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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How NaNoWriMo is like Life.

I'm back!  This year, I'm serving as Interim Associate Dean, so my writing life has been fairly limited, but I'm preparing for that to come to an end in December, so I'm trying to put my mind back into writing mode.  As everyone gears up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in a few days, I reflected on my own Nano experiences.  The goal is simple:  Write at least 50,000 words of a novel in a month.  Ultimately, all three of my completed novels were largely composed during either NaNoWriMo or a Camp NaNo. So, I came up with three "tips" for successfully NaNo'ing that also apply to everyday 

1. Just write.  Don’t think.  It’s counter intuitive to many writers because it’s hard to imagine not editing as you go, but sometimes it really is good to get it all down on paper.  There will be times when are sure that everything you’re writing is pure crap, and you’re certain there will be no way to salvage it.  In fact, I felt that way EVERY time.  But it’s worth it just to get those words on paper.  So many of them.  50,000 of them!  It’s something to work with.

That’s the day to day of life isn’t it?  Just get busy doing instead of planning and second guessing.  You’ll make dumb mistakes but there will likely be more good than bad by the time you’re done.

2.  Take time before you review. Agents say they get bombarded with folks who submit their novels in December, clearly not having been through any editing.  I actually suggest not editing that novel right away.  Give it a few weeks (I usually wait up to 6 months before opening a Nano novel).  I’m too close to it after that intense writing.  I wouldn’t be able to see the forest for the trees. 

We’re so quick to want to critique/correct that we don’t always give ourselves time to just bask in the accomplishment, to let things settle. Sometimes, we do things that me might immediately regret, but time may alter our perception.

3.  Support each other.  The very best part of NaNo is that we're all in it together.  From Twitter (#NaNoWriMo) or #nano) to Facebook groups to official NaNoWriMo forums to local writing groups, there are like-minded people everywhere who are struggling.  They will be your cheerleaders!  You can sprint together and whine together and celebrate the end together.  You may find some of those same people become part of your general writing circle when it's over.  So, be sure to cheer them on, too.

Life is not a solo adventure either.  Find people to join on the journey who support you and lift you up.  Let go of those who don't.  But don't forget that you need to be there for others, too. 

Happy writing, happy living!