Since Camp NaNoWriMo, writing has actually been going really well. I’ve been applying the common personal development tips of a) taking small steps and b) persisting with something until it becomes a habit. Maybe I’m putting myself under less pressure, maybe I’ve refined my focus, or maybe I have developed more confidence in myself, but following an on-and-off August, I have done some work on my WIP every day in September and October. On the few days where I didn’t directly write or edit, I did brainstorm and make plans. Sometimes it’s just a few hundred words at a time, but that’s still better than my previous tendency (at least outside November) to tell myself I was going to write, end up doing something else, and then feel bad. I’ve turned writing/editing into a habit, from which I can build momentum, and even though the end point is still a long way off, I no longer have to force myself to believe that there will be an end point.
So I’m feeling reasonably warmed up as I head into my twelfth National Novel Writing Month. For November, I’ll be temporarily putting my WIP aside and working on a new project: I feel more comfortable doing that than being a NaNo Rebel, and I’m eager to try out one of the story ideas I haven’t gotten round to yet. In the summer, when I thought about what I was going to do, I was stuck between two ideas: a sequel to my 2015 fantasy NaNo involving an assassin princess, or the next in my twentieth-century historical series. Having covered the 1910s – specifically the Titanic and World War One – in the first three instalments, I thought that the next part could jump to the Roaring Twenties, and that I could send the protagonist on an archaeological adventure to Egypt; with the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb taking place in that decade, it seemed like an inviting setting for a story.
I knew that I would end up writing both stories eventually, but which one should I write first? When the decision refused to come easily, I took an approach that has worked in the past: I went for a walk to a quiet spot in the outdoors, and meditated on the issue. I decided that while either option would be fun, the historical story was nudging me just a little bit harder. So I went with my gut. The fantasy sequel can wait until the next Camp NaNoWriMo.
Much of my preparation in the last two months has been research, research, research. Following some careful choices in reading material for the limited time available, I now know a lot more about ancient Egypt, Egyptology, and 1920s Britain than I did a few months ago – which, for me, is part of the fun of writing a historical novel for NaNoWriMo! I’ve also been working on my plan, using both the Snowflake Method – my favourite story planning method – and the tips in Save The Cat Writes A Novel for charting my protagonist’s development across the story. This weekend, I’m hoping to finish off the plan and be ready to leap into action come the first of November – which happens to be a Sunday, allowing plenty of time for a decent start.
I can’t believe I’ve been taking part in National Novel Writing Month for twelve years now. This year’s project is feeling appropriately ambitious: I’m already looking forward to writing certain scenes, and bringing in both old and new characters. I can’t say how well all of my ideas will all fit together, but there’s nothing wrong with self-indulgence in this situation: if you’re going to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days, you should probably make sure you’re going to enjoy it to some degree!