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NaNoWriMo Countdown – 3: To Plan Or Not To Plan

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For many people, the only way to get through NaNoWriMo is by extensively planning their novels ahead in October. Everyone seems to have a different strategy for doing this. While three days is perhaps a little too soon to start planning, it’s still enough time to get some sort of outline prepared.

I can’t sit here and tell you HOW to plan your novel and how to structure your outline because everybody has a different, unique way of doing it. You need to sit down and figure out what works best for you. I read a book once on ‘how to write creatively’ which basically said you shouldn’t read books on how to write. In a lot of ways – although a little ironic – this makes a lot of sense.

Figure out what works best for you. Experiment with your story lines and chapters, and don’t be afraid to take risks. Also, no amount of planning is ever too much. That’s really the only advice I can give.

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The way I plan for NaNo may surprise some of you (especially if you’ve picked up on how obsessive-compulsive and anal-retentive I can be). You see, my plan for my novel is not to plan.

Sometimes I feel that writing out an exhaustive outline can be just that – exhausting. If you’re anything like me then you’ll equate an outline with as close as you can get to writing your novel without writing your novel. Since your novel is thus ‘quasi-written’, it can become awfully boring and dull to flesh it all out with sentences and paragraphs. I know it is for me.

I think that sometimes, dependent on how flexible you are willing to be with your outline, planning out a novel extensively can take away from the spontaneity of creating a novel worth reading. Chances are if it becomes a struggle for you to write, it will be a struggle for a reader to read.

The most planning I generally ever do is to acknowledge the end. As a writer, you have to know where the novel is going. As long as I know how the novel is going to start and how I want it to end, everything else will fall into place during the writing process. A lot of times, I don’t know how it will all tie together or how it will even progress, but eventually it all begins to become clear to me.

That, I think, is the beauty of writing. It’s as if my mind knows the novel, but I have to work and write and progress to uncover what my mind knows – which is really just another way of saying “it just came to me.”

So, for November 1st, I know where my novel will start. The first few pages, and probably even chapters, are mapped out in my head already. I won’t reach the ultimate fini during November (I generally aim for novels over 100,000 words), but I know where I want the characters and to be at the end and how I want the plot to go.

Exactly how everything is going to get there is still a mystery. But it’s my mystery. And I intend to inspect the hell out of it.

By the end, I should have something that resembles a novel and I won’t be tied down or held back by an outline. That’s more a comment on my inability to outline than it is a critique on outlining.

If planning and outlining is how you write and is what is going to get you through November, then all the power to you.

Good luck, everyone.

Let’s get ready to NaNo.

Till Next,

-Will

Categories: Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

NaNoWriMo Day 12 – The Good, The Bad and The Unwritten

Today was a bit of a weird day for me. I’m still getting over the flu, so I haven’t been eating a lot. I’ve been just drained of energy all weekend, and it kind of got the best of me today. I slept until 11:00 am, which NEVER happens with me. After I dragged my sick, lazy butt out of bed, I went to my Grandma’s house for a visit and a small lunch – she usually cooks me a twenty course meal, no lie, but she knew I was sick so she stuck to homemade chicken noodle soup with homemade noodles. Yum….

Instead of going straight home from my Grandma’s, I decided it was necessary for me to stop at Best Buy and purchase Halo 4, which is turning out to be a great game. By the time I got home it was 3:00 pm. This is not much of a problem until I realized two things: I have a midterm tomorrow that I have not studied for and, more importantly, I have not written anything in my NaNoWriMo novel today. Normally, I’d ditch the studying so that I could write but I figured I could manage a couple hours of studying because yesterday, the 11th, I passed the 20,000 word mark, which is the word goal for today, the 12th.

With this in mind I so righteously decided not to write today but to study instead. I would spend the rest of my day studying for my History of Rome midterm tomorrow, so that I was well prepared and could knock it out of the park. I got out all of my class notes, started to read and condense them into smaller notes, highlighting the main details. I was so excited that I was getting so much work done.

It lasted five minutes.

