Tips to put you in a NaNo state of mind

National Novel Writing Month kicks off in 14 days. I’m participating for the first time and I’m super jazzed. Okay, make that was super jazzed.

Last week, the doubts started to creep in. What was I thinking? I haven’t finished any fiction longer than a short story, what makes me think I can do it in one month? I worry my concept won’t be strong enough when I dust off my underwear synopsis next week. I worry I won’t find the time. I worry. . .  Maybe you know how it goes.

Some of the motivation-sucking whispers I can chalk up to too many late nights at the computer and too many Hickory Sticks (evil, evil things). The rest is just the same old doubts that derail me every time.

Not this time. I went blog trolling to get myself back into a NaNo state of mind. Maybe my discoveries will give you a boost, too.

  • Remember, NaNoWriMo is an experiment, says best-selling author Roz Morris. “You are experimenting with your muse and your writing habits by setting yourself a challenge—and a difficult one. Experiments don’t fail or pass; they produce what they produce. Some of it will be nonsense, and some will be sublime invention. Stay the distance and see what happens. Enjoy the journey and the surprises.”
  • But is that professional? Yes, says Barbara Freethy, who had eight titles on the NYT Bestseller List this summer alone. When you’re published, and you’ve signed a contract, there is no chasing the shiny new idea or surrendering to your inner critic. Above all, you have to Make It Work.

To reaffirm my commitment to the spirit of NaNo, I’ve signed up for Candace Havens’ popular two-week Fast Drafting Workshop. (Check out her bio and how much shit this lady gets done and you’ll know why I signed up.)

It’s smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo, which is either crazy or brilliant on my part. I’m hoping I can use my NaNo writing for any assignments and that the lessons will keep me writing and help clear the mist.

Either that or my brain will explode.


Underwear synopsis for NaNoWriMo book done

Last week, I set the goal to finish the “underwear synopsis” (I’ll explain shortly) of my NaNoWriMo book by midnight Sunday. I closed the file this morning at 1:36 am. Not bad.

I’m feeling positive. The structure I’ve sketched looks solid. The support posts seem to be in all the right places. I don’t have a detailed blueprint yet, and there will still be much to unearth during the first, “discovery” draft in November but at least I know where I’m going to break ground.

Finding the balance between the left and right brain, the creator and critic is always the struggle for me. I can’t be a totally fly-into-the-mist pantser because useless meandering frustrates me. But over-planning is a joy-killer, too.

Right now I’m pretty jazzed about bestselling author and ghostwriter Roz Morris’ new book Nail Your Novel: Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix and finish with confidence.  

I haven’t finished it yet—a good thing. I couldn’t wait to get back to the keyboard.

The underwear synopsis mentioned above is task 5 in Roz’s plan to nail your novel. Designed for your eyes only it’s not at all like the selling synopsis you’ll write later. You write this one as though you were explaining the story to a friend (so like there’s this part where a lion’s looking at him and he thinks if I ever get out of here alive…).

The synopsis is populated with story events and character notes you come up with through a couple of brainstorming and index card exercises disguised as engaging games.

So far there’s nothing shockingly new in Ms. Morris’s book. You’ll have read much of the advice before. It’s her approach and engaging writing that stand out.

She knocks the whispering doubters and critics off your shoulders and stands behind you with practical, encouraging advice. She demystifies and simplifies the process of developing your story, testing the strength of your idea and flushing out characters. She helps you rekindle the initial excitement you had in your ideas and characters and makes you feel confident about carrying them through to “The End.”

I’ll report more as I work through my first draft. I’m following Morris’s advice to let the underwear synopsis sit for a month. I’ll review for major potholes in the week prior to NaNo.

I know I’ll be madly scribbling notes all month, though. I’m so energized about my book. I feel really connected to it and the girls in the basement are handing up lots of juicy stuff.

How’s your NaNo planning going?