How I’m Doing NaNoWriMo Differently This Year

This is my 9th year participating in NaNoWriMo, and this year I’m doing things a little differently.

nano-rebel

See that? I ticked that box. I am now, officially, a NaNo Rebel.

I’d been hemming and hawing for weeks as to whether or not I should join in the festivities this year. I didn’t want to break my WriMo streak, but I also didn’t want to put my current manuscript revisions on hold to start a new first draft. After painful deliberation, I decided to just suck it up and try working on both projects simultaneously. Maybe it would be hard. Maybe it would be impossible; but really, who would care if I didn’t make it to 50k? It’s the effort that counts, right?

I created my project on the NaNoWriMo website on October 31st, and rolled up my sleeves in anticipation for the break-neck month ahead.

Now, it should be noted that I am a planner, or at least a ‘plantser’, and in all of my hemming and hawing I hadn’t done any outlining on this supposed new project. Day one went by with a paltry total of 83 words written. Day two saw a minute spike in word-count, bringing me to a grand total of 256. I was chugging along on my revisions, but completely lost in this new first draft. By the afternoon of day three I was starting to wonder if I had lost my frigging mind. Then I perused the personal achievement badges on nanowrimo.org, and I had an epiphany.

I had never considered working on anything other than a fresh novel draft to be a legitimate option for NaNoWriMo, but when I saw those jaunty little sunglasses something clicked. Suddenly, I saw working on revisions as a valid choice. Surely, there must be other rebels out there, and surely I would still be able to partake in 2016’s writeathon as a member of the community. I felt vindicated. And relieved.

So… what exactly am I doing this year?

I am writing like I normally write. I’m working on revisions of Steep, and drafting short stories as palette cleansers, and I’m writing blog posts and dumb poems and letters to friends, and I’m counting it all. Everything I write during the month of November, I’m adding to my word-count. Don’t ask me how I’m going to verify it, because I haven’t quite figured that part out yet, but I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

It’s been said before that the ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a novel in 30 days but to develop the habit of writing every day. Maybe that’s true. Right now I’m thinking that maybe the ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo is to write your heart out in whatever way you see fit, and maybe, after all, the ultimate goal of NaNoWriMo can be different to different people and that not one of them is wrong.

So write on, you crazy diamonds.

 

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NaNoWriMo Prep 2016

I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month every year for the past eight years (and met the target goal four of those years). I love the sense of camaraderie and good spirit associated with the event, and the feeling of accomplishment for having met my goal has always been worth the strenuous daily word counts.

This November is different for me because I’m currently elbow deep in revisions on last November’s novel. I’m hesitant to start a new project and I’m struggling with the idea of counting 50,000 words of revision instead. I’m saddened by the idea of sitting this month out, but also questioning the wisdom in beginning a new manuscript. In short, I’m stuck.

While I decide what my November writing schedule is going to look like, here are some of the things that I’m doing in preparation for NaNoWriMo (just in case):

Selecting Playlists: I use 8tracks for my  music fix while writing. I can’t handle listening to lyrics when I’m in story mode but I love having some emotional music playing, especially during the really heavy scenes. Finding music that suits the tone and setting of your novel can be time-consuming, so getting a playlist together now is a nice way to help your future self out and try on the skin of what you’ll be writing next month. One of my all-time favourites is the Journey soundtrack by Austin Wintory. Seriously… so good.

A Full Pantry/Freezer: I’m a bit of a food prepper at the best of times, but with a chill in the air my foraging kicks into high gear. This impulse helps immensely come word-marathon season – any time saved on basic human need stuff can be used for writing, afterall.  Many meals can be made ahead of time and frozen, or you can spend these next two weeks testing some recipes for some one-pot meals that’ll cook up quick in between chapters. When possible, choosing whole, healthy foods can be a good way to save time on snacks and meals and give your brain a boost; I’ll be stocking up on nuts, dried fruits, and a big bag of baby carrots for snacks (plus a box of my favourite cookies as a reward).

Honing My Daily Schedule: I tend to use October as a month to reevaluate my daily routine and audit my behaviour. Winter has a different creative energy for me, so it’s useful to reassess my habits ahead of time so I can come at the darker months with my toolbox full. This could mean streamlining my afternoon routine, carving out some time for my morning SADS lamp, or adjusting when/how often I walk the dogs. Consider trying out some of my favourite productivity tools to see if they’ll work for you this November.

Wetting the Soil: This month I’m watching a load of documentaries, reading whatever I can get my hands on, and spending more time in the woods. A trip to the museum or library, reading scientific magazines, taking a free online course, or following rabbit trails on Wikipedia as your curiosity leads are all great ways to enrich your imagination and grease your creative gears. Drench yourself in trivia and histories this month. Consider it ample hydration for the soil of the story you want to grow.

Gathering Inspiration: I have half dozen books in my home library that I always pick up when I’m feeling down about my writing, and I keep them even closer during NaNoWriMo. If you have a book (or six) that reminds you of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place, gather them up. NaNoWriMo pep talks are great sources of inspiration, but you never know when you might need an added boost from one of your faves.

Now that I’m writing full-time, the pace of National Novel Writing Month doesn’t seem quite so breakneck, but I remember all too well a time when drafting 50,000 words in 30 days seemed impossible. If you’re new to NaNoWriMo or struggling with how this whole crazy thing is going to go down, watch this site for an upcoming post with some tips for getting the most out of your keyboard this November.

In the meantime, happy prepping!