It’s November 1st and for many writers out there it is the start of another National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as it is otherwise known). If you’re not sure what NaNoWriMo is, you can learn more about it here (I’m feeling too lazy to take the time to explain what it is on my own).
I actually participated in a NaNoWriMo about 20 years ago and I know I made good progress on some long-forgotten manuscript but those days are far behind me. I also tried (and failed) at doing several NaNoWriMos in the years since but I’m determined to make this year different. To help me meet my goal of writing 50,000 words this month, I am using the worksheets from Book in a Month: the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. I tried using her system in the past (and failed) but I’m hoping that this month will be different. I am using the blog to hold myself accountable.
So today is Day #1 and here is what I have accomplished so far:
- Read the first 6 chapters of BIAM and worked on the preliminary worksheets (these chapters focus on the writing process and writing goals)
- Read Week #1 of BIAM (all 7 days) and printed out the corresponding worksheets.
In theory, you complete the worksheets assigned to that particular day. However, the entire first week of BIAM focuses on completing ACT I and all of the worksheets are related to that, so it makes sense to me to print them all out and work on them all at once along with the writing. Filling in these worksheets and coming up with my outline is going to take a good chunk of time and I don’t want to get behind on meeting my daily word count goal. So I think I’m going to set timers for both – I’ll let myself work on the worksheets for 30 minutes and then do my actual writing for 30 minutes (and hopefully my writing time will increase as the week goes on as I need to work on the worksheets less).
I’m not going to be writing a completely original story for this NaNoWri/BIAM exercise. Instead, I am using what I refer to as a “launch book.” A launch book is a book that I read that is SO BAD it got me thinking that I could write a totally better version. And that is exactly what I am doing. I have picked out a Harlequin Presents novel (no, I’m not going to say which one) that has all of the usual silly plot points. I don’t mind the unrealistic plot – that’s what makes Harlequin Presents fun to read. But I HATED the hero as the author wrote him (and I didn’t think much of the heroine either although every now and then she shows some redeeming qualities). In addition to bad characters, a lot of the choices the author made in order to bring the hero and heroine together were just stupid beyond belief. I felt like the author wasn’t even trying at some points. So I am going to use this terrible plot and it’s unlikable characters and see if I can’t make a good story out of it. One where the characters are at least interesting and the writing tight, even if the plot itself leaves something to be desired (and maybe I can improve on that as well). Using a launch book releases me from the pressure of having to come up with a totally original idea at this point in my baby career. My focus is on building a writing routine and dissecting a story so I can understand what works and what doesn’t. I think this exercise will actually help me improve my writing because I am going to question every decision a published author made and see how changes I make actually impact the story overall.
I’m excited to get started and my other goal is to update this blog daily with my progress (and I’ll be hopefully be making progress on my marketing goals as well – lots to do!) Wish me luck and feel free to share with me your writing goals in the comments below 🙂
Today’s Writing Goal: Work on worksheets for 30 minutes, write for 30 minutes.