This year is my first year not doing National November Writer’s Month (Nanowrimo) in a long time and I can honestly say:
It feels weird.
It’s November first and I should be creating something new. I should be obsessing over a brand new plot. However, what I am currently obsessing over are edits for one book. Outlining the second and texting the bff asking her to promise me that my book will get published before I am 40 (which is not that far off). So I am nowhere near being able to embark on starting a new book, let alone finishing it within 30 days.
What a pep talk, right?
Alright, alright, here is my ACTUAL advice to get you through the month.
Ok kids, I want you to raise your right hand and repeat after me:
I SOLEMNLY SWEAR I WILL NOT EDIT
Seriously, no joke. I never even came close to finishing until I got it through my hard head that editing was killing me.
The chief thing that happens while you are editing is the deletion of words. Words that constitute your fifty thousand word count. You may rewrite those words but you are totally killing your Nanowrimo buzz and nobody likes a buzz kill.
Hold off on pressing that delete button until after December 1st because believe you me, there will be plenty of time for edits when the first draft is done. Then more edits when the second draft is completed. Then more edits after the third draft and then more edits after that. Wait, where was I? Oh right;
Word Count: They’re More Like Guidelines…
When you are in Superman/Wonder Woman mode keep writing until you run out of gas. You may be able to double that word count in a day but then there will be days where you won’t…and that’s ok.
The thing is those days where you are killing it are going to help carry you through those bad days when you can’t. You have a daily goal of 1,667. Some days you are going to hit 2,000, other days you’ll hit half that. It’s all part of the process.
The best way to look at the Nanowrimo word count is like this: You are training to be able to write every day.
Stephen King typically writes 2,000 words a day. Jack London wrote up to 1,500 words a day. And Ernest Hemmingway clocked in at 500 words a day.
Personally, I comfortably write about 1,000 to 1,500 words a day when I am in writing mode (in editing mode, I delete about half that….but I digress). These daily word counts are going to help you develop a really strong writing routine for when the Nanowrimo training wheels come off.
Because of Nanowrimo writing has become a such a part of my daily life that if I am not writing or editing something on a daily basis I feel like I forgot something important…like deodorant.
CLEAR YOUR SOCIAL CALENDAR
We are officially in the holiday season. The party invites are going to start rolling in. Friends will want to see you. Spouses/partners are going to want to spend time with you.
If you are anything like me, you are Ado Annie Carnes from Oklahoma, and just can’t say no. (Hey, look at me pulling out vintage musical references)
No one is going to make your writing a priority unless you do. That means that it is ok to say no to events. Clear your calendar. Notify everyone that you will not be seeing them for thirty days. At which point you will have crawled out of your writing den covered in cheeto crumbs and in withdraws from the copious amounts of caffeine you have been drinking.
On the flip side, try not to be too much of a hermit. Keep the important stuff, toss the fluff. Have dinner with your spouse. Show them some love because odds are they are picking up the household chores that you are currently neglecting.
And let’s be honest, writers aren’t the easiest of people to live with. So our spouses and partners deserve a bit of appreciation.
WHAT AM I GOING TO WRITE???
Ok, so lets fast forward to mid-month. You had this kick-ass plot that just died a brutal death and you are only 30,000 words in.
Take a look at your backstory.
“But my backstory isn’t part of my plot,” you whine. To which I reply, not so fast. Your backstory is going to help propel you forward.
For starters, it’s going to add to your word count. Ie: Why does Mr. Darcey have such a closed off attitude toward love? Is it because some little tart broke his heart? Write about that heartbreak. Explore his past. Sure, you may not keep it but you don’t have to worry about that until December 1st when those wonderful edits start.
Secondly, that backstory can also give you a launch point for a new plot twist or to help you round out your characters. Giving, you guessed it, a bigger word count.
DEVELOP A GREAT SOUNDTRACK
A good soundtrack will get you pumped. Music can elicit the desired mood and can keep you focused on your story.
Every one of my Nanowrimos has its own soundtrack. Anita (my book) has a soundtrack. The book that I am currently researching and planning already has a soundtrack. Heck, even a few characters in Anita have their own soundtracks.
Soundtracks are good, plan one for your book. It can grow and change over the course of the month.
Most importantly, relax and have fun. Don’t put so much stress on yourself. You are creating something awesome and frankly, I am a little jealous you.
You got this.