Each November when writers thoughts turn to NaNoWriMo, I’ve always talked myself out of participating. Here are a few of my excuses:
“I could never make that kind of word count goal in only 30 days.”
“But what kind of quality would be coming out of something written so fast?”
“I don’t have the discipline.”
“A bunch of family will be here for Thanksgiving week. That will derail me.”
“Ugh, a made-up event to make writing hacks feel good about not writing the rest of the year.”
“If I don’t make the goal, it proves I don’t have what it takes to be a good writer.”
“I don’t like scheduling my creativity. My muse needs freedom.”
“I already don’t have enough time for what I’m doing now.”
“It’s a big guilt trip.”
I’ve been debating with myself about doing NaNoWriMo for a couple months now. Trying to tell myself all the reasons I shouldn’t do it. Which is the very reason I NEED to do it this time.
Excuses are not going to cut it anymore. If I want to put on my big girl writing pants, I have to write. Every day. Writers write. Words. Lots of them. Every day I can.
It doesn’t mean every word I write will be descending on golden clouds of perfectness. I’ll probably write a lot of crap. That makes Perfectionist Me very uncomfortable. I continue to struggle with the messiness of creativity and my own inner critic. And that’s why I’ll be joining NaNoWriMo this year.
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days leaves little time for perfectionism and all its idiosyncrasies. It leaves little time to analyze my level of self- discipline and if I am building ‘healthy writing habits’. It comes down to a phrase a writing teacher of mine says needs to be a productive writer’s mantra: “Now is the best time to write.”
So I’m signed up on the official NaNo site. (Be my buddy here.) I’ve been prepping the details of the story I’ll be working on. I will write 50,000 words and be a ‘winner’. Some of the words might be crappy. I’ll have a messy first draft. That’s what revision is for. I need to finish something.
But here’s also what I won’t do. Make another writer feel bad for not participating. This is where I’m at and what I need at this time in my writing journey.
If you aren’t at a place where you feel you need it, don’t do it. Don’t feel guilted into it. Don’t jump into NaNo uninformed and unprepared just because you know all your writing buds are doing it, and wouldn’t you look silly if you didn’t and you’re reading all kinds of blogs about how ‘everyone’ is doing NaNoWriMo. Because if your reasons for doing NaNo aren’t really for you, you won’t stick with it, you’ll get frustrated, or quit when you write yourself into a corner, and you’ll feel worse about your writing abilities than you did before you started. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
I intend to exit NaNoWriMo with a finished first draft of my contemporary suspense novel that I have been working on in small bits and pieces for over a year, and a greater strength of self-discipline. I’m not going to worry about ‘what-ifs’ but I am going to do my very best. And that’s all anyone can do.
If you’re going to be joining the ranks of NaNoWriMo-ites this November, best of luck to you. I’m listing some good resources for any last-minute prepping advice you’d like to get in the links below. I’ll be reporting in with a blog post at the end of the first week, at the mid-point, and in the aftermath. I’d love to hear how you are doing as well.
If you aren’t going to be doing NaNoWriMo this November, best of luck to you as well. Keep calm and write on. Tell me how you’re doing, too. Would you like to help develop some writing self-discipline without surrendering your entire November? There’s some non-NaNo sites that encourage good writing habits in the links. Check them out.
And if you find some magic self-discipline elixir out there made from unicorn hiccups or some such, let me know. I think for me, like everyone else, it comes down to plain old butt-in-chair, show up and write. W-O-R-K. Darn. I thought the book would just float out of my brain and onto the paper…
If you are doing NaNo (or just want good pre-novel writing preps) you might want to check out some of these resources:
Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds (some NWFW language)
Kristen Lamb’s Blog
- How To Make Sure Your NaNo Project Isn’t A Hot Mess
- NaNoWriMo Training Lean, Mean Writing Machines
- Preparing For NaNoWriMo & Feeding The Muse To Go The Distance
- Fueling The Muse for NaNoWriMo – Part One
- Fueling The Muse Part 2 – How To Give Your NaNo Story A Beating Heart and a Skeleton
Alexandra Sokoloff – Screenwriting Tricks for Authors
- October Is Nanowrimo Prep Month
- Nanowrimo Prep: First, You Need An Idea
- Nanowrimo Prep: The Three-Act Eight Sequence Structure
- Nanowrimo Prep: The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid
- Nanowrimo Prep: Story Elements Checklist
The Chipper Muse
The Write Practice
NaNo Twitter Hashtags to Follow:
If you’d like to find some non-NaNo-related activities to help build writing discipline check out these links:
- ROW80 – A Round of Words in 80 Days
- 750 Words
- 250 Words A Day Challenge
- Better Writing Habits – Make Over Your Writing Habits in 30 Days
- The Write Practice
Twitter Hashtags to Follow: