It is almost November and now, with just a little over 3 weeks left until November, it's time to start thinking about joining National Novel Writing Month for 2011! I have participated in NaNoWriMo for two years now and have achieved and surpassed the 50,000 wordcount goal in both years. I am definitely going to be participating again this year! Will you? Here's a little bit of advice for those of you who will be participating this year. (This is from an e-mail I sent out as one of two municipal liaisons for my region.)
Before we all start writing in all of our free time, I thought I'd ask you all what your plans are. Do you have a plan for how you are going to get 50,000 words written? Have you outlined your novel already? Are you just planning on winging the whole thing?
I'll let you know a little bit about my experience with doing this for the past two years. In the first year, I mostly winged it, but I had a very clear idea in my head for the story I was going to write. I didn't have an outline or all of the mini sub-plot details all worked out ahead of time, but I had an idea of who my main characters were, what they would be facing and where I wanted the story to end. I managed to write over 50,000 words that year (2009), and I really enjoyed writing it.
In my second year of doing NaNoWriMo (2010), I completely winged it. I knew what my story was called and who the main character would be, but I hadn't really fleshed her out in my mind. I knew that she had a certain ability emerging and that the story would be based around that, but I hadn't even figured out my supporting characters or what the conflict in the plot would be. I still managed to complete the 50,000 words, but I struggled through it more, and although I enjoyed the writing, I did not enjoy it as much as I had the previous year.
Looking back through my 2010 NaNoWriMo manuscript, there is very little that is usable from that writing, while the manuscript of my novel written for the 2009 NaNoWriMo is one that I will be completing, editing and sending out to publishers. The writing on it is better than the writing on the 2010 NaNoWriMo story and I believe that is because I had a bit more planning and thought behind the story before I began writing.
Of course, you will take on the NaNoWriMo challenge in whatever way works best for you, but if you're not sure what way that is, I suggest that you brainstorm a bit about what you want for your story before you begin. The more ideas you have and the more you flesh out what your goal in this writing is, the smoother things will go for you and the better your writing will be. You won't have to stick to any rigid plot ideas, but thinking about it in advance will give you a starting point and a direction. The rest can be played around with as you write.
And let me just add that I hope you all have a smooth and easy time writing your 50,000 words and make it to your goal for the 2011 NaNoWriMo!