For those of you who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo! People take a personal challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
However, some decide to ramp that up and try to write it in 24 hours. And I thought, why not? Gave it a try, and a carpel tunnel diagnosis later, I succeeded!
BLynchBooks asked me for tips, and what started out as a quick message turned into a TL;DR post. So I figured I would post it on my blog too!
Proof I Did It
Some of you know I go on Reddit a lot. They are a cynical bunch, not that I blame them, but I knew the veracity of my claim would come into question. Thus, I tweeted the whole thing, AND I made the novel available for people to read and watch if they wanted to see my progress on Yarny.
Why I Did It
I get this question a lot.
- I wanted to raise money for Nanowrimo! What better way to get people’s attention about the fundraiser?
- Job is slower this time of year so I am able to take some time off. Best to do this now because I may never get a chance to attempt this.
- I wrote a post about Quantity Produces Quality which I totally believe. I don’t think anyone read it.
- This is my 7th year. I wanted a different challenge for Nanowrimo.
- Last year, I burned out. I had too many things on the go. My family BOOKS things in November, how dare they! *laugh* So this year, I got that writing part out of the way.
- This year is crazier than last yer. I do two daily webcomics (NaNoToons and Debs&Errol) and I’m doing NaNoWriMo: The Musical. And I have a Con to perform at and afterwards two gigs in one day (of course on the night of the overnighter)! PEOPLE BOOK ME during November. WHY??
- I wanted to write two different things too. I wanted to do a Terraria Fan fic, and I wanted to do a collab with a friend.
How I Did It
- Try to get some sleep ahead of time. I tried that. I really did. I failed, but I did try.
- Be very sure that your hands are ergonomically proper. If you don’t, they will KILL you before the 24 hours is up. Mine were starting to fade about… 4 hours before it ended!
- Take breaks. Take naps. Don’t try and write for 24 hours straight. At 5am, if you check on twitter, I took a nap with 15k. I couldn’t stay awake and got up at 8. I also had to pick up my girls from school. And I also had to cook them supper because they’re spoiled. Those breaks were very welcome.
- Don’t edit. This you should know during Nano.
- Choose a platform to write on that won’t give you problems. For me, I chose Yarny because it was there. I had a few snags. But it showed me the word count per chapter, and word count for the whole novel in one glance. I didn’t have to worry about other clutter
Trying to finish 50k in 24 hours should be motivation enough, however:
- Each chapter I wrote was about 1.2 – 2k. Those were small goals. They were nice goals to keep me motivated.
- People on twitter were encouraging me. I would post on twitter every 5k and get a lot of great responses.
- People on chat were encouraging me and didn’t try to slow me down. They were with me all the way, I kept the chat window open and they would talk about my progress to see how I’m doing. It was great to see them interested and supportive! Huzzah Toronto Nano! 😀
This may be the hardest part. What do you write about? What if you get writer’s block? What if you are filled with so much doubt that you freeze? Thing is, you can’t do that. 😀 So you will have to start training yourself to produce content. 🙂
- Outlines help! Outlines help a lot so you don’t have to think about it! Even though I didn’t outline, I did write a fanfic so that the world was already there pre-built for me to work from!
- Write what is easy and comfortable. For me, that’s dialogue. I am awful at descriptions, but I can do dialogue without thinking.
- Have two ‘separate’ storylines! In my story, there was a prologue which was part of a flashback. I think I used that for four chapters, so that I could switch gears mentally. Of course the two stories tied together eventually, but I was expecting that. Also, one chapter was written from the perspective of a cow like creature. So… whatever works.
- No idea is stupid. If it doesn’t work out, just abandon it but don’t delete it. Or heck, just keep using it! That creature I mentioned was put into the story for no reason. I just did. I hoped to use it later, but I didn’t. It was just a background thing for the characters to interact with and it did NOTHING plotwise. However, there was another situation where a character did something, and I just thought “Why? Who knows? Let him do that”. And then it became a major plot point near the end. So keep all your ideas!
- Throw away your filters. 🙂
What do I mean? Well, I believe, creativity can be practiced.
Currently, I’m in an improv duo, as well as a geek, comedy music band. I practice being creative all the time. Of course there are other mitigating factors, but practice is important! It is like a discipline. You can practice brainstorming. Constantly do creative things! It helps a lot.
Does it work? Well, I don’t get writer’s block. Everything inspires me to write. I have no filters in place.
I’m not trying to brag, because quite frankly, filters are in place to stop crap from coming out. I’m not saying anything I produce is any good! *laugh* But that’s what editing is for.
So STOP your filters! All my creative partners have filters in place, and they are usually worried about what other people think, or whether or not what they do is stupid, etc.
The great thing about writing, is no one has to read it. So remove those filters and self doubt (if you experience that).
One Last Thing
Some have reacted negatively to this. I’m used to that! I’ve been a geek all my life, a lot of things I’ve done was always looked down upon. 😀
But you know what? Nanowrimo is a personal challenge, and completing anything, I believe, is awesome. Totally awesome. When I first heard about this challenge, I thought it was the best idea ever, and I immediately joined. When I heard that people got 50k in a day, or a million in a month, I thought “That’s crazy! Crazy impressive! I could never do a million in a month!”
But never did I once believe what other people accomplished ever diminished my accomplishments. 😀 I loved every minute of Nanowrimo!
In the end, no one cares I wrote 50k in a month, or 50k in a day. My family is sick of me doing Nanowrimo every month for that matter! *laugh* But it’s something I enjoy doing, and will continue to do. I set a challenge for myself because I like to.
Is my novel any good? Ugh no, although I am shocked some people read it. Will I ever be able to do a million? No. I barely survived the 50k. However, I do not need to minimize others accomplishments! They do not make my lesser accomplishments ‘unworthy’.
Do Nanowrimo for yourself. Do it to benefit you and your craft. If you can, then that’s great! The hardest part of a lot of creative challenges is starting them.
Then the next hardest is finishing. Finish what you started. 😀