As a writer, this seems like a confession, but I’ve never done NaNo before. Not until this year. How does something like that happen? I suppose I’ve never really been convinced of its effectiveness. But, as they say, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, and this year, I’m trying it.
I actually gave Camp Nano a shot last summer, but I went in with the intention of writing a 30,000-word novella, so I don’t consider that counts. Although I wrote 30K-plus in just over two weeks.
So now I’m going for the whole 50K, and it’s going well so far. Probably none of what I’m about to note here will come as any shock to regular NaNo participants, but this is what NaNo has been about for me.
- Goal Setting. Not only do you have to make a commitment to writing 50,000 words in 30 days, you also have to set daily goals. You can commit to writing 1667 words a day seven days a week, or a bit over 2000 per day if you want to take Saturday off, or even 2500 a day if you want your weekend free. Honestly, that 2500 per day seems a bit daunting. I can do it on a good day, but that’s assuming I have 5 good days a week. It’s easier for me to write on a daily basis.
- Discipline. You’re making a commitment. You’re saying to yourself, I’m going to sit down and write at least 1667 words today, and then you make yourself do it. Admittedly I’ve had some days where I just wasn’t feeling it, so I stopped at 600. But many days I’ve managed over 2000. I think my best day so far has been in the 2300 range.
- Establishing a habit. Because you have to write regularly to win, and doing so for a month is a good way to establish the habit.
- Production. For me, who usually writes longhand on paper, a good night is often 500 words. Part of this is because I make an honest effort to produce 500 pretty words (but if you’ve ever seen my handwriting, you know that is a figurative pretty). NaNo isn’t about pretty. It’s about cranking it out. Which leads me to…
- Locking your internal editor in the dungeon or at least sending her on an extended vacation. I’m going for 50K this month. If I’m lucky, I might have 100 pretty words and 49,900 crappy words. I’ve decided I’m OK with that. I’m thinking about what I’m writing as an extended outline. I’m getting down the bare bones of my scenes, and I will flesh those bones out after November 30. I have a lot of talking heads dialogue right now. A lot of telling. A lot of things that make me cringe as I write it. BUT I’m letting that go for now. I can take a couple of months to polish this winter.
Only the future will tell if this process is better than my usual plodding, but so far I’m enjoying the experiment. What is NaNo about for you?
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, U.S.ians. I ate my turkey in October, so today, I’m pushing for 40K. It’ll take a really good day, but there’s always tomorrow.