October 21, 2021 - Pushing Toward NaNo

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Only 10 days until National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or just NaNo) starts. I’ve been working in fits and starts lately. I feel like I’ve got enough to start writing, and it’s hard to get motivated to fill in all the outline details. For the past two days, I’ve been doing some more character development. That’s where I always start my stories. It’s where I come up with ideas for the plot as I get to know each character better. I’ve been feeling pretty good about my progress with that.

Until today.

I was going through my character worksheets in Scrivener and discovered one character—who started out as minor, but might have a significant role to play after all—where I had only a name and his relationship to one other character. No picture. No description. No lines with things like want, need, secret, personality type, not even hair and eye color or general physical description.

Quickly, I brought up other character sheets. Most of them were in the same state.

Panic time.

And here I’d figured on spending the next few days fiddling with Photoshop Elements and drawing a map of the ranch. I’d even started cropping out different kinds of buildings to put on the physical map.

So I quickly developed a new spreadsheet based on one used by another author (and added to extensively by me) for my recurring characters. I’d already done one for the characters specific to the first novel, and I used that as a model. Putting those twelve recurring characters side by side and filling in the boxes I had answers for showed me a lot of blanks. I had a lot more work to do.

It’s been interesting, especially since working on those characteristics led to answers as to why I was going to have one of the characters do something—other than to make a different character not be available to the story at one point in time. But also exhausting.

Most writers can do creative work for only a part of the day. Writing new words—or fleshing out characters—takes a lot of brain power. I thought I was a slacker until I heard several successful authors say they only wrote two or three hours a day.

You can do research or things like drawing a map or checking your sales or setting up promotions after the creative work is done. But it’s tough to keep the words flowing when you’ve drained the brain. Yes, there are exceptions. Robert B. Parker would work on one book in the morning, have lunch, then work on a different book in the afternoon. I heard him talk at a book signing, and his attitude was that other people work eight hours a day at their job, so why shouldn’t writers? Obviously, he’d been in training longer than I have. And attitude matters.

I plan on working on attitude next year. As well as a bunch of other stuff. But as for today? I’m done.

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