Eep! It’s nearly National Novel Writing Month. I told myself I’d do it this year, and I’d blog about the process. But now I want to eat my fingers off. I mean, this is scary business. First, should I get a new computer or fix this one? Mine keeps adding random periods. Or maybe a new desk chair? Maybe it’s time to organize the hall closet and all my papers so that I’m really ready?
I do love to reorganize. But this might not be super productive in terms of my actual writing. It’s how I deal with terror.
I’m always nervous when I start a new project. I worry it’s going to be a horrible, sucky waste of time. I try to talk myself out of it. And this NaNoWriMo thing is no exception. I mean, it’s probably a terrible idea to try to write a book in a month, right?
No, it’s not. I wrote the first draft of my next novel this way, and I think it might be my best first-draft writing ever.
When I write fast, I can’t overthink it. I don’t get caught up in my own neurosis. I don’t worry about bad metaphors and clumsy writing. I can be as weird as I like and say the unsayable. I can access deep embarrassing truths. After all, nobody is going to read it. Not yet.
So, are you doing it? If so, here are five things you can do to prepare.
- Organize yourself. (I told you, I like organization.) Pen, journal, computer. If you’re doing Scrivener, learn Scrivener now. Otherwise, forget it. Buy your favorite writing tea, or whatever drink triggers the now-I-am-creative impulse. Designate a creative space where you’ll work every day. It can be anywhere: in a closet or a desk in the garage or a coffee shop or McDonald’s or wherever you aren’t bothered by noise/family/distractions and you can disappear into yourself.
- Set a standard time to write. This is useful for anything you want to do: exercise, meditation and also writing. It’s like when you feed cats at the same time every day; about fifteen minutes before you feed them, they start staring at you with their big cat eyes, waiting for food. If you write at the same time, your brain will start to get ready before you sit down. Some days you might need to vary it for practical reasons, but whatever you decide, right now, schedule this time in your phone/calendar.
- Collect objects. Find different objects that apply to all your characters. Find them online or in real life. Take pictures. Put the pictures on a Pinterest page or on a good old cork board on your wall. Or put the actual objects near your workspace.
- Collect settings. Find pictures online or in real life. How about your character’s homes? If there are no pictures, draw it. You need to know the layout. Also make maps of the neighborhood and mark important places in their lives.
- Get to know your characters. Now’s the time for side writing. Journal write in all the POVs so you get to know secondary characters. Draw them. Do family trees. Figure out what’s important to all your characters, what their fears are, what their flaws are, what they want and what they need. This will make the writing flow much faster.
If we start doing this now, we’ll have no problem finishing the writing marathon that we call NaNoWriMo. I hope. Fingers crossed and good luck.