NaNoWriMo Planning – a double-edged sword!

2013-Participant-Facebook-CoverIn 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 fiancΓ© of a fellow writer in the group (the writer is also a published author and blogger, Lauren K. McKellarΒ – 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 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?

10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Planning – a double-edged sword!

  1. I never plan what I am going to write – Maybe one day I will but to now it has all been pants!!
    Also when I am writing I do about a thousand words a day and I know that the Nano thing only requires a small amount more than that BUT it’s scares me stupid, I would be frantic with it. I know it would come between me and my sleep and I would obsess – No I don’t think I should do it. As for your story, I think it’s great that you are making a start and the discipline of the competition will no doubt be good for you – good luck with it all.

    • That’s good though that you have always had the same approach, being a pantser with writing. I have mostly been like that but I have tried planning before (although in much less detail than right now).
      I think it is quite a challenge, trying to write roughly 1700 words a day each day. For the first three years I did NaNo I didn’t really do this – I wrote nothing on a lot of days, but then had massive catch up days where I would pour out 10 000 words in one sitting (that normally went for 7 or 8 hours). Last year I wrote about 2000 words consistently almost every day, but I found myself surprisingly bored by it all, as if I wanted that ridiculous catch up at the end. But I think it is quite a challenge to write that much, and I mean really if you can write a thousand words a day anyway without NaNo then you’re doing pretty well – the discipline is already there I think.
      Thanks, I am looking forward to November. This could well be the last novel I write in Australia. Here’s hoping it’ll be my best. πŸ™‚

  2. This will be my third year on NaNoWriMo (haven’t won yet) and I’m more prepared this year then I have been before. The story is roughly plotted out but I want to spend a bit more time on it and try and be prepared as well as I can be πŸ™‚

  3. Looks like you’ve put a lot of thought and time into the project. Like you said, this is only a first draft, but you have already put a lot of your ducks in a row. Now all you need to do is let them float in November. Later, you can reorganize them, if necessary and add in as many more as you need. (I’ll say this first because I’m sure you’re thinking this: Quack! lol) Good luck with your word hunt. πŸ™‚

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