Last year, my first year, I was totally unprepared for this. Not only didn’t I want to write anything by week two, but when I made myself do it, the words seemed stale and clingy. My characters whined and my plot fell apart. And what’s worse, I didn’t care! LOL! I did have a NaNo mentor, a great online pal who is a fantastic encourager. She walked me through my struggles and made me write anyway. It was in those passages in week two where I had to really deal with my internal editor. I named her Sophie, while I threw spears at her from the depths of the Amazon.
In NaNo Week Two, Sophie wanted to research my novel. She didn’t think I could invent a believable world on my own so she insisted that I check every detail out on the internet. I almost fell for that fast one! I reminded her I couldn’t do any research until week five. She pouted. Then Sophie told me my spelling and punctuation was off and my grammar was quite lacking. My wonderful NaNo mentor told me none of that mattered until December 1st, thank goodness. Sophie pitched a fit!
Finally, I told dear little Sophie that she had to be quiet while I wrote for four whole weeks. If she was a good girl and kept her opinions to herself about plot, characterization, pacing and all the other great writing stuff that goes into seminars and classes, then come December, January, February, etc. she could hack my NaNo novel to bits. I’m not sure she believed me but nonetheless I enticed her with chocolate ice cream and tricked her into the freezer where she was forced to zip her lips and chill.
Lo and behold, in December when I let her out, she went to town poring through the internet to make sure I had my facts straight in the book. What did she find? Not only that I had my ducks in a row, but I had included some things that very few people know about the location I was writing about. See what happens when you let your imagination wander? Mine traveled all the way to Brazil and came home with quite a lot of good stuff and if none of it was accurate, who’s to say I couldn’t invent something new in the jungle?
Sophie was happy fixing all the spelling errors and prettying the punctuation when November was over. She even got to rewrite a few chapters. But the point is, Sophie, and your internal editor will try to tell you this week that you don’t know what you’re doing. They’re right! You don’t know what you’re doing, other than writing a novel. And your internal editor can fix it all later. Banish him/her to the freezer and just have fun writing! No editing allowed, which means no deleting either.
And guess what? It was those days that Sophie protested the loudest that ended up being the best writing. Sophie is a bit bratty, did I tell you that? She’ll do anything to edit before her it’s her turn.
Incidentally, I’m playing with the word count this year. We all need to write 1667 words per day to have 50,000 words by midnight November 30th. I’ve decided to write 2500 words per day to give me 75,000 words by then. I figure it’s not too much extra work to throw in another thousand words per day. This way the first draft will be finished and waiting for edits in January.
And for the record, NaNo life is very crazy. The other night I remembered at 11:00 p.m. that I had to get my word count in. I was exhausted but I opened my laptop and began typing away. I dozed off a few times. Seriously. At one point, I woke up with my finger on some key and realized the entire screen was blank. I had to hit the undo button to get my word count back! By 11:57 I had 2775 words. I’m not sure how that happened since that’s typing about 45 wpm and I fell asleep a few times… but if you have a day, er, night like that, join the rest of us... NaNo is the most fun and crazy work, but it is work, sometimes falling-asleep-on-your-keyboard work and I-can’t-believe-I-forgot-till-the-last-minute work.
While you're filling out your author and novel info on your NaNoWriMo page, check out your NaNo stats page. It will tell you how many words per day you need to finish on November 30th and a lot of other fun numbers. Very cool. This is especially useful if you’ve fallen behind in your word count. Don’t forget, even if you don’t reach 50,000 words by December 1st, you still have lots of great material to work with so don’t give up!
If you have a NaNo Trench Tip you’d like to share, please post in the comments. We need all the encouragement we can get as we continue on this amazing novel adventure.
Happy NaNo’ing, everyone!
photo credits: morguefile.com