10 Things NaNoWriMo Taught Me
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and for the past seven years I have undertaken a personal challenge; writing 50k words in 30 days. I have met and won this challenge every time (sometimes by the skin of my teeth). I learned about Nano fall 2008 from a friend (right after hurricane Ick, I mean, Ike)Seven of my ten novels have sprung from the hectic month of November; they include contemporary western romance, an epic fantasy, the paranormal and thriller genres. Throughout the years, my nano experience has grown. Here are some tidbits of wisdom:
- Plan Ahead: Make a detailed (or not so detailed) outline before starting Nano. I pulled a few pictures off the internet for character references and I've only written two sentences of my story. No outline, just a general plot in my head: girl meets guy, crap happens, they fall for each other, more crap, then HEA (that romance writer talk for: happily ever after). Buy coffee, wine and/or other snacks and drinks. Clear your calendar...Except for write-ins, of course.
- Coffee: It helps to set aside time each day to write. Even a paragraph or two is better than nothing. Last year I spent nearly every November weekday morning (before work) in My Favorite Muffin getting a caffeine fix. The employees got to know me by name and asked how the story was coming.
- One Good Day: In order to make the 50k by November 30th you need to average 1,667 words a day. I was behind from the beginning. All it took was one really good writing day to make up the difference and keep me motivated to finish strong. That day was November 17th; I was able to write over 5k that day.
- Writing Buddy Connections: Last year I connected with fellow Writers and we converged on Boston Stoker and Panera and hung out in Dorothy Lane Market (Springboro) on the loft. Okay, I admit, at the first "write in" I actually talked way more than I wrote but it was great to meet fellow writers and throw ideas out there. This year we've already had one night of prep. Veteran Wrimos helped to answer questions. We discussed scenarios and plot, genres and names. Overall, a great time to get to know other writers before Nano starts.
- Supportive Family: My family is the best! When it comes to Novemeber they know (after seven years) all my spare time is spent sequestered away trying to make the daily goal. And they still love me!
- Don't Drop the Netbook! Always a plus. But if you are like me and trip over chords that pull lightweight items off tables make sure you...
- Back Up All Work (preferably before dropping the netbook): Two years ago I was twenty days in when disaster struck. I thought the netbook was toast and all that time spent birthing the novel was in vain. You tend to think the worst when the screen is cracked, things are rattling around inside and the thing won't reboot. The netbook survived (the battery needed to be snapped back in. Go figure. BTW I did a happy dance.) Anyhoo, that was the long way of saying: back up your work. Save it somewhere.
- Switch Perspectives: Sometimes while writing, things don't flow so well from brain to keyboard. Switching perspectives, whether your character's or your friends', helps to keep ideas fresh.
- Don't give up: 50k words in 30 days is high pressure and a challenge but it is doable. A little here and a little there really does add up. Never give up!
- Keep Writing: After November every year a group of us continue to meet for "write ins". Sometimes I don't feel like writing after 30 days of "literary abandon" but the story usually isn't complete and needs finishing.