My First NaNoWriMo Project

As you may have read in previous posts, my fellow contributors and I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. This is actually my first year participating in the novel-writing project. Mainly, I believe that’s because I haven’t ever had a very disciplined approach to writing. I have to be in an I-just-feel-like-it mood. And when I’m not in that mood, I blame it on writer’s block. But then, as an English major in college, I was forced to write. And again, when I began this blog, I was forced (by myself–which was kind of the point) to write. And so I figured being forced (by a writing project) to write a novel, I might actually develop the discipline to do it one day. So I began.

I’m a planner. When it comes to school, I plan out how each quarter will go and how long it will take me to graduate; I plan which classes to take and how they’ll benefit me in the long run. I’m the same way with budgeting, divvying up money for groceries, bills, and miscellaneous expenses. I have literarily spent hours working on spreadsheets that help me plan out my future. So you’d think that I’d like the idea of planning a novel–of sitting down and plotting out each twist and turn–but I don’t.

In my mind, I have a general idea of what my NaNoWriMo project is. I know the characters, but there are so many ways the story can play out. Personally, I feel that a formal outline is too restricting. What if I suddenly feel the urge to kill off one of my characters? Or something far less morbid. Of course, I could just stray from the outline, but then all those hours spent planning would be a waste. Perhaps that’s pessimistic thinking. Of course they’re not a waste. They got me to that moment–wherever that is in my writing–but I feel that if what you are writing is meant to be a draft in the first place, an outline isn’t really necessary. After writing several thousand words, I may then begin to construct a clearer outline, because at that point I will have a better understanding of who each character is, what they want, and where they are going.

There are of course those who will sigh at this and completely disagree. But I suppose that’s what I’ve learned. Each writer has their own approach to writing. Outline. No outline. Notebook. Computer. While intoxicated. Naked. Or both. All perfectly acceptable. The point is that you keep writing.

While I am a bit doubtful (there goes that pessimism again) that I will meet the goal of 50,000 words by the end of November, I am getting there. But more on that another day.

– Melanie Figueroa

Melanie Figueroa

Melanie is the Editor in Chief at The Poetics Project. Having earned a masters in writing and book publishing from Portland State University and gained experience as an in-house editor, she now works as a freelance editor and writer. Her favorite book is The Bell Jar. You can follow Melanie on Twitter or Instagram @wellmelsbells.

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