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#AmWriting NaNoWriMo Countdown: 7 Weeks and Starting a New Project from Scratch

Nanmowrimo (National Novel Writing Month, held annually in November and challenging writers to draft a 50,000 word novel in a month–that’s 1666.66 words a day) is exactly 7 weeks away as I write.

49 days.

And I need a new story.

My agent has a draft of the novel I wrote over the course of NaNoWriMo last year (I’d estimate that about 10K words of that draft remained in the final draft, which went through another 5-6 iterations and benefited from the brilliant editing of Jennie Nash at the Author Accelerator program). She may love it, she may hate it–but it’s gone as far as I can go with it for now, and I’m casting my net for a new story so that I’ll be ready to write in November (I expect to start writing before then, but the goal is to at a minimum have the structure I need to write in place by 11/1).

So here’s what I’m doing: I’m going back to all the places I START. I’ve re-signed-up for Author Accelerator’s free 6-day writing challenge, where a series of emails guides you to:

Define why you are writing this book
Discover the point of your story
Develop your book jacket copy
Describe your book in one killer sentence
Brainstorm and select your book’s working title

Let me just say, I’m STILL using the “killer sentence” I created last time I did this to describe my most recent project: “a book about fried chicken, fear, family secrets and what happens when you let other people tell you who you really are.”

I’m re-reading Lisa Chron’s Story Genius and Shaun Coyne’s Storygrid (selectively). And I’ve thrown Cal Newport’s Deep Work in there too, for good measure.

And I’m thinking. In the shower, in the car, on walks, while I’m cooking. I’m noodling on what somewhat might want or need that would drive them forward and what kind of story that would be. I’m thinking about what I love to read, what really keeps me with a book regardless (based on ideas about psychology from a speaker I heard recently, who unfortunately I can’t link to but we’re trying to get her on the podcast): books about bookstores and small business and moving to the country, about making wholesale life changes that do or don’t work out, about animals and food and complicated family and families of our own making, about people who make lists and charts and plans.

And I’m trying to put together the internal and external stories for my next book–BEFORE I start really writing this time. Drafting my last novel (whether or not anyone ever reads it, its still a novel) I realized way too far into the process that I didn’t know what my characters needed on the inside, even though I knew what they wanted on the outside.

This time I’m starting from there.

We’ll talk more about NaNoWriMo prep on the #AmWriting Podcast in the coming weeks, and I’m going to do a weekly update on my prep and progress. We also have two excellent prep episodes on the podcast: Episode 72, cleverly named #NaNoWriMo Prep, as well as Episode 75, #NovelPreparations,  with advice from Sarina Bowen. Finally, I created a NaNoWriMo Prep checklist, which you can download here.


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