Thursday, 1 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: Third Time Lucky?

It's sad to see 2012 almost slipping away. The nights are drawing in and everyone is talking in hushed tones about this winter being a bad 'un (read: lots of snow and panic). Still, all is not lost. November is an exciting month for the wannabe writer. I love this time of year when the trees start to change colour and the leaves crunch under your feet as you walk the streets. My birthday is in February which might factor into my enjoyment of winter i.e. lots of presents are starting to come my way!

First things first, I have November to get through. This time I have decided to have a third attempt at NaNoWriMo (or NaNo for short). For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo is a scheme designed to help you write a 50, 000 novel in a month. It started with humble beginings in San Francisco with a gent called Chris Baty and his group of friends. Now, thousands of people across the world take part in the wonderful task of making up stories whilst sticking to a deadline. It's a lovely thought that other people are hunched over their notepads, writing furiously to hit the end of month target. I took part in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and 2011 and gave up both times. This year I feel more prepared.

I spent most of October re-reading No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, as a guide designed to get you through November and across the novel writing finish line. This book helped me realise that NaNo is supposed to be fun. Who cares if a giant squid suddenly appears in quite a serious story about real life superheroes (I'm looking at you, Alan Moore) ? I realised why I had failed in my previous attempts at NaNo. The trouble was I took my stories too seriously and worried too much about how sensible some plot developments were. The aim of NaNo is quantity not quantity. Having a finished draft is the goal and you can edit that giant squid out of the narrative on the 1st January (it's recommended that you leave your manuscript alone for a month after NaNo).

Also, I've managed to persuade a friend to do NaNo with me. We met at a writing class a couple of years ago and have kept in touch. There is a possibility we might meet up to do some write ins together which should help keep me on track. A little bit of friendly competition never does you any harm. Him Indoors is embarking on a similar project in November called National Game Designer Month which will help spur me on at home. Unfortunately I don't know who is going to end up doing the hoovering (probably Him Indoors). I can see a lot of vegan chilli being consumed in this house in November. It's one of the few recipes I can chuck in the slow cooker and not worry about. Apologies for anyone that comes to visit!

Finally, I have my secret weapon: Scrivener. This is a program designed for individuals that are working on a writing project. It's primarily aimed at those writing works of fiction but it could work for non-fiction books as well. I have been using various word processing applications to write stories for almost twenty years and it is, by far, the best piece of kit I have used. Each writing project is organised into a binder that includes everything: research, notes, character cards and your actual writing. You can move pieces of text around with ease. Does that fight scene belong in Chapter Five, rather than Chapter Three? Drag and drop and hey presto! it's done. Much better than scrolling through X pages in Open Office or MS Word. You can purchase the software for £30 in the UK and I would heartily recommend it.

What are you writing about? I hear you cry. I have some plans afoot but I'm a bit wary of how events are going to play out. For the moment I'll keep quiet. However I promise to let you all know immediately when the giant squid turns up.


Amy said...

Go for it. Nano is fun and creative. Besides in my case any words I write in November are more than I would have otherwise.

Wandering Naval Gazer said...

Thanks for stopping by, Amy. I have been getting into the NaNo swing and writing every day. Hope your NaNo experience is going well.