Well, if you follow my blog you’ll know where I am with NaNoBlogMo: 4,917 words on Day 7… I should be at 11,669 words by this date. Technically, as of this writing, I should be at 10,002 because I haven’t gotten to my “writing hour” where I write for the day. So I haven’t made my attempt for today writing-wise. But by 11:59:59 tonight, I’ll need to be at that 11,669 word count.
Probably not gonna happen…
But I’m not discouraged! I am actually encouraged because in my struggle to get my writing act together, I came across a method of writing a novel that doesn’t turn the pantser — Me! — into a planner. There’s no way in hell I’ll ever be a planner. Just not my thing, at least to the minute detail that most planners plan. But, it does help you plan your novel without it feeling like you are sitting down and outlining and character sketching and storyboarding and all the other planner-type things that make my skin crawl.
The other reason I am not discouraged is because, again, if you follow my blog you’ll notice something is missing. Again. There is no November 1st blog post here. It’s gone. Disappeared. And it was the first installment of The Helpdesk, which is the book I’m writing for NaNoWriMo this year… I am not worried about the missing words — I write my books by hand in a journal and then type them into Scrivener later, so I have all the words on paper. I believe when I made a change from Dreamhost’s nameservers and IP to my domain registrar’s name servers and my new IP address with my new cloud host, something went flukey. There are actually a few missing posts…
But I don’t have time to cry over spilled milk. I only have time to write!
The method of writing that I came across is by no means new. I had heard about it several years ago, but since it was trying to make me sit and plan I never looked into it. All I saw was a “method of writing a novel” and thought that meant outlines and spreadsheets and index cards — all stuff I was not going to be doing for my book writing life. Not now. Not ever. That planning stuff kills the writing buzz for me! So I wouldn’t give it a second thought. There were enough hours in the day to spend learning a method for novel writing when I needed to be writing!
Then last night I was doing some surfing of the interwebs. I was searching on the term “Preptober” even though that was LAST month. I wanted to see what people did to prepare for NaNoWriMo month. You know, those planner people who I had vowed never to be like… My methods seem not to be working. Although I am already a published author, I have not yet successfully completed NaNo and I am determined to get to 50,000 words this year by November 30th! Just for the fucking fun of it!!
Fifty thousand words does not a novel make!
A novella maybe, but 50,000 words is chump change in my book when it comes to novel writing. A good novel should be at least double that word count IMO! And according to Writer’s Digest, a novelist should target between 80,000 and 99,999 for a novel be it fiction or non-fiction. I write creative non-fiction… So that means I need at least 100,000 words to consider my book being done. I don’t have a problem making that my goal; my problem is getting fucking started!
If it’s not one thing it’s another that keeps getting in my way. I work full-time outside of my home. From 5:00 a.m. when I get in the car to make my way to work until sometime around 6:00 p.m. when I finally arrive back home from work, I’m hosed. I’m at work working with no time to write. I do have a 90-minute free time block in there: I get to my desk at 6:00 a.m. but don’t start working until 7:30 a.m. So that’s 90 minutes that is all mine to do what I want to do.
I usually use that time to write in my journal, but as I write this blog post regarding the first week of NaNoBlogMo/NaNoWriMo in review, I see that I’m going to have to start using that 90 minute block for writing my book. It makes the most sense because in the evening, I have to cook dinner, spend time with the boys/my husband, and generally be part of the household. I’ve been gone away from my husband for hours and he’s beginning to complain about me coming home and absorbing myself in activities that don’t include him.
Can’t make the hubs unhappy!
But now I’ll need to figure out journal writing time… Maybe I’ll use part of my lunch hour at work to write in my journal, but I usually eat lunch with a coworker or two and that would mean that I would have to stop that. If I eat lunch with someone, I know I’m not going to get up halfway through lunch to go and write. I could write in the evenings at some point — AFTER taking time for the family. But it’s hard to squeeze things in at night when you have to wake up at 4:00 – 4:30 in the morning to get out the door by 5:00 a.m…
And then there have been woes with my website since I created this bad boy. It was created when Effy announced her Blog Along for September. I had been needing to get my online life together anyway and Effy’s invitation to blog along with her was the kick in the butt I needed to get myself going. The latest woe being the disappearance of my November 1st post (and others) which was my 2,194 word start to NaNoBlogMo+WriMo (I’m doing both simultaneously).
