The frantic, insomnia inducing event of the year is nearly upon. No, I don’t refer to Black Friday. I mean, of course, NaNoWriMo. It’s sort of a combination of the Running of the Bulls and a fever dream. It seemed like a good idea when the notion initially entered our heads, but after the first week or two the sheer folly of our decision weighs heavy upon us. And like the fever dream it seems to never end. My father once told me you can put up with anything for six months. He obviously never sat down to partake in the NaNoWriMo. Fifty thousand words a month stretched out over a period of six months would kill many a hardened soul. A mere thirty days leaves a good many drooling, twitching victims collapsed at their laptops.
I’ve participated in the NaNoWriMo three times now, and succeeded only once. Most of the time it just grows to be too much. School or work or the simple need for food and sleep get in the way. Once a few days are missed and the need to catch up hangs heavy over my head, I often collapse under the pressure. Will that happen this year? In all probability, yes. But that won’t stop me from giving it a go. I succeeded once and from that success sprang my first book. Regardless, it’s good to challenge myself, and despite the insanity of the entire ordeal, a sense of community has sprung up around the event, making it a quest of sorts, shared by other souls anxious to leave their mark.
I don’t have vast amounts of writing wisdom to bestow upon you. For that seek the knowledge of folks like Chuck Wendig or Brandon Sanderson. I’m just here to give you a thumbs up on your decision to give the whole NaNoWriMo thing a try. Even if you don’t reach the magical fifty thousand words by the end of November, you’ll have learn something. Most of what you write will make you cringe when you go back to reread it, but you may find a few glistening dew drop gems lurking in there too. Characters you thought you knew might surprise you. This isn’t the characters running off and having a life of their own, it’s a sign of your subconscious knitting the details of the story together and responding to the changes. You’re learning more about how certain personalities will react in a given situation.
So, I’ll leave you with what little I do know in terms of succeeding in your insane quest for greatness:
- If you can escape to a private room away from other humans and pets, do so. I have five cats and they rotate between who is climbing on my computer, clawing my leg or yelling for attention.
- Get some sleep. The more tired you are, the more muddled your thoughts, and the greater your frustration levels.
- Back off the starchy carbs and stay hydrated. I won’t preach for or against caffeine, despite the fact that it acts as a diuretic. I don’t drink coffee, but I consume enough diet soda to personally keep Coke in business. Just try to add some water in there once in a while. It does wonders for clearing your head.
- Don’t go back and read and reread what you hammered out the previous days. This isn’t about quality. It’s about quantity. After you’ve recovered you can go back through the whole mess and start your cleanup job. Save that for December, January or even February. After thirty straight days of continuous writing, you deserve a break. You need to get away from your work and come back fresh.
That’s it, just simple stuff, really. So pop over to NaNoWriMo central and set up an account. Make a few friends and challenge existing friends so you can help each other get through the grueling days ahead of you. And have some fun along the way. If we’re not having fun torturing ourselves, why are we here?