National Novel Writing Month is here (NaNoWriMo), which is a challenge to write 50K words in thirty days. Yep, write a ‘novel’ in a month, right in the holiday season. Because guess what? There IS no perfect time to write that novel…especially for those who want to go pro and stay pro.
Today’s tips, however, are evergreen. Good for every day and month and year, even if you are not writing a novel. Yet, when I’ve challenged folks in the past to at least TRY NaNoWriMo, I would get questions like this in the comments.
Blog Question: Kristen, I really want to do NaNoWriMo, but why did they have to choose NOVEMBER?
NaNoWriMo chose November because it was probably started by writers and we are sadists who are trained to make people suffer. Also, writing will make you choose between your characters and family eventually, so get used to it. Bringing novels into the family is like adopting foster children/families who chew on the furniture and shoot guns in the air.
And look at the benefits. Holidays are priceless inspiration for baggage, drama, conflict, AND it’s socially acceptable to live off candy because it’s the “holiday season.” Do you really want to be challenged to write 50,000 words in a month in JANUARY, fueled by celery and sore from the gym? Or November, in stretchy pants, fueled by fudge, nacho dip and rum balls?
You’re welcome 😉 ….
Whether or not you are doing NaNoWriMo, these tips will help you go pro because for the pros? Every month is NaNoWriMo. Learn to embrace the G.R.I.N.D.
Most of us are going to have to work a day job and write so NaNoWriMo is a fantastic crucible. We also have a family and like me, you probably have spoiled them by actually feeding them every day. The world is not going to pause because we are writing a book.
Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of an ADHD spider monkey…with a bad crack habit.
1. Make lists.
I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).
Like Covey says…
Never mistake the urgent for the important.
Do that NaNoWriMo word count right away. Just get it DONE.
2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.
Writing is a profession, not a playpen.
Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and spirit mediums listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.
But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.
Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.
3. Use the Force…of self-discipline.
Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?
I use the “Swiss Cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites and NaNoWriMo is no exception.
I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.
Even I don’t get a pass during NaNoWriMo. I have blogs to write (LOTS of words that don’t count for NaNoWriMo), edits to complete, classes to prepare then teach, bills to pay, bookkeeping, taxes, laundry, litter boxes, and dirty dishes. #GlamorousLife
4. Mix it up.
I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.
Chip at the NaNoWriMo goal a hundred words at a time.
I LOVE audio books when my brain needs a break from MY writing. I can always tell writers who aren’t avid readers, because their writing sucks.
Want to be a great author? Read as much as humanly possible. I listen to audio books while doing housework. It makes the dishes go faster and hones my skills. It revitalizes the muse and keeps me in right-brain mode.
And I don’t want to hear, Oh well when I am writing I don’t like to read because that author’s voice will bleed over into my work.
All I have to say about that is If only we could be that frigging lucky!
Yes, please let Gillian Flynn infiltrate and hijack my work. Like NOW!
5. Suck it up, Buttercup.
Understand that sometimes—especially during NaNoWriMo—we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.
6. Make mean writer friends.
Yes, the Swiss Cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. On the surface my friends are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my television.
Come hang out on W.A.N.A.Tribe. It is a Ning I created just for writers and guess what? It is all writing all the time and no one spams or trolls or rants about whatever the Drama De Jure happens to be. Facebook is there for those who desire to be hysterical, depressed and spammed.
Since I don’t wanna listen to or see that crap, I built my OWN social site, because it’s cheaper than therapy or a criminal defense attorney. On W.A.N.A.Tribe I rule. I’m a kind, loving but vengeful god and will smite asshattery.
So if you need to escape Facebook and find those mean friends? We are there. We have been doing sprints on the CHAT page for OVER TWO YEARS. M-F (M-S for NaNoWriMo) all day every day even holidays.
I kick your @$$ every day free of charge.
*polishes riding crop*
7. Ditch loser friends.
We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time.
Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs
blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.
8. Forget perfection (especially for NaNoWriMo).
Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.)
The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers.
This is the big lesson NaNo is really trying to teach you. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking. Guess what, no half-finished novel ever became a runaway best-seller…but more than a few crappy-but-finished ones have.
Stuck on the WIP? Brain in a fog? Can’t seem to get the words down? Yeah, well hard truth time. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their butts all day. Our lymphatic and circulatory systems can only do their jobs if we add in physical activity.
Blood flow improves and our body can return the blood pooling at our feet fresh, oxygenated and revitalized (filtered through lymphatic system) back to OUR BRAINS where we kinda need it.
Again, I strongly recommend audio books. Cleaning counts as exercise if you do it properly 😛 . This is working smarter, not harder. Shiny floors and absorb greatness from literary legends while stimulating the right-brain. #Genius
10. Drink lots of water.
Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity (way better when we MOVE). Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way.
Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.
It’s science. Don’t argue.
I hope these tips help, because finishing NaNo is no easy task. In fact, I am creating this post during sprints (as in right now) on W.A.N.A.Tribe. Then, I’ll use it to get through edits and work then NaNoWriMo words.
Hop on the CRAZY TRAIN!!
Last year everyone who sprinted finished NaNoWriMo in record time…because they had to keep up with me (my record is finishing in 11 days). If you want to really experience the professional pace, come join us! Once a member, hit the CHAT tab and we are there every day and usually all day.
No ads, trolls, family, drama, politics, distractions, or spam. 100% HUSTLE. Okay that’s a wee lie. We hustle 40 minutes, I call time, we report what we accomplished, chat a few minutes then go again. So like 92% HUSTLE. All the social without the spam 😀 .
****FTY—If you sign up I have to personally approve you to make sure we keep bots out, so relax.
Share your thoughts! Ideas, suggestions, struggles, tips, recipes using hard liquor?
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!
What do you WIN? For the month of NOVEMBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
*****Saturday’s blog had a special contest for a free class, and Laura Drake is the winner.
Winner of OCTOBER’s Comment Contest is Susie Murphy. Please send your 5000 word WORD document to kristen at wana intl dot com. Double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font and one inch margins. Needs to be a regular doc or docx because I use track changes.