Monday, October 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo and You: the Advice of a 50/50 Success Story

We're gearing up to my very favorite time of the year, Halloween.  After that, though, comes my second-favorite season: National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.  I won in 2011, and the result was Leech.  I failed miserably last year and haven't been able to restart the project since then.  (Perhaps because I have been away from the poisonous influences that inspired Eat in the first place for several years now, so call it a backdoor win?)  Here's what worked for me on the year I did win:

1) Routine.  Find out how you best work and stick to it.  When I was in college and working out of longhand in a notebook, I could sit down for five minutes and absolutely disappear into the work before popping right back up again.  (Apologies to the professors who got sixty percent of me at best.)  During the window between graduating and grown-up work, I learned to write from a laptop from an hour before I had to get dressed for the obligatory degrading retail job.  At my first Big Girl job, I took my laptop with me and physically removed myself from distractions during breaks and lunches.  Now that Ye Old Day Job is in a neighborhood where it's honestly not safe to carry a laptop with you, I work out of a thumb drive.

2)  Find the vices that help you, find the vices that hurt you, and eliminate accordingly.  I am, believe it or not, a morning person.  I wake up a good forty-five minutes before I actually need to and spend it dancing about, drinking coffee, and talking to myself.  My weakness for terrible pop music (I've given up and resigned myself to worshipping at the altar of Katy Perry) lends to that; so, for the month of November, it has to go in favor of character playlists.  (Except that Bonnie is a mixture of hip-hop, punk, and punch-your-fist-up diva ballads, so this might blow up in my face on the bop-inducing front.)    I'm also a fan of the vino.  Since I have a good feeling that my best work is going to be done in the evenings and on weekends, that is also going away for the duration of the month.  The iPhone will also be placed in someone else's hands during working periods.  But you'll pry my tea and white noise out of my cold, dead hands. :)

3) Know how you write.  I'm an outliner.  If I pants it, the bones of the story just aren't there, so I freak out and toss a perfectly serviceable tale.  I outline ahead of time, being careful not to give too much on the truly sweet scenes (so I'm still having fun when I get to them), and then step back to look at the whole picture.  I'm a little behind on Bonnie's outline, but this series has been in my head for so long that I know exactly where I want her to land.

4) Just write the damned old thing and don't worry about editing.  You are not publishing on December 1st.  The important thing is to get it out, and throw yourself a party afterwards.

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