NaNoWriMo, day 6. I sit at my desk nursing the mother of all headaches, doing research on breast milk production, and, so far this morning, I have logged exactly zero words. Zero!
I see people all over the chat boards and in the social media groups asking one of the number one questions concerning NaNo word totals, what actually counts, in various forms. What can I get away with using in my total word count? I’ve seen people ask, can I use my title, do my chapter headings count, what about my planning/outline…are those legitimate words…research? How about the email to a friend asking them their opinion about…What about my character sketches and timeline?
I have seen it all these past few days, folks. And, the answer, I believe, lies in the details, or not.
There’s actually a badge for that and a band of merry writers who’ve been bucking the NaNo purist label for years. It’s called being a NaNo Rebel. And this year, I find myself planted firmly in that camp. Rebels tend to skirt the rules, ignore the rules, or make up the rules as they go along. What does or does not count at words is purely at the whim of their opinions that day. What does and does not count as a new novel, again, is purely at their whims. Some work on multiple projects at a time. Some start a project, drop it, and begin again from scratch not plotting a single thing just giving in to the desires of the weird apparition they saw standing in the corner of their room on the evening of day 3 after being at the keyboard for nineteen and a half hours straight and consuming four energy drinks followed by a pot of coffee.
Monday evening, I wrote The End on the project I announced at the end of October as my NaNo novel this year. The thing is…it was a novel I’ve been working on for quite a while. I was within ten-thousand words of seeing The End, and I knew that going in. I knew I’d finish it early on thus breaking the golden NaNo rule of writing a brand-new novel in thirty days. And then what? Well, that project is book two of a romance suspense series I’ve been developing, so the logical step was to move on to book three and get started there. Rules are for wussies! Right?
Years ago, I prided myself on being a strict plotter. I wondered, over and over again, how did anyone fly by the seat of their flaming pants and get a story at the end of the process that made any sense at all? This week, I took a step in that direction. I’m now a bona fide planster. I had a very rough sketch of book three in this series, very rough. And I had a rough draft of chapter one. I cleaned up that chapter yesterday. Did I count those words? Oh, hell yes, my lovelies. And where that cleaning of the chapter one landed me was the aforementioned research on breast milk production this morning.
Meanwhile, in ring three of this circus, I have the main character from book four in this series, which is zero developed other than character names, chatting away. Several times, I’ve said, I’m sorry Alex Black, you must get back in your lane. Dillon and Ana are over here with a breast milk crisis and you’re just going to have to wait. I’ve said that to no avail. He’s still chatting and I’m taking notes like mad.
Will book three get skipped for now in lieu of book four? Will book five’s main characters start picking at my brain before I can get either of those books finished? Will I use this blog post toward my morning word count?
I don’t know. I just don’t know…
Welcome to life as a #NaNoRebel, my friends.