Tackling NaNoWriMo

For the first time, I am going to participate in National Novel Writing Month!

That’s probably a strange thing for an author to admit. You’d think a guy who has published two novels, a novella, and three short stories would have participated in NaNoWriMo before.

The last two Novembers, though, I was working not on writing a book but on publishing one. In 2011 and 2012, I released a Wolf Dasher novelState of Grace in 2011 and Red Dragon Five last year — the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. So there wasn’t a lot of time to write with being involved in production.

And the previous years? Well, I’m sure I’ve got a good excuse lying around here somewhere.

But this year, my writing calendar is actually open (sort of) in November, so I’m going to give it a shot. I’m kind of excited.

The rules for NaNoWriMo are pretty simple — write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. That translates to 1667 words a day. For a professional novelist, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Thus, I am going to cheat.

Head down over my computer is how I'll be spending a lot of November!

Head down over my computer is how I’ll be spending a lot of November!

The book I plan to write is Roses Are White, the third book in the Wolf Dasher series. (Ironically, this novel was supposed to be published Thanksgiving week like its predecessors. Such is life.) That’s all fine and good, except that I’ve already written 10 chapters, and I’ll be penning an 11th today. So I won’t be starting my novel on the first of the month, like you’re supposed to.

However, the goal is to write a 50,000-word book. The Wolf Dasher novels run between 80,000 and 90,000 words, so, if I am to finish it by the end of the month, I’d need a head start. I haven’t run a word-count on what I have yet, but I’ve been averaging about 2500 words a chapter, so that’s 25,000. I’d need to write another 55,000 words to get to 80k, so that sounds about right.

Secondly, I can’t write every day for 30 days. Even though it’s my vocation, I just don’t have the time. The weekends are when I get a lot of my house-maintenance work done (just like people with regular 9-to-5’s), there are Bengals games to watch, children who want to go to special events, and other things. There just isn’t free time on Saturday and Sunday to write.

Moreover, I need to rest. Writing fiction is every bit as exhausting as other forms of mental labor. After 3000 words, I am drained. The weekend helps me recuperate my powers, so I can apply them again the next week.

So that takes eight days out of the schedule. Now I’ve only got 22 days to get this done. Not only does that put more pressure on, it increases the number of words I have to produce a day. It’s now 2272, which is a lot closer to my standard average output.

And Thanksgiving is in there. There is way too much football and feasting (and cooking!) to be done for me to have a prayer of writing anything on Turkey Day. Even if I could find some time at night after the festivities, the tryptophan and the wine will make certain I am too sleepy to do it.

So now I’m down to just 21 days. The word count goes up to  2380 a day. So I’m basically going to try to write a 50,000-word novel in three weeks.

Wait, I thought I was cheating. Cheating is supposed to make it easier. This sounds harder!

But I’m doing it for two reasons. First, it sounds like fun. I’ve never tried NaNoWriMo before, and the challenge of it intrigues me.

Second, and more importantly, I am trying to use it to pressure myself into getting the book done. My publishing plan for this year was to put out two novels and a short story, with Roses Are White being the third and final publication. I didn’t make it for a variety of reasons (one of which being the short story turned into a novella), and I’m trying to make as much hay out of the time I have left on this calendar year. I want to publish two novels and a novella next year, and I need to have at least a first draft of the first book done before year’s end to have a shot at that.

So my main goal for National Novel Writing Month is to finish the first draft of Roses Are White. If I can type, “The End”, by November 30, then I should be well into the second draft of the book by the time the year ends, even with Christmas and the release of The Sword and the Sorcerer happening in December.

I’ll be updating my progress on a (semi-)daily basis here and on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/johnrphythyonjr). Blog entries may be short, since I’ll be bearing down on getting the book finished, but I remain excited. It’ll be nice to set a challenge for myself and see if I can master it.

And, really, that’s what NaNoWriMo is all about. It’s a challenge. It’s a dare to yourself to see if you can do it. Along the way, you learn.

Here’s hoping I succeed.

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