Nano Madness

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month aka November.

NaNo WriMO is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1 until the deadline at 11:59PM on November 30. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing and keep them motivated throughout the process. To ensure this, the website provides participants with tips for writer’s block, local places writers participating in NaNoWriMo are meeting, and an online community of support. The idea is to focus on completion instead of perfection. NaNoWriMo focuses on the length of a work rather than the quality, encouraging writers to finish their first draft so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. NaNoWriMo’s main goal is to encourage creativity worldwide.  The project started in July 1999 with just 21 participants, but by the 2010 event over 200,000 people took part – writing a total of over 2.8 billion words.  This year,  expectations are for 50,ooo participants.

I will be one of those participants. This week will be spent preparing my  outline,  gathering info,  loading my basic info into Scrivener, gathering necessary  materials –  you know, chocolate, notepads,  stickies,  more chocolae,  cherry coke, mountain dew, coffee, more coffee,  subway coupons – the essentials.

Most of November my blog will be dedicated to NaNo,   allowing other Nanoers the opportunity to share with you why we nano.   Today, to kick off the PreNaNo celebration,  I’m going to let Misty share her insights here.

Please welcome my friend Misty Harvey  as my guest today. She’s going to share a little insight to the craziness we are about to undertake.  While she shares I am going to  go work on my outline for my NaNo project. 

Nano Madness

By Misty Harvey

 What is this Nano Madness you speak of? It’s the craziness that happens right before NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Those of you that don’t know what NaNo even is, I’ll let Ellie explain that half of it to you. (see paragraph above) I was honored when Ellie asked me to come over to her blog and talk about some of the NaNo prep that I do, and how I get through it.

I have heard of those that start prepping for the next year’s NaNo the month after. I’ve also heard of those that wait until midnight on Nov. 1st, no plot in mind, and they just pound out a book. As everyone keeps saying, it’s about what works for you.

This will be my third year participating in NaNo.

Therefore, this is how my NaNo prep madness works. October rolls around, and I argue with myself going back and forth on whether I’m going to participate in NaNo this year or not. November is one of my busiest months; the only one that tops it is December. After I fight with myself for a week, I sign up.

I kid myself that it is a commitment I don’t have to keep. I mean it doesn’t cost a thing to sign up, and nobody cares if I finish anyway. You know, that’s all supposed to relieve the pressure of it off your shoulders. The problem is – I care. I care very much that I make it to that finish line.

Last year was a crummy November for me. If one thing wasn’t going on, another was. I found myself 25k behind with only 3 days to make that finish line. I thought I was a goner for sure, but no. I spent 2 days of that typing as quickly as I could. I buried myself in my work, and guess what? I made it. 25k in two days. I was so proud. I was hurting good, but I had ‘won’.

Now, as I’ve signed myself up for another year of utter chaos with only a few weeks to prep, chaos ensues. First, let me state – I had no idea what book to even write. There was no flicker of a book idea inside my cranium. Oh the madness. I knew first up I needed some form of a plot, or even a flicker – I’d take the flicker.

Time ticked down to fourteen days before the starting gun went off. I was lying around stressing myself out. I needed that idea. Once I quit trying to force it, guess what? Yeah, it came to me like a lightening bolt. After all of that, it became time to sort out plot issues, which meant brainstorming. I jotted down notes all over the place of various things that could happen, scenes I thought up, and types of characters. Nothing was definite yet, but I was working. I felt pumped up. Research ensued. I started to fill out various papers on how to plot your novel, and character worksheets. Oh yeah, I was cruising. (Mind you, I’m not a plotter, not really, I’ll explain. Just hang in there.)

Two days after I began work on all the plotting of characters and worksheets, I quit. I hated the whole concept of the novel, the stupid characters, and the project in its entirety. Yup, I was in the usual process I go through with NaNo. It’s a love-hate relationship with the preparations.

Do you know what I did at that point? Research. If I think I’m failing in some mental comprehension way then I will research plotting, how to write certain genres, how to make stronger character….and I will continue this destructive behavior until I’m moments from taking a lighter to all of my notes, and work.

Once I get over the anger, I mull it all around in my head for another few days. I have that ah ha moment, usually helped along from friends and family. All the puzzle pieces click into place. I’m off and running once again. The plot formulates with minor plots included. I ignore character sheets, because by this point the characters are very real inside of my head. (Is this the correct way to do things? Probably not, but it is what works for me.)

Now that things are on the run, and I am down to less than 10 days (eep), I need a plot to run with. I am convinced at this point that within that plotting procedure is the glorious hidden secret of how to be successful, and succeed at living through November writing 50k words in 30 days. Anyway, I sit my toosh in the chair and start plotting. I fill out index cards with chapters, and outline the chapters on guess what? Yes, more index cards. I tape it all to my living room wall after removing the couch and pictures. I end up mindmapping all over that wall.

Not sure what that looks like? Here is a picture.

MIsty's madness method

MIsty’s madness method

By the time I’m finished we’ve lost space in the living room, but hey that’ll teach my family to not allow me an office.

Once all of the mindmapping is finished, it’s a day or two before NaNo begins. I’ve all ready fallen in love with my novel idea. My mood changed and I hated the entire thing, and wanted it destroyed. All to circle back in love with my novel once again.

November rolls around, and I pull down each chapter piece I’m going to work on, day by day. I’m determined to see NaNo a success. A week comes and goes. Do you know what I find? Yeah, I stopped following the dag blooming plotline I spent twelve hours a day for a week busting my rump on.

Guess what? It doesn’t get any easier either once the month begins. Like Chris Baty and Grant Falkner talked about it the webinar for NaNoWriMo. You have four cycles to make it through the month that line up with the weeks – euphoria – the crash – grim determination – euphoria.

Haha, sounds like great fun to me! Bring on November. It’s time to sort the last bit out, and get it ‘plotted’.

See you all on the flip side of November.