NaNoWriMo? I have. This will be my fourth year participating in this frantic month-long commitment to my writing craft. Many folks don't 'get' why we do this to ourselves. I mean, it's completely voluntary. You won't win any big prizes or cash. You don't win a publishing or agent contract. All you end up with is a completed, unedited, 50,000-word story. I think that's pretty awesome! Because, guess what? After you've edited that manuscript, you have a book-in-waiting that will help you win over that publisher or agent. It's not an easy road, though.
I read that you need to commit to writing at least 1668 words a day in order to reach the 50,000-word goal. That's not a light commitment for many of us. But it's possible. Really, it is! I figured out a few things that really helped me with getting on the NaNoWriMo train and I'd like to share them with you:
(1) Don't just think about it, DO IT! Make the decision to do it, sign up then pat yourself on the back. Yes, this is the easiest part about NaNoWriMo but so many don't even make that initial step.
(2) Surround yourself with NaNo Buddies. The one mistake I made the first year was thinking I could do it all by myself. Wrong. It so helps to have a few writing buddies going right alongside you. You can all cheer each other on, pull one another up when one is feeling low or give a much-needed pep talk.
(3) Have the support at home. If you're a 'Writing Mama' like me, it can be difficult to find the time when you have little ones afoot who need you. Tell your partner what you're trying to do and employ him or her to entertain the troop while you're typing away. That support is so important and it's awesome having a cheer squad on the homefront.
(4) Have a plan. I can't stress enough the importance of having some sort of plot plan and character sketches for each of your characters. Of course everything could change as you go along but having that initial plan really helps get you started.
(5) Set the time to do it each day. Okay, this is the difficult part. We all have busy lives. But if you're serious about this you need to set an hour or so each day to it. Personally, I can't dedicate the same time each day to writing but I can dedicate some part of each day. All I do is say, "Okay! This is Mama's NaNoWriMo time!" then take that time--whether it's early in the morning, while the kids are napping or late in the night (if I stay awake that long!)
(6) Find what motivates you and lean on that. What motivates me are my kiddos. Seriously. If my Jaimie and little man Xander can find the strength to get out of bed each morning and face what what the 'sensational' world has in store for each of them, I can darn well write 1668 words! Find what motivates you the most and draw strength from that.
(7) Give yourself little rewards. As you complete each chunk of your soon-to-be bestseller, reward yourself in little ways. Go to a movie, treat yourself to a little bevvie (unless you're having a few while you're writing), have a long, luxurious bubble bath. Whatever works for you.
(8) Keep your sights on the prize. Okay, so you won't win anything monetary. You will, as I mentioned, have a completed manuscript when you've finished. So many writers or authors-in-waiting start a novel but very few finish it. When you reach those lazy or frustrating moments, remind yourself of that.
(9) Plan a celebration party. It doesn't have to be anything big. Just a few big hugs by your support group and popping open a bottle of your favorite beverage of choice. Give yourself an ending celebration to look forward to.
(10) Join a local NaNoWriMo support group. There are many state, city and international groups listed in the NaNo site. Join on so you can get support from local writers doing what you're doing. Believe me, it really helps.
OKAY! There you go. Those are some of the things I do around here during November. What do you do to prepare, stay motivated, forge ahead? How many of you out there have 'won'? How did you get there? PLEASE share!!!
And guess what? Last year I 'won' NaNoWriMo for the first time and the manuscript I completed (Out Of Sync) will be released through Melange Press in March 2012. If I can do it...YOU can too!
See you there!
Chynna (Chynna_L on NaNo. Sign me up as a 'friend'!!)