On November 1st, National Novel Writing Month kicks off. This is a month aspiring writers buckle down and share the fun and heartache of putting imaginations’ journeys on to the page. Mission accomplished is 50,000 words – in 31 days or less.
The first time I saw NaNoWriMo’s concept the writer in me was intrigued. The engineer side, though, did a little quick mental math – 50,000 divided by 31 days equals 1,612.903 words a day. That’s a LOT of writing for someone strapped with other responsibilities besides writing. What student, mother, or person with a full-time job has a couple extra hours to spare every day of the month to indulge in writing? Skip one day a week and you’ve got 200 more words on your plate on each of those other days…
And that’s exactly the point of this program. There are always going to be distractions, but sometimes we just need a reason to buckle down and write. If the goal of 50,000 words is reached, NaNoWriMo awards the writer with the prize of… being recognized for it. (This is just a shared journey, after all, not a contest!)
Ultimately, the point of the exercise is more about quantity than quality. For many participants, just putting words on the page is what they need as a start. So why bring up NaNoWriMo now?
If quantity is the ultimate aim, then a little planning will really help ease the struggle of producing words in the month to come. A writer needs a vision of her story to put words on the page. To produce 1,600 plus words every day, there is simply no time to wonder about this plot point or that character detail in the story. The writer just needs to know them.
So I’m offering a little four-week prep to help get aspiring NaNoWriMo writers started. Four weeks and counting, and it’s time to think about the basics – What do I want to write about?
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But here’s why it matters. If you decide to write a fanfic in an established universe, your job just got a little easier. The world building and character design is done; you can just focus on the story. But let’s say your aim is to try an original fiction, taking place in a new setting of your own creation. Well, that will take a lot more forethought in the planning stages. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were alternate universes.
No matter where you are in the spectrum, now is a good time to start plotting and planning. Dream and create a visual in your head, so that on November 1st it comes pouring out on the page. If you want to further discuss world-building versus dabbling in existing universes, stop by the FANgirl Zone at the Cantina.
Next week, I’ll give you some more ideas to spur the planning process prior to the kicking off NaNoWriMo. To all the writers out there, start dreaming…
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.