Oct 19, 2013

The NaNoWriMo Pre-Plan and Random Insults. (Part 2 of 3)

Come November, and all the hidden novelists come out of their caves, filled with vim and vigor to take on the challenge that November brings for them. To hammer out 50,000 words of a story that will propel them to the heights of stardom or some equally stupid dream like that.

See, if you're writing NaNoWriMo to be famous or to create a publishable novel, then put that thought out of your mind right now. This is not about writing your masterpiece or even your debut, that comes much much later. Takes much more than tears, bloody, frustrated yellings at all and everything in god's green creation.

Writing is not a novel vocation. You'd make much more money and have much more fun working for a call center or something. Still here? Good. Let's get into the practical aspects of how to get the 50k word count, because it's not really that easy unless you're prepared and you know what you're doing. More than anything, writing for NaNoWriMo is dedicating yourself to a routine and not letting anything deviate you from it. But things are going to get into the way of writing your daily count of words, things like life, family, kids, significant others, mechanical failures, lack of inspiration to write, and other such bullshit. But, if you're prepared, if you're determined, if you have an arsenal of tools at your disposal, you can crack it.

I believe you can crack it. How're you going to crack it? I'll tell you how.

The Pre-Plan

There are still some good 13 days to beginning of November and these days are your pre-planning days. You're going to prepare yourself and your life on multiple levels and also prep-up your novel (you've got the idea down by now, right?). Six aspects of pre-prep.

1) Get done with your reading: I failed to complete the NaNoWriMo in 2011 because being the idiot that I am, I started with the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire. And from then on it was all downhill. So, the no reading or low reading part is extremely important because of two factors. First, every page that you read is a page that you're not writing. Second, whatever we read can subconsciously leech into what we're writing. Which is never a good thing. You don't really want to end up with 50k words where the characters and situations in your novel mirror the overall collective of the books you were reading in November. But reading is important for writers, so read something that is non-fiction. And always read AFTER you're done with your daily quote of 1667 words.

2) Choose your weapons: Your weapon here is the software or tools that you're going to use to writer. Pen and paper? MS Word? Notepad? Scrievner? Dried skin of your enemies with their blood and tears for ink? It's all a matter of personal preference. You can Google around to find out lists and lists of resources that tell you about all the writing implements that you can use, but they mean less than jackshit if you're not committed to writing. So choose a tool that makes you feel good. Pen and paper or your mobile phone screen, choose and stick to it. Still, here are some things you must incorporate into your workflow.

    2a) Excel sheets: Mark out the days from 1-30 November in a column. Next column is your word count for the day. Which is 1667 to make it to 50 by end of November. Just highlight every day with green once you're done for the day and do not break the chain. If you know that you're about to miss a day or two, pre-plan and write more on a previous day. If you miss a day because of some reason, write more on the next day. It's simple as that.
   2b) Backup, Backup, Backup: Swear by your first born child that you're going to keep AT LEAST three backups of your work. Because losing even 1k words because you didn't save or backup is like a pain of first heartbreak. Maybe not, but you know how it is. Your choices? Save on local drive of your computer. Make a folder in your Dropbox account and third, save a copy in your Google Drive. If you're backed up in the cloud and you've a mobile with good screen estate, you can even push the word count forward whenever the mood strikes you. Peter V Brett wrote his first novel on his mobile phone while riding the subway to work. Remember, every word counts.

   2c) Organize: Writing 50k words ends up as a total mess if you're not careful. And if you're not careful, you might not even want to look at that dump of shit ever again. So organize with future in mind. The strategy that has worked for me in past is to create one master file with every day's word count added to it and at the same time, keep sub-files for each day that I've written. Files names are important for organization. I normally name files in a way that I can take a glance at the novel's folder and find out the status of the novel as well as the inspiration to write ahead. I organize files by numbers. Example: 1 Nov_Killing The Beast_1667. This helps me in knowing the date, the chapter name, and words. Also, as far as you can, try saving files in .txt format. Why? Because .doc files might get corrupt. It is also better to email the day's word count to your alternate email ID by copy-pasting the chapter in the body of the email. Less chance of getting into some kind of format problems.

3) The Time: While you can chalk out multiple times in the day to write, it can be extremely draining to write throughout the day. I've done it, so you can trust me on that. The best way to go about it is to wake up at 4 AMand then writer. Haha, insane? No? NO. NOT AT ALL. You're the one who wanted to writer a novel, aren't you? Why 4 AM? Because, no one is going to call you at this hour, your family will still be asleep, no one is going to ring the doorbell, there are no loud neighbors, or loud sounds of traffic, or anything at all. And 4AMis the hour of the wolf. It's when the muses come out of their shells to haunt the minds of people and put ideas in there. So, if you manage to wake up at 4AM and write even ten days, I can guarantee you that you'll be done with more than 50k in that time. The idea here, again is NOT to stay awake till 4AM and then write, but to sleep early and then wake up at 4AM. You can go back to sleep once you're done with your word count.

Alternatively, you can choose any time of the day when there are less interruptions so that you can write in peace. But my personal bet is 4AM.

Next Post: The actual story.