T’was the night before NaNoWriMo and all through the house not a creature was stirring…lies! Bloody lies! I’m pumped! This is going to be a major challenge for me and I think I’ve got the cajones to get it done.

For those late to the party, I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch in the month of November. It won’t be Vonnegut, but dammit I’d like to think I can string some nice sentences together. Also, I mentioned I am growing a mustache during the month with Mustaches for Kids, a group that raises money for the Make-A-Wish foundation. I’ve set a personal goal of raising at least $500. If you’d like to support me in this endeavour, please check out the website.

Back to the book: I had promised some training updates over the past five weeks and I really didn’t deliver any. To be fair I had the cold and the flu over that span. Yeah health! But, in case you were still curious, here’s a rough overview of how an “author” such as myself prepares to write (hint, it doesn’t include bicep curls of thesauruses):

1. Ideas

Random thoughts trickle into the head, spurred by heavenly inspiration, newspaper stories, popular culture (TV, movies, music, etc.), and the odd memory. Sometimes I just jot down a sentence or two of poetry or prose into a notebook to keep track of this. Or, in lieu of a notebook, my iPhone has been collecting bon mots for over a year now. 95% of these things may never turn into anything, but the ones that do can become the crux of the book. For example, in Something Like Ideal, a poem I wrote down in a notebook one night ended up forming the overall philosophy of the novel’s narrator.

2. Plot

Not entirely essential, but once I get ideas flowing, creating a feeling or overarching thought for the book, a sense, if you will, they ultimately lead to a plot (or something like a plot). I’ve sketched out three outlines for NaNoWriMo. Each one could be its own book and I’m going to try one and see if it sticks. These really are just outlines and I let the writing fill in the pieces in between.

3. Characters

Characters before a book really are just husks that only become fully fleshed out as the writing occurs. I usually have a few notes on main characters, some traits, etc., but after that everything happens organically. Characters grow on their own as a story and its development progress. Often most of this growth occurs during “non-writing” periods: when I’m out and about, sitting on a bus, or at work. The characters become real in my thoughts.

4. Followthrough

Coffee. Determination. Sweat. Doubt. Coffee. Repeat one thousand times.

Anyways, NaNoWriMo officially begins tonight at midnight, but the disciplined writer in me has decided to refrain from upsetting the schedule. I’ll be up tomorrow morning at 6am to start and hope to maintain that time daily throughout the month. Hopefully I am well rested and bright and chipper. If not, there is always coffee.