I’m trying to get organized for NaNo 2016. The goal is at least 50,000 words in 30 days. Back in 2011, when I wrote Saving Emily, I decided that I needed a good plan to mentally manage the stress of meeting a word count. Divided by the 30 days, it works out to 1,667 words a day. I’ve had days where I’ve churned out close to 4,000. The problem is that I don’t do that every day. There are times when I can’t cough up 400, much less 1,667. What works best for me is to go with a weekly goal of 12,500. That way a crappy day doesn’t panic me. We start on Tuesday, so by close of business on the following Monday, I need at least 12,500 words to be on track.
The basic book is plotted out, and I’ve written the back stories of my characters so I know who they are. I have a fair idea of where the book is going, but I’m not sure about including viewpoints other than those of my two primary characters. Finding those unique voices can be difficult and looking into a dark mind is much more difficult for me than one might think. I like dark places, but I always want to open the curtains and let the light in—that’s not a good plan with an evil character.
As I’ve worked on the back stories and thought about the approach for this book several things about the characters and their backgrounds have changed. Side characters have appeared and the story has taken on depth and complexity. That’s great, but it also needs to be reined in and the story needs to be focused if I’m going to stay on track. Saving Emily worked well because I stuck to a central story for a specific period. It was “limited in scope.” That needs to be the case with this book for me to meet the challenge. However, as it is with all books, the characters will either cooperate or they’ll take me someplace that I didn’t intend to go. That’s the joy and challenge of writing.
Throughout all of this, my regular life will go on. There will be appointments to be kept, lunch or dinner out with friends, Weight Watchers’ meetings, college football, and NASCAR races. Someone will have to do battle with the dust buffalos and wash clothes, cook food, and pay bills. It will be life as usual, but with a word goal and, for the first time since 2011, the goal of a start to finish book. What the hell… bring on the challenge.