National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts in two days. I decided to participate last week, on the day I cast my 2020 election vote. With my most important civic duty accomplished, I felt able to commit to try writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Ideally, then, I’ll spend election month buried in my book.
I’ve spent yesterday and today prepping, mostly by watching Authortube (YouTubers who make videos about the writing process). Over at Authortube they’ve been prepping all month, shuffling index cards like riverboat gamblers, screen-shotting nifty programs and apps, covering kanban boards with Post-Its, and sharing their intended writing schedules and novel-tracking spreadsheets. NaNoWriMo’s website is also packed with helpful advice, pep talks, links to writing software, and online support groups.
These questions are of academic interest only, as I’ve decided…to join the pantsers! For book-length projects, writers tend to divide into plotters and pantsers. Plotters write outlines, draw maps, fill out character sheets, identify research topics, etc. Pantsers sit down at the keyboard and start writing. Plotter is natural to me. It reduces the chances of getting stuck a few chapters in and, often, the time required to complete the first draft. But it can also make the writing part of the process feel less exciting and spontaneous. As a pantser, I will probably hit some dead ends and meander, but I think I’ll have a bit more fun.
So there will be no index cards or Scrivener downloads for me. No NaNoWriMo blocks on the schedule, and especially no trackers. (Tracking rouses my internal rebel: I just hate it when I order me around. Who do I think I am, the boss of me?)
The key questions left to settle are environmental.
Laptop, typewriter, pen on paper? Laptop. I’ve seen a couple of authortubers with manual typewriters from the 1950s; cool aesthetic, but also finger-tangling and off-putting, perhaps, to one’s family.
Sitting down or standing up? Sitting down.
PJs or day clothes? Very probably both.
Headphones or playlist blasting? I can’t listen to music while I write. I’ll be blasting white noise videos–rain, waves, crickets, flames.
Coffee or tea? I love coffee, and it’s been important to the work process of many artists, but I don’t want to suffer French writer Balzac’s fate, especially with as much time I’m planning to spend writing. Bad at managing his money and needing to produce lots of content to get out of debt, Balzac wrote about 13 hours per day and fueled this grind with many cups of black coffee (five or six? 40 or more? nobody knows for sure, but 50 seems to be the upper limit of the guesses). When he died in 1850 at the age of 51, caffeine poisoning may have been a contributing factor. It’s harder, though not impossible, to die from drinking too much tea, so: tea.
Snacks? Only if I start writing in the kitchen, which has no places to sit.
Writing in a room with others (family and/or pets) or alone? I’ll try a mix of solitary and writing in a corner of the family room. As far as pets, the authortubers I’ve watched have had dogs, so I assume their pets are happy to stay close by. I pose the question to Capone the cat. He flicks an ear and settles himself more firmly on the TV remote. He’s been lying on it a lot lately–I believe it’s in protest to how I’ve been yelling at the news–but I’m going to interpret the gestures as some kind of tolerance for the idea.