Nanowrimo like a Cylon: Have a Plan

Wow. It’s already been one week, and I am ahead of schedule. I began on a palindrome, 43,134 words into my draft, and completely by chance (I swear!), I ended the week on one, too: 57,875. The daily counts are in the photo, but it comes to a total of 14,741, which is another palindrome. (As a side note here, I’m getting a little freaked out, because I am honestly not making this up or planning it. I feel like I’m in that Nick Cage movie.) I honestly never thought I could sustain the momentum of 1,667 words a day, but here I am averaging over 2k. Still, it doesn’t quite feel sustainable for me, and I’ll talk about why.

nano wk 1 (2)

Your writing time is the One Ring, and you are Gollum.

In order to write all these words each morning (and finish up in the evenings), it takes a lot of planning. I have to prepare everything the night before so that there’s nothing in between me and my story except making some tea (earl grey, hot). If I forget to shower or pack my lunch, that’s 15-20 minutes that I lose of my precious 90-120 minutes in the morning. It seems silly to worry about 20 minutes, but if you look at the percentage, that’s 15-20% of my writing time lost forever. In theory, if not in practice, that’s 20% of my words for the day. I’d never though about it like that before. I realized I have not been protecting my writing time like the sacred commodity it is, and doing this takes purposeful action from me every night. It’s exhausting for now, and I don’t think I could do this every day if I didn’t have a finish line I was aiming for. My one hope is that it becomes habit, and that somehow, it actually is sustainable.

Plot like you’re a villain.

Aside from planning in real life, my outline is basically my caged muse. I’m not a slave to it, but it always does my bidding.  People seem to think that extremely detailed outlines take all the fun out of writing. Recently I heard a comparison of outlines to paint-by-numbers, but this doesn’t really make sense to me. Is your creativity stifled if you’re the one who wrote in the numbers and you can change them whenever you want? People don’t seem to realize that you can tap into that same spontaneous creativity while outlining that you do when writing a scene. I’ve already made several changes to the outline I started with, but it’s a beautiful beacon directing my sleepy mind where to go next each morning.

Having a few specific details or lines of dialogue that I want to include in a scene has helped give me direction when I start writing each day. If I’ve got purpose and direction, the writing flows much more easily than it otherwise would. I attribute a good portion of this to the additions I made to my outline before I started.

I began nanowrimo hoping to power through this draft, but I’m learning a lot about what helps me put words on the page. Even if I don’t make it to 50,000, I think I’ll still get a lot out of the experience, but for now, I’m still in the game.




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