It’s almost that time of year again… time to hunker down at the computer for hours on end, typing away furiously, drinking too much coffee and eating far, far too many potato chips… ah yes, National Novel Writing Month. What could be better?
Not only will I be attempting it again this year (year three!), but I’m also the Municipal Liaison for my region. As a first-time ML, the learning curve is a bit steep, but so far we have more people signed up than we did last year, so that’s encouraging. I’ve also done quite a bit of promotion, and I think that may be helping as well — not to mention that several other Wrimos in the region are helping out with posters and promo, which is fantastic. Really, NaNo is a community event that works best when everyone helps out, so I’m extremely grateful for the help I’ve received so far.
If you’ve never tried NaNoWriMo, why not make this year your first? Afraid that pumping out 50,000 words in one month is too hard? Or you’ll end up with too much crap if you try to write that quickly?
As writers, we should be writing every day anyway (though I admit, that’s not always realistic). I know many writers try for 500-1000 words per day, which seems like a reasonable goal. If we’re going with the high end, that’s 30,000 words in one month. You can do that, yes? So why not just tack on an extra 667 words per day — that’s just a few paragraphs! — and make it to 50,000? Easy, right?
Well, it is if you know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips to help you make it through the 2009 NaNoWriMo season, if you’ve decided to join up for that wonderful journey. And if you’ve signed up, come friend me on the website! (dark_phoenix)
Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo 2009
1. Plan ahead.
This doesn’t mean just thinking about your novel… I’m talking actual planning. Whether it’s point form notes, a character interview, or plot cards, you’ll be more likely to keep momentum going if you have at least a bare bones idea of where your story is headed. You might also want to plan ahead in terms of your laundry, groceries, pet care, and babysitting. NaNoWriMo can get pretty consuming… just sayin’.
2. Decide to scrap the linear approach.
This is a real preparation step, because for some people, writing out of sequence is the most terrifying concept they’ve ever heard. However, if you get stuck at a scene because your Muse decided to take the afternoon off, how are you going to make your word count? You could pad it, sure… or do the cheap thing and fill your novel with song lyrics… or you could pluck a scene card out of the pile, and simply begin writing a different scene in the novel. Then, when you’re ready, come back to the one you left and finish it.
3. Prepare meals ahead of time.
If you live alone, or without parents, or with a signficant other, meals are going to cause a bit of concern. Making a decent dinner can take upwards of an hour, and with busy lives, how can you fit food AND writing together? Why not make some casseroles now and freeze them? Or, you could go the easy route and just eat boxed Kraft Dinner all month (I might…). Either way, prep and warn. Just make sure you actually eat… that’s pretty important.
4. Vaccum. Now.
No, seriously. You won’t be cleaning your house for the next month, so make it a goal to get the place spotless by Oct.31st. Besides, the neighbors will be bringing the kids over for trick-or-treat and will probably be nosy enough to glance inside your front door, so you might as well make the place look great ahead of time.
5. Buy snacks & coffee.
Instead of worrying about what you’ll eat when snack time rolls around, stock up on things like coffee/tea/hot chocolate & chips/popcorn/cookies/fruit bars/crackers… whatever brain food you need. Prep some veggies & fruit a few days before November hits, and you’ll be set for about a week and a half. Remember that while junk food makes you feel great for awhile, you’ll eventually crash and feel like crap afterward… I say, pick the chips when you’re having a late-night catch-up writing session, but go for the healthy stuff when you need longevity during the day. But that’s just me — pick snacks that’ll work for you and that won’t make you feel disgusting when Nov.30th arrives and you awaken from your writing stupor.
6. Clear your schedule.
Dinner party invite? Nope. Visit to the in-laws? Sorry! Coffee with friends? Well… okay, you’d better make sure you don’t decline everything. In fact, telling others what you’re doing will create a system of accountability that’ll keep you writing, even when the only thing keeping you going is guilt! “How’s that novel coming? You know, the one you missed my birthday party for?” See? Guilt is an excellent motivator. Create a managable schedule, then let everyone know about it.
7. Visit your regional forums & attend local events.
Stats say that people who do this are more likely to accomplish the 50,000 word goal… because you’ll have a support system, encouragement, and competition from others in the area. Are you seriously going to let that 12-year-old finish writing her novel ahead of you? Well, maybe, but you’ll give it a good run in the meantime.
…so, get plotting, cleaning, and cooking… and you’ll have a successful NaNoWriMo! What’s that? Who has time for all of that now, let alone at any other time of the year? *hrrumph* Well… don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to CostCo to buy a case of KD. Or two.
Tags: NaNoWriMo, planning, prep work, writing