Tomorrow is the day. The day. The day that marks the start of NaNoWriMo.
If you don't already know, NaNoWriMo is a worldwide challenge to write a novel (at least 50,000 words in length) between November 1-30. It's a short month. (One less day makes a big difference.) There are lots of reasons why you should accept the challenge (whatever word count you get down is more than you would if you didn't do NaNoWriMo, there is built-in support via encouraging videos/writing "friends" and it's a good thing to stretch yourself as a writer). However, there are also some obstacles (lots) and ways to avoid those obstacles.
Obstacle # 1 The frenzied pace. It's like stepping on a scale. The more you step onto it and look at that number, the more stressed-out you get. Just write. Don't worry about your word count on an every
minute hour day basis. Check it only occasionally... unless keeping close track of your progress spurs you on. If that's the case, strap on the spurs and jab them into your writing psyche as frequently as you need to.
Obstacle # 2 The perfectionist syndrome. Yes, we all want our words to be lovely and lyrical and perfect when we get them down on paper. However, when doing NaNoWriMo, the pace is beyond fast. This is (probably) a first draft. Certainly not a final draft. As William Faulkner said, "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." This is the time to just get black on white (as Guy de Maupassant put it). Get the ink on the paper. Just write... and worry about getting it perfect later on.
Obstacle # 3 Your competitive spirit. Do you look at some of your writing friends--you know, the ones who are so prolific and so successful and so darned talented--and try to keep up with them? During NaNoWriMo, you're competing with yourself. How many words can you get down this year? Last year, did you crash and burn right off the starting block? Well, this year you'll make sure and top last year's word count total.
Obstacle # 4 Your weird and bothersome in-laws. Oh, sorry. That's just one of my problems. However, if you have the same strangeness going on with your in-laws, NaNoWriMo can help. With that incredibly huge word count looming over you, you cannot stay long on Thanksgiving. "Sorry. I have to gobble and go. I have to get over 1,600 words down today," and burn rubber getting away. Eat some turkey. Grab a gravy boat to go... and go.
Obstacle # 5 Your fear of failure. The only way you can totally fail at NaNoWriMo is if you don't try. Even a small amount of words is better than none. You may stumble and falter this year, but you never know... A tiny kernel from that small mound of paragraphs might lead to something huge next year. I started a piece during NaNoWriMo six years ago. Now it's a book, published by a traditional publisher. I didn't finish it during 2016's NaNoWriMo. It wasn't good at all when I did finish it. But during the next few years I revised and edited and queried.
And now, I have to go and decide just what exactly I'm going to work on... beginning tomorrow. How about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? And if so, what's your project? Curious minds like Sioux's want to know...
Sioux Roslawski is a middle school teacher, a dog rescuer for Love a Golden, and a writer. Her debut novel, Greenwood Gone: Henry's Story, was published in April 2021. Currently, she's working on a screenplay based on the book.
I know exactly what I want to work on. I also know what I have a contract to work on. The question is - can I do both? I'm hoping that the answer is yes.ReplyDelete
Sioux--Thanks for the nudge. I'm finally going to try and put one of my NaNoWriMo projects out in the world next year. And maybe one of these days I'll revise two of the other children's books. #4 on this list was funny--one year we did have Daniel's sister and her family here and I had to excuse myself from the movie they were watching on Thanksgiving night because I had to get my word count in!ReplyDelete
Sue--You can do it! I'm going to try and give it a go this year, too. Since I already have a beat sheet done, maybe that will help. I'm going to try and do a rough list tonight of chapter names, since this story will be told from different perspectives. I should have done more prep work, but I guess that's just how I roll.
It really is about turning off that internal editor. And I can do that, Sioux, when I write whatever for the day. But the NEXT day when I come back to write and refresh my memory about where I'm going, getting into the voice...yeah. I edit what I wrote the day before.ReplyDelete
Which is why I'm setting a goal of 10,000 words for Nano. But they will be seriously polished words! ;-)
Sue--I think you can do both. Perhaps not 50,000 words PLUS the contract... Perhaps some progress on your NaNoWriMo project AND your contract work, but you're SuperWriter, Sue, so you may very well be able to do both and do both well. I am rooting for you.ReplyDelete
Renee--A book of yours coming out next year? I am SO excited and ready. The Butt Kickers have been such cheerleaders for me, it's now payback time. ;)
Write like the wind...
Cathy--10,000 of polished prose in one month is impressive. I've been "successful" at getting down 50,000 words of hot mess--a hot mess that will never see the light of day. One of my bad NaNoWriMo years, I didn't use a single contraction, because I needed every word I could get my hands on. Of course, if it had been a worthwhile story, I would have had to go back and change all of them into contractions--it was way too stilted. Good luck, Cathy.
As of day four, I've written 11,000+ words! This year I'm not working on a book-length project because for some reason, I get burned out with the length and end up quitting halfway through. So I'm writing on a bunch of short pieces, essays, scenes, flash memoir. I'm calling it Valley Drive because most stories are set in the San Fernando Valley. I have prompts, a scene list, an essay idea document, and themes I use each week. This week's theme is "confessions," and I just pumped out three essays I sent to my mem-warriors group today. Good luck everyone!ReplyDelete
Angela--I am not working on a novel (manuscript) either. I'm rogue this year. I'm working on a screenplay of my book, and hope to finish the first draft by the end of the month. Will I make it? I'm not sure, but however far I get, it will be be more progress than if I had not made that my goal.ReplyDelete
11,000 words in four days? You're flying along!