Thursday, 13 October 2011

Facing a Novel Challenge by Janelle Jensen

(borrowed from: Cammie's song)

It’s less than thirty days away.  Less than thirty days for me to compile research and plot out the timeline for the novel I’m going to start writing on November 1st.  That’s right, NaNoWriMo here I come.  And I’m terrified. 

This is the first time I’ve ever put “butt in seat” (thank you Ryne Douglas Pearson) for a long term writing commitment.  I’ve done short stories and flash fiction pieces, but this will be my first time delving into a novel.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, something I felt I always needed to do, and yet it’s always escaped me. 

But, with encouragement from dear friends, I have finally decided that I can do it!  If you don’t have a motivating mini-you sitting on your shoulder, it’s always good to have that friend whispering, or shouting, in your ear: “Do it! Do it!”

I’m taking my first tentative steps forward in this task.  And I am looking to What About Bob? to assist me in this journey.  “Baby steps. I’m taking baby steps over to the door, baby steps out of the door, baby steps to the elevator, baby steps in the elevator….”  Kidding aside, if I look at such a length of words all strung together, it can seem rather daunting. 

So I’m taking it in chunks, to make it a little less intimidating.

I’m hoping to meet the 50,000 word goal by the end of November, but I’m also being realistic.  I have a full-time job.  I go to night classes three times a week.  And while NaNoWriMo is plunging ahead full steam, I’ll also be writing and working on a research paper for my English course.  If I don’t meet the goal, I won’t be too hard on myself.  I will be happy with what I accomplish. So I’m starting a month early.  I was supposed to start last month, but got waylaid by life, work, jam… 

I know I’m not the only one who’s trying to find time to squeeze some novel writing in.  Right?  Who doesn’t have a crazy, busy life anymore?!  And I don’t even have kids like some of you do!  How do you find the time for your novel writing?  Early mornings, late evenings, while driving in your car?

So I’m ready to embark.  My laptop, Watson, and I are all set to go.  My research has begun, my characters are being fleshed out (no, this is not an erotic novel!) and I have started the arduous process of plotting.  And I’m doing my research (or as much of it as I can) before NaNo starts.  I can be a pantser with my shorter pieces, but I know that if I don’t have a working outline, come November I will be staring accusingly at that stupid blinking cursor which will mock me at every turn.  So I have a large corkboard hanging on my wall where I can hang notes, scenes, outlines, and photo references. 

Also, I’m trying out the program Scrivener, which is a novel/research paper writer’s implement for outlining, noting stuff down and compiling chapters and chunks of text.  Anyone else use this program?  I’m using the beta Windows version, so far so good.  I really like the way it works.  I know there are pantsers out there who have tried, and succeeded!, at NaNoWriMo.  I am so jealous of those people who can just sit down and rip out novels over time with nothing but the stream of consciousness out of their heads.  I bow down to you. You know who you are! 

I’m also looking forward to the cheerleaders: the people I am surrounded by who are also sitting down and taking this journey with me, who stand and support for everyone around them.  My best support group can be found on twitter.  Where are yours?  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, your family at home: There are so many social media implements where we can find friends with common interests to keep us on the path and nudging us firmly forward.  Support is so critical, especially for us writers who tend to be their own harsh critics.  And you couldn’t ask for better people to be in your corner.

So I’m taking the tiger by the tail and moving forward.  Shake out those pom-poms, Jennifer Gracen.  Here we go!  If you want to add to your NaNoWriMo support group, you can Add Me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo website.

Somewhere between the fields of corn and soybeans, Janelle pounds away at her keyboard.  After tak­ing years off of writing, her self imposed hia­tus has now ended.   Aside from writing her first novel, she is cur­rently get­ting back into the rhythm of writ­ing by work­ing on flash fic­tion pieces, which can be found at her Website. When she’s not glued to her laptop, she can often be found wandering around with a camera stuck to her face.  When she is not play­ing with words or working on her photography, she can often be found vol­un­teer­ing at a wolf research and edu­ca­tion park, where she works with her real-​life muses.  You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. You've named your laptop... you're pretty much set to go. Oddly, you're the second person I know to name their laptop Watson, too.

    It sounds like you've got a solid plan, I see great things ahead for your Nanowrimo. Good luck!

