October 8, 2018

I Am Not Prepared

Starting early on October 1st, my social media feeds began filling up with posts from writers declaring that their NaNoWriMo journey has begun. However, National Novel Writing Month is in November. October has now morphed into National Novel Writing Preparation Month, or Preptober for short, which is a month-long concentrated effort on making a novel without actually writing it.

“National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”
—NaNoWriMo.org website

This is nothing new. In fact, I wrote a guide on October novel planning for pansters (people who tend to write ‘by the seat of their pants’) last year. For 2018, I haven’t even started thinking about my novel, so I feel like I’m already behind—and it’s not November yet. Instead, I’m coming up with excuses for why I probably won’t win. Going into any activity with the mindset of inevitable failure isn’t conducive to success.

Wanting to give this year’s novel its best chance, I went ahead and purchased a Preptober workbook. The book is full of great content, inspiration, and exercises to prepare yourself for a month of concentrated writing. After printing it out (and making it all cute) I declared to the world—and by world, I mean Instagram—that I would start working on my next novel as soon as I finished editing my current work-in-progress.

I always forget how busy the fall season is every year. And on top of the normal holiday-season stuff, back-to-school shenanigans, and hosting Thanksgiving, I’ve booked a number of events and am launching my next novel, In the Lurch. This year I have two weekends of bookselling in November, so I’ve declared that I refuse to have any guests or cooking activities in my house this Thanksgiving. For once in ten years, can I please just show up at a friend’s house and eat their food?

Instead of using October to plan my novel, I’m trying to get as much as possible done this month so I can spend more time writing next month. That means planning promotions for In the Lurch ahead of time and finishing edits on the second installment in the series. Since my novel for NaNoWriMo this year will pick up where the second left off, I don’t need to flesh out characters or do a bunch of world-building right now. I’ll need a story arc, but I can push that off for the time being.

Every day, I see more and more posts of writers getting ready for some serious noveling. It’s easy to fall in the trap of feeling bad about not dedicating enough time to my craft. Here are writers doing daily exercises to stretch their creative muscles while I’m printing coloring books for the family day of Four State Comic Con and scrambling to send out ARCs before my next novel launch.

I’ve had to accept that not spending the entire month of October preparing to write my next book does not make me any less of a writer. The main reason I’m so busy is that I have so much book-related stuff going on. I’ve done enough writing now to know that I don’t need an entire month of planning before starting a new book—and that no matter how busy I get, I can still kill it at NaNoWriMo.

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