It’s that time of year again when I have to decide if I’m doing Nanowrimo. I am, as usual, swamped beyond belief. And I am, as usual, planning to do Nano anyway. I’m slightly worried that my loss last year broke my 6-year streak. But since I failed due to giving birth, I think I get a pass.
How will you Nano with a small baby in the house, you ask? Well, he’s recently started napping in his crib (!!!!!). It’s a small miracle, I know, but it has given me my life back. Or, you know, 2-4 hours a day of my life back, depending on how much he sleeps. I now have time for daily writing. As an aside… I had no idea how much it was affecting me to not write until I started again. Wow, do I feel like a human being again or what?
Besides, this year I’ve decided to be a rebel. I won’t write a whole new novel from scratch. I’ve been thinking HARD about my writing process and how I can streamline it a little more. Blue Gentian was five diligent years in the making and taught me a lot about my writing process. But even if I were to get out a book a year, that’s not quite best for a Self-Published author… I should be aiming for a book every six months. While I’m not in it for the money, I have grand visions of bookshelves filled with my titles. That means I’ve gotta get on it.
So, Nano this year is going to be an experiment on how I can get myself working faster. Here’s what usually happens:
I do Nano, and then return to whatever manuscript I was working on previously. A year later (maybe… sometimes it’s longer), I pull out the manuscript. It’s not in order. My plot has gone off the rails from the original outline. I have weird placeholders instead of names and the pacing on everything is Wrong. Obscure things don’t work correctly because I didn’t do any research. It’s disjointed and wrong. The story is also, at best, the main plot line with no other deeper meanings woven in. And sometimes you’re like “uh, wow. That main plot line sure took a nosedive into a dirty, dirty swamp…”
So, I do my best to take the thing about 5 chapters at a time, and basically rework those chapters until they’re polished. Then I move to the next set. I stop a lot of the time, sometimes for weeks, to ponder deeper meanings. I read history books about the time period, I realize that I need xyz foreshadowed in earlier chapters or that I’m off the revised outline. I go back and fix the beginning again before moving onto the next few chapters. It takes FOREVER, and there’s a lot of down time while I’m faffing with things. It results in a good book, but it takes a long time to get there.
So, for Nano this year I’m trying something else. I’m going to print out and completely re-type a novel. I’ll put the scenes in order and expand or rewrite when needed (without excessive polish). I’ll add blank “scenes” in Scrivener when I need to add a piece of the story that isn’t there yet. I’ll get from start to finish as quickly as possible.
I’m hoping this new method will do several things. First of all, I won’t be tied to language I’ve already written. I’ll be free to retype whatever words I want. Second, I will have the main story line all laid out nicely so that when I do start to polish, I won’t have to worry about forgetting elements or about the story line changing on me. Third, I will have the main story line firmly in my head from start to finish, making secondary story lines and deeper meanings easier to weave through. I can ponder that stuff while I type, hopefully doing away with the weeks of faffing. The weeks of research will still probably have to remain…
Right now, it takes me about 6 months to go from draft 1 to draft 2. Subsequent drafts are faster, of course, but I needed about 10 for Blue Gentian… I am hoping that I can cut draft 2 down to a month (maybe 2) with this new system. You know, if I can make it work.
In about two months, we’ll know how I fared. I picked Suffrage because it’s the only novel I have that’s currently untouched. Everything else has either been through a bit of edit or I have deemed it too bad to be salvageable.
I will, as always, report on how it’s going as I’m doing it. Cross your fingers for me. And if you have any tips of your own on how you streamline your writing process, I’d love it if you’d forward those along. I need all the help I can get!