So, it’s coming up on November, and that means National Novel Writing Month, and NaNoWriMo means angst.
Last year I was wrapping up The Other Side of Hell in October and I knew what I needed out of For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll so I decided I’d write Bells as a NaNoWriMo project. For those who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo is designed to get you to write a novel, just write it, no procrastination. 50,000 words in 30 days; 1,666 words per day. The idea is that people who can’t seem to get that book out have help and support to do so. My problem is that I don’t have that problem. I’d done over 70,000 words by the end of the month. I’d beaten the 50,000 in two weeks. However, the end result was a mess. I spent ages trying to get it into a fit state for publishing. I vowed I’d never do NaNoWriMo again.
And then I come to the end of October and find myself putting the final touches to the first draft of another book, Book 4 of the Aneka Jansen series. I’ve also been finding myself dragging; I need a break from Aneka. I think. So I had this idea, and I started sculpting characters and jotting down background concepts. And my problems with NaNoWriMo start coming back…
I can’t start until November 1st. I’m sure some people use this time to carefully plot their books, but I don’t work that way. I have plotted out a bloody trilogy! I don’t need more time to plot and plan, I need to write! I need to be putting words down on a page (or a screen anyway), but instead I have to wait. What is that doing? It’s giving me time to start second-guessing myself, that’s what it’s doing. It is doing exactly what NaNo is set up to avoid; it’s forcing procrastination. If I were not seeing this as a NaNo project, I’d have started writing last week and I’d probably be ten or twenty thousand words in. I might be thinking, ‘This sucks, drop the damn thing and go write about Aneka,’ but I’d know whether what I was doing was worth it. Instead I’m starting to think, ‘Not sure about this. Books 2 and 3 look weak. They’ll need re-plotting and you know you hate changing things afterwards. Bad idea, man. Don’t do it. Idea wasn’t that great anyway…’
Probably it’s just that I’m not the kind of person NaNo is aimed at. I know I can write a book. I know how I should go about doing it. NaNo is for people who plan, and plan, and plan, and plan… but never actually finish anything, and that’s not me.
So, NaNo starts on Friday. I have the day off and I’m going to start something. Whether I’ve talked myself out of the new project and start the next Aneka or I bang on and see what these new characters are like is currently an open question. (And Aneka’s 5th book will be kicking off in December whatever happens; don’t worry.) If you’re doing NaNo, good luck and if you need advice or encouragement, I’ll be there for you.
But I swear I’m not doing NaNo next year!