Since this is the last Friday before November gets here, I thought I should bring this up. November is “National Novel Writing Month.” That’s NaNoWriMo for short. I’ve attempted to participate in this event year after year, and always gotten sidetracked or overwhelmed before completing a novel. Except for last year. That’s the first year I’ve ever actually made it to the end and come out the other side with a finished first draft novel.
I’m considering making another attempt at it this year. In case some of you dear readers are also aware of this month and are chomping at the bits to take a stab at it, here’s what helped me last year.
1) I used a site called 750words.com to help me track my words per day. You should probably do something similar. It was the greatest factor in helping me finish. Remember that if you intend to write “the bare minimum every day” that comes out to an average of 1667 words each day.
2) I finally let go of perfectionism. You can’t “write” and “edit” at the same time. The goal is to just write. The months AFTER NaNoWriMo are for editing. What you write might be, (okay, let’s face it… probably WILL be) a turd, but you will have plenty of time to turn that crap into something useful (like fertilizer or compost) AFTER you produce it. Just focus on the writing, and don’t worry about mistakes.
3) If you’re struggling with plot, write a few random sentences in a note pad and let one of those give you a sudden change in direction for your plot. You don’t have to know the gory details, just the broad overview of where you want to go with the story. As long as you can keep a good pace (both writing, AND within the story itself,) things will work out in the end.
4) It’s hard. It will be tough to maintain the pace. That’s okay. Do it anyway. Stay up late, get up early, whatever you have to do to find some extra writing time, do it. BUT more importantly than this…
5) Write at the SAME time every day if you can. Setting a schedule for your writing forms habit. Habit leads to eventual success.
6) Finally, “have fun with it.” It’s okay that what you write may be terrible, but remember this: There are books with story lines that are almost guaranteed to be worse than your own, and people have paid to read them. (Just google “Thorfinn Viking Vampire” at some point, and look at the books that pop up.)
Hopefully, everyone will be feeling much much better by the end of this month, so that I can do this. If not, I may have to choose between NaNoWriMo and UnixSecLab. If I have to choose, the WriMo is going to lose.
Are you planning to try for NaNoWriMo this year? Leave a comment below, and keep us updated on your progress!