In case there’s anyone who doesn’t know, November is Nanowrimo – National Novel Writing Month. The goal of Nanowrimo is to bash through 50,000 words of a novel in a single month.
I could not be more supportive of this idea—it gives focus and a nice juicy competitive edge—I mean, crowd support!—to an endeavor that can seem completely overwhelming when you’re facing it all on your own. Through peer pressure and the national and international focus on the event, Nanowrimo forces would-be writers—and just us lazy ones! —to commit. It’s easy to get caught up in and carried along by thewriting frenzy of tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of “Wrimos.” And I know lots of novelists who started novels during Nanowrimo that went on to sell, sometimes sell big.
But I’m not a big fan of sitting down and typing Chapter One at the top of a blank screen and seeing what comes out from there. It may be fine—but it may be a disaster, or something even worse than a disaster: an unfinished book. And it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re going to put a month aside to write 50,000 words, doesn’t it make a little more sense to have worked out the outline, or at least an overall roadmap, before November 1? I am pretty positive that in most cases far more writing, and far more professional writing, would get done in November if Wrimos took the month of October—at least—to really think out some things about their story and characters, and where the whole book is going.
Even a half hour per day in October, even fifteen minutes a day, thinking about what you really want to be writing will do your potential novel (or script) worlds of good. Because even if you never look at that prep work again, your brilliant subconscious. mind will have been working on it for you for a whole month.
Let’s face it—we don’t do this mystical thing called writing all by ourselves, now, do we?
But I also want to stress this:
You don’t have to do Nanowrimo!
If signing up and doing word counts and getting badges isn’t your thing, don’t do it. You can get just as much done by committing to the next two months of writing.
So I’m doing a weekly post with the basics you need to chart out or outline your story, act by act, with links to previous posts that go into more detail.