NanoWriMo and how to survive it
Hello and welcome to the Nano post! If you're already in on this dazzling little world, then you're already four days into it. How are you doing? Fully caffeinated still?
If you're the type of person to not know what NanoWriMo is-- you're saner then the rest of us. Basically, you have a whole month--November--and you write 50K WORDS. Sounds super simple, right? Yeah, totally. You have a month beforehand to prepare, to outline and to discover your characters. If you are anything like me, you'd also prepare emergency phone numbers to your local bar and hospital because Nano gets crazy.
Writing is hard, okay. It's like a universal truth that writing is challenging and nine times out of ten you want to bash your head into the keyboard--and hey, some get great stories from doing it! Trying to get multiple characters into a story and getting the plot out in an amazing way takes skill.
So if you're curious or are already in the midst of head-butting your keyboard, here are some helpful tips I've gained over the years:
1. You're writing a first draft, not a finished project
I can hear your heart race and the worry that you've got in your head. You're saying No, Emma, I'm a perfectionist. There's no way I can just let go and right. It has to be perfect.
Well, let me fill you in on something here: I'm a perfectionist as well. It bugs me to see red squiggly lines under my words or when I miss a comma or forgot to capitalize a letter. It bugs me so much, I end up fixing them as I go. And it's okay to want a perfect WIP, but remember this is your FIRST draft! You'll have so much more after this one, so don't try to worry so much. Besides, you have to save something to fix in the next check! But you need to tell yourself some things:
Tell yourself you can edit AFTER you finish
Accept that you want it perfect but messy is fine
Treat yourself with chocolate and lemonade
2. What am I writing?
It happens. A word is a word for Nano, even if we have no idea what it is we're actually writing. Sometimes when I write a chapter, it ends up being 15 pages long because often times, I don't know what I'm saying. It's a huge mess and more often than not a paragraph is filled with ridiculous things that have nothing to do with the story itself, but I keep it all in there because:
You learn a lot about your characters that way. The best part of writing books is creating these people and giving them identities and personalities. I like these drawn-out scenes because I learn more about them
Pro tip: don't backspace, don't go back. Just leave it because for one thing, it's words and secondly, backspacing takes time and you don't have that with Nano
3. Jealousy is a thing
Sometimes we see other people writing and their books are at 20k in two days and we feel jealous. But why?
Why can't I write as fast as them?
Their story must be better
I suck because I can't get more than 1k written in a day
That person's only been writing a year and already has a book deal? I'm six years in and got nothing
Their first draft is perfect
None of the above matters. Don't sike yourself out! We all begin with a blank page and a few ideas. We all write at our own pace, stories are subjective, and any amount you get written is amazing! You can't hang onto the negative thoughts, it won't get you anywhere!
4. Don't "hobby" your writing
Unless you really do think of it as a hobby and not something you're trying to make your life's work. Then that's totally okay, you can skip this. But for the people who are looking at this as a career, read on and see what I don't want you to say to yourself:
my book sucks
I'll never get it published
her book is better
writing slow means I fail
I shouldn't get published because others work harder than me