I’m a convert. I’ve never liked the idea of setting a word count when writing, much less sticking to it day in, day out, but NaNoWriMo’s guideline of writing 1,667 words daily in order to get to 50,000 words by November 30 has been a revelation.
So far, anyway. It’s only been a week.
It works because on bad days when you flag, you tell yourself, “Can’t stop now – only 1,567 words more to go,” and write whatever it takes to sprint to the finish line. I’ve tried this tactic before and the result was always complete gobbledegook that looked as if it had been written under hypnosis. But for some reason, this time it’s working and the words produced under duress – if you can say that about something self-imposed – actually have some bearing on what’s gone before, and what is glimmering vaguely in the future.
Another plus point is that when you reach your target, you feel you have permission to stop for the day and go visit your real life. It’s a refreshing change from the endless must-do-homework feeling that hovers over writing projects. Or maybe that’s just me?
Detailed plotting is still getting the better of me. I used the Snowflake Method, as mentioned in last week’s update, but when I got to a part that said, “Take a week and expand the one-page plot synopsis of the novel to a four-page synopsis,” I knew it was time for this unique little snowflake to drift away. But it’s well worth checking out if you’re a sensible writer working within a realistic time frame.
One really interesting thing I found was a blog post that showed JK Rowling’s plotting method for Order of the Phoenix. It’s great to see someone at the top of their game working with a ball-point pen and pages torn from a jotter. There seems to be a lot to explore on the site, which is called Write Like Rowling, but I’m trying not to get too distracted. Otherwise I’ll be colour-coding my pens before you know it. And I’m not even using pens.
My own outline is a bit like a Christmas list – I have ideas in writing of what everyone’s getting, but when I hit the shops I might spot something shinier for them.
This week’s word count: 15,033 words in the first eight NaNoWriMo days. That’s easily a record for me. Even more so because I also wrote a few blog posts while avoiding eye contact with the dreaded Blank Page.
Read Week 4: Amélie, worrying less and Neil Gaiman here