1. Did I seriously just change the word “milk” to “chocolate milk” because it’s one extra word? God, I’m desperate.
2. Who would my characters have voted for? Almost all of my POV characters are 13 years old…the only adult would definitely have voted Democrat. Dude grew up in Brooklyn, what else do you expect
3. Is it even possible to have a title before you’ve finished writing? Don’t titles stem from themes or important bits that you don’t know about before you start?
4. Decided to jump on the elliptical to see if I could jump-start my lazy brain and get some ideas. I got an idea, but it’s for a Naruto AMV that I’m never going to make because I don’t have footage. Some help that was. Oh well, at least my heart appreciates it.Is it cheating if I don’t deduct “Part 1, Chapter 4”, “Part 2, Chapter 1” and so forth from my over all word count?
5. Apparently, Sol’s need to use the bathroom is extremely important and worthy of spending multiple paragraphs describing. So is Kenny’s concern about what kind of pizza Andrew eats. Self, this story has a murder in it. Priorities much?
7. I just misspelled “cranky” as “crankly.” Now I want “crankly” to be a word.
8. Apparently, I forgot to decide what any of my characters look like except one, Austin. Austin was the template, so his stats appear under every single character. Austin is 6’3 and 200 pounds, he has a beard and he has sideburns. This description appears under Nanette, a four-year-old girl. Yup.
9. Writing two scenes at once is a good thing. I’ve found that being bored while writing is not always a sign of bad writing, it can be a sign of being partially brain-dead as a consequence of staring at the screen all day. As such, being able to flit between scenes is really helping.
10. When I finish my goal for tonight, I’m still going to be a day behind. I just can’t stare at the computer screen anymore, and I need to make dinner. My eyes are killing me, and my stomach is growling. 500 more words.
11. Self, stop listening to Clumsy by Our Lady Peace. That song is your inspiration for Little Bloody Rivers, not this new story. You’re going to start writing about Rue and Kit if you keep this up, and you’re supposed to be writing about Kenny, Andrew, and Sol.
12. I’m 30 words away from 10k, and I’m totally checked out. Oh, and that’s the goal for yesterday, but it’s all that’s going to happen today. Ugh. Maybe another line about Sol needing to go to the bathroom?
13. 10K 10K 10K!!!
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.
Image Copyright Nanowrimo.org.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is the brainchild of Chris Baty. It’s an event in which you write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Every year since 1999, thousands of people have signed up for this challenge. Many of them came out of it with a first draft of a novel on their hard drive. Some, such as Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, even turned their first draft into a book deal. Pounding out a novel in just a month might seem daunting, but don’t despair! There are simple guidelines which can help you make it to the finish line without too much heartache.
1,667 words a day…or not?
Seasoned NaNo’ers know 1,667 as the magic number—the number of words you have to write per week if you want to make it to 50,000 in thirty days. If you’re a methodical person with a predictable schedule, this strategy is your winning ticket. But what if your life is more scattered? What if Sunday is the only day you can see your boyfriend, Monday you have classes from from dawn until dusk and a graveyard shift at K-Mart, and then on Tuesday you have nothing to do? Everyone has a different schedule, and you have to figure out a pace that works well for you. This isn’t an excuse to fall behind. Some people thrive on the mad dash to the finish line, and write 50,000 words in a week, but most people can’t do this, and it isn’t healthy to try. Work on your novel whenever you can, but don’t sweat it if one day you write 3,000 words and the next day you only write 500.
Before trying out NaNoWriMo for the first time, many people wonder whether they should outline the plots of their stories, or develop their characters extensively before the start of NaNoWriMo. There are as many different answers to this question as there are participants. Some people love the planning stages. They map out everything about their story before they write a single word. For some of those people, that works great. For others, too many planning can kill their love for a story, or make them freeze up at the thought of committing their ideas to paper. Not planning anything also has mixed results. Some people write best by learning what their story is about as they go. Others need direction, or they get stuck. Most people work best with a strategy that’s somewhere in the middle. You should know something about your story, but not everything. You know, for example, that your main character is a dragon slayer who has no idea what to do when faced with robot dragons. You don’t know that he’s going to fall in love with one of the robot dragons. Know what works for you!
Your Social Network
Some people undertake NaNoWriMo with a group of friends, and rely on each other for support throughout the process. They meet up for write-ins, have contests to see who can wrote the most over the span of ten minutes or an hour, help each other develop plots and characters, commiserate, and cheer each other on. If your friends aren’t doing NaNoWriMo, encourage them to join you. If they’re not interested, all is not lost—there’s still a number of ways to connect with fellow NaNo’ers. The NaNoWriMo.org website has an incredible forum where one can gain support, and municipal liaisons in various locations all over the world organize write-ins, parties, and other events to get you writing and to help you meet other people who are doing the same. To find a municipal liason near you, click here.
It can be tempting to dedicate every waking moment to NaNoWriMo, and many participants will urge you to do so. You may have to cancel social engagements in favor of your novel, and you may have to spend less time on other hobbies. Remember, though, that NaNoWriMo is not more important than your life. It is not more important than your five-year anniversary with your wife. It is not more important than taking your son to the dentist. It is not more important than going to work or going to school. It is not more important than eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. NaNoWriMo should be fun, and it should be challenging, but it should not consume your life.