Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: DON'T PANIC

Here we are in the last few days before the National Novel Writing Month begins, and if those of you who are participating are anything like me, you're in a flat panic. Questions and doubts may be flooding your mind:
  • What if my idea sucks?
  • What if I don't finish?
  • How will I manage writing so many words a day between work/school/social life/errands/sleep?
  • What if I get writer's block halfway through?
  • What if there's a crisis and I just can't devote the time?
I know how you feel. This is my first NaNo, and I've got all those doubts and more keeping me from sleeping and threatening to make me lock up in front of my computer screen. (My brain is really sadistic that way.) Let's see if I can address them in order, shall we?

What if my idea sucks?
There are very few ideas that cannot be salvaged or improved on editing. If you enjoy your idea enough to use it for NaNo, then it can't suck that much. Just remember that this is a rough draft. Nobody has to see it but you. (You do plan to edit it, right?)

What if I don't finish?
This is actually two questions.
What if I don't manage to write 50,000 words in November?
When you will still be further along in your novel project than you were on November 1. There's no penalty for not hitting that benchmark, and not everyone will get there. Relax.
What if I write 50,000 words, but my story's still not done?
Then you can continue writing it through December or however long it takes for your story to be done.

How will I manage writing so many words a day between work/school/social life/errands/sleep?
You'd be surprised how much writing you can get done if you dedicate yourself. You might have to make a few sacrifices, though--like no spending hours at a time on your social media and/or games. Any requirements for prime functioning, absolutely stick with those, but other than that, block out as much time as you can and get that draft written.

What if I get writer's block halfway through?
This is why NaNo support groups are awesome.  The official website itself allows you to find writing buddies (local or not) to help you power through the tough times. Try free writing and turning over ideas in your draft. Add padding if you like (you can always take it out later). Just keep those words flowing.

What if there's a crisis and I just can't devote the time?
Well, honestly, stuff happens. If you have a major Crisis with a capital C that completely torpedoes your entire month, that's okay. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Write when you can but remember that there's nothing wrong with not making your word count.

As near as I can tell, the best (but by no means only) way to get through a successful NaNoWriMo is to just sit your butt down and write. Write until your vision blurs and your fingers ache and your brain goes numb. Then do it again the next day, and the next, until it's done. Don't worry about plot holes or spell checking or editing--just get that draft down as quickly as humanly possible. Don't second-guess yourself. Don't go back and fix anything, even that typo that's just screaming at you from the page. Editing comes later. Just find your zone and write that sucker.

As for myself, I'm going to keep blogging throughout NaNoWriMo and share with you my experience as a first-time participant, including (drum roll) a word count graphic.

Here it is:

My username on the NaNoWriMo website is GeekGirlWriter (same as my Twitter handle) so if you're participating and want to be writing buddies, go ahead and look me up!

Happy NaNo!