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NaNoWriMo - The Pre-Game Show
And So It Begins
The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to the diehards) begins shortly. The goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words in the space of 30 days. The winner of this challenge is a nice shiny certificate and the personal satisfaction of doing it. The advantage is that you can say with pride that you wrote a novel. I’ve written four so far. I have written something with a beginning and end. I have not only managed 50,000 words but I have sometimes gone over that number. Without the editor that sits on my shoulder telling me I suck after every paragraph I can write quickly. Sometimes it’s garbage, but not all the time. The one thing I have gotten out of this is the satisfaction of actually finishing something.
Preparation I: AKA How to waffle for 11 months.
Preparation starts in December. This is where the exhaustion has kicked in leaving me to sleep or play endless games of solitaire while I work up the energy to do something for Yule and Christmas holidays. January through May is where I do anything but look at my novel. This is where the excuses not to edit come out in force. June through September I regain the interest in writing and learn to love it again. October. This is the month of the extreme waffle. Do I? Don’t I? My hands cramp at the thought of repeating days hunched over a computer or laptop trying to crank out 1,667 words of pure drivel a day. At the same time the new plot starts to drift through my mind. Music takes on a new meaning. Songs begin to reflect a stage or scene in the story. Thus I reach the point where I have no choice. The story will float in my head until I give it an outlet and NaNoWriMo gets it out of my brain and on to the page.
Preparation II: What to do before you start
If you are lucky, you’ll have a support system. These are the friends and family who will cheer you on, nag you constantly, badger insanely, wave pompoms at you, do the dishes and make sure the coffee pot is on 24/7. There are also the bribes. Chocolate is a wonderful bribe. Sleep is also a nice bribe along with the neck massage to reduce the cramping from being hunched over keyboard for hours at a time. Those Hot Pockets ™ are also great to have. A 30 day supply will get you through when you need a break. You can eat them quickly and then get back to writing. Don’t forget to wipe your hands. Crumbs in the keyboard can be a very bad thing. The same with drinks, you’ll find the drink boxes are harder to spill and make a much smaller mess. It is very important that you keep yourself hydrated.
Music is critical for me to write and I try to spend the week before NaNoWriMo compiling a playlist of the songs to inspire me. One year the entire soundtrack of Serenity played constantly through the entire process. This was very useful for writing science fiction. Also critical, at least for me, is to trim your fingernails. This mostly applies to women but I have found that when my nails are fashionably long the number of typos go up.
A computer is nice but not required. There are people who successfully complete NaNoWriMo with just pen and paper Just like they used to before the typewriter and white out was invented.
Gemsong’s Tips & Tricks
Here are a few important things I do during NaNoWriMo to get me through the month.
- Gag the internal editor. You know who that is. It’s that little voice that sits at your shoulder pointing out ever flaw, real or imagined that they see. Duct tape is your friend.
- Do NOT delete. Even if the last sentence you wrote was pure crap or not what you meant to say, leave it there and continue writing. You can take care of it during editing.
- Getting through the inevitable writer’s block. I use several methods through this.
- Skip the scene to write a section I find more interesting.
- Detail, detail, detail. If you haven’t made your daily quota detail out the activity of your main character. For example in a past novel I detailed the characters making breakfast. During this word padding effort the characters decided to make conversation and I ended up with more back story and a direction to take the story. In another story I filled my word count with a recreation of a scene from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Last but not least, believe in yourself. Any author will tell you the first draft is crap. But the foundation is there and after vicious editing and rewriting could turn into the next best seller. Even if you don’t make 50,000 words, it doesn’t mean you failed. You didn’t. Trying is the first important step. My first attempt netted me a whopping 4,000 words. I decided I sucked, but I didn’t give up and neither should you.
And don’t scare yourself with the editing that will come in December.