04 November 2009

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 3 - My planned gamble

It is a calculated gamble, yet one with which I am -- almost -- comfortable.

Tuesday was the first of what will be five straight days with no additions to my NaNoWriMo word count on Snakebit. I have to admit that I'm nervous about this. Momentum means a lot to me as a writer, and with two good days in a row under my belt, it seems a shame to put the brakes on my progress. But it's all part of the plan, a plan into which I put much thought and effort. I just have to keep reassuring myself that it will all work out.

Why the sudden stop? There are a couple of reasons. First, yesterday was Tuesday, and Tuesdays are planned non-writing days for me -- it's part of the plan. Today, however, is when we head to Orange Beach for a family trip. We will on the gulf through Saturday morning, and I expect not to have access to the internet during that time -- much less a computer. Besides, what kind of family vacation includes hammering out a novel while everybody else has fun? I wouldn't do that to myself nor the rest of the family, so I included trip days as non-writing days in the plan as well.

Phase Outlines

However, just because I'm not adding to my word count doesn't mean I'll not be working on the story. I will be.

One of the tools I've found quite helpful is a free PDF download of a book by Lazette Gifford: NaNo for the New and the Insane. The book contains lots of helpful tips and tricks, but one that has really helped me is her "Phase Outlines". As she puts it:

Phases are written out as key phrases
that will bring the action into focus.
A phase can
be clues to dialogue,
if that's what the section's
focus is centered around,
or it might be
a little bit of description,
or a set of actions... anything
that will make the story move

another few hundred words.

I used these for the first two days of writing. I wrote down a list of ten or so phrases before I sat down at the computer, then used those as buliding blocks, expanding on each phrase until I had said all I wanted to say for that particular bit before I moved on to the next phase. Looking at a blank computer screen knowing you need 2,500 words is daunting; knowing you only need 250-300 words to complete a phase is much less intimidating.

So while I am enjoying the salt air at Orange Beach, I'll be working on phase outlines for much of the story; with some hard work and good luck, I'll have phases written out for the rest of the story by the time we get home on Saturday. On Sunday, I will begin hammering out words again.

So, there won't be any updates for a few days, and I'm going to hate seeing my word count stay the same for the better part of the week. I'm also concerned about losing my momentum. We'll see how it turns out.

Sure, it's a calculated gamble. But I'm feeling like a winner right now.

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