November is synonymous with a time when many writers from the world over batten down the hatches and join NaNoWriMo. The goal? 50,000 words. The reward? Well, no one really seems to go into that part. I guess the reward and the goal are the same. 50,000 words.
In case you missed it, the lovely Sharon gave some great NaNo advice here. Today, though, I’m going to talk to you about something a little NaNo different.
Here are three things I’ve learnt while completing NaNoWriMo in the past:
- You get better at it. The first year of NaNo, I completed the 50,000, and it was hard. And I mean giving-up-chocolate hard. My brain felt depleted of sugar and energy all at once.
But the second year? Writing got faster.
The third? Faster yet again.
And even though I didn’t complete NaNo in those two years (see point below) I increased my average 30-minute-sprint word count from something around 200 words to a more consistent 1,000 words. Now that’s a win!
- You may not use a lot of it. They’re words any NaNoer will preach from the church steeple — write, write like the wind, and don’t worry about fixing it now. Just go forth and spew words to paper.
This means that you may later end up not using all the words on that paper. You may even throw that paper through the shredder.
But that’s okay. Just because you wrote it, just because you bled it from your heart through your fingers onto the screen doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Get rid of those words, guilt-free (your editor will thank you for it).
- Forgive yourself. This is the second week of November, which is also occasionally known by me as The Time With Everything Falls Apart. Let me explain.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo for the past four years now. The first year, I loved it. It drove me to achieve word counts that at the time, I’d never thought possible for myself. Plus, I discovered the wonders of sprinting — and I do love a good sprint!
Fast forward to the year after. NaNo became hard. I started with the greatest of intentions, but life got in the way. At the start of week two, I was on target for the good ol’ 50K. But by the Wednesday, I was a few words behind. That quickly became a few hundreds of words behind. And soon, I was on a slippery slope to Impossibleville, check your hope and dreams at the door, folks.
Once the numbers start to stack up against you, it can be all too easy to give up hope that you’ll ever achieve NaNo. Your computer becomes this nasty, nagging beast, the word count flashing at the bottom of your document a constant reminder of your failure. Failure. You have failed before you’ve even hit halfway.
Once, that hurt me. Once, that made me so very upset.
Now, though? Now, I have learnt. And this is by far and away the most important NaNo lesson I have ever discovered — there IS no failure. Say you fall a few days behind? It doesn’t matter. Because (see above) the reward when you finish NaNo? It’s the words you DID write. That’s the prize.
So even if you don’t hit the 50,000, don’t despair. You get a prize anyway.
Lauren K. McKellar is the author of romance reads that make you feel. She’s currently on NaNo-track. Just …