Friday, November 6, 2015

Tips for Winning and Surviving NaNo

NaNoWriMo started on Sunday. National Novel Writing Month. A month approached with much fear and trepidation and anxiety and stress by writers and would-be writers around the world.  (Maybe it should be InNoWriMo for the International participants.)

For me, NaNo is something to look forward to.  I've been a willing participant - both officially and un - since about 2006.  For me, it's a time for me to set aside everything else and just write.  And my family knows that during November, I am less available, which makes it a tad easier.  (Except this year. I'm too busy getting ready for BloodFlow to launch.) 

Anyway, the point is I don't freak out over NaNo. Which might be why the fear, trepidation, anxiety, and stress might not hit me as hard as most.

How could I possibly be so relaxed about NaNo, you ask?

Here are a few tips I've learned over the years:

1)  Recognize that you are NOT going to write a whole book.  50K words is rarely enough to get you from CHAPTER ONE to THE END - even in first draft form.  You're going to slop over into December.  And that's okay.

2)  No one is going to whip you with a thousand al dente noodles if you don't write 50K words in November.  The point is actually NOT to write 50K in November.  It's to write as many words as you can in November.  For some people that might mean 30K.  For others, 65K.  The point, at least from my perspective, is to make a commitment to set your butt down and write.  Make writing important enough to set aside x amount of time during a 30 day span and work toward actually finishing a whole novel.

3)  Cut yourself some slack.  If something major happens in your life during the month of November, don't stress.  Life's too short to angst over not getting a paper certificate you have to print out yourself and a cute 'winner' graphic to post on your blog.  Move the rest of your writing days to a time when you can write.  Make the commitment and do it.  Then make your own certificate and sparkly graphic. And if someone gets in your face about it, tell them to bugger off. 

4)  You're only accountable to yourself.  Even if you chose to use the official NaNoWriMo site. 

5)  Give yourself permission to suck.  That's probably the best advice I ever got about writing.  Followed closely by - You can fix it later, but you can't fix an empty page.  If you're going to type 1667 words a day on average, you have to silence your internal editor.  This is also called 'Dirty Drafting'.  It's expected to not be the cleanest thing.  You have 2016 to edit. Write now.  If it sucks today, push through. 

There are other things, of course - like make a plan beforehand or cook freezer-friendly meals in October - but you'll get those down as you go.  And they're things that you learn over the course of growing as a writer anyway.  They might even be things that are particular to you.  For instance, I learned I write better between after dinner and bedtime.

So, kick back and relax.  Have some coffee.  Set your buns down.  Put your fingers on the keyboard.  Write away.  Seriously.  I know it sounds daunting, but it'll be okay.  :hugs:

And just so you know, every book I've published so far this year started out as a NaNo project.  And they all sucked until after I edited them.  Hell, Wish in One Hand was totally re-written twice before it reached the point where I could edit it into a publishable novel.  ;o)