To NaNoWriMo or Not to NaNoWriMo, That is the Question


NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month for you who don’t know what that is, is how I got started with writing. This time, at least. I wrote a lot when I was younger but put it away until my middle-aged years. My oldest daughter is that one who brought NaNoWriMo to my attention about ten years ago when she decided she was going to do it. I decided to pull out my rusty writing chops and join her for it. Long story short, that was how Dragon War Relic got its start.

What it did for me was to get me away from outlines. Now, outlines are great and all, but I figured out that they had been actually hindering my creative process instead of helping. With NaNoWriMo, you are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, usually the month of November. That means there is no time to look back and ponder what you’ve written. You just have to keep forging ahead ignoring all the things you’ve messed up along the way.

It also taught me my writing rhythm. When I’m in writing mode, I tend to write about 1700 words a day. When doing NaNo, you need to do 1667 a day to get all those words done in 30 days. That is also roughly the length of all my chapters, too. Because of this, I haven’t really done NaNo since that first time. Pretty much whenever I’m writing, I’m already NaNoing (is that a word? It is now).

As I’ve been brainstorming and working out a rough outline (yes, I’m back to doing outlines but I still rely upon my ‘pantsing’ to get the ball rolling) for Jaysan and the Jazz Monkeys, I figured I would start writing when I was ready. Well, I’m ready. Coincidentally, it corresponds with the start of NaNo. I figure I’ll start Monday, even though it is still October, but the rest of my week is going to have several interruptions so I want to get things going then.

This last week on Jaysan, I did some more outline work-throughs using not only ‘Save the Cat’ but Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering questions and Dan Wells’s Seven Point Plot. I generated a chapter-by-chapter outline which finished out with only 21 chapters. I’m planning about 40 but I’m not worried. My first chapter outlines are always a lot shorter than the finished product. My goal with this book, since it is middle-grade, is to write shorter chapters.

So I think I’m ready to get started now. Of course, I never stay on my outlines very well, but it at least gives me a direction when I start writing. I’ll try to keep those interested on my progress in this blog and give you some insights into my writing process. Catch ya later.

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