NaNoWriMo is just a couple of weeks away and I cannot wait! I am on the edge of my seat both extremely excited to begin the next step in my journey of writing the books in the Once Upon a Tome series and absolutely terrified of leaving behind The Criminal. Are you ready? Do you have what it takes? Read ahead to see what I am doing for NaNoWriMo and how I plan to accomplish the huge task at hand.
What Am I Writing:
This NaNoWriMo I will be writing The Beauty. The Beauty is a twist on Beauty and the Beast (in case you didn't catch that from the title). It is told largely from the POV of Annabelle Aimé ("Beauty") and Udora (a character who is carried over from The Criminal). A few chapters will be in the POV of Hugh Charmant ("The Beast")
What am I Excited About:
I am excited to explore this new character. Annabelle has some interesting features to her including a couple of medical conditions that mirror my own (I have asthma and CNSS while she has asthma and CRPS). She walks with a cane so I am verging on putting a disabled character into my book (though she is not fully disabled). Annabelle's label is "the beauty" (as the title suggests) so the book has this character that has been told she cannot be anything more than her looks. To add to that struggle, she has medical challenges that make it difficult for her to live for herself (she constantly needs help). As a final piece of the puzzle, her medical condition also gives her rashes on her leg so while she is being told by the town she can't be more than her looks, her body is telling her she doesn't look good. I am excited to play with this character overcoming fears, stereotypes, medical challenges, and more to choose her own identity and make a life for herself as she wants it to be.
What am I Nervous About?
I am terrified to leave The Criminal behind. While The Beauty is a part of the same series, it is a different book. I am moving on from The Criminal. I have mentioned before that I have been working on this series since 2016 but I have been working on The Criminal for about 3 years of that time so it feels strange to be moving past that. I am still working with Udora who does play a major role in The Criminal. However, aside from Udora, all my characters are new. My setting is also very different. While The Beauty is set in the same world as The Criminal, it is set in a different kingdom (The Criminal was based in the Charming Kingdom while The Beauty is set in the de la Bete Kingdom). The Criminal was also largely set in the forest. Most of the scenes took place surrounded by greenery, moss on rocks, rotted logs, sunlight streaming through the leaves above (etc.). In contrast, The Beauty is largely set in small towns or in a castle. It will be a major change for me and I feel a little nervous.
What are my Goals?
My main goal this year is to hit 90,000 words. That is a huge word count and I honestly don't know if I will be able to reach it with everything else going on in my life but I am certainly going to try! Why is this my goal? I finished The Criminal at about 83,500 words. Most often, the second book in a fantasy series is longer than the first (and it is usually expected to be). The Criminal is also a little bit short for the average fantasy book. Given these facts, I am hoping to make The Beauty a bit longer. What would be really good, is to get more than 100,000 words as the book may get smaller in the editing process. However, 90,000 seems like an easier goal to tackle for NaNoWriMo.
What is my Plan?
I have never written an entire novel in a month before. I have completed the NaNoWriMo challenge before (at least twice if not three times). For both of those challenges, I started out with a word count of 20-40 thousand words and ended with a completed novel. I recall the time I worked on The Criminal during NaNoWriMo. I began with about 40,000 words (perhaps a little less) and ended with around 91,000. Overall, I did write more than 50,000 words in the month. But not the complete novel.
That being said, it will be a challenging month for me. I will have to really push myself to achieve my goal of 90,000 words (and a completed first draft). The obvious goal would be to write 3,000 words a day (90,000 words/30 days). While this is my baseline plan, I find that challenging myself to such a high word count per day doesn't always work. Some days I have more time or energy than other days so I won't always be able to write 3,000 and will sometimes be able to write 5 or 6 thousand.
That being said, my plan for NaNoWriMo is threefold.
Write every day as much as possible: This, I think, should be a part of every NaNoWriMo-er's plan for the month. This doesn't involve an intense schedule or a daily word count goal. It just means challenging yourself to sit at the computer (or with a pen/pencil and paper if that's how you prefer to write) and writing every day. My plan is to challenge myself to write when and where ever I can. That means finding the five, ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes in between tasks to sit down and type out a few words. That means challenging myself to get 100 words done on that busy, tiring day when I felt like I couldn't write anything. And, that means challenging myself to write 5 chapters (for a total of 10+ thousand words) on the day I have hours to spare.
Use my days off to my advantage: I have a busy schedule right now. I have three classes, one of which requires 6 hours of zoom a week. I also work (usually 18-20 hours a week). So my writing has to fit into the time that I have to spare. Some days, that will be 30 minutes here and there. But... on the days I don't work and don't have a zoom class to attend, those free hours lengthen dramatically. Using these hours where I have extended amounts of time to write will really play to my advantage. I also happen to be going on a two-week trip for a medical procedure at the beginning of November. Using my time there and during thanksgiving break when schoolwork lessens will also give me an advantage.
Go on writing sprints, not writing marathons: When I re-wrote The Criminal, I had the chance to join in on a couple of writing sprints with Marissa Meyer and discovered the advantage of these. I had thought they were silly before but after trying them on this Instagram meeting I discovered how much they actually challenged me to write faster and without thinking. Writing sprints, particularly when done with others, help to keep your brain active and moving fast so that your daily word count, whatever it may be, is met in half the time. First drafts are not meant to be perfect and writing sprints help to stop you from thinking about perfecting it and rather keep you thinking about the characters' next steps. They also help to prevent you from getting really tired of writing (just as you would get really tired of running after running so many miles in a marathon).