Monday, 8 November 2010

Confessions of a NaNoWriMo Muse – Part One

Before my muse confesses all, let me say congratulations to all those who made it through the first week of NaNoWriMo and are about to start the second. Jump up and down with joy, because you made it.

Some of you will have surpassed week one’s 11669-word target. Others will be far behind. Some of you will be like me, just about on target. Whatever your word count, don’t give up. Put on your comfy writing pants, unhook the phone, and ignore the dishes – you’ve got another 11669 words to write.

According to Chris Batty the first week of NaNo ‘is an explosively productive creative period’, where getting ahead with the word target is a good thing. Why? Because in week two the storm clouds will gather and our muses will get grumpy. I don’t know about you but the skies are clear at the moment. I’ll let you know in a weeks time if what he says is true.

I’m handing over to my muse now – she seems to be in a good mood and is much better at confessions than I am.

Hi. If you haven’t already met me, I’m Ellie’s long-suffering muse. You can call me Little Wanda. The last seven days have been interesting for both of us. Ellie started with a 496-word flash fiction piece and thought that would be enough to inspire a novel and, in a way, she was correct. The 11195 words inhabiting the Dreaming of Sleep Word file are proof there is a story to be told. However, she learnt two very important things this week. I’ll share them with you but only if you promise not to tell her I told you.

  1. You cannot write a novel with no idea of the plot. You can start one and quite probably write a few thousand words. One scene leads to another and then another and so on. But what you absolutely need is an overall picture – an idea of the beginning, middle, and end. Without it, you’re likely to get lost and give up half way through.
  2. She is a plotter. Yes. You heard that right. Forget the nonsense she told you before about being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer. She wasn’t lying; she just hadn’t realised that she’d been plotting all those short stories in detail before she started writing. She simply hadn’t equated forming story ideas in her head as the same as plotting on paper.

So there you have it – she’s realised she needs a plot after all. With that epiphany in mind, she’s decided to spend the next couple of days plotting. She took me on a shopping trip yesterday and bought brown paper, post-it notes, and a brand new sharpie pen. I can’t wait to see the other long-suffering one’s face when he notices 4ft of brown paper stuck on the bedroom wall. Off course, I’ve pointed out she’ll fall behind with her word count but she’s assured me it will be worth it.

I’ll be back next week to let you know how the re-decorating is going. In the meantime, what Nano or writing-related lessons did you learn last week?

Part of the Nanowrimo Blogchain


  1. Naughty muse - don't tell everyone how it's done or they won't be impressed when we reach the 50,000 target!

    Seriously though. It's interesting that you need a huge chart on the wall. All I've got is a spare "notes" file with a Word table on it that's helping me to rearrange chapters so I get things in the right order (I'm not writing them in the right order you see) and a very short timeline so that I don't keep making things happen before they should.

    (I started out with an age 30+ chapter before a school days one. BAD move!)

    I guess that's the journalist in me.... all my preparation in one small notebook.

    Good luck for week 2... keep typing.

  2. Hello Little Wanda!! You are gorgeous and very helpful and I am so happy that Ellie has you as her muse!!!

    GOOD LUCK Ellie!!! With a fab muse like Little Wanda - you'll ace this Nano!!! Yay! Take care

  3. Awesome Ellie. show that muse who is in charge.

    Good luck dear.


  4. I've learned that
    - getting ahead early works
    - it's best to snatch writing moments whenever I can rather than waiting until I get an uninterrupted half hour
    - re-reading the last page or two before I start is a good idea because I usually have to add some words for clarity, and because it helps me start again and continue the thread from where I left off.

    I also learned that I am going to fall behind with my favourite blogs this November. Oh well. . . :)

    Best of luck with Week Two, Ellie. Little Wanda - be nice!

  5. MorningAJ - Ooo. . .a timeline. I need to add one of those to my chart. It is fascinating how writers approach projects in different ways. I'm quite a visual person - hence the 4ft of brown paper that will eventually be covered in post-it notes indicating chapters and scenes. When I write short stories I wait until I can play most it out in my head before starting and I'm hoping the chart will do the same thing for my novel.

    Good luck for your week two target!

    Old Kitty - thank you. I've been telling Ellie the same thing for years but she keeps me away from the public eye. I think she's afraid I'll do a runner. Writers can be so insecure, you know. Have a lovely week. Little Wanda.

    Donna - LOL. I think the muse is showing me who is charge!

    Ellen - thank you! You've given me some awesome tips. One thing I do is stop writing midway through a scene. When I come back to it the following day it helps me get into the story.

  6. I'm just a little behind on the word count, but I learned that despite my slow typing, it's not that difficult to write 1500-1700 words a day.

  7. I agree with little Wanda. Even if you're a pantser, you still need a plot. Good luck this week.

  8. Alex J. Cavanaugh - that's good news. Keep up the daily word count!

    Patti - a pantser; I like that expression. Thank you!

  9. Oh how your other half suffers as you redecorate using brown paper and post it notes!

    I love the commitment Ellie.

    You will do it, I know you will

    Rach xxx a pantser - I love that term too!

  10. Glad to see you're on track! Keep feeding Wanda chocolates and goodies, sounds like she's happy so far. :)

  11. I'm right on target! Kind of disappointing since last year I was way ahead... but I can't complain too much about being average, right?

  12. Rachel - so far the OH hasn't said anything, just raised his eyebrows instead. I don't think he's noticed the post-it note that says murder yet. LOL.

    Janel - will do!

    Chantal - average is good. Maybe you'll pull ahead this week?

  13. LOL! Great stuff. Yes it will be worth it in the end. Your post really made me chuckle, I can empathise, I have discovered the same thing about my muse.

    BTW This week I have an exciting Guest Author/s Interview on my blog. :O)))))

  14. Hello! Good luck with your Nano word count and the plotting. I'm sure your muse will love it!

  15. Madeleine - muses, don't you just love them? I saw your guest author announcement. I'm intrigued and can honestly say I have no idea who it is. Any hints? LOL.

    Jayne - thank you!

  16. I learned a similar lesson. B.N. (Before NaNo) I was a fly-by-your-seat kinda writer but I thought I might bog down for NaNo and I couldn't afford the time to waste so I decided to try writing an outline. And I LOVE it. It's made a WORLD of difference. I'll always write an outline now. Always.
    Best of luck with your next week of NaNo...and beyond :)

  17. Great post Ellie. Hello Little Wanda. You're a no-nonsense type of gal aren't you? Yeah, even a pantser has a plot in their head. I keep trying to write things down, do outlines etc but it just doesn't cut it for me, maybe next time??

    Your word count is going well. I try not to get behind, but weekends are tough..:)

  18. I kind of accepted the same thing about my process. Even if I don't write my plot out I spend weeks putting it together in my head.

  19. WTG on keeping up your word count! Best wishes for this week...

  20. Lynda - I'm glad you love writing an outline becaause that is how I feel as well. I'm only half through my plotting but already I have a sense of where my novel is going. Good luck for week two.

    L'Aussie - Wanda here: Someone has to order the 'writer' around or she'd be going in crcles, whilst drinking way too much wine. Good luck with your word count!

    Susan Gourley/Kelly - I could never keep that information in my head!

    Sharon K. Mayhew - thank you.

  21. In 2008 I learned I could write over 35,000 words in the last weekend.

    It is much easier to write with a plot outline, especially in week 3.

  22. Nessa - OMG. 35,000 in one weekend? I bow down before you.


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