In an unusual twist for me, I have been planning rather meticulously for the upcoming NaNoWriMo in November. For once, when I sit down to write a novel in a month, I’m going to have quite a detailed plan to guide me. This is a good and a bad thing.
Apart from the fact I’ve been toying with ideas for this novel for some months now, I’ve also started meeting with my local writing group on a weekly basis, meeting on Friday nights at an awesome local cafe/bar that is hiding away next to a cute old cinema. This place has proved a perfect place to meet up, with amazing coffee and cocktails, great pizza that is brought in from next door, a record player and A LOT of vinyl records, not to mention awesome staff (one of whom is the fiancé of a fellow writer in the group (the writer is also a published author and blogger, Lauren K. McKellar – go check out her blog and book now!)).
At each of these meet-ups I have managed to scribble a few more pages of notes down as plans for my novel. As I’m trying my hand at literary fiction this time, it’s not so much plot but characters that I am developing, with the general theme being about loneliness, and a couple of other threads connecting the characters. A lot will still be figured out as I write, but I am building up a pretty good idea of who my characters are, and where they are headed. I just have to connect the dots now.
There is a drawback to this, though. Usually when I dive into NaNoWriMo, as I have no plan and my only commitment is to NaNoWriMo itself, I feel no real pressure to write something good. I write what I write, and if I write something decent it’s a bonus. But this time I have invested myself a lot in this story – I really want to write it, and I want to write it well. I finally have a story that I want and need to tell more than anything else, and I want to push myself way out of my comfort zone and make this the best damn thing I’ve ever made. And the thought terrifies me. I have become quite ambitious with this, and the expectation I am heaping on myself is growing and gnawing away at me.
But I have to remember that this is only a first draft. I also am not making myself finish the novel in the month, necessarily, but just making sure I hit that 50 000 word goal that is part of NaNoWriMo – I will need much more than this many words to tell the story and it’s already going to be a challenge to write this at all when I’m about to move overseas in January (not to mention working and all that). My hope is that after November I’ll keep up the momentum and keep writing at the same speed until the novel is finished, quite possibly late December or early January. I want to challenge myself, but I have to be realistic too otherwise I’ll hate the experience.
So this is where I’m at with my fifth NaNoWriMo and fifth novel plans. I’m excited and nervous, and itching to start. I’ve also managed to sign up some of my students I teach to the event, which is quite exciting in itself! And if you’re undecided about whether or not to do this (or you don’t know what on earth I am talking about), you should go to nanowrimo.org and sign up immediately because it is one of the most fun and powerful experiences you will ever have, and whether you finish or not you won’t regret joining in.
How are my fellow Wrimos going with their planning? Do you guys plan much, or are you more the pantser type?