Preptober pitfalls

This is the year I'm going to prepare for NaNoWriMo ahead of time.

That's what I told myself at the end of September.

Then I came upon someone on YouTube that said their prep began in December of last year and they've written a twenty-plus page outline, biographies of each character, charts, etc. etc. etc.

Then I started reading some books I found for my Kindle and discovered a lot of the same. There are many people who seem to have entire careers set up around writing about writing but have done very little writing about anything other than writing. It seems odd following guidelines on how to structure a novel from someone who has never written an even semi-successful novel.

The books and information from many websites that I read suggests an overwhelming amount of preparation. It's more than overwhelming. It's daunting. Discouraging. No wonder so many people start NaNo and fail with all that the writing gurus say we must to in order to be successful!

A few of the gurus I researched said they have about a 50 page outline that takes a year (!) to create and they also analyze each character down to favorite foods and colors even if that information never comes up in the book!

I do feel like I got some tidbits here and there out of all of my reading that will guide me along during this NaNoWriMo such as insights into how deep into a character I should go and how even the simplest plan will help me keep my momentum going during the sometimes difficult middle weeks (2 and 3) of NaNo.

Finally, to offset all I read from people who only write about writing, I started looking for interviews with real, successful authors like Atwood, Hemingway, Groff, Irving, Ross, etc. and I found that a lot of them simply write and write as much as they can as fast as they can, typically between 1500 and 2000 words a day and they acknowledge that much of the first draft will be crap but the magic is in the rewriting after the fact. Sounds a lot like NaNo, doesn't it? None mentioned a traditional outline. There was some discussion of index cards.

Of course, these are talented people with a knack for story telling but also they are free from the constraints of all of the processes that the guru writers who only write about writing want us to use. I think you do have to be quite confident, maybe even nutty, to write page after page without tons and tons of prep but I also find it freeing and I think doing too much prep might squelch that freedom and fun.

All that said, I have four ideas written down. Each idea is just a few words so far. I intend to expand on each one this week so I can determine a clear winner before the insanity begins on November 1st. That expansion will include a simple summary, an initial list of characters and an outline of chapters (hopefully) and will be about 48 pages shorter than the 50 page outline suggested by the gurus.