So, today I’ll start editing my NaNoWriMo novel.
Wish me luck!
This is it, Wrimos! The moment when you defy the limits of what is possible; when your lungs are burning from the effort and your muscles tremble with exertion. You’ve got sweat in your eyes and stains on your shirt but it just doesn’t matter—’cause you’re in it to win it.
50,000 words, that shiny purple winner bar, your winner goodies, the title of author, and eternal bragging rights are there in front of you just waiting to be claimed.
Victory is within reach, writer!
If you’re already sitting in the Winner Circle holding your certificate and wearing your winner shirt, congratulations! I can’t wait to join you. I still have many thousands of words to go before I can claim NaNo triumph, and I’m committed to noveling through these final hours of November. I plan to fly across the finish line along with all you Wrimos still writing toward your NaNo win.
Let’s do it together!
Your fellow winner-to-be,
Dear Brave Writer,
Several of my friends are cakewalking through NaNoWriMo this year. One of them, who shall remain nameless, just hit 50,000 words, and is now considering writing a second book this month “just to keep things interesting.”
I feel sorry for these people. The best part of NaNoWriMo is overcoming adversity and seizing noveling victory on the final lap. My friends brazenly seized their victories in Week Two, and are now consigned to a miserable November full of achievement, leisure, and obscenely impressive word counts.
Bah. Those of us who are grappling with sluggish stories and dwindling mojo? We’re having the real NaNoWriMo party—-the Struggler’s Party! I’ve been hanging out at this low-energy fiesta for the past week, and I’ve been hearing some familiar laments around the punch bowl.
“I think I picked the wrong story.”
“Work ate my word count.”
“Nothing seems to happen in my book.”
“My main character is getting on my nerves.”
The most common refrain at the Struggler’s Party, though, is that we’re just feeling Blah. Our stories are Blah, our writing is Blah. We’ve spent the last two weeks mining our creative depths, and many of us have emerged with too few diamonds and way too many lumps of coal.
NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun! An anything-goes adventure where stories take flight and our characters surprise and delight us. When does that NaNoWriMo kick in?
In all my years of NaNoWriMo, it has always kicked in right about now. I wanted to share two quick tips on harnessing the power of the second wind that’s about to blow across our novels.
1) Incite change. If your story is losing momentum, juice it up by inflicting some major changes on your characters. Crash the spaceship. End the marriage. Buy the monkey. Change is scary because we have to figure out what comes next. But feeling afraid is ten times better than feeling bored, and your book will benefit from your risk-taking. Go big this week! You won’t regret it.
2) Trust the process. If you’re doubting yourself or your story, just keep moving forward. It will work itself out in the end. Every year, NaNoWriMo authors who press on to 50K are treated to the equivalent of NaNoWriMo’s northern lights. This is the electric moment when the tangle of plots and people we dropped into the first half of our books end up forming unexpected connections with what we write in Weeks Three and Four. Themes develop. Arcs emerge. As we fly out of the 30,000s and into the 40,000s, a current begins to flow through our writing. Things crackle, then hum, and, at the very end of the month, enough circuits connect that the whole story lights up with a charmingly bookish glow.
I don’t fully understand it, but I do know that it’s one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever had.
To my friends who are far ahead on your word-counts, I only mock you because I am deeply jealous of you.
To my fellow strugglers—-our electric Third Week is about to begin.
I’ll see you at 50K, novelist.
This is the perfect time for me to panic and scream: “F*** I am not going to make it”
But guess what? I’ll stop being such a crybaby and write.
I’ll get there.
Week Two has a bad reputation. Heck, we even capitalize it! A couple days ago, I saw that a Wrimo had posted, “I’ve been Week Two’d” as her Facebook status. Sounds painful doesn’t it? For participants everywhere writing a novel this November, this has become the week to survive.
But does it really have to be that way?
I think it does.
There is a saying that anything worth having is worth fighting for. I think about this every time I eat shrimp. What a pain in the neck, right? But the frustrating peeling part and the endless dilemma—legs or tail first?—make that shrimp even more delicious and worth the trouble.
If your novel is a shrimp (and whose isn’t?), then Week Two is that danged shrimp peel. It tests us, asking, “You don’t really need to write this novel right now, do you? Why not just shut off your computer, call it a day, and write your novel some other time. You’re only into Week Two; it’s not too late to back out now!”
You may be sitting there thinking, “Well, maybe that’s true,” but the answer is definitely a foot-stomping, extra-emphatic no!
Week Two is a battle for your novel’s future, and you are going to win it.
You’ve been carrying around a story for a while now and you finally started writing it. Getting started is hard enough, but then you went on to write for a full week, bringing your story to life and making your noveling dream a reality. You’re well on your way, writer, and you have come so far already! Don’t let your inner editor convince you that this isn’t worth your time, or that you should start over, or—even worse—that you should start over some other time. For this novel there is no “later.” There is only now.
And when you reach November 30 with the rough draft of your novel in hand, the struggles you overcame this week will make that already-triumphant moment even more incredible.
The world needs your novel. This is the time to write it. And it is infinitely worth fighting for.
Let’s go do it!
I love not knowing what I am going to write next.
Because I am neither superhuman nor magical, feeling powerless is an occasional and unfortunate fact of life. I have no control over the person in the car next to me and whether they’re paying any attention to the road while they eat that giant burrito. I can only hope that my rent check won’t get lost in the mail, that the recipe will work as it says it will, and that the all-important email I just sent reaches its intended destination.
And don’t get me started on not having control over my own actions! I often oversleep, forget commitments, break a favorite dish (or somebody else’s), ruin my best shirt (or somebody else’s), and I famously say too much at just the wrong time. (Does this sound familiar? I hope so. I’ve been told it is normal, which is a small comfort.)
But this is why I love NaNoWriMo. As a writer, I am the master of my domain. I’m the boss; the most magical genie; the lord and ruler of every character, creature, and event in the world of my creation. It’s a pretty awesome feeling, having all that power.
In addition to having full control over every event in my story, there is the added benefit of deciding where and to whom these things happen. If I want to visit a place that doesn’t even exist, I can write it! I don’t often have the budget or the time to travel someplace far away or fabulously exotic (especially in November!), but I can do the next best thing—-travel there in my mind—-and it’s completely free. As Commander in Chief of my novel, I can also create the characters I’d like to meet—-or defeat. The possibilities are limitless, and I find that to be tremendously satisfying. At last, my say-so is the only one that matters!
As we write our novels this month, join me in taking complete omnipotent ownership of our novel-worlds, where we, the writers, reign supreme and unopposed.
We mustn’t forget that with absolute power comes—-you guessed it—-some responsibility. Once we’ve created these realms, we have to remain stalwart in our unshakable authority. I hear that minions—-especially fictional ones—-need daily instruction. At least 1,667-words worth. Don’t forsake your kingdom if it starts to seem silly or pointless, or you have no idea what your next order ought to be. Any command will do! Your characters, the weather, the birds and whales, the flow of the rivers, the path of destiny, and every last plot element all bend to your whim.
All together, let’s laugh in exultation at our total domination!
Now let’s go do some writing.