This is my fifth year doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The first four years I finished my 50,000 words with relative ease. Last year, I started off with good intentions… and then stopped. Why? I’m not entirely sure. I just got tired of pushing toward 50,000. I knew I could achieve it if I wanted to and so I didn’t have the urge to prove myself that I had the first few years.
This year, I’m doing it again. And there are some new nuances that should keep me on track. For one, I’ve made my NaNo intentions very public by announcing them on my website, www.learntowritefiction.com. To stop before hitting 50,000 would be a huge visible flop. (As a writer, never understimate the power of peer pressure and public humiliation to keep you writing.)
Also, this year, I’m applying some of the tricks that I’ve learned over the past four years to help me stay the course and finish.
Enlist your friends and family – this year, my sister-in-law, my brother (first-timer!), and my significant other (another first-timer!) are all doing NaNo with me. Nothing keeps you going like shared pain and taunting challenges from your family.
Use short bursts - When I sit down to write, I do so in 15-20 minute increments. I can crank out the words, knowing that I only have to describe the immediate scene in my head and nothing else. A short break and them I’m ready for another sprint.
Reward yourself profusely – this year I’m giving myself MP3 downloads at the end of each week IF I’m on track with my word count. At the end of NaNo and 50,000 words… a HUGE reward. I haven’t decided on what that will be yet, but it will be good. My significant other is considering an XBox 360 as his major prize.
Don’t be afraid to write crap – the theme of 2008 NaNo for my NaNo Region (Des Moines, IA) is “Yay, Crap!” You know you’re going to write crap at some point during NaNo… maybe all the way through it. So don’t kick yourself over it… celebrate it! Writing crap means you have something to work with when you hit the editing stage.
Have fun! - this is the main reason to do NaNo and the main attitude you should have when doing NaNo. It’s a breakneck thrill ride in novel-writing. The words look like picket fence posts as they zoom past you on the novel highway. Enjoy the ride!
If you don’t have any friends or family doing NaNo, let me be your cheering section. Add me as a Writing Buddy on the NaNo website, so I can follow your progress and heckle you as needed toward your own 50,000 word goal. Here’s to a great November!