Back in 2010 was the first time I heard about NaNoWriMo. I had a friend who told me about all of what it was, and, mystified by the concept of writing 50,000 words in a month, I found myself wanting to do it. I wanted to tackle all of those words, but it was too daunting a task. I don’t think I even really tried to do anything until 2012 rolled around.
That same friend who told me about the month of November’s challenge still has yet to do it himself, let alone complete it. This month, I found out why.
Confidence. It’s the first time I’ve heard that reason said out loud, but I could see it in myself before, and in other friends who have tried. When you think about it, and how much you write every day, or every week, 50,000 words can be incredibly daunting, and daily writing even more so, if you’re not used to it.
So let’s look at November. When you take away the 50k goal, it’s a daily writing challenge. Don’t worry about the goal every day if you can’t reach it. The real reason for National Novel Writing Month is to work on an idea that’s been in your head, and to get it out, and to put any effort toward it. Work, no matter how small or big it is, will make a difference, and daily writing will take you where you need to go.
Any bit helps. 100 words to 1700. Only do what your pace can handle. There is always next year. And you have another 11 months before it happens again to improve.
Personally, my first NaNo attempt flopped in the middle. I didn’t have proper planning or work done, I started writing on November 1st and floundered until I just stopped completely. As much as I was determined to do all I could that year, as much as I wanted to finish and do something, I had very little done to help me get there, or so I thought, and I lost confidence, got self conscious, fell behind, stressed myself out, and let it fall.
Even if that happens, the most important thing is that you tried. You went for it instead of letting it intimidate you the entire time.
As far as preparation goes, what you need to run into the month with, at least have a basic outline of the plot. Know where you want it to go. Nothing’s wrong with going in without a huge, built structure, but, at least for me, knowing where the novel will take you is all you really need to keep writing.
Don’t be afraid to jump a few scenes ahead and write something else, either, as long as you know it can fit in later. Whatever gets you going.
Those who have been doing this for some time have their own rituals of how to crack down. As from last year, I like to know early what I’m going to do, and do as much character building as possible, plot building, put together something and then make a break down of what will happen. Unfortunately, this year, that little ritual has stalled out. Doesn’t mean I won’t try to do it this month, though it’s not as much time. Others take October to hash it all out and put things in their places. They write on post-its and have a dry-erase board at their disposal.
During the month, as Dominika had pointed out not long ago, having meals planned and set helps with being able to go about the day and get back into writing. I thought that was clever. Mostly, I just amble around aimlessly finding something to chew on while I reset my head, but for those frenzied writing days, it seems perfect.
For those of you who want to do it this year, you can sign up on the official website (Which reboots soon!) to keep your wordcount updated daily, and connect with others in your region, as well as finding kickoff parties and meetups with your fellow writers, doing word wars in the forums or the IRC chat (I think that’s what they have), and any number of outreach and community things. They also have merchandise available, and you can help but donating!
So if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to participate this year, I hope you come over to the writing side, not matter how scarce or how prolific you are in November. We’ll be glad to have you with us.
-The Novice Wordsmith
Disclaimer: Not a part of the NaNoWriMo team personally, I claim no credit, this is all theirs. Again, website here.