Friday, October 4, 2013

Nano-Prep


Sounds cool, right? Like some kind of sci-fi lingo. But it’s not. And it is.

It’s my list of to-do’s in preparation for November’s Nanowrimo event. Since my intended attempt for this year’s event will be in the science fiction genre, nano-prep sort of is a sci-fi term…at least to my mind. And since my parents and I are probably the only people who visit this blog on a recurrent basis (Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!), I can call it what I want and get away with it. So, there you go.

Alright. Today is October 4th. That means Nanowrimo kicks off in T-minus 27 days. The clock is ticking, folks. So what’s a Nanowrimo newbie to do so that he’s not overcome with the magnificent magnitude of this undertaking from day 1?

He prepares ahead of time, that’s what. Here’s my plan:

  1. Prepare for the routine. I’ve been working on this for the past couple weeks now, trying to write at a specified time every day so that I’m in the habit of it when November hits.
  2. Output. Output. Output. Nanowrimo is about knocking out copious amounts of text in a relatively short space of time. Consider that November is a 30 day month. Doing the math, that works out to 1,667 words per day to reach my goal of 50K words. Not too bad, right? But wait a minute. We’ve got a holiday mixed in there, good old turkey day. Given the time I’ll have to put into that one (we’ve done a block thing the last couple years), I might as well mark Thanksgiving off as a loss. And probably the day before it too (usually a heavy prep day). Next up I have a film festival that happens the week before Thanksgiving. There’s another four days gone. Now we’re up to nearly 2000 words a day. Still not bad, you say? Well, get the f--k off my porch then. We’re done talking.
  3. Outline. The good folks at Nanowrimo have rules for the contest. One is that you cannot begin the actual telling of the story, that is the writing of it, until the first hour of the first day of the event. But they highly encourage preparatory outlining of your story. That’s because it’s damned hard to punch out content when you don’t know where you’re going when it has to be done so quickly. So outlining I have begun, and outlining I continue to do.
  4. Health. This is really a lifestyle thing and not something I’m doing for Nanowrimo exclusively.  But sometimes doing what’s good for your health – eating right, and exercising properly and routinely – require extraordinary forms of motivation when your mind just wants to sleep in an extra hour or chomp down that greasy Philly cheesesteak for lunch. Keeping fit gives me energy. The soreness in my muscles keeps me awake (if not a little grumpy). And eating right by reducing my carb intake and training my body to work off of its ample (hopefully not for long) fat reserves means I don’t bonk from sugar lows. Writing this, by the way, makes me want to devote an entire series of posts to nutrition and fitness, topics I’m keenly interested in...but I'm going off topic.
  5. Clear the Clutter! This is probably the most impactful thing for me to do right now. One of the greatest hurdles I face as a self-diagnosed Adult ADD person (I took a psych course in college…get off my back) is dealing with distractions while I take a seat to write. Much of the creative process occurs inside your head, but your body and brain are constantly processing all the external stimuli around you while you work. What this translates into for me is a lot of tangents that take me away from the stuff I should be doing.


Of course, I should note that one of those tangents recently led me to this discovery about clearing the clutter. I’ve recognized for a while that I’m easily distracted from my work. I've determined that much of those distractions come from the clutter in my life. I'm surrounded by the collection of material possessions that I at one point in time decided were worth acquiring and, later, holding on to despite not having used many of said items in years. Every time I sit down to write I’m surrounded by my own cluttered mess of a life.

So what did I do out of my frustration? I started Googling. And that turned me on to the world of minimalism. Now, I don’t profess to become a true minimalist, but I do admire some of its tenants and I intend to institute them as well. In fact, I’ve already begun.

I think the good folks down at the donations receiving area at Goodwill cringe whenever they see my car pulling up with more loads of stuff. My local library has started turning me away with my book donations (so to Goodwill they go – I can’t stand the idea of trashing a book). The rest, the stuff I think I can make a buck off of, I’ll eventually sell. I think I’ll have to post more on this movement in my life as it progresses, because I think it’s something I’m learning a lot from and the lessons are worth passing on.

So there you have it. My 5 Step plan to “winning” Nanowrimo. Wish me luck!