Friday, October 26, 2012

I'm Supposed To Know What I'm Writing About?

I am a procrastinator by nature.  I have good intentions, but poor execution.  So now that I decided I want to write, I needed to find something to help keep me motivated.  In stalking, I mean following, a few of my favorite authors and book bloggers, I learned about a "competition," called NaNo in support of National Novel Writing Month, which happens to start on November 1st.  Perfect!  Basically, you pledge to finish a novel in 30 days- how hard can that be?!?!  Ha!  There are all kinds of word count competitions and "write-ins" to help keep you motivated, as well as virtual moral support from other writers "competing."  They also encourage you to find a critique partner.  

This sounded great to me- just enough pressure to help keep me motivated, interaction with other aspiring writers in the area, but nothing too intrusive to my already hectic life.  As much as I want to do this, it is just not realistic at this point to think I can write all day long, my kids are young and do not believe in quiet time.  So I will need to fit any writing in during naps and/or after bedtime.  It is a good thing I gave up cleaning years ago!  I am hoping even with these restrictions, I will be able to meet my goal of just completing my story.  Basically, the competition is set up so that anyone who hits 50,000 words, "wins."  You don't have to actually complete your book- and in fact, it will definitely need massive revisions.  It is just a way to get started without worrying too much about the editing process.

So I happily signed up and started filling out my "author" profile, which was kind of neat.  However, step two was to name your novel, as well as fill in some information regarding what you are going to write.  Say what?  I have to actually know what I want to write about?  I mean, how do you decide your subject matter?  Or even your genre for that matter?  I am still not exactly sure of the difference between YA and New Adult.  

Sounds kind of obvious, but for a first time writer, I have NO CLUE how to actually start the process of choosing a subject for my book.  So here is what I did:
  1. Went to Target and bought some awesome new notebooks and pens;
  2. Complained to E that I have no clue what I am doing;
  3. Started jotting notes to at least 7 or 8 different ideas, all of which seem really stupid upon further review;
  4. Skimmed the forums posted on the NaNo blog and learned a lot of the participants have been getting ready since last year, or at least since they started mailing reminders in early October;
  5. Complained to The Commissioner that I have no clue what I am doing;
  6. Checked my e-mail, twitter and Facebook a million times; 
  7. Bought a few new books for my kindle (hey, it should be considered research for my writing now); and
  8. Completed a tour of Scrivener (which I think I am going have to redo several times to have any hope of understanding how to use this program- not as self-explanatory and user friendly as I was hoping- but seriously cool.)
Basically, everything other than actually brainstorming an idea (including writing this blog).  So while sitting down for dinner, (mind you with a 3 year old and a 7 month old also at the table), I mentioned to The Commissioner my biggest concern is that when I start to write, I'll find that my obviously brilliant and original idea for a book, was actually already the basis of another author's story, and not different enough from what I'm doing so that half-way through I'll lose steam and have to start over.  I then proceeded to give him a few ideas of what I was thinking of writing about.

This is a mistake in that The Commissioner does not have the same interests as I do when it comes to reading.  I mean to say he barely reads.  I do not understand this at all, but I've accepted that he has other endearing qualities to make up for it.  In turn, he teases me endlessly about my love of all things YA.  Anytime he sees me reading, his first question will always be, "Reading Twilight again?"  But he did come up with something useful in that he encourages me to just pick a subject and not worry about what is going to happen down the line, especially if the goal is just to actually complete my first novel. (Although, in my head, I am already a huge success and having fun going on book tours with E across the country.  Ha!)  

In the NaNo forums, one other piece of advice given that sticks with me is that there are no new ideas, just new ways to look at them.  Each author will bring new things to the table because we are each unique.

By the end of the night, I actually have my ideas down to two topics from the eight or so I was considering.  I think I will need to sketch them out a little in my new serious writer notebooks before I make a final decision.  Mostly, because I have no clue how to outline on Scrivener.  I am sure there is a way, but I only have maybe five more days before I am supposedly starting to write my first novel.  So I think I will keep it simple and just try to sketch outlines by hand in my notebooks and see which story I am more drawn to (i.e., which one is going to keep my interest for more than a week!)    

Ok, well one day into this and I am already freaked out- sounds about right!  Good thing I bought some new books on my kindle to distract me- I'm off to read "Twilight" again.


  1. Brilliant!!!! Can you believe how much you have accomplished in only a few days?!?!

    1. Ha ha ha! I can't believe you even found this blog! Thanks for the encouragement- clearly, I'll need it!