I have started NaNo for the third time in three years, and I am having some serious NaNo-doubt. I don’t know that I can get it done.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know I’m a big advocate of ‘You can’t find the time, you have to make the time.’ And then the busiest month in my life-to-date happened. That was October. And, to my surprise and stoke, things appear to only be getting busier in November.
This is awesome. I’m getting so many new editing clients, and really enjoying working with some super-talented people. I’ve had books I’ve edit hit the Amazon Top 100 and chart top 10 in their respective categories. And I released my debut novel.
I feel really blessed to have all these great things happen to me, but it’s at the point where I need to have a think; do I push on, and capitalise on the moment, and put the work first? Or do I make time for NaNo, which is kind of what drew me back into writing in the first place?
Clearly, I’m going to give NaNo a shot. So, here are some of top NaNo tips, both for myself, and anyone else who happens to need some NaNo-vation.
Start small. You don’t have to hit the big word counts right away. Sure, some people are gloating at being up around the 20k mark already, but it doesn’t mean you need to be there, too. In fact, if you’re behind, that’s okay. Specifically, say, if you’re only at 2,989 words, that’s fine. No one thinks you’re a loser. *eyes shiftily look around the room* Do they?
Plan. I’m only a loose planner but I’ve found, particularly during NaNo, it means I get more done. And, since I’m working in very small spurts of time, it keeps me more focused. I have less ‘And then they went to the shop and bought milk’ moments.
Hit delete if you want to. There, I said it. The cardinal rule of NaNo, the one everyone speaks about, is ‘Don’t hit the delete button.’ You’re supposed to write, and write, and write. Now, I’m not saying you should edit as you go. But if you end up decided a huge chunk of story isn’t working for you and that you want the plot to go somewhere else, I think it’s important you write what you want.
Last year, two days before NaNo ended, I deleted 25,000 words because the plot deviation I’d chosen just wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t finish. But you know what? I wrote the bare bones of the favourite pier of writing I have. I finished the novel three months later. Did I finish NaNo? No. But did I learn a whole heap about the direction I wanted to take and what I needed to get that book across the line? Hell to the yes!
Don’t let people tell you what to do. One thing that annoys me about NaNo is that people put these lists of rules out. Or tips, if you will. Like, this one, for example! But I think you need to make your NaNo work for you. After all, you know how you write best; use NaNo to embrace it. Don’t lose who you are because of it. And make sure you celebrate on December 1, whether you have 50,000 words in your pocket or 50. The point is, even if you got three sentences out, you’re one step closer to a novel than you were October 31. Now that’s something to celebrate.