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How not writing my first draft in 30 days helped me prepare for NaNoWriMo

A couple days ago I shared my general plan and reflections on the upcoming NaNoWriMo event and @freewritehouse’s November Madness challenge.

In this post I’ll share a bit of the technical details of my setup.

Back in time…

Somewhere in 2011, maybe a little earlier, I started writing out *Unity*. That’s the name of the series (there’ll be subtitles too). I just used Word and did a few writing workshops using the beginning of the story as my focus.

I made progress, but not enough. The story was pounding in my mind to be written, but I didn’t have a ton of time. So I went out and got Karen S. Wiesner’s *First Draft in 30 Days*. Funny how I thought I could actually write it in 30 days using that book. Don’t get me wrong, the book is awesome, but it isn’t quick. At least it wasn’t for me.

Thirty days came and went without a first draft. But what I did have were tools and structure. And I know if I could have put the time in, it could have been done quite quickly. But as I said, I didn’t have the time (so I told myself). Also, I found that while I loved what the book taught me, I’m not the sort to write in such an organized way. It had been about 7-8 years since the story began for me so I knew it all intimately, but the characters were still making decisions on some key points. I wanted to write and let them tell me what happened.

A few months later, we moved. I packed up the materials I had printed and written by hand. And I forgot about the words I had written on my computer.

Then came 2012 and the spark of the story had found its way into my consciousness again. It demanded to be written. So I pulled out all the papers and went searching for the Word documents. I transferred all the hand-written material into the computer and when November came, I let the story out. I “won” that year by reaching 50k words, but I knew there was serious work to do before letting anyone read it. Then my life, which had been rocky, turned into an earthquake.  Once again the story went into hiding.

Camp NaNoWriMo

You can read about my resurrection of the story in my Camp NaNoWriMo posts beginning with Day 1.

I almost succeed in getting the first part of the story complete. But first I moved everything into Scrivener (which I talk about in the rest of the Camp posts as well).

What’s happening now

At the end of Camp, I was pretty organized. I have every scene (that I know of now) outlined using one tool from Wisner’s book. And each scene given its own spot in the Scrivener manuscript. Here’s where it stands now, with about two weeks to go before the madness begins.

Example Scrivener chapter
(Did I blur things? Yes, I did. I don’t want any peeksies)


You can see on the left all the scenes laid out in chapters (yes my numbering is all over the place because I was moving things around). For book one, everything is written except for the last few chapters. For all the book two chapters, I have filled out the form you see on the right.

Some have more info than others but for every chapter, I know who is in it and what the basic events are. My characters can still change their minds – I’m ok with that. But at this point they’ll only adjust details, they like where it’s all going. That’s what they’re telling me, anyway.

The biggest issue I’m having is NOT writing it now. I’m working to finish the first installment of a Kindle Short series *before* November begins. I need to be working on that instead of prepping for November…but the story calls me and sometimes I can’t resist.

I’m excited to finally publish some of my fiction. It’s another story that has been begging to be written too. But maybe it’s because I’m so grateful to have so many fellow writers on this November’s journey, I just can’t wait to start!

There’s still time to join the madness!

If you’re at interested in challenging yourself and sharing the experience with some really cool people I encourage you to immediately go read @freewritehouse’s post on how to sign up and the potential prizes up for grabs.

What are you waiting for?




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