As remaining ballots around the country are being submitted and tallied, I’m wondering how many writers have elected to participate in National Novel Writing Month this November. Given rising numbers of Covid-19 and potential fallout from the election, I think hunkering down over a laptop at home for the rest of the month to hammer out the book you’ve always wanted to write is a brilliant idea; if time and circumstances allow, of course.
Elsewhere on this site, I’ve mentioned that Taking Root began as a NaNoWriMo project, the goal being to write 50,000 words in one month. In his book No Plot? No Problem! NaNo founder Chris Baty offers tips, exercises, and a lot of encouragement. At https://nanowrimo.org/ there’s an endless amount of support to keep those words flowing including pep talks from renown authors and news of local writing events hosted by regional community liaisons. Hundreds of thousands of writers around the world participate each year and hundreds of NaNoWriMo novels have gone on to be traditionally published. Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator are just a few examples. This year has brought us intrigue, crises, conflict, wildfires, and now—suspense—any one or all of which could be spun into a story.
In the last post, I mentioned my inner critic. Let’s face it, we all have one. It’s that little inside voice that (hopefully, but not always) tells us when to keep our mouths shut. He/she is full of opinions about our writing, too. I had to learn to keep Griselda at bay while I was churning out 1,667 words per day to meet my NaNoWriMo target by the end of the month. I’ve heard of one writer who turns her font color WHITE while she’s writing so her inner editor can’t “see” it! I haven’t had to resort to that (it would drive me crazy) but I did come up with a few tricks to avoid losing my momentum.
- Don’t stop to self-edit. If you need a word and can’t pull it out of your head just leave a blank space and come back to it later.
- If there’s something you need to research, don’t stop to do it and get caught in the Web. Type the word in ALL CAPS as a reminder and keep going.
- When you’re ready to end a writing session, stop mid-sentence to make it easier to pick up where you left off. Push through a writer’s block if you encounter one, to get to this point.
- Avoid the temptation to reread what you’ve already written before beginning again. Just read the last paragraph and keep writing.
To paraphrase Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, all good writers have shitty first drafts. You have to begin somewhere.
To all of you 2020 NaNoWriMers and to the rest of us, GOOD LUCK!