Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Sunday, October 31, 2010

On Your Marks, Get Set, GO! NaNoWriMo 2010

At midnight tonight, National Novel Writing Month begins. Some writers choose to get to bed early, others to stay up and seize NaNo by the horns as soon as the clock ticks over. Typically I choose the former, but last year the latter approach proved fruitful, so I'll probably be doing that again this year. Getting a head start, as it were, on my word count for the day helped boost my production in later days.

If you're a member of the NaNoWriMo site, don't forget to set your time zone today! You don't want to find out at 11:30pm on Monday when you're about to upload your first day's total that the server thinks you're an hour off and your total goes into the following day, leaving you with the dreaded zero for Day One. Keep in mind also that the servers are typically slow the first day as writers from all over the world update their word counts. Day One is not a day for procrastination! You can update your word count as many times in a day as you like, so if you stay up tonight and put in some work, you can put up a word count before you go to bed.

Before the madness starts, it's important to observe two rituals of NaNoWriMo. First is the Month-Long Novelist Agreement and Statement of Understanding, also known as the Form #A30/31/50K. This form, found in Chris Baty's "No Plot? No Problem!", is an acknowledgement that you're about to undertake a gargantuan, perhaps insane task, and that therefore quality is not a concern. It also states you're not to move the deadline. You weren't thinking of doing that, were you? Of course not. Make yourself a copy of the form and sign and date it. Tack it up on the wall where you do most of your writing, so you don't forget your commitment to this crazy damn thing.

Secondly, and in my opinion more importantly, there's the release of your Inner Editor. On page 108 of "No Plot? No Problem!" is a magical button, printed right there on the page. Chris Baty has made the incredibly generous and wondrous offer to take your internal editor away for the month so you can write in peace without it hovering about all the time, trying to correct spelling, insert commas, or complain about how your plot is a wimpy wet dishrag and your characters are empty shells not worthy to show their faces on soap operas. Don't worry: your editor will be safe and happy for the duration of NaNoWriMo, free to frolic with everyone else's Inner Editors and out of your hair. All you have to do is press the "Take My Inner Editor" button and all will be well.

Of course both of these things are in fact optional. Personally I like the Inner Editor Kennel idea, but you're under no obligation to sign anything or press any paper buttons. I recommend it, though. It's fun, and it'll help put you in the right frame of mind. I also recommend you grab a copy of "No Plot? No Problem!" from your local library or bookstore. I had one out of the library for at least one of the years I participated in NaNoWriMo before breaking down and shelling out the fifteen bucks at my local bookstore.

Don't forget: you have the power. One day at a time, one scene at a time, one character at a time, one sentence at a time, one word at a time. Let go. Have fun. If you make it to 50,000, fantastic! If you don't, also fantastic. And please, please, please don't worry about making it perfect. It won't be. Even if you took a year off from work to write it, it still wouldn't be perfect. And that's okay.

Before I go off to NaNo land, let me provide you with a list of useful tools and things to help you get through the month:

1 comment:

  1. Hey - when you get stuck and frustrated in 8 days - come read this blog - it's fabulous advice! :)