I’m not sure what I did for the rest of the afternoon, but I got distracted on Twitter, reading blogs and the like for the next three hours. By the time I realized I had wasted my whole day away, and the sun had already set (around 6:00 pm…it’s sad), I decided I better get back to work. So I pulled out my notes to continue studying.

Again, it lasted five minutes.

Mom finished making supper and I went to eat. Soup again, but very good. I didn’t eat a lot, but it went slow (on purpose) and by the time I had finished my parents started watching Dancing With The Stars. Knowing full well I had a moral obligation to study, I decided to take interest in a show I rarely watched and sit down (just for five minutes, I told myself) to watch world champion dancers dance with famous people like Apollo Anton Ohno, Emmit Smith, Kirstie Alley and more. Surprisingly, it was more entertaining than I imagined it would be, and it helped waste two hours of my time.

Now, it was 9:00 pm and I HAD to get back to studying. I sat down to start reading (class notes are incredibly dull when you try to study from them).

You already know what I’m going to say. It lasted five minutes.

I decided to text my best friend that I had bought Halo 4 today. Now, he didn’t text me. He didn’t ask me to play. It was I who initiated the conversation. I told him I bought it and he responded with a simple question: “Are you going to try it?”

Instead of telling him, “No, I wasn’t going to try it because I had a midterm,” I decided to respond with a question of my own: “I want to. Are you going to be playing tonight?”

This is how I initiated asking him to play and then started playing. We played online (with headsets and all) and went for about two and half hours. It was incredibly fun. I hadn’t touched my XBOX 360 since September, so it was nice to play. Real nice. By the time I got off, I decided I would get back to studying.

Like all the other times to today, that didn’t happen. This is how I ended up writing this blog post at ten minutes to midnight with a zero word count for today and have accomplished no studying. Great.

On the plus side, I’m still on track for NaNoWriMo. My word count is 20,055, so I just need to write my 1,700 tomorrow and I’ll be good. Also on the bright side, I am so incredibly used to staying up till all hours of the night cramming for stuff like midterms. I’m pretty good at cramming, too. Hopefully it won’t be too bad. All I’m asking for is an 80%. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.

Well, if you care to share how NaNo is going for you, I’d love to hear about it. That’s my polite way of saying: “Comment, damnit!”

Other than that, I really have to get to studying.

Thanks for reading!

Till Next,

-Will

Categories: Family, Life, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 5: Three Weeks Later (?)

So it’s NaNoWriMo Day 5! I really should update my word count so that my widget is correct, but I just never think of it when I’m actually at the computer. Which is odd. I’ll probably do it sometime this evening. So, What If It All Means Something has been practically writing itself. 6,000 words just in the last two days. Except I read over my first few pages and I like the old version better. For those that don’t know, What If It All Means Something was a story I had started previously, got about twelve pages in and then I wanted to restart it for NaNoWriMo this year. My NaNo beginning is definitely a little different, but not nearly as good. Oh well. I can always change it in December!

So, I know it’s been a few days since I’ve posted any writing, but it is NaNoWriMo so most of my creative efforts are focused towards that. I could always post some more of What If It All Means Something, I guess. Maybe I’ll do that. Not now, though. Later. Definitely later.

So, some of my avid followers may have known what I’m about to tell you. Probably not, though. I just pay them to subscribe, not to read anything….. 😉

Anyway today is Monday, November 5th, 2012. I wrote my very first post for this blog, Everyone Remembers Their First, on Monday, October 15th, 2012. If your math skills are any good, which mine aren’t, or if you’re good with calendars, you will see that was three weeks ago. It’s really been three weeks? I’m more surprised that you’re all still here after three weeks. I guess I got you fooled pretty good that this is actually a decent blog.

Time flies when you’re having fun. Well, I’m having fun at least, and I really don’t care about the rest of you. But really, 292 followers of my blog after just three weeks, that’s pretty sweet. So thanks for everyone who follows. If you want to make a religious cult about my blog, that’s cool too. I think I’d make a great statue for you to worship. And, really, with nearly 300 of us we could fill a small church. What do you think?

Just kidding. (But if you were seriously considering this cult idea, shoot me an email; we’ll talk).

