November and I aren’t the best of friends.
In many ways, November is like the Thursday of the months. Its the time when daylight savings time ends (“yay!” extra hour of sleep; “boo “dark skies around 5 pm). Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. If you in America, November is the month where we vote and usually by election day, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of political ads that run on TV. (Even on Hulu, there is an ever increasing bombardment of ads.) And now that I work in the school system, November is like a long held breath before the exhale that is winter break.
The one thing I absolutely love about November is that it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo).
Since 2014, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, with varying degrees of success. (Though looking at my Author Info page on the NaNo website, I’ve been a member since about 2010.) Last year (2017) was the very first year where I actually “won” the challenge. I wrote a YA Western that clocked in at about 56,000 words. (This past week, I started reading through parts of it and enjoyed some of it so much, that I’m actually committing to edit and rewrite it in 2019. But that’s a post for another time.)
With NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow, I’ve spent some time thinking about my plans and goals for November. I know the challenge is meant for novel writing, but between my Western and another YA novel, I think I have enough on my plate with that form. Instead of the novel, I’m committing myself to a short story collection. And instead of writing 50,000 words, I’m challenging myself to write 60,000 words by the end of the month.
(I like making my life as impossibly difficult as possible!)
Jokes aside, the reason why I enjoy NaNoWriMo such much is because it almost always comes at a time when I’m feeling down about my writing. This has felt especially true for the past year or so (for reasons that I won’t get into now, but will hopefully write about in the coming months). 2017’s NaNo was beneficial for me because it reminded me that I’m a damn good writer! And I need that reminder once again this year.
So, my project will hopefully be a 60,000 word short story collection. What else should I say about it?
Well it’ll be filled with speculative fiction stories, a genre that I absolutely love to read, but struggle to write. Right now, I plan on writing six short stories and one that may turn into a novelette or a novella. Two, possibly three, of the stories will be slightly inspired by Hayao Miyazaki. Three, possibly four, of the stories could be considered an introduction to a larger body of work. (Again, I like overloading my plate.) Most of the stories fall into fantasy. Actually all, save for one, of the stories falls into fantasy. Oh and I’ve decided to join FIYAH literary magazine’s “Voices on FIYAH” event, to help keep me accountable and hopefully meet other writers on Twitter. (Scroll below if you want a link to my Twitter.)
This past week and weekend, I’ve tried my best to outline and plan the stories that will be included in my collection. I’m happy to say that I’ve outlined two stories and am in the process of outlining another. But I think I do some of my best writing when I’m not restrained by an outline, at least during the first draft stage. (Maybe one day, I’ll blog more about my writing process.)
I won’t lie. This NaNoWriMo will be difficult. I was able to “win” last November partially because I worked part-time in the evenings and spent my mornings writing out as many words as possible. This year, I’m working full-time and my evenings are designated as relaxation time. The key this year will be time management. There are small moments in the workday where I’m free and could churn out a couple hundred words. And maybe I can give up a video game session if it means not having to scramble for my word count later in the month. The local library will become a haven from my usual distractions, especially during the weekends. And of course, I have this blog, where I hope to write about my progress once a week. I’ve already scheduled posts throughout November where I talk about the prior week and will be sure to set up time to write them.
I’m ready, more or less. I hope you’ll come along with me!
If you’re participating in NaNo this year, good luck and happy writing! If you’d like, leave a comment below and share what you’re working on and how you plan on combating procrastination or writer’s block this year!