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  • Writer's pictureChristina Vourcos

Always the Planner, and Sometimes Spontaneous


NovaMind: Mind Mapping

It seems like most of my life, I’ve felt like I had a plan for every thing. Though not everything turned out as planned. So when I finally graduated college, I freaked out because I wasn’t ready, but most of all, I didn’t have a plan. Last year gave me a chance to explore finding a job, dealing with that job without having the additional pressure of classes at the same time, and as well as personally learning. I learned more about my Catholic faith, and about writing (especially experiencing for the first time NaNoWriMo). All this just seemed to happen, throughout the year without me planning or planning to much about it. I felt the only thing that I really planned was going to Ascendio, a Harry Potter conference, which was amazing but even that experience was nothing like I had expected, it was better. So I’ve wondered if it’s a good thing to plan or not. Society kind of expect us to plan, especially for the future. You can’t just decide to go to Grad School and go right away. You have to plan ahead of time to apply and make sure that all the requirements are ready before the due date. As Camp NaNoWriMo is arriving soon, the April session and later the July session, I’ve begun to try to plan out an idea of what I’ll do.


I’ve decided to write a detective style novella. Normally NaNoWriMo in November the word goal is 50, 000, but for Camp NaNoWriMo writers can choose their own writing goals below or above 50,000. You don’t even have to do a novel. It can be a script, poetry, blogging, or a set of short stories. I thought a novella,  which is around and possibly above 30,000 words, would be a good option for me. For NaNoWriMo, last year, I was able to reach 37,042 words in 30 days. Then later I continued to write a bit more, and revise my story in the new year. Even though I haven’t finished my novel, especially revising, I still want to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo for both months… even more so because I won’t have much time to do NaNoWriMo in November, if I get accepted to Grad School in the Fall. I know I need to still work on my first novel, and I still will. Anyways, I feel that a novella would be a good goal for April. Then I’ll figure after what I’ll do for July.

The last few days before November began, last year, I made a decision to participate in NaNoWriMo. I had a bit of an idea of a story that wanted to write into a novel, where I wanted to go with it, and a bit about the characters. I tried to outline a bit, and figure out a bit more about my characters before I started the journey the first of November. Now that I reflect back on it, I wonder if planning a bit more would have helped me while I was rushing to write a much as possible during NaNoWriMo. So I began to think in the beginning of this month what I would do for Camp NaNoWriMo. Through the month, I decided the word count goal, and then I decided what type of story I wanted to write. As soon as I had these two things set, I could figure out what my main characters would be, and start making an outline of some plot points. Though I haven’t done the outline yet. I have figure out a bit about my main characters. Soon I’ll try to have a basic outline of what I might do. Some times it helps to write it out on a word document, and I learned about using NovaMind (the free version) last year as way to plan and figure out my characters. I don’t want anything really detailed because I want it more as a guide that way I’m open to what ever comes to mind during the month. Like I said before, some things that aren’t completely planned some times turn out better. I think that’s kind of who I am as a writer. I need to plan out something a bit, and then I can work on figuring every thing else out down the road.

A detective story was something that I felt like doing for a while, but I haven’t done really. The fanfics (that I’ve done for Castle and one for Sherlock) don’t really count as a detective story because they don’t focus on a certain case. I’m a writer that enjoys writing about characters and their interactions with each other. Though I do love reading stories that have both really interesting characters and plot. Since the beginning of college, I’ve been seeing a lot of procedurals (such as Castle, Bones, Unforgettable, Fringe, and BBC’s Sherlock). As I mentioned last week, I’ve gotten the Sherlock bug. Now I’m re-watch the show and finally reading the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I’ve read some other mysteries as well. So I feel like I could write one of my own. Yet today, I started to look through the internet about how to write a novella, and especially how to write a detective/mystery novel. As I was looking around at a few sites, I took some notes down to give me an idea of what I need to plan and remember when I’m writing. It gives me a bit of a guideline as well. Though I know there isn’t any exact rules. I have to learn most of it on my own. I have to figure it out, and I will. It just helps me to have something to go on ahead of time before I jump into writing a story. Kind of like a springboard to launch me towards my goal.

I believe that my experience in November has helped me to figure out so many things about writing. It will also help me as I participate for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. Though even with a lot of planning, I know it still won’t completely prepare me for the difficult moments that I’ll very likely to have during those months, but it will reassure me a bit. Plus I’ll have pep talks to read in my inbox, and cabin mates that I can chat with, via their website. Also I’ll have the South Texas Scribes (the local writers group in my area), and my friends to help me… well, as much as they are able to anyways.

So are you planning on doing Camp NaNoWriMo? If so, have you done it before? If you have, what would you suggest to me and those who are participating for the first time? If you are planning to, no matter if you’re new or returning are you planning a bit of your story before you start or as they say in NaNoWriMo land, “Pantsing” (which is basically writing without a plan)?

I will still continue to write on this blog, even during these two months but it might not be as long as I’ve been writing. I believe it will help me to write about my progress, and share what I’m struggling with during Camp NaNoWriMo. Before and inbetween, April and July, I’ll write a bit about revision and planning. So now you have a bit of an idea what I’ll be doing as well not only for Camp NaNoWriMo but also for my blog. I wish everyone luck on their writing adventures, especially those who will be part of Camp NaNoWriMo of either or both sessions. I’m sure not matter if we plan, or not, before hand I believe we can get to our goals as long as we focus and help each other as much as we can.

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Christina Vourcos


Self-Published Indie Author and Poet, Lymphoma Survivor, GreekLatina, M.A. 


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