Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nanowrimo - the notebook

While everyone else seems to be getting ready for Halloween I'm starting to worry about what will start the day after: Nanowrimo.

For those who don't know: Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. That's 30 days of writing 1667 words a day!

This will be my 6th time and I've never been less prepared than I am this year. Usually around this time of year I know who my characters will be right down to the colour of their eyes, I know where the story will take place, I know what needs to happen to drive the story I have in mind. This year... I have zombies. And all I know about zombies is that since 28 Days Later they can run. And I want to somehow incorporate a journal of some sort. And that's it. To say I'm slightly worried is a huge understatement...

To distract myself I'd like to tell you about what I think is the most important tool during Nanowrimo, aside from my laptop that is; the notebook.

On the first few pages I write down the daily goal. 1667, 3334, 5001, 6668 etc. etc. etc. Next to that I have a column of word count, where I can keep track of what I've actually written that day. I break that down in 'today' and 'total', so I can keep track of how many words I actually write a day, and how I'm doing as far as the goal is concerned. Then I have another column in which I keep track of how much I'm ahead or behind. Hopefully this year there will only be plus signs in that column with at least a few hundred words I'm ahead of schedule.

When you turn the notebook around, you'll see my brainstorm notes. This year there aren't that many, because I still haven't decided on so many things yet. But this is where I'll write down names and ages and eye colours and where scenes are to take place.

And on the pages after the word count columns I write down a daily synopsis. Nanowrimo is about writing, not editing. So you need to write, write, write and not look back. Sometimes it's difficult to do that because you're not 100% sure on what you wrote two or three days ago. For the most part, I'll just keep on writing. I've had where I called a character Joe for the first few days and then suddenly changed his name to Jim. I jotted down that I changed the name after a while, just in case I wanted to edit the story after Nanowrimo (turns out I never did, but that's beside the point), and just carried on going with the new name. But if you haven't been able to write for a day or two because of a pesky cold it's a good idea to have a couple of notes on your storyline so far.

See, I'm not so ill-prepared after all!

For more Nanowrimo survival tips, go here, and be sure to check the 'labels' on the right side of this blog for more posts on Nanowrimo.

Have fun Monday!


  1. I would LOVE to do this sometime! Got a statistics course starting next week so maybe not this time around, but thanks for sharing your tips on the process :)

  2. You're very welcome. I'll probably be boring everyone to tears about the subject for the next couple of weeks. ;)

  3. I've got a daily breakdown calendar as my background on my mini now. I've made the goal for today & will add some more for padding when I get home tonight. I had no idea how much 1667 word would be. Writing at the front desk is distracting with the phone calls but glad I had 2 hours up here to work ;)

    I'm panstering it big time! I liked Moose, I didn't like Moose, I'm liking Moose again. Trying to come up with some conflict or something to keep the story going, Moose may still need to die, but now it makes me sad, even only after 1749 words! This is going to be crazy month!

  4. Wow, this seems like such a big task to do. How did you do last year?

  5. It's not such a big task if you break it down in bits. I tend to write a little in the morning, a bit in the afternoon and then for about an hour in the evening, usually in ad breaks when watching TV. I hardly ever 'sit down to write', but keep the window open and add stuff when I can.

    I've 'won' Nanowrimo every time, meaning I reached the 50,000 words, but only the last 2 years I actually finished the story, too. That is my goal again this year: finish the story within the 30 days, even if that means writing (a little bit) more than the 50k. Nanowrimo challenges you to.