if I am stuck or unmotivated is the Most Dangerous Writing App. In a mean twist of fate this app allows you to set a time for five minutes and forces you to write by threatening to delete your writing if you pause for too long. Thanks to its ingenuity, you can also change your timer to a word goal and once you manage to get to your target, quickly and without stopping, you can copy and paste your words into your master document and thus have words on the page.
In a similar fashion, though not quite so heart-breaking if you don’t hit the mark, I will participate in as many writing sprints as possible. Once again, this involves a timer and just trying to get as many words as possible in the time limit, with the added bonus of having the opportunity of joining up with other writers.
There are also no end of write-ins and live streams this month to participate in too, so no doubt I will also look at doing some of those.
I am also going to promise myself a reward if I can make it to 50k. So I will also be popping over to Amazon to spy on the Erin Condrin planner that I have wanted for years now but never treated myself to as they are so expensive to get shipped to the UK. There may also be the odd sneaky bar of chocolate to motivate me through those harder writing sessions.
Ready, Set, Go!
And now with everything set up, all that’s left is to get typing. Wish me luck!
And a big good luck, well done and carry on to everyone who is already or thinking about attempting your novel in a month’s journey. How are you getting on? What are you finding difficult or easy? Where is your story going? I love to hear from you, so please let me know how you’re getting on in the comments below!
About Six Act Structure