NaNoWriMo just ended. It’s a sad loss for some of us who live November to November– you can’t really top the thrill of writing a novel in a month. However, is it a good thing?
Of course it is. This year it motivated over three hundred thousand writers to write– and most of the time, finish– their own novels. For all the people who have claimed they wanted to write a book, that’s amazing. But what about the writers who have already written books? Those who have already participated in NaNoWriMo and won– what does it do for them? Motivation, perhaps. But those who have written novels have already achieved their goal, correct? That is, only if their goal was to write a single novel. If their goal is to write several novels, to become a dedicated writer, that’s something different.
What does a dedicated writer do? The answer is obvious: they write. But when do they write? Only one month a year? Only three months a year? Writing is work, however little people think of it as such. Working people don’t get to take nine months of the year off for rest and relaxation– they have to work. A lot, actually. A lot more than most aspiring writers do.
How much do professional writers write? Every day. Well, almost. They take some time off between projects, I believe, but the professional writers I’ve heard from write constantly while they’re in the middle of a project. How many amateurs do that?
Just looking at myself, I can tell you I don’t. Writing every day is difficult. I might write a paragraph or two every day– a blog post some days, and just really long emails on others– but rarely do I flip from projects constantly. However, not long ago I learned the concept of a binge writer.
A binge writer is someone who only writes when they have to– when they’re faced with a deadline, such as fifty thousand words in a month. Between projects, they lay about and do nothing having to do with writing, then make it all up in an enormous sprint. A binge writer is… well, someone who does NaNoWriMo every year and nothing in the meantime.
Please ignore the giant neon arrow pointing at me right now.
I, as I said, just learned this concept, and thinking about it has made me a little bit skeptical about the worth of my yearly schedule at the moment. NaNo in November, Camp NaNoWriMo in summer sometime, and four novellas a year along the Phil Phorce vein. Sure, that’s six projects a year, but I finish each in less than a month. What am I doing with the other six months?
I’ve decided to make it a little harder for myself. If I’m ever going to be professional, I’m going to need to get out of binge writing and start writing constantly. Now, of course, that doesn’t mean writing like I did in November all the time– that’s a lot of words, and to do that month after month… well, let’s just say my hands are already aching at the thought of it. Instead of that, there’s going to have to be a better structure than that. Of course, you can’t simply write first drafts all the time and never revise anything. With all of this in mind, I’ve constructed a sort of schedule for myself.
Monday, December 2nd, I began a novella I had outlined a long while ago called Plague. Now, of course, I don’t usually write from outlines, but with the recent discovery of the expand, don’t add idea, I’ve decided to go for it. So far it’s going well– the goal for that is probably about 20k words.
When Plague is finished, I’ll probably take a small break, then jump into Fathoming Egression rewrites again. I have an outline for that too, so hopefully I’ll have found through Plague that I can in fact write from an outline, and thus complete those rewrites in a timely fashion.
However, Fathoming Egression will take a while, and I only have until about February to write the next Phil Phorce episode, so somewhere around January I’ll have to begin that novella, also targeted about 20k words.
After Phil Phorce, I’ll set Fathoming Egression aside for a while and begin work on Stakes, my latest NaNoNovel. This is the novel I want to get polished up, possibly for queries, so I’ll read it through and start a macro-edit.
And that’s basically it for a while. Then I’ll have Phil Phorce 8 to write… but I have no idea what I’m doing for that yet.
I really shouldn’t plan this far ahead, I know, but wish me luck all the same. If I can figure this out, I should have a better chance of making the transition from amateur to… well, more awesome amateur, more easily.
And if someone can tell me how to turn that giant neon arrow off, that would be helpful.