This post came a lot earlier than I expected, but, there’s no point holding it off! I beat NaNoWriMo on the 19th day of this month, and here, I give you the things I learned from my first proper attempt at NaNoWriMo.
I’m hoping, that somehow, this can help you get to your goals this month, and all the others months!
First, I’ll start with the most important lesson I learned!
- Prepare Yourself!
And I don’t mean in terms of outlining. I did very minimal outlining before hand and planned it as I went (making me a bonafide planster). I mean mentally.
I choose to start by distancing myself from my then WIP Tales of Monsters, and then, I just sort of chilled out, read books (I read like seven books in October – that is like a record for me), took part in Pondiros #PonderingPrep on the instas, and briefly outlined the first few pages so I could get in to the story, and making sure I had something close-by to write on just in case I had a burst of inspiration (your phone works wonders for this).
- Deadlines, wow!
I never realised how important, and useful deadlines were until NaNoWriMo happened, and I think, from now on, I’m gonna have to make deadlines for all of my stories! I think it also gives you the ability to give yourself more incentives to finish!
The next of which is getting Tales of Monsters ready for b=Beta Readers. Said deadlines bring me on to the next one!
I’ve already done a blog post on my incentive to finish NaNoWriMo – which you can find here, but I think that it’s so important to have something that you look forward to at the end of it, and something that you’re not going to be able to put your full self in to because you’re still hung up on your NaNo WIP!
I normally don’t do well under pressure. I can get really stressed out, you know, but the pressure of this kept me going! I didn’t think it would, I didn’t think it actually could, but, somehow, me and pressure came to some mutual agreement and the pressure of getting 50k of words out in 30 days helped get this thing done!
- First Person Experiences
I don’t really work with first person narratives or perspectives, I prefer the whole third person perspective, but, for this story, it worked! I’ve used it before, but, usually, my novels have much more to them, and I just feel more secure using a third-person narrative (and it works better for both the story and the characters).
My NaNo WIP focuses on the thoughts, feelings and ramblings of a twelve-year-old girl , and a forty-year-old man who reads her diary, so, first person obviously works much better for that sort of story!
And, the experience with my forty-year-old diary readers first person shananigans actually brings me to my next point!
- Don’t be Afraid of Change!
Whether you’re a plotter, a plantser or a pantser, don’t be afraid to change the way somethings is going, or to mix it all up. About 20K words in, I changed my diary readers perspective from third person to first person (present tense), which, eventually, I realised I needed to do. It made it easier to write, and flow. And that’s what NaNo needs, you need to make it easy for yourself!
- Get Support!
Whether it’s from family, friends, writing groups or buddies on the interwebs, support from someone else will remind you how well you’re doing, and that you can keep going even when it all looks like it’s gonna fall apart!
- The Story
This is also another important lesson that I learned. The story I wrote felt like it wanted to be written. And I think that is essential in something like this. It doesn’t mean that everyday, you have to meet your word count goals, but it will mean that you’re more determined to keep going, to keep writing.
- Word Vomit!
Word vomit was my best friend this month. NaNo says that quantity equates to quality, and I’m really hoping that rings true, because that’s what I felt like most of the paragraphs were, but then, the story itself, gave itself to word vomit, so, if anything, hopefully that helps!
- No Editing!
I shouldn’t have to say this! It’s a first draft, you have to remember that! But, it’s definitely a train of thought that you have to prepare yourself for. If you’re being a traditionalist, just write it. If you don’t like a paragraph you just wrote, leave it in there and rewrite it, or, just leave it and go on to the next bit! Words, word and more words!
- No High-end Formatting!
So, throughout the whole thing, I have two different kinds of formatting. That’s italics and highlighting! The highlights are for all the passages in the book that are completely out of place, and the italics is to distinguish between twelve-year-old thoughts and forty-year-old thoughts!
Also, that’s another thing, don’t worry about how mixed up chapters and passages are. Just get the words down on the paper, and you can edit it all later!
- Look After Yourself!
So, you want to reach this amazing goal, but, you can’t do that if you neglect yourself. Make sure you eat well, and sleep well, and go outside every once in a while (or at least have a window open).
I actually started volunteering at my local dogs trust, so, other than work, I got to go outside and distance myself from my writing for a little bit!
- Pace Yourself
Don’t write yourself out! Don’t write until your inspiration is gone. What I did, which I found really helped was, I stopped at a certain point in each day, and then did bullet points of what I wanted to happen next. It meant that I was able to go back the next day, and be able to continue where I left off immediately, and sometimes, when writers block came to visit, I was able to just expand on my bullet points until the story came.
- Swapping The Screen For a Notebook
I had to do this a few times, and, it helped so much! Especially when my eye’s felt like they were about to fall asleep, or after I’d had a long day at work! The only thing is, you have to count the words up afterwards!
I really think this can apply to NaNoers, and just writers in general. And, I think that if I can apply this sort of process to my other first drafts in the future, it’s going to be so much easier!
What you need to remember though is this is what I had to do to get through NaNoWriMo, and it’s only by attempting something like that, that you will learn what you need to do to better and improve yourself!
Everyone is going to have a completely different experience, except for the whole, this story isn’t going to work thoughts, and the it doesn’t sound right sort of feelings, and to that, I say, there is a reason you started writing what you did. Perhaps it’s not the right story for right now, perhaps something else is itching to get out, but, there’s a reason you started it. Never forget that.
So, to sign off, to my fellow NaNoers, and fellow writers, I might be done with this November challenge, but I’m still here for you guys, to the end and beyond!
Just Keep Writing