How I’m Writing a 30-Day Novel – NaNo Week 1

This week begins the second phase of my series on writing a 30-day novel. The series is all about writing by the seat of your pants or intuitively, but my personal goal from the start was to write a complete novel in 30 days, hence the title.

The first phase of the series details some of the things I did before writing began. The links to that series are below and you can read them at your leisure.

An Explanation

No doubt, you’re wondering what tool or system I’ll be using to write a novel in 30 days. The answer is simple. NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month. National Novel Writing Month happens every November. It’s a motivational event in which writers from around the world commit themselves to write a complete 50,000-word novel in 30 days. It’s a fun, let-your-hair-down-and-let-your-writing-run-wild event.

In July, I’m participating in a related challenge called Camp NaNoWriMo.  Participants can set their own word count goals and can work on something other than a novel.

Camp NaNoWriMo

I plan to push as far as possible through the first draft of The Candidate. I’m going to try to finish the entire manuscript, but since 50,000 words is just a good start for most of the stories I tell, I’ll be shooting as high as possible. My official goal is 75,000.

Week 1

Camp opened Tuesday, July 1. I’d cleared the month’s calendar of as many things as I could in advance. Blog posts were scheduled for all of July on Horse Painter and Indie Plot Twist. I finished and submitted one article for EmptyEasel and started the second one. The studio was closed for the month.

I even knew what story I’d be working on and I’ll tell you about that in a moment.

In short, all I had to do was take care of the few events scheduled for the month and write to my heart’s content.

I even knew–sort of–how I was going to write the story. I hadn’t planned anything beyond writing scene descriptions and taking notes, so this is going to be a seat-of-the-pants experience. I haven’t done that in nearly five years. What was I thinking?

The day dawned with great expectations and a lot of fear and trepidation. That happens a lot when I set a big goal and the day arrives to start work.

After all the time spent getting ready for camp, I wasn’t sure how to get started. Call it fear. Call it stage fright. Call it writer’s block; I had no idea what to write.

So I decided to start by telling myself the story in the form of a chapter outline. Most of it was mere reporting, but I plugged in dialogue when dialogue came to mind and I made notes about later chapters as well.

It didn’t seem like much at the start, but by five o’clock this afternoon, I’d written 4,278 words and enthusiasm (dare I say excitement?) was beginning to build. The ice had been broken, so to speak, and, just like with real camp and new experiences, I was starting to get a feel for it and looking forward to more.

Day 2

No writing at all today, thanks to a 20-year-old pillow and a washing machine full of feathers and a water heater that decided to fail. You can read about the pillow in The Romance of the Writing Life at my author blog.

As for the water heater, suffice it to say the old one is out and the new one is in.

By the end of the day and an afternoon and evening spent wrestling with pipe fittings and such, I was content just to have that job done. I recalculated writing goals for 24 writing days instead of 25 and found the new daily average is still reasonable. Only 3,125 each day. I can do that.

Day 3

I shifted focus and began writing scenes at the middle of the novel. I know this is the place where the lead character realizes what she’s doing wrong and comes to understand what she needs to do. While I was writing the first scene in the sequence, the followup scene took shape, too. So I did the next one. I even wrote dialogue!

In the afternoon, I went back to the chapter outline and described new scenes. I also went back through the chapter outline and added chapters with different POV characters, since the chapter outline so far was focused on the lead character.

By the way, I mentioned a moment ago that I began writing dialogue. In the course of writing dialogue between the lead character and her fiance, I discovered the fiance’s name when she addressed him. Jeffery Burr.

Day 4

Fourth of July today. Fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers, the whole nine yards. We had the day to ourselves, but spent most of it working on building a privacy fence. This evening, we went to a cook out at a friend’s house, so I didn’t have much time for writing. That’s okay. When I calculated word count goals for the month, I counted today as a non-writing day. That means any writing I do will be bonus writing.

Day 5

Saturday. The end of the first week. I managed to squeeze in 1,081 words. Nowhere near the daily goal, but the previous days’ work meant I ended the week with 9,414 words on the new manuscript and an average of 3,138 words per day for each of the three days I wrote.

The story is beginning to take shape. All the yard work, fence building, and other things that took me away from the computer didn’t keep me from writing. During idle moments, my thoughts almost always went back to the story and even while I was working on other things, the story was brewing in my subconscious. Only time will tell what story appears once I get back to the act of writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *