Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo checklist

All right, I can't be the only person putting myself through this torture....uh, fun. Yes, the fun of trying to write 50,000 words in one month. You too can do it! Here's a checklist to help you get started, and for those NaNo veterans, to make sure you're ready for what's coming.

1. Register at the National Novel Writing Month site. It takes less than a minute and does not require any more personal information than you're comfortable sharing. Veterans, make sure to reactivate your account.

2. Build/edit your profile. Most of mine is already filled out, so I just updated with the title of my future masterpiece.

3. Have at least a vague idea of what/who you're going to write about. You don't need the entire thing to be plotted out (it's better if it isn't), but an idea is a good starting point. Makes notes and do research if necessary. It saves time once the month has started.

4. Think about your work/school/social schedule. Try to find at least an hour every day where you can write undisturbed. Commit to this time, even if it means skipping going out to lunch or muting reruns of your favorite show. Writing every day, even if you don't meet the daily goal, is the best way to keep up momentum.

5. Find or make at least one friend who is also doing NaNoWriMo. You can keep each other motivated or even challenge each other. If you're on facebook, you can use this application to keep up with each other's stats. Another good way to stay motivated is to save the inspirational emails you'll receive from the site. I have an email folder with all of the emails from 2007 and 2008. I consider it inspiration year round if I ever need a little push. They certainly help in November.

6. Try to ignore the NaNo horror stories. Yes, it is hard. Yes, you'll start to question your sanity about midway through. But it's worth it. If you stick to it, you'll write something you couldn't have otherwise. Unless you're one of those uber-disciplined people who can write 50,000 words without a problem. If that's the case, you don't really need the challenge, do you? Of course, I think just about anyone can benefit from making this attempt.

(I swear I had more advice than this when I thought of this list at 2 in the morning.)

7. Don't go back and read while you write. It sounds tempting, but don't. It's quite easy to get caught up in looking at what you've done, trying to change it to fit what you think you'll write next, etc. It's a bad cycle. Just go. Believe it or not, when I thought I was writing the most repetitive drivel that no one in their right mind would publish, I read it (after November) and it turned out to be some of my best stuff. I just had to get out of my own way. And to prove this isn't a fluke, I actually own a book that was a NaNo novel the first year I did it and it's brilliant work. You can do this. Just take it one word at a time.

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