A NaNo Novel & More

Planning: Getting It All Together

If you’ve been following along with the bouncy, trouncy ride that is my planning process, you know that so far, I’ve gotten these pieces into place (in some sort of very basic way, at the least):

I will admit that the first three years I did NaNo, I didn’t have any of the above.

What I did have then was:

  • a general idea
  • a main character
  • a point of view
  • a ‘voice’
  • a crapton of determination

What I’ve discovered is that those early elements were my strengths, the things that came easily to me. I’m good with characters, with point of view, with voice. What I suck at (still) is plotting, planning, and understanding the shape of a novel as a whole. Thus, loglines and synopses freaked me out and scared me and I avoided them completely. So, this is what I suggest: If there’s something about this process that makes you feel overwhelmed, tired, scared or just completely daunted, that’s probably your weakness and there’s no way to get stronger at it than by working on it.

Imagine you go to the gym, and you have really strong arms. You love working your arms — it’s so fun, and you lift a lot of weights, woowoo! But your legs aren’t as strong — you get tired, you get grumpy, your muscles hurt. It’s freaking hard.

You have two options (well, three, but we’re not going to count quitting as an actual option)

  1. Work your arms more and more. Have the best arms in the world. Feel good about yourself. Feel safe and strong. Forget you have legs. They’re there, after all, they get you from one place to another. They don’t need to be any better. Look at yourself after 30 days and see that your arms are fantastic, but your legs are exactly the same as they were before.
  2. Work your arms just as much as they need (and as you need to feel good), then focus on your legs. Yes, you’re going to be grumpy, tired, scared, overwhelmed, depressed, or a million other things. Look at yourself after 30 days and see that your arms are just as good as they always were (maybe a little better) but your legs are also stronger, healthier, better. Working your legs has gotten easier.

Okay, it’s probably odd to equate writing a novel to going to the gym, so you can fill in another analogy if you like. But the truth is, you should know what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. And you should be CHOOSING to do whatever it is you’re going to do with them. Plotting is hard for me (I think I mentioned that, right?) but every time I do it, it gets easier. Every time I do it, I understand it better. Every time I do it, it gets lets overwhelming.

So, what’s your weakness? And what are you going to do about it this NaNoWriMo?

Stumbling over the moonlit path, s.



2 responses

  1. Great, so are you saying we have to go to the gym while we write?! 🙂

    Seriously though…thanks for breaking it down–totally makes sense. For a newbie like me, I feel like everything is a weakness at this point (even the ding dong word meter–ack).

    I did enjoy working on my logline–not sure it’s great, but it helped me fill in some gaps & gain a better understanding of my story/goals. I’ve not started a synopsis yet, that will be this weekend, and I’m sure that will further help fill in even more gaps.

    So I guess I’m just sorta cross training…trying to develop it all alittle bit at a time.

    October 29, 2010 at 11:59 am

    • Hahaha. Can you imagine? I should probably just let the guy who owns my gym know he won’t see me again until December 1st 🙂

      Yes, cross-training for the win. It takes a while to discover what your inherent strengths are. NaNo is one of the ways to do that, though, because as you’ll go along, you’ll start to see what you’re good at!

      October 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm

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