So here we are, Wrimos. It’s Hallowe’en (happy holiday! I’m probably at work while you read this, lol) and we are mere hours away from the first of November and the beginning of the crazy journey that is the National Novel Writing Month. Are you ready? Have you prepared enough, have your girded your pants enough, have you stockpiled enough random treats to last you a month locked away in your office?
…I know I haven’t. But we’ve got (maybe) the start of a plot, a character, and a setting. I’d like to take these last few hours to do some final checks and reminders before we blast off into NaNo-Space.
(The theme this year is astronauts. Did you know that? So cool.)
So. When I first started this little October adventure, I asked you all what you’d like me to talk about. I got a lot of interesting answers, and I tried to cover the big ones with their own post. But there were a lot that fed into each other, and I want to talk about them here: especially since they have to do a lot more with you than with your writing. And you’re just as important as the book. This novel-ship doesn’t fly itself, you know.
…well I mean, there might be an auto-pilot but dude, we’re way too far away from land to be worrying about that and I TOLD YOU NOT TO PUSH THAT BUTTON
First off: discipline. The only way you can make it to 50,000 words by the end of November is by getting your butt in the chair and writing them. There are going to be days when you don’t want to. There are going to be days when you hate everything and writing that many words is quite literally the last thing you want to do.
Just like in exercise, those are the days you need to try the hardest.
Put in a little bit of time every day. Even if you can’t sit down and write all 1667 words for that day at once, write a sentence or two. See if you can stretch into a paragraph. Then do something else. There’s a really neat website that’s still in beta, but it’s 4thewords.com, and they’re a great way to do that. Not only do you get some words written, but you get to be playing a game at the same time! That Pester lurking in the corner only needs 500 words to defeat it. That’s not that bad! Don’t think you can handle 500? Go track down a Reenu–they only need 200. Little monsters to be beaten with your words counts–and there’s a rumor floating around that they’re planning on some NaNo-specific monsters, some 1667 word beasts, to be coming out in November. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s proven very helpful for some of my writer friends and I.
Not into gamifying your writing? Check out the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter account! All throughout November, MLs and related NaNo personnel will be running timed word wars, seeing who can write as many words as possible in a short amount of time. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes, other times you’ll shoot for a #1kin30min. Many of the sprint leaders have great fun picking themes for their sprints; we had Bob Ross-themed sprints last year, we’ve had Doctor Who, Supernatural, fairy tales… There’s an ongoing House Cup between the Hogwarts Houses that I think has been going on the past two years. (Me? I’m going to be talking Mission Control to all my lovely novel-nauts out there. Oh yes, I’m a sprint leader too.)
Second: dealing with burn-out. We see this most commonly on Week 2. The first week is sunshine and rainbows, because the characters are new and the world is big and wide and you can do anything, and you run off in leaps and bounds in Joy And Glee…and then week 2 hits, and you realize that nothing you’ve written makes sense, and you hate all of these characters, and how are you ever going to wrap this up into a feasible plot? You’ve spent all that time busting your butt for the words you have…and now you can’t write anymore. Maybe you just had a really huge day of writing and bashed out 5k words…and the next day, it’s like you’ve forgotten how to work a keyboard. Burn-out is a real thing, and it’s dangerous, and it’s completely treatable.
Don’t forget to get up and move around. If you have a Fitbit, they’ve got a thing on there that will tell you if you’ve moved more than 250 steps (I think that’s the right number) in that hour. Don’t be stagnant, even if you’re at a write-in. Get up and move around. Get the blood flowing. Look at new things. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Also, don’t be afraid to jump around. I personally can’t do this well, but if a scene you’re working on just really isn’t flowing, try skipping ahead to a scene you are more excited to write. Maybe that train ride just isn’t doing it right now, no matter how important it may be…but once your main character gets there, you know they’re going to meet the love of their life…and that’s so much more interesting than the train. Go ahead! No one’s stopping you. The train ride will be there later when you edit–or when you get an idea for it!
Third, write-ins. Check the forums once you get into the NaNo website and find your region. Get in touch with your ML. See if there’s going to be a write-in somewhere near you. Not anything nearby? Don’t have an ML? Live in an Elsewhere region and everyone else lives 6 hours away? Why not do your own? Let everyone know on the forums that you’ll be writing at that Panera on Main Street from 4-6 on Saturday, and then go write there. Maybe no one will show up, but that’s okay. Keep doing it if you can. I held unofficial write-ins at the Barnes & Noble near where I lived all of one NaNo because I couldn’t make any of the official write-ins. It was rarely ever anyone outside of my housemate and I, but it was still fun. Alternately, if you’re really stuck, surf around and see if anyone’s running online write-ins. I know that the Allegheny-Cattaraugus ML (that’s in New York) commonly runs online write-ins, as do I. (It’s my Elsewhere background. What can I say?) Most if not all of these MLs are always happy to welcome in people from not-their-region. (I am. Come join Richmond. I’ll take care of you.)
But overall, don’t be afraid to reach out to the community. There are so many ways you can get in touch with your fellow Wrimos, and we all want you to succeed. Make friends on the forums, whether in your region or just in a general chat board. Keep track of your noveling buddies’ progress through the website. Follow someone on Twitter. Go see if the old IRC chat room is still up and running. (That’s what gave me my first win. I fully dedicate my first NaNoWriMo win to that chat. I miss it.) Don’t let yourself flounder on your own. Even if it’s just one other person that you can message and go “hey, hope you’re doing well! It’s been a rough day for me :(” and know that you’ll get a “I’m struggling too, but hey! Let’s do this together. Think you can get 100 words done? I’ll message you back in an hour and see how we did. We can do this!” that can be all you need. One friendly voice.
If you need me, I’ll be that voice for you. Follow me on Twitter, either at @KOrionFray or @Rion_RVAML. Find me on the website; my username is KissofJudas. Talk to me on the comments here. Come join the Richmond, VA region and get my weekly emails. However you want, I’ll be that voice for you. I love to help.
Any more questions? Any last concerns? Let me know now, and I’ll do what I can. Otherwise…
T minus 7 hours until takeoff.
Get ready, pilots. It’s showtime.