In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I have been doing practice writing sessions to see how many words I can pump out in a given period of time. The first time I sat down and did 1,400 words in about 40 minutes. Today I did 1,893 words in one hour. So if I average 1,700 words per hour then I'll need to spend 30 hours on writing in November to reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month. Yeesh. That sounds scary right now, but really it comes out to a little bit less than 8 hours a week (assuming a four week month). If I can spend one hour a day during the weekdays and three hours on Saturday, then I'll reach the goal and won't even have to write on Sundays. I think that the trick will be breaking up the writing so that on some days I do two half-hour sessions or whatever. This is not how I normally like to work on my creative exploits, but I just need to remember that the point of NaNoWriMo is not to write a best-seller--just a very rough first draft (because it is still in the word vomit stage).
These practices have been very fun and exciting for me, because I've been writing the novel version of Book 1 of The Alphus Redemption Trilogy. For those who are familiar with Twenty Mule Team's songs, this is the story behind the Wishing Well album. I thought I'd hold off on writing any novelized version of it until I had the other two albums written (album 1 is written and just needs to be recorded, album 2 has two song ideas, and album 3 has nothing), because I didn't want to feel constrained by the story as I wrote the music. However, I think I am starting to change my mind a little bit on that. My writing of Wishing Well took a really long time because there wasn't much organization or clear direction. At first they were just random songs, chronicling some of my own experiences. Later a story emerged and then the story changed from my experiences to that of the main character Alphus. I created a basic outline but still lacked a great deal of anything between those key moments. While I like what the album has become, I think it lacks a sense of continuity musically.
Album 2 does not have a strong outline yet of events, just the basic bones that carry us through to album 3. I think the only way that I will be able to write the songs for album 2 is if I better understand the story elements anyway. So... long story short, I am going to start writing Book 1 and see where that takes me. When I finish and get to Book 2, I will re-evaluate (but I am leaning toward trying to write the whole thing within a short period of time to see if I can create an actual album instead of a collection of songs that share a story theme).
While we are on the subject, I think that I will make my October goal be to record the rhythm guitar tracks for an acoustic version of Wishing Well. I thought I was going to use the month for outlining, brainstorming, and writing prep (as well as finishing up some TV shows that I am currently watching on DVD), but since I've started the practice sessions that no longer seems so necessary. The truth is that I think most of the material is in my head and just needs to come out. Once it is out then I can go back and see what is missing or not connected and make corrections or fill in the gaps. For now I need to stop thinking and start writing.
*As an aside, I am pretty sure that I am going to write a different story for NaNoWriMo, although I may just work on both. The other story idea is newer and less fleshed out, but has a lot less baggage as well (I've been carrying the story for The Alphus Redemption Trilogy around in my mind and in little notebooks for about 5 or 6 years now, and I fear that I may get bogged down in it if I try to take it on as the first novel I write). So I will use it as my practice material during October (when I don't feel any pressure to reach a 50k word goal), and then, if things are flowing, I'll keep on going into November. If not then I'll switch gears and take on a story that I am currently calling: The Earthtalkers.
*As a second aside and as far as writing on Sundays goes, I am a little torn on whether I should do it. In the past I have never felt bad writing music or brainstorming story ideas on Sundays, because I think of them as artistic endeavors and I have NEVER thought of them as my job. At this point in my life I still don't think of either as my job. However, the goal is to someday get my stories published and be paid for my work so that I can work less out of an office and have the freedom to pursue a career as an author. So, with the possibility to any of my stories being published so far in the future, it is hard to feel like it is work at this point. For that reason, I imagine that I will spend some time on Sundays working on it. I think for now it comes down to my motivation for doing it. I am not writing at this point in my life to get published; I am writing because I want to exercise my talent and creative abilities. At the point where writing becomes a legitimate job possibility, then I will stop.