Picture me as I look ahead at the month of November. It’s getting cold outside. The challenge is before me, waving its little red flag. My feet start to paw the ground in front of me. I might even snort a little, bursts of steam in the chilled air. The arrival of November will launch me forward to tackle that challenge. So what am I doing to prepare?
I’ve focused myself on the fact that no matter what, the challenge of writing 1,500 words of fiction per day plus spending time actively nursing my psyche each week and working and planning for the holidays will be just that. Challenging. It’s going to require discipline more than anything — to get up early and write before work if I’m going to be working a double close (which they have me scheduled for next Sunday), to get my body back in shape, and to continue posting here every day to cheer the rest of you on who have decided to travel those thirty days of insanity with me.
I get to wave the flag for you to paw at the ground. I hope all of you end up ripping that red waving flag to bits with your horns as you conquer the challenge.
As many have said before me, writing can be a lonely calling. We spend a lot of time closeted with our thoughts in our own little world and don’t necessarily interact much. But I’ve seen a trend pop up toward social writing, where writers involve one another, support one another, and ultimately help each other grow. That kind of community is as precious as a golden septum piercing.
So in addition to the personal pep talks and being my own personal cheerleader, I’ve tried this week to get practical. To figure out what my goals are for NaNoWriMo and give myself more focus than just “getting through” the thirty days of November. For those of us participating in the NaNoRebel group (or even if you’re doing it classic style), there are some questions to ask yourself before the first comes up and gooses you.
1. If your goal is to work an existing story, do you know where it’s going? This can mean an outline if you’re the plan-y type, but if you’re like me it can mean immersing yourself in your story and feeling it out. Watching your characters unfold in your head to see what lies beyond the turns. That can help stave off writer’s block before it starts.
2. Are you trying to finish a story or just get one started or to do a big push in the middle to get stuff out? (That sounded like toilet humor, but it wasn’t. I promise.)
3. If you’re starting from scratch, do you have a feel for your story from start to finish? Any notes you can jot down can be helpful if flying blind scares you.
4. If you’re re-writing this month, what are your goals for your new draft? Write them down and keep a list of your insidious first draft foibles that always need editing out (some examples: passive voice, use of adverbs, issues with dialogue attribution, a tendency to let the readers see you set the scene instead of lifting the curtain on an already hot set).
5. Are you aiming for just quantity or do you want quality as well? I’ve heard many people say they end up with 50,000 words of crap at the end of the month. This doesn’t have to be true, especially if you do some of the above.
6. Are you doing this just because or are you doing it because you feel the tug of the words? Regardless, this is a big commitment and a lot of work. As long as you’re doing it for yourself and your story, you’ll get something out of it. And if you share your whiz-bang awesome progress with me, I’ll give you a cookie. (Or some other prize. See this post for details.)
All that said, I’m spending the rest of the day before I have to go sling beers reading what I have of my second book. So far, so awesome, but I have a ways to go, and I need to get to the end to decide what my goals are for NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words would easily take me to the end of book two and partway into book three, which is most likely the goal, but we shall see.
See you all later, gentle viewers. I’ll be here pawing the ground.
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