Sometimes the best thing a writer needs is some time away. Away from the keyboard, away from the grid, away from deadlines and the general stress of life. I’ve spent the last three weeks in Malaysia visiting my wife’s family and exploring the western edge of the country. While it was well-deserved time away from the office, I quickly found that it was going to be a benefit to my writing as well. After three flights (over 18 hours in the air) I was in a completely different world then I had grown up in. The first advise a writer is given when they pick up the pen for the first time is, “Write what you know.” How is it possible that we can known anything if we don’t leave our comfort zone? Now that I’m back at my desk I can now say, I know something new. I know of a new society; a new way of life. I hope my new experiences find a strong voice in my writing.
Speaking of vacations, this is the first year since 2011 that I am not on vacation in November meaning I am available to take part in the NaNoWriMo this year. I will admit that I have never reached the 50,000 word challenge. This year I will be writing the third draft of my first novel, so there I have a hope this year. The first draft took me about 50 days to hand-write 56,000 words and when I finally started it took me about 35 days to transcribe the 56,000 words so to type a completely new version in 30 days should be an interesting challenge.
Getting Ready to Write
I use Scrivener, as do many writers. It’s a great tool for writing as it allows the writer to set word count goals, which is something a writer needs before starting NaNoWriMo. The key is to start a brand new file for NaNoWriMo so that your word count starts at zero. I start with a blank template as the old thing it will hold is my NaNoWriMo effort. In December I will import what I have written into my novel’s main file. The first step is to create a Template folder and then to create the page template. Set your font, it’s size as well as margins and line spacing so that each new page is already pre-set when you create it. Finally set your word targets. To finish 50,000 words in 30 days a writer must write 1,6666.66 (1,667) words per day. I create a unique document file for each chapter so I set my chapter’s word target at 2,000 words. So my goal is to write one chapter per day.
The little target in the lower right will open the window to set the file’s word target. The data in the center of the image shows that I have 0 of 2,000 words written. This is my Chapter template file. I will set the font, and such in this file so that every time I add a new chapter template file, I won’t need to keep setting the same data over and over again. There is no other data in this file. I recommend that your NaNoWriMo Scrivener file contain no other material other than your manuscript to keep your distractions to a minimum. Keep your notes and other documentation handy outside the NaNoWriMo file. This is to help you resist the urge to copy material from one file to another. Rewrite your material from a outside printed source so that you can clean it up and add new material. I will be using new notes as well as the ePub file of the first draft that resides on my iPad. Easy to keep up the writing momentum if you don’t have to start searching your laptop for a file. Just member, the goal is not perfection, or even good enough. The goal is 50,000 words – that means write. And then write some more. If you can get ahead of the daily word count then they will allow you to take breaks from time to time and still meet your word count goal.
Remember to sign-up at http://nanowrimo.org and use the website to guide you from November 1st to November 30th. On the site you can post your word counts, thoughts, or anything else you feel needs to be said. But remember, to keep writing.
My accountability plan is to also write a short blog post about my NaNoWriMo experiences each Monday during November. I’ll let you know my word counts and I hope you share your’s. Remember, we’re all in this together.
Are you planning to try NaNoWriMo this November? Have you tried it in the past? If so, did you reach the 50,000 target? I look forward to reading your comments.