The First Night of NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo begins on November 1st, which means November 1st midnight, not November 1st whenever the heck I wake up, or November 1st whenever I get home from work/school/various obligations. Whether you start writing at midnight or not, that’s when it starts. My advice to all you NaNo’ers is to start at midnight if at all possible. Even if you can only scribble a hundred words on a napkin in between customers, write something at midnight. Why? Because if you do, you’ll wake up the next day with something on the page. Even if it’s crap, it’s something. And something is important. Something means that you started. Something means that you might actually do this NaNo thing.
Assuming that you’re taking my advice, here are some tips for how to go about this.
- Keep the Halloween festivities under control. Guys, I know it’s Halloween. If you’re young, you’re out running around in a ghost costume trying to stuff as much candy as you possibly can into a plastic bag. If you’re an adult, maybe you’re going to a party. All well and good, but don’t stay out too late, and don’t get so drunk that you can’t write. Have a drink! Have two! I’m not telling you not to have fun, I’m just telling you to reign it in enough that you can kick start your NaNo-sperience right.
- Caffeine is not your friend. Remember, you’re starting at midnight. Unless you’re working the night shift, or you’re nocturnal, you’re going to want to get to sleep at some point during the night. Drinking coffee late at night may keep you up for much longer than you can continue to write coherently. If you must have some caffeine, consider a cup of white tea—it’s high in brain-pleasing antioxidants, and the caffeine level isn’t high enough to keep you up all night.
- Aim to write at least 667 words before going to bed. Or 500. Or 300. Or 50. Write something, anything is fine. Personally, I aim for 667, because then I have a nice, round, 1,000 words to knock out in the morning.
- Study any outlines or notes beforehand. This is important. At midnight, you want to be able to just burst right out of the gate and start writing. You don’t want to get distracted by rereading your notes. You might edit them! You might spend time tweaking your plot when you could be writing it. Now is the time for accumulating words, not perfecting the details. If you don’t have any notes, forget about it, just let those fingers fly.
- If you absolutely cannot function so late at night, wake up early. Even though I strongly advocate scribbling down something before you hit the sack, I recognize that not everyone is capable of staying up until midnight. Some of you might have to be up at 4 AM. Some of you may need twelve hours of sleep to function during the day. Some of you may be nocturnal. If you absolutely must wait to start writing, do it, but carve out a little bit of time before you start your day. Unless you’re absolutely positive that you can bang out 1,677 words in one go on the first day, it’s a good idea to divide it up into chunks, to get you used to it.
- If you’ve lost power due to Hurricane Sandy, wait until morning. Hopefully, the hurricane will be over and done with by Wednesday night, but some may be left with residual issues. If your home has no power, you likely don’t have a light source. It’s best to save your flashlight batteries for other things, and it’s dangerous to write by candle light. Prioritize your safety, and wait until daylight.