A NaNoWriMo Cheer

2 Nov

November is National Novel Writing Month, where a group of crazy people — a.k.a. writers — take to their keyboards for a gargantuan feat: to write a novel in 30 days.

Last year I took the NaNoWriMo plunge, and I’m happy to say I completed my novel.  See? I even got a Winner’s Stamp, to prove it. This year I’m on the sidelines, but I wanted to give a hearty cheer to all those participating in NaNoWriMo 2012 and offer a few tips that helped me through the process.

“Give me a ‘Na’ … give me a ‘No’ …”

Tip #1: Have a 50 page buffer – I didn’t do this on purpose — and maybe it’s cheating but nobody’s called me on it yet or taken away my precious Winner’s Stamp. I started November with 50 completed pages of my novel, and those 12,500 extra words saved my ass on days where I simply couldn’t fulfill my daily minimum word count. Whether I was too busy, too tired or completely uninspired, knowing I could ‘borrow’ words from those pages to meet my daily commitment of 1667 words really helped. P.S. I tried not to use any of those extra words until closer to the end of the month.

Tip #2: Don’t take even one day off – Each morning  I could feel the collective weight of every one of those 1667 words. The weight didn’t lift until I got those words on paper. It was tempting to take a day off, but I didn’t dare. The longer you wait to write, the heavier those words will get. 

Tip #3: Don’t spend all day writing – If you’re completely in THE ZONE, ignore this suggestion. If not, write for a few hours, then take a break. Because if you’re like me, panic sets in when you’re expected to write all day, for fear you write nothing.  As it happened, it only took me a few hours to finish my word quota. But if after 5 hours you’re still staring off into space, do something else.  Walk the dog, clean your toilet, change the filter on your furnace. Just clear your head for a while before you get back in that chair.

Tip #4: Don’t run out of plot (like I did) – My novel was almost finished at 35 K. Panic city. So my brain did cartwheels as I tried to throw more ‘stuff’ into the story.  I gave the baby colic, I fired one of my characters, then re-hired her. I lengthened the love scenes. I lengthened the arguments. I wreaked havoc at my character’s son’s wedding by making the flowers pop off the boutonnieres and having the bakery add a thousand silver bullet candies to the cake by mistake.  (True stories, both of them.) Hopefully these events will make it a more interesting story.

Tip #5: Don’t participate in local NaNoWriMo events – I’m sorry, but I didn’t need anything else to distract me from my keyboard. Besides, I’m a hermit. I did participate in some of the NaNoWriMo online forums, to lament or ask for advice. Somebody always responded.

That’s it. I’m crossing my toes and fingers for all you NaNoWriMo participants this year, and wishing you the best of luck. May your muse whisper in your ear every day and inspiration visit your dreams every night =)

3 Responses to “A NaNoWriMo Cheer”

  1. 4amWriter November 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Great tips. I had wanted to enter NaNo with a better idea of what my story will be about, i.e., like how it’s going to end or exactly who is my antagonist or what is the setting. Ahem. But I ran out of time, so I’m totally pantsing the thing. I think you’re right about making crazy things happen in the story, not only to lengthen it, but also to test those unchartered waters. We never know what the story holds until we risk it.

    • nancyelizabethlauzon November 5, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

      Yeah, and it’s pretty scary to do that when you’re a control freak like me -)

      • Selena Robins Musings November 6, 2012 at 12:03 am #

        I don’t know if I can every manage Nano, I’d drive myself insane, because well, you know how I write. LOL

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