Friday, October 26, 2012

NaNoWriMo, take three.

November, as many of you already know, is NaNoWriMo, or "National Novel Writing Month". It is an online challenge to write 50,000 words in thirty days. This will be my fourth year participating in the challenge. Both of my novels started life as NaNobooks, so I obviously am a big believer in the challenge as an excellent motivator toward getting your first draft out of your system. I recommend the challenge for any aspiring writer, to help develop a writing habit... for more info, check out

A Few solid tips for surviving NaNoWriMo...

1) 1600 words a day really isn't all that much. (It's like 2 pages, or six solid paragraphs) Depending on how fast you write, most of us only need an hour or so a day to meet that goal... and when you are on a roll, you will write more than that.

2) Take advantage of the week one momentum. That first week, you are pumped. You are psyched. Use that energy to get ahead on your word count. I AM TERRIBLE AT THIS. I always tell myself that this will be the year I pad my word count, but I never seem to do it.

3) Understand that NO ONE writes every single day for the entire month. Your life will get in the way, but it's not insurmountable. Give yourself permission right now to lapse on game day or whatever. It will help keep you sane. (Particularly when you're trying to write and your spouse starts screaming "WHO DAT!" at the TV in the next room every time the Saints gain a yard.) Just also give yourself permission to come back to it the next day.

4) Understand that not all of your friends and family will understand your need to do this, or accept "I can't baby-sit/go out drinking/cook dinner/second line, I have to get my word count up" as an excuse. This is particularly relevant when your uncle wants you to help him fry a damn turkey for the first time.

5) Give yourself permission to be crappy. Bad writing comes hand in hand with good writing. It can also lead you in funny, clever directions you never expected. Think of it as your mind suddenly ducking into a seedy bar in the Marigny to avoid the rain, only to find that it's the coolest place you have ever been in your life.

6) Take advantage of our local food culture. We NolaWrimos have a distinct advantage over Wrimos in other cities in that we have great, pre prepared meals on every street corner. Seriously... there are entire sections of the national forums dedicated to casseroles and crock pot recipes for NaNo. Screw that! Get a Shrimp po-boy on your way home and call it a win!

7) Take advantage of our local meet-ups. I can't speak for everyone, but nothing gets me typing like Shannon and Suzy glaring at me about my word count. Knowing that tehre are others around you facing the same hurdles in plot, protagonists, and squirrels of mass distraction WILL help you finish.

8) (Suggested by Shannon, the NOLA ML) Don't underestimate the power of small writing times. Five, ten, and fifteen minutes really add up over the course of a day.

Good luck, WriMos! See you at kick off!

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