Apart from the followers on my blog, thanks to all my Twitter followers. Yes, I created a Twitter account specifically for this blog. It is @meanssomething if you care enough to join my other 169 followers to listen to me spew more BS on Twitter. Same BS you’d be used to, just less words. As my good buddy Sheldon Cooper once said: “The smaller the size, the more concentrated the fun.”

I think that was respectable, self-promoting to try and grab more Twitter followers and more blog followers. Maybe like my Facebook page, too. It’s kind of behind in the race against Twitter and my blog. I say behind when I really mean it fell over at the starting line, with only 4 likes, when Twitter and my blog ran ahead breaking 160 and 290 respectively. Okay, maybe this last little bit was a little shameless.

Well I better get back to writing so I can boost that word count. I’ll try to update it tonight and the update it every day, because I know how concerned you are with looking at that little widget.

Okay, I better stop now. Or else I’ll spend so much time on my blog that I’ll have to find a way to incorporate it into my novel. (Darren has a blog. This is what he wrote tonight: “Day 5: etc…”) not a bad idea.

If I was famous, I could write an autobiography and include posts from my blog in there. I’m not famous though, so I’ll have to go sulk now. Time to write for NaNoWriMo. Thanks for reading.

Till Next,

-Will

Categories: Family, Life, Nanowrimo, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 3: When Hell Freezes Over

For those of you in my time zone, or close to it, we’re just beginning Day 3 of NaNoWriMo. It’s 9:00 am, the sun is not shining and outside looks like the North Pole (but I’m too much of cranky nutcase to be Santa Claus). The only good thing about all of this snow is that it fills in all the potholes on the road – this is a big deal because Saskatoon has more potholes and bumps in the road than straight, flat road. Which is ironic because Saskatchewan is so flat that you can watch your dog run away for three days.

Anyways, I have no new piece of writing to post today either. If you’re really all that interested, I should have something in the next few days. I just don’t have much time to edit anything because I’m participating in this tiny little thing called NaNoWriMo. You may not have heard of it….it’s not like it’s been in my blog ten times and I really didn’t have about four posts dedicated to just NaNoWriMo, so don’t feel bad if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Now, I named this post “When Hell Freezes Over”, because when I look outside that’s what I see. It’s only November! I mean, granted if it got any warmer my igloo would melt, but do we really need all this snow? Believe it or not but sled dogs go much faster when there is not a foot of snow to plough through. Can you believe this, eh?

Just for your benefit, the freezing cold and lots of snow part is true. The rest? Well, if you believe that, you should go…….how about just look at a map.

So NaNoWriMo is really happening, we’re already at Day 3. By the end of Day 2 I was at around 9.5k, but I feel like it’s almost time to start falling behind. I work all day today and tomorrow, so won’t have much time to write. And there’s this little exam I have Monday, and another one on Wednesday. And an essay due Wednesday and another one on Friday and the list goes on and on. Sufficed to say, I started strong but I can totally feel it going downhill from here. Of course, I could be writing my novel right now instead of this post, but that would be practical.

And, actually, when I’m not writing I find I’m doing anything but studying. Good ol’ procrastination…we’ve been good buddies for a while now. Like, I’m starting to get addicted to Twitter, I’ve been all over the NaNoWriMo forums and I even offer my parents to help with dishes – just so we’re clear, that never happens. I guess I could clean my room….when you end up having to walk across clothes to get out, I think it’s getting pretty bad. Or, instead of all this crap I could just write. But sometimes that is a challenge. I know what’s going to happen next in my novel, but I stopped writing at midnight last night because I just couldn’t write anymore. If I had the energy of a horny rabbit I could probably go all night – that is, write all night.

So, I’ve got to get some real work done now. Unfortunately I’m talking about this garbage they make you do in school. It’s not fair. I pay so much money for them to give me work? It’s like paying to have a full time job! Anyway, that’s my rant. I’ve got to get cracking so I can finish this stuff before I go to work so that when I get home tonight I can just write.

How’s NaNo going for you guys? Anything exciting going on in your novels? Are you already at that point, like me, where you feel you need to take a break and not think about your novel for a a solid couple hours?

Thanks for reading.

Till Next,

-Will

Categories: Family, Life, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

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