‘TIS OFFICIALLY NOVEMBER.
And with November, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), comes NaNoWriMo. For those of you unaware of what exactly NaNoWriMo is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s basically where millions of people around the world come together and sacrifice many a virgin soul in the hopes of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.
Yeah, it’s literary suicide, but whatdyaknow, I’ve participated for the past five years. Many a virgin soul were given, many tears were spilled, and a lot of hair was torn out in the process. Alas, I have always, more or less, managed to write 50k words. I just never… actually finished a novel. Yeah, I’m one of those. Psssht.
However, this year I am not participating. NaNoWriMo, like the sly ninja it is, crept up on me and walloped me around the head with all my unfinished manuscripts (read: I had a nightmare the other night where all my unfinished manuscripts chased me through the woods. They had arms, legs and pitchforks, and yelled words like, “SHAME! SHAME!”) and reminded me that this year, I’d be too busy wallowing in my own misery to write a book. Or finish a book. Whatever.
In some aspects, I am thankful, because I really am too busy as it is to write 50k in a month, but in other aspects it sucks, because I haven’t written a single word since June.
JUNE. WHEREFORE ART THOU, O WORDS?
Is this writers’ block? Is writers’ block a myth? Or am I just too lazy? Tell me, Wonderlings!
I used to make a point of writing a certain amount every week, just to keep my motivation alive, and I’m not sure what happened, but my manuscript, Of Hands & Teeth, has been sulking for almost four months and I can’t blame it. So this month, instead of actively participating in NaNoWriMo, I’m going to try and write a certain amount every week again. If it’s not about my WIP, then other bits and pieces I’m working on, anything to restart the writing side of my brain and make me feel somewhat accomplished. That’ll be nice.
Five Points New NaNoers Should Keep In Mind
1. You Are Not Your Novel: Your novel is not you, and you are not your novel. Do not beat yourself up if you’re not hitting your word count goals for the day. You’ll be able to make it up at the end of the week, and even if you don’t, don’t fret! NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun — don’t lose sight of that.
2. Eat, Sleep, Drink: I made this mistake the first two years I NaNoed. I did it a bit too hard, slightly too eagerly, and that meant snatches of sleep, living off coffee and not eating because it meant leaving my manuscript behind. Don’t do that. Take a break. Eat, sleep, drink. Read a book. Play a game. Don’t forget to give yourself rest days. The harder you work, the more this becomes actual ‘work’ and it’s not meant to be that. Relax.
3. Writers Block: It’s a Thing: One morning, you will wake up and feel… nothing. Absolutely nothing for the novel you are working on. It’s totally fine, don’t panic. Like an artist, you might have burned yourself out. You still want to take part in NaNo? Cool! Work on something else. Character descriptions, background stories, random scenes — count them towards your word count. You’ll hit the flow again soon enough, and your word count will shoot right up.
4. Get A Buddy: Inge was my savior during many a NaNoWriMo. Having a writing buddy became indispensable for me: someone to critique your work, cheer you on, and kick your butt when you’re slacking and in denial. Every time I felt a bit iffy about something in my novel, I consulted her. Every time I wrote something I was proud of, I sent it to her. It became a lot easier for me to open Scrivener and work on my WIP knowing Inge had my back the whole way. Being Inge’s writing buddy also inspired me. Reading her work and cheering her on gave me the motivation to work. And hey, if you ‘fail’, then at least you writing buddy will send you funny GIFs and virtual cookies. That wins. If you don’t have a buddy of your own, you should join the NaNoWriMo official page on Facebook. I have had and witnessed many a hilarious conversation on there, and it is a great place to be.
5. Have Fun: Don’t forget that this is all mindless fun! Don’t forget to enjoy yourself, and enjoy what you’re doing. It’s vital you remember this. The moment novel-writing starts feeling like a chore, you know you’re doing it wrong. Having fun can also mean finding NaNoers near you and meeting up for a write-a-thon; tweeting your progress to other participants; rewarding yourself and others every day with something you love: an episode in your new show, chocolate, a cake, a nap with your pet. Don’t forget to have fun. Remember that point most of all.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month? How are you doing? If not, is there any reason why you don’t participate? What advice would you give to first time NaNoers?