Writing

Diving Into NaNoWriMo, Cutting Out Excuses, and A Pile of Links to Help You Write Consistently


Messy writer's desk, NaNoWriMo, photo by kristin nador

Are you ready?

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.

Write. Now.

cat notebook at Kaiser Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma, photo by kristin nador

Write. Now.

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

Alexandra Sokoloff – Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Medium Roast

Jami Gold

The Chipper Muse

The Write Practice

5 Reasons Why You Should Do NaNoWriMo by Rebekah Loper at Natasha Hanova, Writer of YA Paranormal

The #NaNoWriMo Checklist from Writing Is Hard Work

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:

Twitter Hashtags to Follow:

Do you have any tips for writing consistently? Will you be joining NaNoWriMo this year?

27 replies »

  1. Thanks for linking to my posts! Good luck in NaNo this year. I haven’t figured out a way to fit it into my schedule this year (which I’m bummed about), but I added you as a buddy so I can cheer you on from the sidelines. 🙂

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    • Oh, I’m sad now! I’ll miss you but thanks for being a buddy, Jami! Now that I’ve committed, I’m a little overwhelmed but I’m just going to take it one day at a time. I’ll need all the cheering I can get, so thanks again. 🙂

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    • That’s kind of the way I thought about it, Judy. Watching and listening to others experiences, saying ‘Good for you, but that’s not really for me.’ I guess I realized NaNo is just another step on my writing journey to bring me closer to the goals I have for myself, so I had to get off the sidelines and try it at least once. Still, it’s a little scary! But I know it will be fun, too. Thanks for following me along the journey! 🙂

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  2. That is an excellent list of resources! I did Candace Havens Fast Drafting class earlier in the year. It was 5K a day for 14 days. It was the biggest challenge I’ve ever given myself in the writing arena. It taught me how to let go and just write. You get into a zone and write, write, write. And, surprisingly, it’s not all garbage. The trick was not to self-edit, which Iive for! lol I’m sure you will do that for NaNo, too — get in a zone. I’m thinking about NaNo in November for another project. If I do it, I will definitely shore you up. And you can do the same for me. 😀 But boy how I wish NaNo was in February!!

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  3. Thanks for linking to my guest post at Natasha’s site! I’ve added you as my buddy on the NaNo site (I’m Taethowen), and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m one your Municipal Liaisons (if you’re in the Tulsa area, which I’m guessing you are since your bio says you’re part of Tulsa Night Writers).

    We’ve got a lot of fun stuff planned for November, though, and if you haven’t homed to the Tulsa region yet, you should! You can find it here, and all the info about write-ins and such as well: http://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-oklahoma-tulsa#regions_forum

    Hope you can come to something at least once during the month! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a NaNo Mail message.

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  4. Great list of resources, Kristin! I’m diving in, too. I’ve been doing a lot of planning, so let’s see if I can juggle all the things in November to get 50K new words. I added you as a buddy. Good luck with your project!

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  5. Pingback: Jenny Berling
  6. Totally simpatico with you here. I made an attempt at it years ago and failed miserably (which is okay with me). This year I had a deep desire to develop self-discipline, so I decided to try again. My mantra is “anything I do is more than I would have done had I not done anything.” So bring it on and let’s buddy-up! 🙂

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  7. Great post! i will be taking a look at some of the links you attached! i also added you as a writing buddy. Can’t wait to see everyone’s updates! I’m relying on other people to help get me through this…lol…that’s what’s so nice about having such a strong writing community here on WordPress.
    Best of luck!

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  8. Hi Kristin! Just stopping by to say that I’ve put a link to your post on my blog. 🙂 The name of the post is “Rookie NaNoWriMo participant panic attack installing…. HELP!!! ” and it has a lot of links to blogs that were helpful to get me ready for NaNoWriMo 2014. 🙂

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