Tonight at midnight marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, when approximately half a million people from around the world will attempt to compose 50,000 words of their books before the end of November. I am joining them, as I write my dark comedy/thriller, Idle Hands.
And today I’m going to offer 3 suggestions about a way to not only survive, but thrive, as you cope with the next 30 days, which promises to tax your mind as well as your body.
TIP #1 Begin strong
And by that I mean, take advantage of this first day, when you are going to be the most vigorous, the most pepped-up, the most anxious and excited, to tackle this adventure. For those of you I’m “virtually” mentoring through the NaNoWriMo site on this blog, and for others who have stumbled across this blog as you prepare for this journey, here is my suggestion for day #1: Write AT LEAST 3,200 words.
Why? Because if you begin with 3200 words on November 1, you can begin a countdown that allows you to write LESS words on each day that follows. There is a psychological advantage to approaching each day of writing knowing that you are allowed to write fewer words than you did the day before. So if you start with 3200 words on November 1, and write at least 3100 words on November 2, and 3000 words on November 3, and 29o0 words on November 4… and so on and so forth… you can “reward” yourself each day by writing 100 words fewer than the day before, and cross the finish line on November 30th with the word count total you seek. Are you allowed to write more each day? Of course, and you should! There’s nothing wrong with crossing the 50,000 word finish line early. In fact, NaNoWriMo allows you to “declare” your 50,000 word count and begin the confirmation process as early as November 20th.
TIP #2 Write every day
When you are feeling inspired and motivated, it’s “easy” to write. It’s more difficult when you approach your keyboard with trepidation or even fear. But my suggestion is to combat that fear or trepidation head-on and be sure to write AT LEAST 1000 words EACH AND EVERY DAY, even if you really, really don’t want to.
Why? Because skipping even one day puts you in a hole. On the next day, not only do you have to write THAT day’s word count, but yesterday’s, as well. It’s easy to see how completely skipping even ONE day can start to build an astronomical hole from which you cannot escape. Don’t fall into that hole. Write at least 1,000 words each and every day (unless, of course, you’re religiously following my advice in TIP #1 above and have earned the right to write less in the latter half of the month due to your impressive diligence in the first half). Some days you might write 2,000, and some days, hopefully, even more. But there may come a day or two in the course of the next 30 days when you absolutely, positively, don’t want to write one single word. And on THOSE days, be sure to write anyway. You don’t want to find yourself too far “behind.” It’s very, VERY, difficult to catch up.
TIP #3 Write a treatment for your whole book on November 1
Since Day 1 is the day I have taxed you with writing at least 3200 words (of course MORE would be better!), and since Day 1 is the day you should feel the MOST inspired, and the most excited, Day 1 is the day to take advantage of your reckless muse and push “her” for all she’s worth. Leverage this by writing a treatment or short story, that condenses your entire book into 3500-5000 words.
Why? By doing this, not only do you get all the important elements on paper (you know, the beginning, the middle, and the end), but you make your entire book seem more “real” since it is written down. You suddenly have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, and, more importantly, you’ve harnessed your muse to bust through the 3,000-5,000 word count barrier in a single day, which gives you some latitude for the rest of the month. And, with your whole book condensed into a short story, you have an outline for the rest of the month…
Start your engines everyone. National Novel Writing Month is almost under way!