It’s the last weekend before NaNo. If you’re doing it, it’s time to get your ducks in a row, dot your i’s, and all those other cliches. Since I did it last year, and I’m not doing it this year, I figure I’m the perfect person to dole out some unsolicited advice. So here’s my list of tips for NaNo. By the way, definitely worth doing and no backing out (that means you, Kristin).
1. It’s National Novel WRITING Month
That means you write. No editing. You may fix spelling errors, but no going back and rereading what you wrote the day before. No tinkering. You will write some crap. Possibly a lot of crap. That’s fine. Get it out. You can fix it in December or January (or the next year if you’re like me). Repeat after me, I will not edit. It will slow me down and keep me from writing 1667 words a day. My goal is 50ooo words, not 50000 perfect words.
2. Week 2 will suck
You’ll cruise through week one, maybe even get ahead of the word count. You’ll be happy how well your story’s going. It will all seem like cake. You have this NaNo thing in the bag. What’s the big deal anyway? Then week two will hit. And the words will slow down, maybe stop. And you’ll panic. And you’ll fall behind on your word count. You’ll think about quitting. Don’t. Just keep going. Even if you write only 100 words, keep plugging away. You’ll catch up, I promise.
3. Week 4 is awesome
As much as week 2 sucks, week 4 is equally awesome. Your word count takes off again. Your story comes together. Things you wrote that you had no idea how they would fit in the story start to make sense. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. You just have to make it there.
4. 50000 words is not a complete novel
Sorry. It’s not. It’s a great start. It’s maybe even a strong skeleton, but 50k is not long enough for a novel unless you’re writing YA maybe. Most novels geared toward adults are more in the 80-90k range. It’s okay. You’ll flesh it out later. But for Pete’s sake, do not think you’re going to write this thing and ship it off the next day to agents or publish it on Smash Words. Please don’t. It (and you) need to rest a little. It’s like cooking, the flavors need some time to meld. Then when you go back, you can add just a few more spices to really make it shine.
5. Make an Outline, For the love of God, make an outline
Really. Make one. It will not destroy your creativity. It doesn’t have to be an intense scene by scene or even chapter by chapter outline. But you should know four or five major points you plan on going, the beginning and end being two of those. That way when you go off on a tangent, like, for example, your villain, who is a bad guy, goes and breaks into your hero’s home and kills her cat and then there’s this whole police conspiracy and it goes on for say, 3000 words. Then you realize that’s just ridiculous for your story, that’s not the kind of villain you’re writing. If you have an outline, you can go back and get on track. (BTW, you won’t delete those 3000 words. They count and no editing.) So make an outline. Do it this weekend. You have until Tuesday. It will make your life for the next month much easier.
6. Write Out of Order
This is not a book report. It is not an essay. It is not a short story. It is a novel. It is a beast. When you get stuck (and you will get stuck), write another part. (Since you have an outline, that’s easy to do.) You can go back and cut and paste it in place later. It’s really freeing to write out of order. Even if you don’t get stuck, you might want to try it.
7. Just do it
Finally, just do it. You can do this. It’s going to be challenging. It’s going to be intense. But you can do it. Think about Dory from Finding Nemo and just keep writing.
Are you doing NaNo this year? Have you done it before? What other tips do you have?