Note: This post was originally listed on the IBC’s blog site on Thursday, November 3. Due to NaNoWriMo itself, I’m a bit behind in my posting this week, and I apologize.
NaNoWriMo Week 1 by Brandy Hunt
Hello! If you are reading this, you have started on the wonderful and fascinating journey that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where everyone who reaches 50,000 words of a coherent story by the end of November wins.
This week is when you find out how hard NaNoWriMo is. For those who have never written a piece of long fiction before, this first week is going to feel not unlike running in place really fast as you lay the foundation for the rest of the novel. For those who have written novels before but never at this pace, you are going to feel rushed and uncomfortable.
However, I have three pieces of advice for this first week, and if you follow them, you may find the second week easier than the first.
- Enemies one and two of NaNoWriMo are your family members and the weekend. When these two cross, word counts fall behind. So the first piece of advice is that 1,667 words a day are not enough. Before you start to get anxious about that word count graph on your NaNoWriMo page, let me point out where the weekend falls. Day 7 is on Monday, and statistically you should have approximately 11,670 words by the end of that Monday. If you write 2,000 words a day, you can have 8,000 words by the end of Friday and have a word count cushion of about 1,300 words going into your first weekend. This will make catching up on Monday even easier.
- Pick a time to write, and be there to write. Every day. Your imagination needs to be exercised just like any other muscle, and if you show up ready to write at the same time every day, you may find that your inspiration, or that capricious thing called a muse, will begin to show up at the same time too. Make sure that the people you live with know that you are not to be disturbed, or else you will need to find a time to write when they can’t bother you. As an example, I used to write in the very early mornings when my kid was younger, and then nap with her in the afternoon.
- I like to think of this next bit of advice as my mental health advice for NaNoWriMo. For me, NaNoWriMo is like a roller coaster, each week with its own thrill or scare. Week 1 is that slow chugging up the hill. This is where all the momentum for the rest of the ride is built. You have to be careful here. If you run out of steam, then you aren’t going to finish. If you become too anxious or obsessed with the ending of your story, you are not going to have a good beginning or much fun. If everything goes well, you are going to come to the top of the first hill at the end of Day 7 with something like 11,000 to 12,000 words. And if you don’t, don’t worry too much. There are lots of tricks for building momentum out there, and there will be others after me to help you along during each week. Just enjoy that first hill as the momentum pulls you into Week 2.
Oh, and by the way, there are three things that everyone should tell you about NaNoWriMo but, for some reason, most of us forget them during this first week. Here is a reminder:
- First drafts are never perfect. Don’t feel you have to leave behind that perfect novel. That comes later when you finally sit down and begin to make sure that everyone’s name is correct.
- This is supposed to be fun. Really, I know it is hard, but it should also be fun. If it isn’t, then you might want to rethink how and why you are doing it.
- If you want to publish, you are going to have to edit that monstrosity. You are also going to have to decide whether to try for a mainstream publishing or to become an indie author. The NaNoWriMo website has some great resources, but you might also want to check out the IBC, or Indie Book Collective. They have some great resources for independent authors.