By Jo Franklin
Once upon a time I didn’t know how to plan a novel. I’d have an idea and next thing I knew I was writing it and I felt euphoric. Then I realised that if I was ever going to be a published writer I had to grow up a bit and learn how to create a satisfactory structure for my readers. I learned to plot. You can read about the process I normally follow here here.
These days, I spend weeks examining the structure of my novel before beginning writing in earnest. I also clear my outline with my agent to make sure I am onto a commercially viable project. I firmly believe that up front planning is a very important part of writing a good book.
NaNoWriMo isn’t like that. The ethos behind the scheme, as I see it, is to get on and write madly for a month even if you aren’t very sure where you are heading. I guess that’s why I’ve avoided it up until now. I spent years writing like that and it didn’t get me anywhere. Since I’ve been a confirmed planner I have had five books published in seven different countries. Planning works.
But this year I found myself in a funny place at the end of October. I’d had to call a halt to the project I was writing because it wasn’t going to a commercial place in its current incarnation and for once I couldn’t find a solution to the problem. My brain felt empty.
Not writing is like not smoking when you are a smoker. Writing is an addiction and not writing is torture. All writers say the same. They are relieved when they type the end and congratulate themselves while they take a break to recover but before very long they have the antsy itch to write again. Soon that itch takes over and even though they have promised their kids that they will spend the summer focused on them or have taken out a new gym memberships determined to shed the writer’s butt pounds they put on during the last manuscript, they break open a new notebook or open a new file on the computer and start again.
For various reasons I could see that I wasn’t going to be starting a new book his year and I felt bad about it. As October drew to a close, a number of writer friends started talking about doing NaNoWriMo this year. Most of them had done it before. And for the first time I was tempted to join them.
But when I looked at my diary for November, my heart sank. There were so many events lined up. Good meaty author events. The sort that take all day and leave me exhausted for the following three days. The sort of events where I will meet my readers and maybe even sell a few books. Really important events that I have been looking forward to. How could I possibly fit in writing a whole novel in this time?
Then out of the blue on October 20th my dear friend AJ, announced that she was going to do NaNoWriMo this year! AJ is a brilliant but unpublished author who finds it very difficult to make the time to write. If she could give NaNoWriMo a go then so could I. So without thinking much about it I Googled the website and created my very first NaNoWriMo profile.
And now I am committed!