If there’s been one thing that’s been grinding my gears lately, it’s some of the anti-NaNoWriMo sentiment out there. Apparently there’s only one way to get stuff written (who knew?) and it isn’t NaNoWriMo (apparently). Those pieces that aren’t just clickbait will tell you that NaNoWriMo is a waste of time and if you were cool, you shouldn’t be doing it.
There’s only one absolute rule of writing and that’s in order to get published you have to complete work. That’s all. Get the words down and then worry about everything else from there. How you do that, how you go from having no words done to having all your words done is up to you. The internet is full of advice, and by all means check it and try it out, but don’t beat yourself up if it’s not for you.
Look at this way, to be a runner, you have to run. People don’t go around telling runners that the fact that they run down to the shops and back every night doesn’t make them a ‘proper’ runner. It’s not the speed or the distance that makes someone a runner. It’s not how they run. Oh of course, there’s always some guy; some guy ready to tell the world that unless they run exactly like he does then you can’t call yourself a runner. But you, I and the rest of the world knows that this is bullshit and the guy is just an arsehole.
No, what makes people a runner is that they run regularly. They go for runs. By the same principle if you write, you’re a writer, and whether you are a pantser or a plotter, whether you find NaNoWriMo works for you or not, doesn’t enter into it.
So if you’re worried that you want to NaNoWriMo but think that if you do, it’ll somehow ruin your career, you can slap that shit right out of you now. Likewise, you’re under no obligation to do it. Doesn’t make you any more or less a writer as long as you get the work done.
For my part this year, I’d hoped to start Thunder of Crows but I’m feeling that I’m behind on Thieving King (this book is HUGE and despite a lot of hard work I feel like I’ve made no progress). I need to really push on with it. So for my NaNoWriMo I’m just hoping to get more of it done. Is it cheating? Actually no, but I couldn’t care whether it was or not.
Some days you have good days in NaNo, some days you have bad. Yesterday was a bad day for me. I woke up feeling mentally exhausted from day one, more so than I expected. Day 2 is also a day of doubts: did I pick the right project? Do I like these characters? Is this ever going to be any good?
I’m a person who likes to spend time on the first chapter, rewriting and rewriting until I’ve got the tone just so, but with NaNo there’s no time to do that. So I found myself feeling uncomfortable with my prose and fighting an almost primal urge to go back, rewrite and reshape. Also, when it comes to visual description, I drastically under-write. This was acutely obvious to me as I tried to get yesterday’s words done. I need to ignore this and fix it in the second draft, instead worrying about new words. Some days words come easy, some days they are like treacle. Yesterday was a treacle kinda day.
The result was that I barely made the daily target. How rubbish. I see some of my friends have almost caught me up – which is a fantastic spur to push on, not because I want to “beat” them, but because I know other people are going through this as well.
With hindsight, I really should have swapped projects as Thieving King’s NaNo word count sits at 0 (though I do have some chapters written which don’t count).
You live, you learn, you pick yourself up and you carry on. Busy day today so it too could be a challenge to get words done.
So the first day of NaNo went pretty well, with a 4000 word start. That’s less than I would have liked but I started on Gods which I’m less familiar with and so was finding my way a little. I even found time to spend the evening raiding with my Warcraft guild. That’s one thing NaNo has taught me… you need to sometimes take breaks, and I’m glad I did as I was pretty frazzled by the time I got to game.
So Day 1 of NaNoWriMo is going well and I now have nearly 4000 words down. It’s a little less than I would like but the day is not yet over, and I’m trying to make sure that, bad prose and all, at least I have a story that’s fairly consistent. Even so my eyes have gone a little square and I’m sure this post will have a gazillion errors I’ve missed.
But with many of you attempting NaNoWriMo this November, either trying for the first time, trying to score your first “win”, or a veteran of multiple WriMos, I thought I’d take a quick break and come up with a list of some tips to help you get your 50,000 words written.
So I’ve been keeping this quiet as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go ahead with this challenge. If I’m honest, I’m still not sure, but I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. Well, something along the lines of NaNoWriMo.
So what is NaNoWriMo, I hear you ask? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and the idea behind it is to write a novel of 50,000 words during November. It’s a bit of fun really, and aims to prove to people that anyone can write a novel length story. The focus isn’t on quality, it’s purely on the number of words. Get it down and you can always rewrite and edit come December… but not before. It doesn’t matter whether your protagonist changes names or even gender mid-sentence, you do not stop!