For the month of November, I am participating in NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. This is a world-wide writing challenge where each participant attempts to write a 50,000 word rough-draft novel during the thirty days of November. There is a website with helpful information, resources, and forums for writers to connect with each other; in the forums, they answer questions, make suggestions, and even joke around if they have extra time. It’s really fun and exciting and a great way to get those creative juices flowing. The main idea behind NaNoWriMo is that when pressed by a looming deadline, writers stop procrastinating and free themselves to write badly. It’s a first draft, after all, and in the immortal words of Hemingway, “The first draft of anything is shit.”
I’m not normally that crude, but the quote is too perfect to resist.
So, week one started out great! You wrote a ton of words, some of them may have even made sense, and you (hopefully) used all that momentum to store up a nice buffer for…well, NOW. Week two is known as the Sophomore Slump, because it’s when budding November novelists such as yourself begin losing their momentum. You may run through your initial ideas earlier than expected, plot holes begin to gape and mock you, and that inner editor that you locked in the closet last week is clambering to get out. DON’T LET YOUR EDITOR OUT. You may want to slip that guy a cookie under the door though, because you’re going to need him in December.
Take a deep breath.
Almost everyone goes through this. The number one thing you can do to get through this week is KEEP WRITING. In other terms, BICHOK–Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible. It doesn’t matter if it’s off topic. Writing this week is like dumping all the contents of your brain onto the page so you can get to the stuff you actually want. Your characters may not be acting logically and the plot might be sticking its tongue out at you, but remember to keep going and eventually they will begin to make sense. Don’t worry about all the nonsense that comes out now. Sometimes you need to slog through the moat to get to the castle.
The next thing you need to remember is EDITING IS FOR DECEMBER.
NaNoWriMo is not about writing a perfect first draft. No one does. Even Hemingway admitted it. NaNoWriMo is about getting words on the page. THAT’S IT. If you edit this month, not only are you not putting words down, you are taking them away! I’m going to repeat my pre-nano suggestion here and tell you, if you’re stuck, write yourself a memorable editing note for later. I hate writing fight scenes (which consequently take me forever to write), so what I do is HIGHLIGHT ALL CAPS a note, such as . Then I move on. I don’t want to get bogged down and lose the momentum I’ve built up in the story and all the new ideas sloshing around in my head. This way, in December, I can easily find what I need to write and where to put it. Another method is to write an unusual word in front of an ALL CAPS notation, such as scrumpdillyicious; you can do a search on it later to find all your editing spots.
As an incentive during this week, the week when most people are likely to quit, I like to take a look at the prize I’ve bought myself for “winning.” As I’ve stated in a previous post, I do not allow myself to use my prize until I’ve met my NaNoWriMo writing goals for November. If I don’t finish, I give my beloved prize away. I can’t tell you how many times this has kept me going. You might want to employ a similar bribe/penalty to motivate yourself if/when your drive is at its lowest.
I wish you all the best of luck! Next week I will be posting about WEEK THREE. Until then, have a lovely week, and happy novelling!
UPDATE: My Writing Niche 2.0 podcast, episode 3: NaNoWriMo Weeks 2-3!
Download HERE .
*Due to a quirk of WordPress, I can’t highlight the text so I changed the color instead. But you get the idea.
**NaNoWriMo image taken from here.
***My previous podcast several years ago, My Writing Niche, was edited and even had a musical theme. This time, it is more informal.
****Also in the spirit of saving time to write on my Nano novel, I will be shamelessly reusing my introductory paragraph in each post this month, as well as pre-writing this month’s posts. In other words, I wrote this in October!