Write for the moment. In the case of NaNoWriMo, that means recognizing that 50,000 words in a month is a stunt, not a normal practice for most novelists (probably including fulltime novelists). That’s why, as I wrote in my NaNoWriMo prep post, you need to understand ahead of time what your goals are.
Certainly one goal should be to have fun. Yes, the serious, beautiful, and successful novel Water for Elephants came out of NaNoWriMo, and I would love for one of you to have a similar achievement. The odds of that happening, however, are not great. And if you are not used to marathon writing, don’t pressure yourself to create a bestseller. Don’t expect to have a deliverable manuscript on December 1, either. Rewriting happens (and should). I'll share some thoughts for the days after NaNoWriMO in my next post.
Here are eight things to keep in mind when you hear the virtual staring gun go off on November 1:
- Set a timer - This will help to put you on task. And it will tell you when you are "finished" for the day. (Feel free to keep writing.)
- Break the ice - Get a few words down as soon as your session begins. Those blank pages are deadly.
- Work forward - Do not rewrite as you go. Rewriting is for later. Add words, build pages, create scenes, and finish chapters.
- Give yourself permission -
- To write nonsense (don't judge)
- To write poorly (it can be fixed)
- To write sideways (meaning going away from an outline, letting a character take you where she wants you to go)
- Consider experimenting - Feel free to write in ways you've never written before. Play around with the possibilities. Make notes after a session about how it feels and what you've learned.
- Don’t hurt yourself - Be willing to push yourself, but don't press to the point of pain. Give yourself more latitude, but don't get sloppy.
- Celebrate success - Every day.
- Shrug off failure - Didn't make you word count? It's one day out of thirty. See if you can understand what went wrong. And do a little more tomorrow.
You can find more suggestion on drafting your novel in past HTWF posts. Let me know if you choose to use any of them for NaNoWriMo. Among your many goals, I hope becoming a productive writer is one of them. That will come when you use the time to build good habits, master new techniques, and build your confidence.