Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prepping for OctNoWriMo, aka the 20-Day Writing Challenge

Another look at my calendar has made me alter my plans for OctNoWriMo a little (already!). I now realize I won't be home on Nov. 19, which was to be the final day of my OctNoWriMo challenge. So, because being a writer often means you have to roll with the punches or otherwise adapt, I'm changing the nature of my writing challenge a bit. Instead of thinking in terms of weeks (writing two scenes a day, or ten pages, for five days a week for four weeks), I'm calling it a 20-Day Writing Challenge - same number of days, but with the acknowledgment that I won't be able to take three entire weekends off. No matter. I'm good with twenty days.

That's the thing about a self-imposed writing challenge - you can alter it. And you can make it comfortably doable, as I have, or you can make it a little more challenging by upping the ante. If you're comfortable writing ten pages a day, aim for twelve or fifteen. However, this depends on your reaction to failure. If it's really going to bother you if you don't make a goal on a particular day, even if it's a self-imposed goal, maybe you should go with the comfortable challenge. I do because I get my butt in the chair and the thrill of accomplishment without making myself feel bad if I fail (even if failure in this case is only in my own mind).

Regardless of how one divides the time, to accept a writing challenge, even or perhaps particularly, one that is self-imposed, requires some preparation. How much depends on your own life and comfort level. Here is mine:

I'm getting my house in order this weekend - cleaning, tidying, doing the laundry, so I can get by with minimal chores during the week. I'm clearing off my desk, so that all that will be on it is the basics: file with notes, laptop, pens, paper, lamp.

I've written scene outlines for the first five days, and have more basic outlines for where I'll be going for the next three. I've decided that when I take a major break (either on weekends or other days off) I'll print and reread what I've written up to that point from either the start of the challenge or the last break. I will make notes, but I will NOT go back and revise, because this is the heart of NaNoWriMo and my own challenge for me - not to see how much I can produce, but to turn off my inner editor. Nevertheless, I may realize I've headed down the wrong path, or have otherwise made an error, and I should make notes on how to fix that before proceeding. If I can't figure out immediately how to fix it, I'll just note that I've got a problem and carry on with the next part of the challenge as if the problem has indeed been fixed.

OR I may decide I do need to do some rewriting before I carry on. No matter. If I must rewrite a scene, I'll consider it part of my page count for that day. After all, I'm making up my own rules here, and sometimes you really can't proceed until you've taken care of an issue in the story, or you wind up even farther off course later.

I've selected character names. This may sound simple, but it may not necessarily be so. I have to feel good about a name, that it's adequate and sounds right. It's especially important for the main characters, but I feel the same way about secondary characters, too.

Today I'll be opening up files and setting up chapters. No big deal, but should save a bit of time every day.

One thing I should add: As always, I will be making short notes after I finish each scene before proceeding to the next one. They may be about minor changes/revisions to make later, or about the next scene.

I see the weather may curtail my walking goal. If the weather's inclement, I'll use the treadmill instead.

And I'm going to try a couple of new things. I'm going to try reading through my notes for the next day's scenes before falling asleep. I know some authors do this when they have a problem to work out with their story or characters. I want to see if it helps me with the next day's work.

And I'm going to go back to washing dishes by hand for the duration of the challenge. Why? Because I used to get some good ideas doing that sort of menial task. (I point out that's dishes for two - not nearly the same work as dishes for a family of three, four or more.)

So, there it is. My goal is to write two five-page scenes for twenty days without major revising, ending on Nov. 18. By the end of the challenge, I should have 200 pages, more than enough to have a good start on my writing project.

Of course, as is usually the way, having set out a plan and as noted above, life has already conspired against me. I feel a cold coming on. But hey, if I have to spend a day doing nothing more than sitting on a couch wrapped in an afghan, sipping tea and wiping my nose, well, I've planned for that, too, with the breaks.

Oh, and as a bit of fun, I'll also be posting pictures from our trip to Italy last year. Every place we went, I had my husband take a picture of me waving, so when I blog about the daily goal (met or missed), I'll include one of my waving pictures. The first is from the Coliseum in Rome.

See you tomorrow for the first report of my 20-Day Writing Challenge.


Anonymous said...

I see that the cats are not listed as part of what will be on your desk. Have you discussed this with them? Have they agreed to your terms? Seeing as how they are cats, it doesn't seem likely.

As for the writing part, better you than me. Two five sentence scenes a day would be beyond me, let alone five pages.

My goal is to work with the dogs, getting Ilka ready to start up class again in December. We had started an Intermediate training class in September, but had to quit due to scheduling conflicts on both mine and the trainer's end. December is the earliest Intermediate class that meets my scheduling requirement.

I can't do anything on a school night, because I don't want to disrupt my son's schedule. This class will be on Friday night, so even if he gets upset about me leaving, it won't mean trouble at school the next day.

I also am not feeling well. I think I may have a sinus infection. We had about a week of cool weather, and now it is back into the mid to upper 80's. My allergies have flaired up, and I feel miserable.

Happy writing,


Margaret Moore said...

Well, now that the desk is cleaned off, if they feel the need to be there, they can be. :-) Hope you're feeling better soon!