Monday, 2 November 2015

What not to do for NaNoWriMo (which I am probably 100% guilty of)

Don’t stop writing:
No matter how much you have prepared for this month (if you are pantser then you haven’t prepared much I know) there will always be unforeseen things that might force you to stop half-way or not hit those sweet 50k. This is okay, it happens to all of us and you are as much of a winner as those people who finish in 2 days and probably a lot more hydrated. The goal is to teach yourself to write every day even if it is only a couple of lines and to apply these techniques to the times that follow November. And with this even taking your first baby steps into the writing world makes you a winner. 

Do not doubt yourself:
Doubt is your worst enemy (other than time management, but we will get back to that) and has the deadly silent slaying power of a ninja. Just when you think you have it under control and that you are doing alright one line in your novel can trip you up and stall your work for hours. Remember that this month is about writing a rough draft and not finishing a complete novel in 30 days! When the little things start nagging you or if a line doesn’t quite sound right, take a deep breath and move on. Remember that by doing this you are winning the small battles so you can face the big war named editing.

Do not edit:
On a similar note. This is not the month for editing anything. Leave the mistakes in and have a laugh about them afterwards. Power on trooper!

Do not chose this time to start a new blog, website, kangaroo farm etc:
This is the one that always gets me and that I am well aware of is what I am guilty of right now.
If you have never sat down to write any large amounts of text before then the prospect can seem scary. Enter the ever tempting procrastination in all her velvety delight. Penning down 1600 words a day is hard enough in itself but adding another time-consuming activity on top of it will greatly induce the chances of your precious time management failing drastically. There is always something else that seems more appealing if you are struggling to get the words flowing and although I encourage that you still make time for other activities you need to ask yourself if you should embark on such a large project as NaNo if you would rather be petting baby kangaroos all day.    

Do not over book every weekend in November.
A lot of us work full-time and still try to jam writing in on top of this. Weekends are for catching up with your word count to make up for all the unforeseen events of the weekdays. It is your snuggly safety blanket that will make up for overtime, broken washing machines and children getting colds. It will cushion the fall from forgetting to charge your laptop before a long commute or for the times when that inspiration is just not coming to you because of fatigue etc. Every year I make sure to book at least one weekend in November to sit down in my den and catch up or at least let the creative juices flow for a couple of undisturbed hours of peace.

Do not think that you will have a finished novel by the end of November.
50.000 words does not a novel make. It makes a good first draft and it lets you grasp the potential of your story, but it is not a full novel!

Do not let anyone read your project:
This is serious business to me. I have seen potential writerlings in the making crumble and fall on this. Critique, whether it be from yourself or others, has no place in your life this month. It is okay to bounce ideas of other people and be inspired by what they might have to say and maybe help you out if you get stuck, but letting people play jump rope with your carefully crafted words is not okay. The point of this month is to write 50.000 words of awesome word ramblings and not look back. What other people initially think of your plot, characters and wordings is irrelevant right now as you are just writing a rough draft and their criticism will most likely end up hurting more than helping. Imagine if you will that you have decided to bake a cake, your favourite chocolate fudge brownie or whatever tickles your fancy (no running off to actually bake a cake now alright!) and you get all your ingredients together. Its all looking good until your mother shows up and decides to add raisins or some other ungodly ingredient to the batter. Suddenly you no longer have the cake you had expected but instead you are stuck with something slightly inedible which you struggle to eat. Writing is much the same as baking that cake. You have all the elements of your novel stuffed in your head, written on a notepad or etched into your skin somewhere and that one sour ingredient that another person wishes for you to add so it fits their likes, might end up spoiling the project for you and making the rest of the month a struggle.

Do not listen to friends and family that tell you that you stand no chance to complete this. There are many cases in life where we would love to have the full support of the people around us and writing is no different. Every writer has heard the line; When are you getting a real job? at least once or twice (a week) in their career but you are not embarking on this project for their sake. You are doing this because you want to test yourself. Dip your toes in the big writing pool before diving in. Forget other people’s expectations on your behalf for at least this month and then the mountain of emotional baggage can tumble over and fall on you afterwards when you let them read your project.  

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