Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Lessons from #NaNoWriMo

As many of you know, November 1st marked the start of National Novel Writing Month. We're now in the home stretch--four days from the deadline to write 50,000 words. And though I got a late start, I'm now hovering at a comfortable 43,000 in this manuscript.While this is not my first attempt at completing NaNo, this has been the easiest. Here's what I've learned:

1. You have to accept that, for thirty days, you're going to have to let go of some combination of responsibilities: clean house, homemade dinners, sleep, date night, or taking your kids to their after school activities. IT'S OK to start December with a messy house--really. I promise.

2. Drafting out the story helps me write faster: I know this isn't the case for pantsers, but SO many NaNo-ers struggled with where to take their story next, and that costs precious time. I spent a good week in October figuring out what I was going to write, so when November 1st hit, all I had to do was get it on paper.

3. Ignore your mistakes: yWriter is great for this because there's no spelling or grammar check. You're in a very minimalist screen, so it's just you and the words. When I have sections I think I want to delete, I either strike through the font or have a separate section of my manuscript that's just for these reject bits. I usually end up using parts of them, and if you delete, they don't contribute toward your word count.

4. Find writing buddies: Whether online via #1k1hr or #wordwars or #amwriting, or through the NaNo local chapters, commiserating and brainstorming and word-sprinting with other NaNo-ers is mentally invigorating.

5. Set reasonable expectations for yourself: I know that writing 1,667 words on a work night just doesn't happen; I also know that on weekends, I can crank out 5k if I clear my schedule. Instead of forcing out 1,667 words that I'll need to later rewrite, I aim for 1k evenings, let myself get behind during the week, and bust my ass on the weekends to make up lost time. Stressful? Yeah, kind of. But when I finish, I'll definitely have less editing to do. TL;DR: work with your writing quirks.
Find me on NaNoWriMo here:

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