I am doing National Novel Writing Month this year. I think I can be successful this year because I actually decided to do this prior to November and I have a story waiting to be told. I am officially registered through their site. We will see how it goes.
If you don’t think you can do 2,000 words a day (technically 1666) sit down and write a short story in a program that has a word counter. I have found that the first 700-1000 words flows pretty quickly and I can do it in about 20 minutes. The next thousand is harder. For me, at least. You may discover that 2,000 words is less than you think. Or you may discover that it’s more. Either way you may come up with a gauge that tells you how hard you will have to work.
I have two stories I am working on currently. The one I am going to do for NaNoWriMo and then another I have been working on for two or three months. I am excited about both. I know what happens in both and where they both go.
That being said, prepping is my weak point. I have honestly have never had to do any prepping and what I write tends to be better when I don’t. At least that was the case in high school. I would write most of my papers the morning it was due, around 4 a.m and turn in the first draft. Most of the time I would be missing a comma or something but otherwise the papers were always perfect. I get that from my mom. She has done the same thing through all of her college degrees that she has done. (I believe she has two bachelors and is working on a doctorite. My mom is very very smart) I didn’t know any of that until I was telling my mom how I would hate when my teachers would make me outline a two page paper-especially when they would expect my paper to follow said outline-since I could research and write and edit without an outline. An outline has always been a waste of time. I don’t say any of this to brag. Quite the opposite, actually.
My method of just write worked, and continues to work, for short stories and papers. It doesn’t work quite so well for long novels. At least not for me. I know Neil Gaiman and some other authors can do it but if I don’t do some prep for novels-which is my preferred medium despite the fact that I am better with short stories-as far as connecting to an audience quickly-goes. I get lost writing novels if I put it down for more than a few weeks and start to contradict the rules I set up for myself in my universe simply because I have forgotten the rules I have set up.
But I never really learned to prep. The outlines I learned to do in high school weren’t really helpful for me since it was broad and I usually know where my story starts and that’s it. That’s all I’ve ever needed. My outlines tend to turn into mini stories when I try to set up the chapters which I found would make me bored writing the story later. The creative part-what happens and why-is the fun part.
All that being said, I do think prep is important. What prep means is going to change from person to person. I am not an outline person, for example, but I just spent a good deal of time writing character profiles to make sure I keep my characters in character, as it were, and then designing a hierarchy for the Gods and Angels that will take place in my story. I am going to make up a map- a crude map because I am NOT an artist-so that I can keep track of everything that I do and make sure the locations make sense.
Initially I was doing all of this because, honestly, I thought that I should. Not a great reason but it got me started. I am finding that I am actually enjoying the prep work. Learning my characters before-at least on a shallow level to get me started-has really gotten me fired up about my NaNoWriMo novel.
I can’t wait for November first so that I can put everything I have discovered about my story and my characters with the page and, eventually, other people.
As part of my prep, I have also started talking to people about their novels and what they do to prepare and what their stories are about. I joined several writing and NaNoWriMo subreddits to keep me excited. Trying to seek comfort and find inspiration in other people. It is not my strong point.
I am not a people person. Not because I don’t want to be. Just because I don’t know how to relate to people.
That being said, if you are doing NaNoWriMo and would would like to join me on my writing journey, let me know and let me know what you do to prepare before writing a book. Maybe we can inspire each other.