This is my first attempt at NanoWrimo and rather than read all of the helpful articles on the official website or take the advice of writers who’ve participated in the past and attempt an outline or a blurb or even just one of those useless character profiles, I’ve decided to simply wing it. If I just gave any of you OCD types a heart attack, just hold your horses. Just because I’m winging it doesn’t mean that I’m doing absolutely no prep for the event. I’m not going to sign up for a marathon and do nothing but buy a new pair of shoes. Actually I would probably do that, but trust me, I take writing much more seriously than I do most other things in life so here is how I spent the past week prepping for Nano.
1. Finishing the most recent draft of book #4!
Leaving this draft for after Nano would have been torture and even though I think I probably gave myself eye strain (the left one is all droopy and won’t stop twitching) I just can’t NOT finish things. It gives me heart palpatations and the kind of crippling guilt that sends me to Sonic at eleven o’clock at night for a Coconut Cream Pie shake. Not to mention, heading into Nano already feeling like I’ve accomplished something huge can only help my confidence. But probably most important of all, book 4 is the prequel to my Nano project and making sure it finally had a cohesive plot that had series potential will be essential to crafting the next part of the story. (See, I told you I wasn’t going in totally blind).
2. Binge Reading The Dream Thieves, The Book Thief, and City of Bones
Reading is a huge part of my prep for any project. There’s absolutely nothing more inspiring and these three books each exemplified a specific aspect of writing that I’m currently trying to master. Maggie Stiefvater is the queen of magical realism and everything she does is absolutely perfect, Markus Zusak has never written a stale, overused, or cliche phrase in his entire life, and Cassandra Clare’s (although I did give up on City of Bones once back in June) dialogue is spot on. But not only did these books inspire me, they also reminded me of the true freedom that comes along with fiction writing. I’m often guilty of getting so caught up in applying real world logic to my stories that it kills the magic. But the truth is, letting your imagination run free is the key to having fun. And when you enjoy what you’re writing, your readers will probably enjoy reading it.
3. Cleaning my apartment as if the in-laws were coming
Now this is one piece of advice I noticed on many blogs and decided to actually listen to. Nanowrimo seems to be the equivalent of a very productive and exhaustive hibernation in which, instead of waiting out the cold, writers wait for absolutely nothing–not even inspiration. I know that I’ll be sitting at my desk probably eight hours a day, my fingers whittled to the bone, my hair like a steaming patch of velcro on top of my head. Forget cooking and cleaning. Thanksgiving can cook itself this year. And while some of the horror stories of Nano’s past might seem a little over-dramatic, I only clean once a month anyway so why not do it now in honor of a month that’s sure to have my neighbors calling pest control at least once a week.
4. Writing a shit ton of blog posts
Blogging during November? Oh. No, no. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Instead, I’ll be squeezing out as many posts as I possibly can today and then start posting a bunch of nonsense when they run out.
5. Letting go of Breathing Ghosts and wiping the entire story from my memory
It’s a pretty standard practice for me. Usually I publish a book and then it vanishes into the ether and eventually I can’t even remember what the hell it was about. With Breathing Ghosts, I did much more promotion than I’d done in the past for any of my other books, and I allowed myself just one month after its release to obsess over sales and reviews. And when I say obsess I mean refresh Goodreads and my sales pages every thirty seconds. During that time it was almost impossible to get any work done. I met my deadline for book 4 but the truth is I could have done so much more. But the thing is, I know myself too well. I knew that I would lose my mind a little bit and for four weeks I let myself. But now it’s time to move on. I won’t be able to fully immerse myself in what’s next if I can’t let go of the past. So I’m letting go. Right now. Okay…so tonight at midnight. I’ll let go. Promise.
6. The Pep Talk
There are a lot of demons sure to rear their ugly heads during Nano. Guilt. Self-doubt. Comparison. But I’m prepared to combat them all with one simple mantra. Because when I’m stuck, whether that’s because I think everything I’m doing is shit or because other people are knocking out that word count like its their job or because I just can’t see the finish line and therefore am not even sure that there is one or because, after three books, I’m still waiting for my moment or because I should really be looking for a real job instead of indulging in this dream, or whatever other bullshit lies I keep telling myself, all I really need to know is this–Passion is no accident. And if I figured it out before, I can do it again.
So that’s my newbie method for prepping for, and hopefully surviving, Nanowrimo. What’s yours?