  2. Watson truly is brilliant for a laptop's name! Better than Robyn anyway. I named my old one Lestat (vamp fever) and the new one's Zelda (no idea why).

  3. I'm doing it for the first time as well! Plotting away like mad... I expect it'll be a lot of fun - I'm looking forward to it! :)

  4. I named mine Popeye. I don't know why either, I don't even really like Popeye. Then again, there are days I don't like my laptop either.

  5. We are TOTALLY in the same boat. I'm working full time as well (no kids either) and it's my first NaNo. I'm using Scrivener on my Mac and I LOVE it. I'll be your cheerleader if you be mine!

    Apparently I need to name my laptop :P

    (a.k.a Write Me Happy)

  6. Not many things speak to me, but as I was doing research on my shiny new laptop (its predecessor was stolen on vacation), I believe it named itself Watson. Getting into the intrigue and all. Popeye sounds like a great name, doing great things!

    I need to be organized for NaNo, otherwise people will see me running around, swearing and tearing my hair out. Then you'll see me firmly in a padded cell, lol!

  7. Yay, more cheerleaders! We can always use more of those!

    Last night I divided my MS into chapters on Scrivener. I've set my overall MS goal for 50,000 (I believe it will end up being longer, but did that for now just for NaNo) and individual goals for each chapter scenes so that I can keep track of my daily progress. It's a great organizational program.

  8. I'm plotting, putting aside scenes I know I want to include, and doing research into physical places and areas of information that I'm not familiar with. I'm sure it will help in the long run, so I don't stared at that stupid cursor!

  9. I had the beta version for Windows but I didn't get it really. Now I'm having second doubts. And that's a dangerous thing to have. I'll probably lose sleep over it. :D (Ang, name it TROOPER!)

  10. Does having second doubts mean you're having third thoughts?

  11. No. It means my brain's not working. :D

  12. Ha! I love naming computers, too. my laptop is Cleopatra and my desk computer is Jane (after Miss Austen, of course)

    I just started using Scrivener 1.5 months ago - LOVE it!! I watched a tutorial on how to use it - this is the only way I was able to make sense of it - and I'm a total convert. I don't think I'll be able to organize my old way again. Good luck with NaNo!! I'm ElegantSnobbery on the site, and I'll add you to my buddies list!

  13. I had to go through the entire turorial that came with it, to fully understand everything. And I STILL had to google some stuff. ;)

  14. Nice to connect! I'll definitely add you to my buddy list! Scrivener is helping me to keep organized pretty well electronically. I'm still a visual person, so I still love having that corkboard on the wall that I can just glance at. The wonders of technology and software is amazing!

  15. Thanks, Regina! I'm excited, well excited and scared! But can't wait for it to begin.

  16. I hope it goes well. It's not too bad, really. I've done two so far and completed each time. I try to type early in the morning and add more in pieces during the day so I'm not looking at a big word quota to fill when I'm tired. When it comes down to it, it's only about one hour of commitment each day if you're a fair typist and just keep moving. Don't care too much about the quality of what you produce (it will be awful whether you care or not) and you'll be okay. Just have fun. : )

  17. Sorry I'm late to the party... JANELLE! Baby! My Tweetheart! DAMN RIGHT I'm going to be cheering you on. I have been since the day we met; why would I stop now? ;)
    You're going into this adventure with the right attitude. A lot of people put so much pressure on themselves to hit the 50K. Which is a great thing, if you do it, don't get me wrong. However. As long as you PARTICIPATE, NaNo works for you. Why? Because you wrote SOMETHING. Whatever you wrote during NaNo, hey -- that's a few thousand words than you had before you started, isn't it? Um, yes, I do believe so. Plus, you exercised your writing muscles. Also worthwhile.
    Yes, you have a busy schedule -- the classes alone! -- but you're doing NaNo ANYWAY. And that fighting spirit alone deserves to be cheered and celebrated. *does triple backflip* *lands in perfect split* *shakes pompoms* Goooooo Janelle!!!!
    P.S. I love you to pieces.

  18. Good luck with Nanowrimo, Janelle. I tried it last year, and didn't complete. I know it's a challenging exercise ,and I wish you much success with it.