National Novel Writing Month: Update 1

A lot of things have changed since I last spoke about my writing process.

First of all, I’m now working on an entirely different genre of story.

I started my writing process in mid-June with an inkling of a story buried in my brain. The idea was a mystery with a bit of death thrown in. As I developed the idea, though, certain mystery aspects began to burn away and I was left with what was undeniably a slasher novel. My story idea was a slasher novel for all of two weeks when I made my first big mistake.

I told people what my story was about.

People rightfully asked what I was writing and I wrongfully spilled all my secrets. Then, when this idea too went through the fires of revision, I was left with something entirely different than what I’d started with. The trouble was, I’d already told too many people to list that I was writing a slasher novel. What would they think if I suddenly changed my idea?

Hastily, I picked up some of the slasher story pieces still salvageable after my vicious revision process and attempted to piece together a slasher story amidst what had become, if we’re being honest, a middle-grade bildungsroman (coming of age story). The words ‘oil’ and ‘water’ come to mind.

Eventually, I realized I was trying to make my story something it wasn’t in order to save face. If I changed my idea, I’d have to admit I spent two months on a story idea I decided not to write. I’d have to admit I’ve never written a book before and honestly have no idea what I’m doing. I decided that was okay, though, considering I’ve never written a book before and have no idea what I’m doing. (If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, am I right?)

So, four-and-a-half months out from my starting point, I’m preparing to start writing the first draft of my first novel, and I will absolutely not tell you what it’s about. Thanks for asking, though.

Now, you may or may not be aware that November is National Novel Writing Month, more affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. This is a month-long event where writers scribble out the first drafts of their novels in one month, which equates to 1,666 words per day in order to hit a 50,000 word first draft. (Do you see the 666 in there, too?) This requires extreme dedication, especially in a month where Thanksgiving food comas are inescapable and my brain, suffering from turkey fog, will beg me for a day off. (First rule of NaNoWriMo, there are no days off. It’s National Novel Writing Month, not National Bring Dishonor on Your Family Month. Harsh, but true.)

In preparation, I spent the entire month of October planning my novel (NaNoPlanMo). I made character reference sheets, countless plot outlines, and overwrought scene-by-scene breakdowns of the novel. Amidst all of this, I had several breakdowns where I was sure my book would be a pile of burning water trash and I’d be forced to give up my novel dreams and sink into a life of artless despair and misery. It was a really productive month.

Here is my Scrivener binder with all of my novel planning folders and files. I strategically tried to hide as much information about my story as possible, though one of the character's names is visible. So, there's a freebie. If you are a writer and not using Scrivener, I HIGHLY suggest you start. It is only like $40 online and it is amazingly helpful. Definitely one of the best writing purchases I've ever made.

Overall, I’m feeling adequately confident, considering I officially start writing in 3 days and I assumed I’d be having panic attacks once an hour by this point. At the end of every day, my goal is to have 2,000 words written, so my only job is to focus on that. I will do my best to forget about my potential audience, my family and friends, and my (someday, hopefully) editor, and focus on the story I want to write. Plus, odds are no one is going to see this first draft. I’m positive it will be rife with errors and cheesy writing and all sorts of other things that will need to be revised and edited into a much more presentable second draft before other humans can see it. So, no pressure on that front.

I hope to provide several more NaNoWriMo updates as I progress through the month and, Lord willing, my novel. Who knows, four short weeks from now I could have the first official draft of my debut novel. Dreams do come true, kids. Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Wish me luck,

Mallory