It's that time of year again. You know the one, when social media is full of posts about writers aiming to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Since 2014, I have taken part every year and I'm a big fan. This year is different and 'to NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo?' that is the question. Whereas in past years, I was ready to either start a new novel or complete a half written one, this year I'm not in that position. Novel three is at a very early planning stage and I am a planner at heart. The idea has been nagging away at me for some time and I know there's a story to tell. I've met most of my characters and know who they are - their names, where they live and what they are like as people. I know what their goals are and have learned about some of the obstacles in their way. But I still don't feel ready to start writing their story.
With November 1st. looming, these are some of the choices I have:
- Do not take part in NaNoWriMo this year and continue with my planning
- Use the discipline of the month to get back into writing - maybe short stories and flash fiction pieces - both of which I have neglected since editing novel two.
- Write scenes from the novel to use later, based on my newly met characters and see where they take me.
For me, the advantage of taking part in NaNoWriMo has always been the increased word output, the curbing of procrastination and complete immersion in a story and that is why I'm loath to not participate entirely. The disadvantage is that the writing often needs a great deal of editing and after a mammoth edit of my novel this summer, do I want that again?
It was while I was mulling over the situation that I came across this article, The Six Month Novel Writing Plan for 2018/2019 by Emily Harstone. It was featured in Authors Publish Magazine and she talks about a month by month plan over a longer time instead. She recommends it for people like myself who work better if there is a deadline. She believes that 'one of the enemies of novel writing is not having a strict deadline. If I take too long writing a novel I often forget most of the details and plot that were covered in the beginning of the novel, so that the start of the novel and the end do not match. I then have to go back and edit swathes of writing.' What interested me was that in her plan she has incorporated editing alongside the writing and the word count could be adjusted at any time. For example, she has a Two Hour Editing Binge Once a Week - Once a week, I would make sure to do an extra two hour editing stint during one of those days. Instead of writing new material I went over what I had written so far and edited it a little, just to make sure the story line and character development was as cohesive as possible. Again in Month Four, Harstone recommends this - Take a week off. Read but don't write. You will come back stronger. - and this - Write one hour a day every day outside of the week off. If you are not at least 150 pages at the start of this month, you should write for two hours most days.
If you have time, you can read the whole article HERE. Emily Harstone suggests that you can adapt her plan to suit you but explains how it has helped her write a first draft, edit it and get her novel ready for submission to agents. Would it work for you? Does it appeal more that the pressure of the NaNoWriMo daily word count?
Are you ready for NaNoWriMo 2018? If you are going to take part, I wish you loads of luck and hope you achieve your goal.