As I said though, I refuse to be discouraged. The only things that can stop me are myself and death. I can’t control when my death will come but I certainly can control my own motivation. And with this “new for me” method of “planning” a novel, I am truly motivated. Motivated because it is planning without the planning of it — you plan out your book by writing different chunks of it following a 10-step process. You are not sitting in front of your journal or computer screen hashing out the old fashioned outline, creating index cards of characters, or other mind-numbing activities.
You are actually writing parts of your book through the planning steps!
And that’s what excites me about this method. I get to write the book as it is being planned out. I never understood how outlining the writing to the minutest detail helped the book get written. I mean some of the elaborate and very detailed book outlines I have seen make me wonder how many months it took them just to plan the darn thing! If you’re going to take all that time to plan in detail like that, no wonder it takes you forever to write the damn book!!
The 10-steps of this method (did you realize I keep saying “this method” and not stating what the method is? lol…) make me want to plan. And because I am going to start today and institute this plan into my writing life, I probably won’t be writing the book on my blog as originally planned. Rather, I will use my NaNoBlogMo for writing about writing. I will blog about this method of planning your novel and my experience, as a pantser who doesn’t plan, with this method of planning/outlining a novel.
The first step in the plan takes you at least an hour. Could take you more time. Could take you less time. However, you are instructed to take an hour to write one piece of information: A one-sentence summary of your story.
When I sat down with my book journal last night to do this, I thought I would bang out my sentence in no time. Instead, it took me about that hour to write it. There are some rules to follow in writing the one-sentence summary:
- It should not be wordy — 15 words or less.
- No character names — just characterizing descriptions.
- Tie together the big picture and the personal picture — who has the most to lose?
I thought I had finished my one-sentence summary last night, but as I sit here and type this post and the rules of the summary sentence I find that I will be spending some additional time on it since it is supposed to be 15 words or less. The sentence I thought I was going to go with has 50 words! Eye-yi-yi! Yeah… I will be working on that again tonight. I thought I had done something — those 50 words are about half of the words that the sentence started out as!
How will I ever get it down to 15 words?
I guess that is part of the writing process! This will certainly help me to hone my writing down and say more with less — something vital to writing anything. It is always best to say what you need to say in writing in the least amount of words possible. But those words have to be potent and powerful. They have to express what you want expressed in a concise and compact statement. And I can be a Wordy Birdy for sure! Just writing about this writing method is getting me excited and making me want to write!!!
It is showing me the things as a pantser that I was missing until time for editing. And then my edits were massive because I was going back and condensing and saying more with less and structuring my sentences to pack a more power punch and not just “say it.” See, my pantser days had me churning out words and saying everything that needed to be told. So edit time in the past was taking everything I “said” and turning it in to me “telling the story” as it should be told and not stated.
Basically I was re-writing the book each time…
Maybe the reason I only have one book published and about 2 to 3 unfinished manuscripts. Takes too long to get to the finished product because of the way I write! But with this new method, it is forcing me to be concise from the start. That means it will take less time for editing the final manuscript. That is a win! And just like this has given me an epiphany, I feel like if I write about writing on my blog throughout NaNoBlogMo while simultaneously using the method and writing the book, maybe I can give someone else an epiphany about their writing too which will help them reach their goals.
Here is my “one-sentence summary” that needs to be cut down by 35 words:
Disillusioned to the point where she returns to a position as an Executive Assistant after making it to “the big time” in I.T. – networking, an ambitious young woman seeks out and accepts a position on The Helpdesk, considered the lowest level in I.T., but where her passion truly lies.
Hopefully in tomorrow’s post, along with Step 2 of the 10-step process, I will be able to post the condensed version of this sentence. I won’t be moving on to Step 2 until I get Step 1 right. Here’s to writing tonight!
Oh and the method? It’s the Snowflake Method…