Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

I have decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. That’s not the point of this blog post, it’s the context. I’ve attempted NaNo every year since 2007, and after winning in 2008 and 2009 I struggled thereafter, with last year’s result a dire 2,500. So I know I can win NaNoWriMo, but at the same time my recent track record isn’t very good.

At the same time I’ve stalled with my Finishing Something targets. I wrote 2,045 words on Pilgrimage in two sittings then not a word since. Another project I’ve been working on in the last month met a similar fate. At this point, it’s been a week since I’ve written a word of fiction. Not a good place to be in when, three weeks from now, I plan to start a 30 day stint of writing an average of 1,667 words a day.

So I’m going to try a warm-up exercise, and make progress on my Finishing Something targets at the same time. Starting today, I’m going to attempt a mini-NaNo. While I’ve lost confidence in Pilgrimage and my ability to write it, I still think The Tomb of the Empress is a story I can manage. I’ve thought about the character arc and I’m happy with it, and the overall plot has plenty going on. My estimate of 10,000 words might be a little bit conservative but isn’t too far off what I think the story has in it.

The plan is this: starting today, I’m going to write a minimum of 1,000 words a day on the Tomb of the Empress until it’s finished, completing the story on or around next Sunday.

In attempting this challenge, I’ll be able to warm up for NaNoWriMo without having to jump in the deep end at 1,667 words a day – the 1,000 words a day target is more manageable, but still a push compared to what I have managed on one day in recent months.

It will also get me used to writing every day, rather than one day on, three days off. It’s a good habit to get into, to write every day (everyone says so, though I do think a day off every now and again can be beneficial too) and it’s a schedule I will need to stick to if I want to win NaNo.

Of course, writing a Finishing Something story will help towards that goal of, well, finishing something. A 10,000 word story is easier and quicker to complete than one of 50,000 words, especially when I know more about this story than I do about my planned NaNo novel.

I have high hopes for The Tomb of the Empress. I have confidence in the story and the characters, and I know I can make it work if I put the time in. So once I’ve written it and NaNoWriMo is done, in December I’ll rewrite and edit The Tomb of the Empress and when I’m happy with it I’ll submit it to appropriate magazines to see if any of them are interested in publishing. If not, well, at least I’ll have finished something, and I’ll have got a bit more experience in editing – and working on it in December and potentially January will have given me time away from the NaNo novel to refresh, ready to attack that for Draft Two. It’s a win-win situation here.

So that’s what I’ll be up to for the next week and a bit. After that, NaNoWriMo – and I’ll tell you about that story when I’m done with this one.

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