“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done.
It’s that easy, and that hard.”
– Neil Gaiman
It’s the most wonderful tiiiime, of the yeaaar!
In case you’re new to TGNA, it might interest you to know that it started its life a little under a year ago, when Jenny and I were deep in the pits of NaNo 2012, relishing the OOMPH and PURPOSE and DRIVE we got from the enormous, supportive community of Wrimos. We decided to make ourselves accountable, to check-in weekly with our progress, and thought it would work even better if we did it publicly. TGNA has evolved past that simple plan, and our team of writers and our base of readers has grown beyond our imaginings, but if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, TGNA would not exist.
So, yes. I love NaNoWriMo. I’m the Municipal Liaison for my region. This year I became a mentor to new MLs. I’ve been a part of @NaNoWordSprints since it began, and if I could do more, I would. I owe a lot to NaNo – not just TGNA, but my sanity. November used to be the hardest month in the year for me. I’d spend October worried about its arrival, and I missed so many days of uni from stress and anxiety in November that my grades suffered. I hated it. I couldn’t handle it. December was an uphill battle out of depression. I spent three months of my life for about six years in absolute misery. Then I discovered NaNo, and by degrees I leaned on it, and now I am so distracted for those three months that I have no time to be down. I limit the impact of the tragedy to a few days, but it’s not as hard as it used to be. I have something to occupy my mind, to keep me afloat.
I was going to write a pep talk today, but I have done that before. I was even lucky enough to write one for CampNaNo this year. If you need a bit of get-up-and-go this morning, here’s some I made earlier! check them out.
Instead, here are my tips for surviving NaNoWriMo to come out with something workable at the end:
- There’s a forum in NaNo that is dedicated to tips and tricks to get you to 50k, and there are a lot of people who simply want that – just 50k, as fast as possible, in the easiest and most effective way they can. While I encourage you not to edit until December, I think that if you want to be a writer – and by that, I mean you’re not just doing this for fun, but as motivation to finish a project that you have struggled with for one reason or another – then write something you can work with. You needn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Don’t fall prey to the tricks. You’re doing this for YOU. If you make a spelling mistake, fix it! Don’t write ‘do not’ instead of ‘don’t,’ you’ll hate yourself for it later. Make December easier on yourself. Write the best you can as quick as you can. If you can’t think of a better word for beautiful, write beautiful, but leave a note for yourself to fix it later. If you’re using Word, or Google Docs, you can easily add comments or track changes to find it later. Just because you’re writing fast, it doesn’t mean you have to cheat. You’re only cheating yourself in the end.
- This year more than ever, it is ridiculously easy to back up your work. If you don’t already have an external hard drive or memory stick, and can’t afford one, then avail of all the free online tools at your disposal. iCloud, Dropbox, even your Google Drive. Pangurpad will save your novel online. Personally, I write in a plain text document, then copy that into my Gdrive with a folder for NaNo, individual docs for every day, and a accumulated document with the entire thing in it. Then I copy it into Scrivener, and upload that to Dropbox, and iCloud. There ain’t no way I’m losing any of these words!
Take time out to plan
- Plenty of writers are able to write from the seat of their pants, but when I tried it in the past, I invariably found myself at a brick wall around week 2. Avoid getting week two’d or week three’d by planning. Use the momentum of week 1 to get ahead, then take a day to say OKAY, what next? Write a freeform version of what you want to happen in your story. Plan the next few chapters. When you’ve gotten past those, the rest should unfold. Do yourself a favour and make the writing part of NaNo as easy as possible by having a roadmap to guide yourself. Here is a great resource from the Guardian from last year on how to write a novel in 30 days. Pick and choose what you need from it!
- Use some positive procrastination In moderation! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tumblr and pinterest bookmarked for easy access, and you’ll spend an infinity saying “one more page, one more board.” That is a hard habit to drag yourself out of, so if you must do it, limit yourself. You needn’t break the habit entirely, but use it as a reward based system. If you write 1k, you are allowed to browse tumblr for a half hour. If you have a 5kNaNoDay, you’re allowed to go see a movie. If you reach 25k, bake brownies to celebrate! By giving yourself a pat on the back, you’ll be more encouraged to go back.
And finally, don’t forget to have fun. The NaNoWriMo community is enormous and kind. Everyone involved will help you if you’re stuck. If you have writer’s block, shout into the void with the #NaNoWriMo hashtag, or ask someone on the forums for help. Better yet, join us on @NaNoWordSprints – our calendar is crammed, so you’re bound to find us at some time, and you’ll be surprised how much you write with a bit of motivation! If we’re not there, check out the hashtag #BAMFWordBattles, run by Susan Dennard and SJ Mass.
If you’re doing NaNo, feel free to message me! I’m ‘crowley.’ on the forums. Yes, just like in Good Omens. The amount of people who came to write-ins thinking I would be a man…
Happy writing everyone!