Call me a romantic, but I believe everyone has a novel just waiting to bust out of them. What keeps most of us from creating well-written stories is that
we don’t practice enough,
we don’t know our own voice,
and we aren’t willing to tell the truth.
But that’s another post for another day.
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I love the idea of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated). Just thinking about thousands of people across the country disciplining themselves to write a novel in a month, wrestling with plots, forging new characters, dreaming about their conflicts…it’s like Rivendell on steroids.
But then I start to see Tweets creep across my Twitter feed that sound like this:
Only 2500 words down so far. Should be at 6000 by now. :( #PullingMyHairOut
Falling further and further behind. At this rate I’ll be writing all week next week. #nanowrimo
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If you started NaNoWriMo with high expectations but find yourself gradually falling behind your daily word goal, don’t get discouraged! In fact, now might be a great time for a reality check. Consider this:
1) I’ve written four nonfiction books and one novel – none of those first drafts were completed in a month. Or two months. What seems to work best for me is to pick a realistic daily word count and then stick with it. For me, 1000 words a day is a solid goal. For you, it might be more or it might be less. Figure out what it is and go with it.
2) When choosing your daily word count goal, pick a number that allows you time to catch up if you fall behind. For me 1000 words a day works because if I miss a day, I can make it up in one or two evenings, or a Saturday morning.If you’re maxing out each and every day, then miss a day, you’ll never be able to catch up.
3) Celebrate the milestones. Maybe it’s every 10,000 words or every five chapters. Nothing encourages progress more than celebrating it! A glass of wine, nights out on the town, or a celebratory Tweet can all do the trick.
4) Figure out what spawns creativity within you, and allow some time for that. I love to read great books on writing – they fill my brain with ideas and give me new concepts to think about, techniques to try. Maybe you like to run, or count marbles, or skip stones, or rake leaves. Whatever it is, do it.
5) Most of all, don’t get discouraged if your novel isn’t completed by the end of the month. Reassess your goals, learn what your realistic daily word count is, and then recreate a plan that will get your novel written.
Very few people have the time, the mental capacity or the writing wherewithal to write a novel in a month. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not one of them. And make sure you finish your novel.
Because I want to read it.
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Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How’s it going for you?
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