National Novel Writing Month hits this November (just as it does every year). Are you going to write a novel for it?
“But Mike, that’s still five months away. It’s way too early to think about it for now.”
If you’re really considering writing a novel (and more power to you if you pull it off), you probably know by now that it’s not something most can just sit down and do on a whim. Think about the novels you read and the time investment you must put into them (even if you’re a fast reader). Now think about how much harder it is to compose than to consume.
Short stories are relatively easy to read and significantly easier to write. Yes, you probably need to do a bit of research and planning for a short story, but when you consider that most are a sixth to a tenth as long as the average novel you can get an appreciation for the added complexity of novel writing.
So why am I suddenly talking about NaNo here at the end of May?
Well, as you might have guessed, I’m considering throwing my hat into the novel-writing challenge again this year. Unlike my first foray into NaNoWriMo in 2009, where I went into the challenge with minimal preparation–I wasn’t even exactly sure of where I wanted to set the story until I was already writing it!–if I’m going to do a massive writing project this November I want to be really ready for it.
Yes, I completed the challenge in 2009 and wrote my 50,000 words, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a success. I’ve not looked at those words since. They weren’t a complete waste, though, as I generated some ideas for other stories out of them. For this year, I’d like to get a stronger result.
If you feel the same way and you’re considering doing NaNoWriMo this or any year, it behooves you to put in the work before you put in November’s work, whether it a be a month or five months. Writing a novel isn’t something most people can just up and do in a month on a lark.
I’m sure Ann and I will talk more about NaNoWriMo before, during, and after November, but let this column be a reminder that it’s going to be here sooner than you anticipate. Start preparing for it now and you’ll undoubtedly find it easier to succeed in November. That’s my plan, anyway!
All that said, I need to practice what I preach and get myself ready for November, and I’ll be sharing my experiences in the process with you as I go.
Right now, this is what I think I need to have ready before November 1st. This list is subject to grow over time:
- Research (mostly 17th-19th century France)
- Outline (I’ve never been any good at this, but it will help)
That’s not a very helpful list, is it? Well, I’ll keep revising it and, as I said, expanding it.
Are you anticipating NaNoWrimo? How far in advance do you want to start your planning?