Planning Is A Black Hole

I have been completely consumed by planning my NaNoWriMo novel, and as October ticks away, I’m freaking out about not having enough time to sort through and organize all of my ideas. Planning a novel is HARD! Well, it is if you’re like me and want to know EVERYTHING before you sit down to write.

Why do I need to know everything? I know I don’t actually need to, I just feel like I need to. I’m sure that when I start banging this thing out, lots of things will change. But I do need to know where things are headed. I want to solve as many of the problems as I can ahead of time, even if the solution I come up with now ends up being different than the solution I come up with when I actually write it. How can this not be the case, when every day I have a different plan.

My novel has changed so much since I first began to plan it. The concept, the characters, and pretty much everything else has changed. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that there is magic. I have trouble sticking with ideas, but if I don’t like something, I’m not going to want to write it, so I have to keep thinking about it until I land on something I like. This makes planning so hard, because when the puzzle changes, all of the pieces have to change too. So I’m a bit frustrated with myself for not sticking with my ideas, but I can’t help it if they aren’t working for me! I have to find the solutions that work.

I have a ton of handwritten notes for this book, and I’ve been going through trying to digitize them for organizational purposes. I’ve been using the iPad app Index Card. I’ve been trying to get scenes onto cards in the app that I can then reorganize into chapters. I’ve also been compiling all of my worldbuilding and backstory stuff in there. It’s taking forever! And of course I write down more things that need to be typed up every day, so it’s just never ending. But I know if I don’t organize my thoughts somehow, they’ll get lost. I’ve already forgotten a lot of things I jotted down, so typing the notes is a good reminder of what I’ve developed (and of what’s still working and what needs to be re-worked). Still, it’s so much effort. And so many of the notes I’ve written are no longer applicable, since I’ve changed things around so much. It’s hard to keep track. If only I could take and re-take snapshots of the whole thing straight out of my brain without having to keep re-doing everything!

I also have an obsession with details, and I need to learn to let them go. I want to know everything about my world – the governments, the faith systems, how everything works. It’s fun to think about, and the realer my world feels, the better I can write it, but in the end, it doesn’t affect the story that much, and I need to stop thinking about all those little details! I can fill things in later. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

At this point, I need to be focusing on my character arcs and story arcs. They’re obviously the most important. Unfortunately, those are the things I have the most trouble developing! I think it comes down to not being in touch with my characters enough. That’s really what I need to work on at this point.

I do feel like the solutions I’ve got now are better than the ones I had yesterday, and the ones I had yesterday are better than the ones I had the day before that. I only hope that by the time November comes, I have something developed that I can stick with for a whole month! And that I can put it in some kind of navigable format so I have kind of a roadmap to follow.

I may complain about it, but I’m really loving all of this, and I wonder why I haven’t always been doing this. I want to shout from the rooftops, “I’M WRITING A BOOK!” I don’t really want to talk about what the book is about, because (as this whole whiny post is about) I’m still working on that, but I’m writing a book, and how cool is that?!

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