I Think I’m Not a Planner

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking about planning my NaNoWriMo book. Please note that thinking is the key word there. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to take 12-ish years worth of ideas and slap them on paper as an outline that is actually of any benefit. So far, I have a list with about 40 vague bullet points that include gems such as “Childhood” and “Human sacrifice?” Yes, there’s a question mark there, don’t ask.

I thought maybe I needed some assitance. Maybe I just don’t know¬†how to plan. I started looking up outlining tools and apps. Which, in retrospect, was silly because I own Scrivener and you can make nifty little digital bulletin boards to outline. Scrivener is great, by the way. Not that I’m taking full advantage of all the features. Mostly I look at the little e-index cards on my screen and think “Why am I filling these out? If I know what needs to go on the card, then what good does the card do?” Which I think sums up my general issue with planning. I can’t seem to convince myself of why I need to write out an outline when the outline exists in my brain. It’s not like the act of outlining itself unlocks some hidden knowledge my brain didn’t previously have access to. Or maybe it does and I don’t know because I never actually outline.

Did you ever had an English teacher who forced you to outline your writing? Well I was the student that would write the whole thing and then outline what I had already done. That is how much I despise it. For essays, I always liked to just do my research, maybe collect some quotes and facts to reference, and then start going. I think I’m pretty good at organizing things mentally so I never planned ahead. That should have been an indication to me that, in this situation, I was not going to successfully outline.

So what am I to do with this nervous energy pre-NaNo? I’ve been researching more, although I think I’m reaching the end of what new facts I can learn about the Ancient Celts that will actually be applicable to my writing. Now, if I was an outliner, I would match up my outline with a timeline of the events of Britain and Wales during the time period between roughly 40 and 60 A.D. so I would know what types of things might be influencing my characters. However, since NaNoWriMo is kind of fast and furious I’ve given myself permission to wait until my initial draft is written to go back and revise for historical context. (See? I’m doing that write first, plan later thing again)

If anyone has any tips on planning for the reluctant, I’d love to hear them. I really need something to satisfy my anticipation for the next 11 days.

November, Here I Come

I have, in the past, halfheartedly said I would do National Novel Writing Month. I even had one April where I started Camp NaNoWriMo. However, after about 5,000 words I realized that the story I was working on wasn’t clicking and I needed to let it go (at least for the time being).

However, I am hoping this November will be different. I am out of school until January when I start my MFA program at Lindenwood University (Class schedules for the Winter term came out today and I am really excited about the choices). I am still in my current job, in spite of multiple attempts to escape. (I still have my fingers crossed that the job I interviewed for last week will hire me, but even if they did I wouldn’t start until the end of November.) Whatever my feelings toward my current job, the advantage of it is that it would give me time to write at work. So this seems like the perfect chance to participate in NaNoWriMo.

I have been researching my butt off up to now about the Iron Age, Ancient Celts, and Druids. This is, let me tell you, not such an easy task. The Celts didn’t have a writing system so all evidence of them comes from the archaeological record or from Roman and Greek accounts (which are possibly biased). The Druids have been turned into mythical, magical beings that are highly romanticized. The thing is, we know there really was a class of people known as Druids, and that they played an important role in Celtic society, but little is known about what that actually entails. Since my story is set around a real event, the Menai Massacre, I have been trying to get my history down pat. That said, there is a lot of artistic licence that needs to be taken to fill in the gaps. The story idea is one I envisioned when I was about twelve years old and have spent the last dozen years writing on and off, researching on and off, and, overall, developing into a totally different entity than what I originally wrote in notebooks during middle school. Due to the amount of research needed, and, if I’m honest, due to how personally attached I am to the idea and the characters, I have put off actually writing this story for years. When I started at SNHU, I decided it would be my thesis project. Now that I’m transferring to LU, which only requires a novella-length thesis, I’ve decided to stop thinking and start writing.

I am incredibly nervous about taking on writing 50,000 words in a month as well as leery about my own ability to stick to a commitment like that for a whole month (making things a requirement tends to cause me to balk and avoid doing them). However, I’m also totally pumped to start writing. I have already found two NaNoWriMo buddies online that are writing about Iron Age Celts (although in Scotland and Ireland, not Wales like me). So I hope that we can assist each other on this undertaking.

I’m still using the next couple of weeks for more researching and planning. Although, admittedly, I am a terrible planner. Everything is in my head so I get annoyed trying to put it on paper. I wrote one very lazy outline and I have yet to force myself to elaborate. I still need to go through the scenes that I already wrote over the last twelve¬†years (all of which need serious revision) and make sure that they’re accounted for in my plan.

I’ll probably be using this blog to check in as things continue, but for now, November, here I come!