Ever since I heard of National Novel Writing Month some dozen years ago, it was something I wanted to try. This year was the year, I decided. And like a man checking items off his to-do list, I signed up for NaNoWriMo.
My word total ended at 15,000 plus. I haven’t entered a word since the 19th. At the end of October I knew this was a possibility, but I forged ahead.
There are a lot of motivational messages from well-intentioned word pros about what to do during NaNoWriMo. From my recent experience, I’d like to offer a few don’ts.
If you want to improve your chances at reaching the 50,000 word goal:
Do Not be assigned election coverage if you work at a newspaper: I do, I was.
Do Not schedule gall bladder surgery seven days into the month. I did. This led to several more don’ts …
Do Not have visitors stay with you for five-day stretches to look after you after surgery. I did. I got very little writing done.
Do Not take pain medication while recovering from gall bladder surgery. Good idea for trying to get some sleep, bad idea for trying to write coherent sentences.
Do Not spend time working on the novel outline once you’ve decided you’ve painted yourself into a plot corner. I did, and instead of just writing, hoping to use the words later, I stopped. I plotted. I planned. I solved a few problems. I contributed little to my word total.
Do Not work on Thanksgiving. Nor the day before. Nor the day after. Those big blocks of writing time that come with the average vacation (if you’re not assigned to be chief cook and bottle washer) evaporate.
Do Not plan a book launch on the 25th day of the month. I downloaded my first ebook in October, and used a pre-launch period to get the word out a little bit. With everything else going on, I discovered that I downloaded a dirty copy of the manuscript. A friend found a dozen typos on a .pdf copy I sent to him. The first 75 or so downloads to friends, relatives and the curious contain the dirty copy. The clean copy is there now. By the time I found out, I was too tired to be embarrassed. This leads to my one piece of NaNoWriMo advice:
Do Not schedule extra work activities, surgeries, visitors, medication, Thanksgiving, or book launches any time during November if you want to achieve NaNoWriMo success and hit the 50k mark and enjoy NaNo success.
That’s my plan for next year. Congratulations to the NaNoWriMo winners, and good luck to you all, wherever your writing takes you.