Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Outlining and Spiritual Growth

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

This year, I have a much better feeling about meeting my 50,000 word goal in November. I have been working to find time to plan my project, including outlining my entire novel, brainstorming scenes, and creating character descriptions for each person.

This task is not as easy as it sounds, as I am still working my full-time job and have all the other obligations of a typical 30-year-old, including attending to family matters, taking care of my dog, putting time into my relationship with my boyfriend, being a dedicated friend, handling some health issues that have arisen, etc.

In another time, I would have considered planning to be a method that is too rigid, too controlled for me. It is hard to imagine some of my favorite authors, with all their neuroses, referring back to outlines and being unsure of plot development. Surely they just started writing and never stopped?

I’m sure some people do have that knack for producing complex yet coherent story lines on a whim. However, the more research I do, the less I am convinced that many people are this fortunate.

The on-going theme to “successful” writers’ work seems to be consistency and persistence. “Successful” to me is completing a work that one can be proud of and accomplishes what the author sought out to accomplish. My half-finished prior NaNoWriMo attempt did not do that.

This year, I am making an effort to be more consistent and to persevere through the obstacles I encounter. In my last attempt at NaNoWriMo, I wrote steadily the first two weeks before I hit a roadblock with ideas. I had bursts of creativity that took me through different scenes but that burst ran out, as it always does for me. An outline, I hope, will allow me to still have those accelerated sprints of creativity while providing a cushion for the inevitable days that I don’t have ideas flowing through me.

I am using the month of November as an opportunity to not “just write”, but to reflect on spiritual growth as well. What would it mean for my overall well-being if I practiced enough discipline and dedication to write 50,000 words in 30 days? What life skills might I learn in the process that I could apply to other ares of my life? By choosing to spend a significant amount of time writing, what activities am I foregoing for several weeks? What things do I do now actually mean less to me than writing?

I am excited about the possibilities. All of these thoughts return me to my original purpose for starting this blog a year ago, to live a life of writing. Not just putting pen to paper, words to screen, but shaping my life so that the calmness, happiness, and completeness that I feel when writing permeates my entire being.

Next month will be another exercise towards this goal. I am continuing to prepare this week, including compiling a long list of scenes via the method available on the NaNoWriMo website. The creators refer to it as the “Jot, Bin, Pants” method, and you can access the worksheet here in the Week 3 section.

Feel free to post any ideas or suggestions of your own in the comments section. I do check them on a regular basis.

Here’s to another week of writing!

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