For many writers, National Novel-Writing Month has become a joyful tradition like Christmas or the Super Bowl. NaNoWriMo is also crazy–riding-a-bucking-bronco kind of crazy (50,000 words in month?!). The good thing is that for the whole month of November we get to indulge in pure, unadulterated writing bliss. The bad thing is that, because we’re writing so much so fast, we sometimes end up with 50,000 words (or more) of “litter”-ature.
I hereby declare that it is possible to enjoy the adventure, camaraderie, and thrill of NaNoWriMo while also writing a cohesive first draft.
Like the Boy Scouts motto goes: Be Prepared.
In the final days leading up to NaNoWriMo:
1. Write an outline. In the interests of avoiding a sprawling, unworkable mess of a first draft, head into NaNoWriMo with a plot outline. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, just key plot points or, at the very least, knowing what ending you’d like to write toward.
2. Make up a word, any unusual, distinctive word. This will allow you to write faster. As you’re typing away at a breakneck speed, rather than lurching to a stop to mull over what name you’d like to give a character, place, magical fruit, etc., type your made-up word (i.e., “zibbit), which you can then search for later and replace with real names you like better.
3. Find write-ins you’d like to attend. Write-ins are good. Repeat. Write-ins are good. Write-ins mean rooms full of creative energy, discovering new local places to write, and proving to yourself that you can write anywhere. To find write-ins near you, go to the NaNoWriMo site, click on “Region,” then “Find Region,” then “Make this region my home.” Your home region should show a list of planned weekly write-ins.
4. Mark your calendar with virtual write-ins. In case there aren’t any live write-ins near you, or if you’d like to supplement with virtual ones, visit this YouTube link and make a note of upcoming virtual write-ins.
5. Prepare your family. Your loved ones may not like giving you up to the writing muse for a whole month.
Do whatever you can to ease your family’s pain. Bribe them with money for pizza delivery, tell them you’ll get them a really nice present at Christmas or Hannukah, whatever it takes. Then on November 1, say “See you at Thanksgiving,” get out of your house, and write.
Good luck and happy writing!
— Eve Messenger