Despite the flagrant title, I will not be doing a novel in November. Likely, I will never be participating in this during the official month. But, as you read, I did do it last July. I loved it. I hope you do it to – if not now, this month, then soon. A quick overview of things that helped me:
1. Keeping my focus on my goal.
I didn’t participate to write a complete novel. I participated to 1)
give myself a kick in the ahem, to write while I knew I had the chance, and 2) to achieve a challenging word goal during a short period of time.
Two things I think were especially key in my goal-setting. My goal was challenging, but ultimately realistic. Meaning that it was hard, but I knew it was at least possible. Doing 20,000 words in July would have been too easy, because it was summer and that (and general life stuff that comes up with a young one) was my only priority. I had to push myself. On the other hand, even imagining 20,000 words written this month or next is completely hysterical. I came up with a great –and I mean GREAT—opening to a story last week. Didn’t have time to write it down, and by noon it didn’t matter. I couldn’t remember anything past what I’ve shared here. Can almost imagine what trying to write 20,000 words next moth would be like:
Day one: (types “day one”…….. 10 minutes later types “she said she didn’t do it”….10 minutes later goes to bed convinced she should be locked up because she’s clearly a walking zombie, having typed 6 words in 20 minutes.)
2. Beginning with a clear outline, which I had not a whit of hesitation or guilt in breaking.
I was surprised at the end that I had kept so closely to my original concept. Yet, I also created a character who wasn’t at all in my original concept. He showed up on day three and became one of the major players. That was the character who became the love interest. The original love interest was the husband – and yet that relationship remained as originally conceived despite this new character. Yet another character, the son, whose viewpoint I introduced on day two when I was stuck on what to do with my main viewpoint character, got shuffled neatly away into another colony about halfway through the month because he turned out to be unnecessary.
3. KISS it
You’d think this would refer to the introduced, and unexpected, love interest. But, no. Much as it does help to know that soon you get to write a candy scene–the kind that replays itself over and over in your head because it’s so fun. KISS actually is a mnemonic: Keep It Simple Stupid.
Which means that I kept my outlines / concept really simple. Not so simple that nothing happened, but so simple that when something new came to me I could easily write it in. To my mind, that’s what really got me through. It stayed fun because if it wasn’t working, I could just switch viewpoints, kill a character, have her kiss the guy, and meet my word deadline while carrying on with the story.
I am extremely excited for you, and envious that I won’t be joining you. I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to figure out when to write this simple post. (Sadly, it took a weekend trip to my mother’s, which includes a glass of too-strong wine and, more importantly perhaps, no internet connection. I can’t get my grading done, and she’s entertaining my child. Ergo, it’s acceptable to write.) Have fun, let me know if you’re victorious. I’ll celebrate with you, then find the wine my mother shared with me for a solo sulk fest.