MaNoWriMo. NaNoEdMo. Those are only two of the unofficial “NaNo” months that go on throughout the year. Months for editing. Months for writing a whole novel. Some of them work well. Some have little activity and don’t provide much in the way of support or inspiration. I gave up on NaNoEdmo because it was one of the latter. It also turned out that it wasn’t the right time to be editing that particular novel.
I just signed up for MaNoWriMo, with the intention of finishing the first draft of Taryn, the sequel to Hidden Boundaries. I’ve written about 15,000 pages of Taryn, and it’s going very slowly. At the rate I’m working right now, it will be months before it’s finished. There’s a backlog of nearly finished novels, just barely started stories, and a load that are still nothing but notes, and time is passing. I think that Taryn will be a novella of about 40,000 words, so my goal next month is to write the remaining 25,000.
In the midst of starting the outlining that will help me finish it, I started thinking about the whole NaNoWriMo thing, and how the pressure and a precise deadline have enabled me to write two novels, each in a month’s time. So why can’t I do my own months? I can assign a month to either finishing and/or editing a novel, or to starting and finishing one. And I can do that year-round, with November already spoken for, and maybe a month off for good behavior (rest and recharging).
I know better than to say I’m going to work on Novel X six months from now, but I can set priorities. 1. Revise and edit completed or nearly completed novels. 2. Finish incomplete novels that still have a good way to go. 3. Start and finish novels that have a well-developed plot and characters, with plenty of notes about sequence, characters, background, etc. Or not. I’ll probably need the excitement of brand-new work now and then, even if some older work is still hanging fire. The important thing is to know exactly what needs doing, and find a month in which to do it.
This is working itself out in my head as I write this post, and it’s beginning to look like something that really makes sense. First task: start a new Scrivener project, listing every piece of work that needs my attention. Note the current word count, if any, and how far along I am in working out the story. Note whether it’s to be finished, revised and edited, or started from scratch. I can see that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be working with a lot of different pieces. A month for a second or third draft might be a good idea, with every novel given a rest period between drafts, while I work on something else.
The idea, in case that got lost somewhere back there, is to keep the pressure on, to give each story a specific deadline so that I can move it toward a publication date. And then there’s the question: what’s a reasonable goal for publication? Three books a year sounds good. I’m not a fast writer, so even with a well-worked out plan for staying on track, trying for any more than that is probably unrealistic.
It’s a plan. In need of a lot of thinking and tweaking. But it could work.