Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to survive NaNoWriMo

Rose likes to draw, I like to color.

This is my 5th year embarking on National Novel Writing Month's November of writing dangerously, so I feel like I can write about it with some authority (and by some, I mean maybe a little, maybe). However, this year is the first time I'm trying to write well as well as just write, which is proving difficult. I know that's not what NaNo is all about, but now that I have a practically-completed MA in creative writing under my belt, sharing a holster with my good old BA from WVU in English, I feel like I should at least try to write well. Or at least write better, better than years gone by. Only December will tell if I've actually accomplished this, the soonest time any living soul will see any of it beyond myself. Unless you ask nicely.

Anyway: back to writing with authority. I've compiled a list of tips to help newcomers get through the month of November, in case anyone was in need of a tip or two. Here you go;

1) Stay off facebook- Impossible you say? Well yes, nearly. I'm on facebook right now, but I know I shouldn't be. Facebook is the root of all time-wasting evil, but it's also so conveniently useful and addictively interesting (sometimes, except when your pregnant friends are updating the world every centimeter they are dilated, from the hospital, in real time) that we just can't stay away. If you can help it, try. Try hard. Because the simple fact is that every moment you spend on facebook is a moment you could be, and should be, writing. I'm going to close mine right now.

2) Wake up early- This might be, for some, even harder than staying off facebook. I know I meet every morning with the same eagerness that one anticipates cleaning the toilet, pulling hair out of a drain and walking on hot coals. I am not a morning person, but in November I am. If you work everyday, get up at least an hour earlier than you normally would and write before work. If you do nothing all day, like me (besides apply for jobs and thinking about doing laundry), don't let yourself sleep in till 11 just because you can. I promise that reaching your word count goal for the day before noon is the best feeling in the world, and will make the rest of your day sparkle.

3) Use your time creatively- When Nicole and I were still in college, we carried our computers around with us everywhere. I'd write between classes, waiting for class, waiting for the bus or the PRT (which was usually late anyway, so that's lots of time there) or sitting in the Coliseum waiting for marching band practice to start. Just carry a notebook with you, everywhere (which you should be doing anyway) and write in every moment of spare time you have. I did NaNo during the busiest semesters of my life, once year when I had a full-time job, and am doing it now with mostly free weekdays, and time was always and continues to be the main issue. You need time to think, time to figure things out, time to stare at a blank wall, and time to write it all down. Basically, all I'm saying is that 50k in a month is going to take time, and if you don't have the time but you have the desire, you need to make it yourself.

4) Get all your friends to do it- In the past it was usually just Nicole and I, running rampant around Morgantown, racing to 50k. The next year we made a few more friends who did it too, which was really great. This year, I convinced a few friends from my course to do it too. It not only feels good to be in it with someone else, but it's also imperative to have other people on your back, pushing you forward when you just don't want to write anymore. I just met with my friend Rebecca an hour ago. We sat on her living-room floor for three hours, talking out our story plots, asking each other questions and figuring things out. It was SO helpful, I hope we do it again sometime soon.

5) Tell EVERYONE you are doing NaNo- So they know why you are blowing them off. Don't just revert to your hermit state without telling anyone why, or everyone is going to either send the search parties out looking for you, give you up for dead and start going through all your stuff, or just get really mad at you for not returning their phone calls. Just tell everyone you know that your writing a novel for a month, and that you'll see them in December, just in time for Christmas shopping. Then go back to blowing them off.

6) Do not get on blogger and blog about writing and neglect your novel- Oh wait.

I am currently doing nothing from this list, so I better go. Good luck to one and all!



Rebecca said...

ha ha, I was on fb and got off it to read this which is the last cardinal sin you warn against so now i'm getting off this too :-)! thanks for the tips, baby :-0, now I have to write those thousand and then some words...

Kerry said...

I love this link...sending it off to my hubby who is an English teacher (at Stone Bridge) with a passion for writing and instilling it in his charges....
Keep up the good work!!!f