Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to Win at NanoWriMo: How DO You Win? (#1)

This is Post #1 for How to Win at NanoWriMo!
Join NanoWriMo if you haven't already. I'll be your buddy. ;o)
I have two children, and one of the biggest mantras I live by when raising them is this:

Don't set them up for failure.

What do I mean? I mean, make sure Le Boy Bebe has been fed and diapered before I take him out for three hours of errands. Make sure I have his water and a cup of Chex in my purse so that when he inevitably gets hungry, I'm there with his "needs" before he gets cranky.

See, I know he's not some idealistic image of a baby that has no needs or wants or moments of crankiness.

The same goes for me as a writer: I know that I'm not the idealistic "write consistently each day every day" kind of writer.

So as a writer, I tell myself this all the time:

Set yourself up for success.

This means preparing myself mentally for what success means to ME, not to the people at NanoWriMo.

I can get there by making one or more of the following pacts with myself. See if you can do the same:

Pact #1: If you don't do the 1,667.01432 words per day that Nano says needs to be done each day to hit 50K by the end of 30 days, do not drop out. Do not go, "Never mind. I can't catch up. It just wasn't meant to be." Keep going. I don't get off the treadmill because I can't do an 8-minute mile anymore. I stay on the treadmill because I'm doing something that will yield results. The same goes with writing anything less than those 50K for the month. At least you're doing more than the person who isn't writing, right?

Pact #2: If the story isn't going the way you want it to, allow yourself to take a moment (read: an hour) to inspire yourself again. Work on your Pinterest board, putting up characters and settings and hobbies and quotes that your characters or stories might say. (Yes, stories do speak--don't give me that look. They do!) Write in big, black letters on a blank page of a notebook (or the wall of your office, if that's your preference) "What the Eff am I trying to say with this story?!?" Or just get out of the house and people watch (or squirrel watch--those suckers are quite industrious this time of year). Do not bring your computer...just sit and watch and let your mind unkink from its creative knot.

Pact #3: If the story seems to be a big slop of sloppy slop, do not ever, for one moment, think that you are alone and so should therefore abandon ship. The story is supposed to be slop. And others have the same slop as they write in their cabin/penthouse/room under the stairs.

Pact #4: If you don't think you can't hit 50K or have a story you've already written on and think you're cheating by starting in media res, still allow yourself to be part of the pro-writer world that is NanoWriMo! Just because you aren't a textbook participant doesn't mean you don't get to be a part of the NanoWriMo community. This fabulous event happens one month per year. Don't let it slip by because you don't think you deserve to be here.

Plan B

Whether you want to lose 50 pounds in a month or write 50,000 words in a month, definitely make those goals your Plan A.

But then make sure you have your more realistic Plan B waiting in the wings.

My Plan B? Finishing a story I fast-wrote in July (it only has 12,500 words). I want to get to 30,000 words, REVISED, by November 30. And yes, I'll be a) embracing the slop and b) taking the Me Time "hour" that will help refresh me when I feel the slop is too much.

Do you have a Plan B for NanoWriMo?
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  1. These are great tips! I think it's really important not to get caught up in the numbers game -- like, obviously, AIM high and try for it but don't obsess over your graph and stare at the numbers beside your profile because, in the end, stressing will just paralyse you rather than speed you on. <3

    1. Hi Mia!

      Exactly, it's a total numbers game that is, I must say, arbitrary. You need to take a step back and think "What is my optimum goal?"

      And oh yes about the paralysis! You start double-guessing yourself non-stop if you allow yourself to be led by arbitrary numbers.



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