Ready … Set … for NaNoWriMo

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A week from today the hordes of writers who signed up for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge will be logging their first word counts on the way to 50,000. Three years ago I was one of them.

I had decided to sign up a few weeks before that. The decision was not taken lightly. The fiction project I wanted to tackle had been on my mind for years. I had spent months, seven years earlier, researching the setting of the story I wanted to tell and went back to it from time to time. But I always ended up dropping it because it seemed I would never know enough.

I had begun to realize, though, that perhaps I just needed to write the story and fill in the gaps later. NaNoWriMo with its built in hype, inspirational newsletters, and accountability might be just the thing to get me over the great hump of producing a first draft.

To help make sure this would happen I spent the weeks between making my decision and November 1, 2009 doing some groundwork. Here are some things I did pre-NaNoWriMo:

1. I found and printed Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for writing a novel. Then I worked at fleshing out my plot and characters.

2. I re-reread the research I had done.

3. Since my story was Bible fiction it had events that needed to occur in a specific order. I made a document of the Bible script of events, formatting it with the print filling the left half of the page, leaving the right half blank for my notes. When I got ideas of how my character would handle these events, I made jottings on the right.

4. I broadcast my intentions on the forum of The Word Guild, a Canadian writer’s group to which I belong, asking if anyone else was planning on doing the NaNo thing. We soon had an accountability group which included Sara Davison (The Watcher), Marcia Laycock (One Smooth Stone and A Tumbled Stone) and Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts).

By November 1st I was chomping at the bit to get going!

Are you planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you ever done it? What preparations would you suggest?

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