Eleven days into the vortex that is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I hit the 34,000-word mark on Monday. I know. I’m nuts. I have realized several things about myself, my writer’s life, and the personality type that could help YOU write a novel in less than a month. If you can relate to any of my ideas about why NaNoWriMo works, then it’s not too late to join and write 50,000 words before November 30th. Read on…
Being competitive is a huge motivator, but not the way you think.
Some writers may compete with others or want Facebook bragging rites for finishing early. Although I may celebrate finishing, I am ONLY competing with myself! NaNoWriMo provides each writer with a site. It’s pretty cool. Every day, or several times a day in my case, I enter my word totals. This year, they also included a line and bar graph. Seeing it works! I have found myself wanting to get close to or beat whatever word total I hit the day before. After skiing on Saturday, I was happy to nick 3000 words. It’s like a race. Sort of.
Are you an outliner or do you write by the seat of your pants? Outlining requires preparation before writing a book.
If you’re a pantser, what are you waiting for?
Why not sign up and write until November 30th, or continue until it’s finished. The site will inspire you to get your words out there. Go for it! Or outline and GO!
I only need a scene in mind to start writing a book, but it needs to be vivid. It’s usually the inciting incident or the climax of the story. An action scene. Outlining is very effective for some writers. I tried that last year and didn’t use anything from my ten pages written in preparation. My brain kept taking me in a different direction.
I’ve continued to pants my way all the way through all of my books! For me, it’s all about trusting in stream-of-conscious writing. It works!
This realization is nothing new for me – Mistakes can happen.
On the fourth day of NaNoWriMo, I saved my document and forgot to update the word total. NOOOOOOooooo!
My bar graph spiked the next day. Gah! I could’ve quit early since I started the day with an extra thousand words. I had to subtract them to make sure I didn’t slack off. After the first few days, I’ve continued to reach a 3000-word daily goal and so far, so good. I’m getting close to 50,000…
Writing can have the same effect as reading.
Just like reading a good book, even though this is my shitty draft, I want to know what happens next. I usually start a scene without any preconceived idea of what will happen. I’m invested in my characters, good and bad guys and girls. I find writing very entertaining.
I like to play God!
The best part of writing is being in control of everything that happens, well almost everything. A novel is limited by the flow and trajectory of the story. It has to make sense and have a logical progression. A first draft often contains Kia-sized plot holes, which can be fixed later.
There are so many choices at my whim. I love to make my characters suffer. It’s okay. This is make-believe. Give them just enough hope before the next storm rolls in and then POW! Watch them struggle. How are they going to save themselves this time or handle the next big setback? I won’t know until I sit down and write.
I don’t overthink before I write.
For me, writing is almost magical since it progresses as I write it. But, I can overthink my storyline before sitting down to write and freak myself out if nothing comes to mind. This is one of those cases where it’s best to trust in the stream-of-conscious process and just do it. Because you can!!!
Doubt kills creativity.
My subconscious percolates throughout the day and ideas can pop into my mind. That’s okay. But as soon as I question the future of the story, nervousness sinks in. That overthinking can be death for a pantser who doesn’t plan out the book before writing. This happened to me on Saturday. I skied most of the day and had to write in the late afternoon when I would have preferred to take a nap. After about two thousand words, I realized my middle was becoming saggy. I started a new chapter with two interesting characters and breathed new life into the story.
Never wait for inspiration.
Sit down and write. Once I decide on which character’s point of view I plan to write, I describe the setting and the scene, who else it involves and the story flows as I write.
You need to trust in your creativity.
Our brains will braid the loose ends together, although there will be massive problems with a first draft. Coffee that is poured while drinking tea or dragons may burn down entire villages that miraculously appear unscathed at the end of the story. That’s what rewrites are for. What I love is when I’m not sure how everything will come full circle in the end. If I don’t know, then the reader won’t know. Somehow or other, all of the secrets are revealed in those last pages. I can’t wait to find out!
Take a break and MOVE.
Take a bike ride, walk your dog, bike hike, ski, clean or catch up on laundry. Moving is just what I need to let the ideas do their subconscious thing. Blood flow is good. The next time I write, it’s all there.
This is my sixth book. I’m querying my first paranormal suspense. The second in the series is in a draft written during NaNoWriMo 2014 and can be edited as a standalone. The bad person in it is so creepy! The third book I wrote is paranormal and pretty humorous. I’ll definitely write the screenplay of that one. The fourth psychological thriller is a twisted game of cat and mouse. The fifth was a huge departure into fantasy written during last year’s NaNoWriMo. I’d like to hang out with those characters again sometime.
The idea for this book came while driving through the mist in Maine. It involves secrets, treachery, bullying, and a young woman who speaks up at the wrong time. How did I get that from driving up and down through the foggy hills of Maine? My brain is a crazy place. I just trust it and go.
Make your own rules.
Some of my friends are writing short stories. Others are finishing novels they started a while ago. Some will write a lot less than 50,000 words this month while others will go way over that total. It’s up to you! Look at it this way. There are eighteen days left. If you only wrote a thousand words a day, that would be 18,000 you wouldn’t have written at all! And what if you’re swept up like me? You could easily “win” NaNoWriMo with 50,000!
So close and yet…
I’m due to finish NaNo in record time this year. Today, my site is predicting the 16th. That’s crazy! Writing 3000 words a day takes a huge commitment. Something has to give like my travel blog posts. Editing photos and drafting a story can take hours. Gif files are so much easier and so funny!
I can almost see the finish line. I love that super light feeling of accomplishment when finishing the first draft of a book. I look forward to enjoying time with family over Thanksgiving. Our family celebrates three birthdays this month; added incentive for me to finish early.
I’ll keep you posted. Keep me posted. If you join NaNoWriMo, add me as a buddy! Wish me luck as I head back into the vortex.
Click to find out how to write thousands of words a day!
Click to learn how to write a book in a month!
Have you written a book? Do you want to? Have you participated in NaNoWriMo?