Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
I wrote last week about what NaNo is and how I’m participating. I can happily report that I am buzzing right along with it. I thought I’d journal a bit about how I managed it.
One of the big things I had to stop and do before I got very far into the story was to review my research. Not only that, I had to go a little deeper into the history of Bodie, California, the ghost town that is the setting for my NaNo story. I took an afternoon and immersed myself in a video about it, maps of the area, and images. Most of my research material comes from a friend who visited two years ago and shared her stuff with me. She also clued me into the video.
Now, I have looked at this stuff all before, or most of it, but some of it was two years ago, and the most recent was three months ago, when I used Google Earth and some more in-depth searching to locate the train station in the town. When one is pantsing it to begin with, one really does need a thorough and recent immersion in the research. Just sayin’.
Once I had taken those two or three hours to refresh my memory and add sticky notes to the map with various locations I intended to mention in the story, the words began to flow like water.
The second thing I learned is that writing sprints are incredibly helpful. I can’t really explain why. I have always enjoyed taking three or four hours, or even a whole day, and doing nothing but write, but here I was, a full-time author, and I had nothing to say. It was scary, let me tell you!
Oh! I forgot to clarify; let me do so now. A writing sprint is where a writer sets a timer (in my case 20 to 30 minutes) and types. He or she puts words out, without paying attention to spelling, grammar, word choice, etc. Here I must confess that I still pause to look things up on occasion. *blush* However, I don’t worry so much about most things. It will mean more editing later, and I hate that, because I’m a “do it right the first time” kinda girl, but I’m much more productive this way. So, I suck it up. I can write, in a 30 minutes sprint, more than 900 words. I’m easily reaching 3,000 words most days, and am nearly caught up to where I should be. I anticipate actually exceeding that point by the end of this week, and being finished with the book just before Thanksgiving. <3
I won’t stick to 30-minute sprints, I don’t think. At some point, probably once I catch up, I’ll go back to 20 minutes. I’m doing four to six of these a day, and that extra ten minutes, while incredibly helpful, also takes away from the chunks of time I need to perform other tasks.
The sprints have helped me make a better work schedule, as well. I’m able now to do “periods” like I did when I taught high school, and assign each period a task. I have included exercise in one period each day, and editing in one. There are others, of course, but those are the big ones on my mind right now. 🙂
Those are the two biggest things I have learned this time around doing NaNo. My timer has joined my research notebook as being my most valuable tools. 🙂
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3