Thursday, October 31, 2013

Surviving NaNoWriMo

Yep. It's another post on NaNoWriMo. But read it. I talk about coffee. And monkeys. What's NaNoWriMo you ask?

It's National Novel Writing Month. Yep. Write a book in a month. Can't be done you say? You'd be right and you'd be wrong. Let's talk about how to survive and if writing a book in a month is a thing that exists in our dimension.

First - survival tips.

1. Stock up on paper plates, plastic forks and food your children can nuke in the microwave. Ain't nobody got time for cooking big meals during NaNo. If there was ever a time to be #WorldsOkayestMom, Nano is it.

2. Pack up the guilt for later. Let's face it, guilt is going to eat at you this month. (Which is crazy, but that's how we're wired. It's science.) I need to be fixing food. I need to eat food. I need to eat food that isn't spray cheese from a can. I need to be cleaning the house. I need to leave the house. I need to shower and brush my hair before I get mistaken for an extra on The Walking Dead.
Just save up all that guilt you'll be feeling for when your children and significant other really need it, your Christmas shopping trip. NaNo basically guarantees everyone in your orbit a very happy present-getting experience.

3. Buy snacks. Buy coffee. Buy alcohol of choice and have them on hand. NaNo is fickle. Some days, all the words happen. Others, everything you type makes the monkey in the corner typing Hamlet look like a damn genius. Wait...you can see that monkey in the corner right? And there will come a moment when you think, will eating this entire box of Goldfish really help me write words? Yes. Yes, it will.

4. Don't worry about editing. That comes later. Look, some of the trouble with writing a book in a month, especially if you're not a fast writer, is that a lot of what you type is crap. But that's what a first draft is for, right? So don't worry if you write a chapter like this:

Mary Sue went to the store. She bought eggs, milk, oil, flour, frosting, a cake mix, vanilla and a brand, new pan. Mary Sue was going to make a cake. She had never made a cake before. She was going to make it for her boyfriend. She was worried he might not like her after. And then she walked to her car. And then she turned the key. Suddenly, it started. She began to drive the car. When Mary Sue got home, unloaded her groceries, put them all away and called her boyfriend, Steve, whose blue eyes were the color of the crayon that was called blue, she started to feel depressed when he said he wasn't coming over.

Wowser. That is some purely horrible stuff right there. Just think of your first draft as a really extensive outline. Save the editing for later, you know, after you've had sleep and food with nutrients in it.

5. Drink water. You'd think this one would be obvious, but you know what water does? Hydrates you. You know what hydrated people do? Pee. You know what insane people trying to write a book in a month don't like to do? Stop and take pee breaks. But drink the water anyway. De-hydration is bad.

6. Don't change the tense/POV/genre/category in the middle of the month. There's a time and a place for this malarkey. And it might be the right choice, but not during NaNo. That's what revisions are for.

7. Don't waste time researching. Can't write a section without it? Skip it or make something up, put stars on each side, and fix it later. Or write something spectacular like *here is the part about the thing that is the plot of this book and needs all the research but it's freaking NaNo and I can't do it now*.

8. Don't quit! (But I'm behind and everyone else is writing so much and I suck and I'll never make it and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.) You know what? That's an excuse. It's your fear. Stop it. Stop it right now. So you write 40K, 10K, 5K ...who cares. You sat down with a community of writers and made a commitment to your story, your writing, to something you value. THEN YOU ALREADY WON! NaNo is about so much more than making the 50K goal. It's about building habits, community, support, learning to say, "No. I'm sorry. I can't do that now. I have to write." NaNo is your first taste of writing on a deadline. NaNo is your chance to get your story out you've been too scared to write. It breaks down to 1667 a day to make 50K in 30 days. You can totally do that. Will you have to turn off the internet some days? Yes. Will you have to DVR The Vampire Diaries? Definitely. Will the next season of TV you have queued on NetFlix have to be a December treat? Without a doubt. But think about it, you'll have the basis for a manuscript, a book, YOUR book. Don't pass that up.

9. Get the word ONLY out of your vocab. It's overused anyway, it needs a vacation.
But I only wrote 150 that sprint.
But I only wrote 500 today.
But I only have 10K so far.
SEE NUMBER 8.
Only? Really? You only wrote 150? That's 150 more than the person who decided they weren't going to NaNo at all. That's 150 more than the person who is sitting there too scared to write a word. THAT'S 150 MORE THAN YOU HAD AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SPRINT. Think about it...why would you say ONLY?

10. Coffee. I can't stress this one enough. Coffee is the fruit of the gods. Coffee is magic writer's brew. Coffee makes the world go around. Coffee turns into words. IT'S LIQUID GOLD, PEOPLE!

So you can write 50K (or more) in a month. So yes, it can be done. But is it a book?

NO.

IT'S NOT.

After NaNo is really when you write the book. You take your precious words, your story and polish it. You take a lump of coal and squeeze it so hard, a diamond pops out. Here's how:

Revision.
Revision.
Revision.
Have your CP's read it.
Take feedback and listen.
Get rid of all the parts that are passive, that don't move the story forward, that mean nothing to anyone but you and one guy in Antarctica named Fred you dated in college because the book is an homage to him even though he gave up the written word ten years ago and now only speaks to penguins.  Seriously. No, I'm serious. Delete.
Possibly more revision.

Writing a book is a process, so while I believe in NaNo and I love it and I do a "NaNo" about four times a year, you didn't write a book. You wrote a story that needs love and tending and lots of really hard, damn tiring work before that story is a book. So don't get your big, crazy pants on and send it to agents on December 1. They don't like that and you might burn a really good story that if queried at the right time(read: when it's ready) could get you a deal but queried in "WTF is this state of madness?" condition is an automatic rejection.

So work hard this month. Write your novel. But remember, you'll be spending months with this story once it's on the page. So take a breath, realize there's no such thing as fail, and let's simply write some words together.

Now...where's my coffee? Oh, I left it with the monkey in the corner.





Good luck and have a great NaNoWriMo!!!

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post and the GIFs. Best of luck to you on NaNoWriMo! Write for me, too?

    ReplyDelete