WHAT’S SCARIER THAN A HORDE OF HALF-DECAYED ZOMBIES SHUFFLING IN YOUR DIRECTION WHEN YOU’RE FRESH OUT OF BULLETS AND JUST SO HAPPENED TO LEAVE YOUR AXE AT HOME???
NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH!!!!
Forget about all that undead nonsense and unpack that Zombie Apocalypse Survival Kit you’ve been hiding in the back corner of your basement, cuz NOVEMBER IS COMING and it HAS NO MERCY and you’re going to need those camp rations during your battle with words if you want to live to see December!!!!
So get your sorry ass into this Boot Camp and learn what it takes to stagger triumphantly up out of the darkness into the bright, bloody dawn of December 1st, 2013 a WINNER, victorious and exhilarated… you might be exhausted, you might be forgotten by family and friends, you might not have the faintest idea what year it is anymore, but you WILL have a copy of your 50,000 words clutched in your desperate, grubby hands and by god you WILL.BE.A.WINNER!!!!!!!!!
1) KNOW YOUR MISSION OBJECTIVE!
Are you going for the full 50,000 words or not?!? DECIDE NOW! NaNo Police will not tap NSA resources to spy on what exactly you are doing during these 30 days! Aiming for only 20k words? DO IT! Want to edit a novel instead? GO FOR IT! (The going conversion rate is 1 hour of editing = 1000 words, btw, then use a random word generator to create the words you need to plug into the Validator at the end of the month.) Just want to FINISH a currently unfinished draft but aren’t entirely starting from scratch? SURE!
BUT FIGURE IT OUT NOW.
AND THEN DO IT. NO EXCUSES!!!!!
2) TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW!
Not only will they be super impressed when you come back at the end of the month and tell them you accomplished your goal, but their occasional inquires as to your progress will keep you accountable. There will be no quietly sneaking away from this one unnoticed, thank you!
3) SCHEDULE YOUR TIME!
THIS MONTH IS ABOUT MAKING TIME FOR YOUR WRITING! YOU MAKE TIME FOR WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU!
Pick a time you will commit yourself to writing no matter what each day, whether it’s morning, noon or night. AT LEAST an hour, preferably two or three hours. Tell outsiders you have “an appointment” at this time of day if you need to, but do whatever you have to in order to get that time free for yourself!
Assign other household duties/errands to other family members for the month.
Warn all affected that you will not be doing housework, cleaning, or cooking for the month, and showers may become optional.
As such, give your house a deep clean pre-November and stock up on frozen foods and/or rely on that handy-dandy slow cooker!
Spend extra time with your kids if you have them pre-November, and then tell them you’ll have to be absent more than usual for 30 days, but that afterwards everyone can participate in the celebration!
4) PLAN THE DAMN NOVEL BEFOREHAND!
Are you a pantser? No you aren’t.
Even pantsers aren’t really usually flying by the seat of their pants! See here, here, and here and read this for broad, basic things you can be thinking about pre-November to get the ideas flowing and some rough things nailed down, EVEN IF YOU ARE A PANTSER and EVEN IF YOU MOSTLY HAVE NO IDEA YET WHAT YOU WILL BE WRITING!
At the very least, look into Variable Plot Outlining before you get started in November. Having a direction to aim for, even if it covers a very broad range, is extremely helpful when attempting to write quickly!!!! (It prevents panic attacks, true story!) There is no time to be THINKING about what you will be writing, there is only to time to WRITE! So yes, we are all actually writing by the seats of our pantses during November – and it is an infinitely smoother process when you have devoted some forethought to the basic premise of your novel idea!!!!
5) WRITE HOT HOT HOT!
Enabled by #4!!!!
As in, DO NOT THINK about what you’re writing – JUST WRITE! Don’t try to figure out what happens next – JUST WRITE!!
DO NOT EDIT IN ANY FORM!!!!
Whatever comes out, comes out. Might be crap, but crap is better than a blank page!!!
6) CHOOSE YOUR SQUAD!
No one can fight a battle alone!!!
Officially sign up: November NaNo!
Join your local area forums!!! Talk to people!!! Add Writing Buddies!!! Message them, email them, for pete’s sake get out of your house and meet them at a coffee shop to get some face-time!!!!
You’ll see them writing and be inspired. You’ll hear of their struggles and be comforted. You’ll get brainstorming buddies. You’ll hear stories of how they’ve done this eight times before and gain confidence that it can actually be done. You’ll know you are not alone as a writer… you are never alone!!! (And this will also add to your accountability, see #2!)
7) BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE!
Having a goal and an insane deadline doesn’t inspire you??
Compete with other participants!!! Either officially in a declared Word War or Word Sprint, or unofficially in secret as you stalk their user profiles and endeavor every night to come back the next morning with a word count higher than theirs!!!
Competition is extremely effective. All friendly, of course, but let that be the kick-start you need to make yourself put butt in chair and fingers to keyboard!!!
8) START STRONG AND DON’T LET UP!
Sometimes NaNoWriMo starts on a weekend. This means there is really NO EXCUSE!!!!
Start strong and I mean start REALLY STRONG!!! If it doesn’t start on a weekend, then block off the entire first weekend of November when it does come to just WRITE!! Rocket that word count past every other single person participating in this thing! Get 20k words in the first three days! Kick that NaNoWriMo ass right off the bat and show it who’s boss!!!
This will allow you some breathing room later in the month when that pesky holiday arrives with all the relatives in tow!!! PLAN AHEAD!!!
And so what if you miss a day? So what if your word count seems dismally low to the point of no return? Get back on that damn horse! Try your best to write at least a little bit every day, so that you are never completely out of the race if given one entire day of hard writing. But, if it happens, forgive yourself, too. Write as much as you possibly can that month. Do your very best. That’s all anyone can ask from you, including yourself!
9) TRACK YOUR WORD COUNT!
Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of numbers and graphs.
Enter your word count on the official site everyday and watch your bar creep ever higher!
Download a NaNo calendar, or buy yourself some goodies to get inspired!
10) FREAKIN’ CELEBRATE! … WHEN IT’S OVER
I like Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s idea in her “Book in a Month”… plan some type of celebration at the end of the month, if you manage to reach your word goal.
Give yourself a reward – a big one!! Something you really, really want. Something really fun.
It’s the carrot in front of your nose, the thing that makes all the sweat and blood and tears worth it! (Aside from the next bestseller you just wrote in freakin’ 30 days, of course!) But I’m willing to go a step further. Celebrate each 1/4 mark with little things. Celebrate the halfway mark with something a little bigger and then party like it’s 1999 at the end!
NaNoWriMo actually has a Kick Off and a TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) party, so you’ll be in good company!
11) THANK YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
For putting up with you in November. Let them have some cake, too!!
(Also see this post of mine for more survival tips!!)