Writing again, again.
This month, I’m using NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2017 to get back into the writing habit I seem to have lost. And the blogging habit. And social media, too.
There used to be a paragraph here talking about what I’ve been doing and why I haven’t been writing. But who cares? Let’s focus on NaNo for now.
Plenty written, nothing finished.
I would say that I “won” NaNoWriMo in 2015, in that I got the required 50,000 words onto the page within the month. But my story sucked, and I never finished editing it. I only needed the slightest excuse to abandon it. Not being able to work out a great ending was pretty much the only excuse I would need.
The problem, in hindsight, was my piss poor planning. I went in with two-thirds of a plot and figured the rest would work itself out. It didn’t.
I usually know how I want a story to end, then think up the structure of the beginning. Next, I’ll write a plot from that beginning point to the end point, getting stuck somewhere towards the last third. Even though I know all this going in, I always think, “ahh well it’s alright. It will all come good as I write it.” Then I get stuck in!
Well, it’s been years now, and I’m sitting on a lot of unfinished rough drafts. They all got as far as that point they were meant to “come good.” None of them did. The finished rough draft I have is still waiting for me to edit it. And one day I’ll do that. But not this month – this month it’s time for a new story!
Using NaNoWriMo to create better writing habits.
It’s NaNoWriMo 2017! So this year it’s different: I’ve been spending weeks working on the plot of a story, with the plan to have it ready for day one. Which it was. In fact, it took a lot of self-control not to start writing. There was the tricky bit towards the end, trying to connect the end to the rest of the story, but I got there. And while I will be tinkering with it as I draft my way along (well-laid plots don’t typically survive characters riding rough-shod all over them), this is really the first time I’m starting a draft with every significant plot point ready to go. Joy!
So what else is different? I’m using mind mapping software for planning at the moment. I usually plonk scenes into a spreadsheet, but I’m finding the versatility and flow of Mind Mapping to be a lot of fun.
I’m also tracking everything. I have a target sheet where I put in my day’s word count, minutes and Words Per Hour, making sure I stay on track. I know I’ll be unable to write on Friday mornings. I have a three day weekend planned for sometime in November. With my target sheet, I can prepare for these days of non-writing.
Another good use for all these metrics is looking for ways to improve them and track what might cause adverse effects. For example, my Words per Hour rate plummeted during times I was playing music with lyrics. I’d even try listening to k-pop and j-pop because it was upbeat, peppy, and I can’t understand the words. Turns out no – for me to function at top speed I need either silence or instrumental music only.
The other thing is editing. I don’t want to get to the end of the month with a long, rough draft and then have to start rewriting the whole thing. This time I’m going to start re-working the draft in the afternoons, or mornings after I’ve done my drafting. I’ll go into my process in a later article.
And so begins Haunted: A Novel.
So what’s the story going to be about? Well, it’s not science fiction or fantasy. It’s going to be a supernatural ghost story thing; something I’ve had kicking around in my head for a while. It’s a simple, self-contained story. Not like the sprawling fantasy series that will totally get edited any day now.
Right now I don’t want to go too in-depth into the plot. It’s early days, and I gotta ease my characters into it to make sure they can do what I want them to do.
So follow along with me as I pick up my writing where I left off. Next up I’m going to go into my new planning/plotting with mind mapping techniques. After that, I should be able to tell you the plot; maybe even share some first or second draft stuff!